After the first cold week, the wetter is getting better and warmer all the time. A t-shirt is enough to wear outside, today, which feels much better. Now we go first look for a breakfast somewhere, since we get used to have one when on holiday, although we never have breakfast at home. But when we are presented with the bill in a hotel near Falkirk, we are startled for a moment: 10 pounds (€ 15) per person. And that for only a cup of tea, some toast and a choice of sausages, porridge, haggis and other things we really don't want to eat for breakfast.
Falkirk is a small town that looks completele deserted on this sunday morning, but we have read it can be very vivid on other days. Two very important battles have been fought here: in 1298 William Wallace was defeated here by the English army and Bonnie Prince Charlie made one of his last vistories here in 1746.
Just south of Falkirk we go look at the Falkirk Wheel, a boat lift which forms a connection between the waterways in the east and the west of the country which makes it possible to cross (with a boat not too big) from the Northsea to the Atlantic Ocean. Off course, there is also a special touristic boat to make the trip up and down to gain some money to pay back this investment of almost 120 million euros (more than 150 million US dollars).
After that we go into the hills, or rather mopuntains, since we are soon on a height of 500 meters. First we drive to the west, into the Fintry Hills and then to ther north in the direction of Callander. Some parts we have seen before but some not and it is clearly an area worth to be discovered. Now and then we come across a hidden castle, of which we only see the entrance and a sign that it is private property. And at Callander we visit the Bracklinn waterfall which is not as impressive as it is in the wet times of the year. But it is great to be walking around here, with a temperature well above 20 degrees Celsius.
At Strathyre we stop to have a bowl of soup at the Ben Sheann hotel, a place where we have stayed for the nigth a couple of times. Strathyre is a nice village but a busy road leads directly through it and after half an hour in the warm sun we are on our way again.
Just south of Loch Earn we take a side road we have never been to, although we have been in the neighbourhood many times. A roadsign tells us the road is closed after a few kilometers, but still we want to have a look. And suddenly we see a beautiful small castle at the edge of the loch, Edinample Castle. We cannot find it on any map we have and it is private property, obviously, and forbidden to enter the grounds! Would the occupants consider to do some home swapping with us???
Drummond Castle is on our map, but we are too late to visit this 15th century castle. It is hidden in the woods and the gardens, wild and cultivated, take an enormous area. The castle was used as a scenery in the movie Rob Roy and we can imagine why, isolated as it is from the 'normal' world.
At the end of the day we find ourselves east of Stirling, a mountainous area with tops over 700 meters high. And again we see the Wallace monument, the architect of that monument really must have thought a lot about the place where to put it, since it dominates the whole region.Our tour is almost at an end, tomorrow we have to go to Edinburgh to hand in the rental car. There are some hills in Edinburgh but we really have to leave the real mountains behind us now. But at least we know we like Edinburgh, and we know it is a beautiful city,so we won't get bored. Hopefully, the weather will be as nice as the last few days...