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To Stirling and its surroundings

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Tuesday 18 September, to Stirling and its surroundings

Boquhan House Tigh Mor in the TrossachsIt is gray outside and the expectation is that it will not get better today. First we drive to Boquhan House at Killearn where we passed by yesterday, but where we were not able to make a nice picture of the gatekeeper's house because of the rain. Actually, today is not much better ... The house is for sale (in September 2018) including the estate and gatelodge for just about one million euros
Then we drive into the Trossachs, a wooded area that is very beautiful, especially when the sun is shining. Now it is gray and misty which makes the landscape a bit mysterious. On the north side of Loch Achray we pass Tigh Mor, an imposing Victorian holiday resort where you can book a room or cottage. The Beatles were very satisfied with it.
Wood carving near Lemahamish Wood carving near LemahamishOur map then brings us to the south again but due to roadworks some roads are closed and so we arrive on a side road where we again encounter wood carvings. In the parking lot, used by the workers as a storage area, there are a number of wooden statues of animals. There is no sign here explaining who made it, but nearby is an animal shelter, maybe there is a link with it.
Roman baths in Bearsden Roman baths in BearsdenThen we drive further south, we come awfully close to Glasgow, a city where I do not like to drive around and where the navigation often goes wrong. We go to Bearsden where we happen to encounter a Roman bathhouse, the best preserved in Scotland but only the foundations remain. These foundations have been excavated and are visible lying before an apartment complex. An information plate is provided at each room in which the function is explained. The bathhouse was situated along the wall of Antonius, near a fortress where a Roman regiment (about 100 soldiers) was stationed.
Ode to George BuchananOur route is now becoming a bit chaotic, and we come back to Killearn where we were already in the neighborhood this morning. The center of the village looks nice and invites you to take a walk, but a short one because of the bad weather. There is an obelisk that I'm curious about and it turns out to be a memorial for George Buchanan. Hey, Elisabeth says, that's what my favorite candy is called. Although the Buchanan clan is known as the Confectionery clan, this George is best known as a historian and humanist scientist who was not afraid to criticize corruption within institutions such as the church and the kingdom, which brought him into contact with the Inquisition. He was a writer, but is also known for his enormous influence on later writers.
House at Touch Wrought iron bank in CambusbarronDuring our trip we come across more unexpected things, such as, of course, another gatelodge. Would there also be a castle in the neighborhood? We can not see it.
And in the village of Cambusbarron there is a monument for a schoolmaster of the primary school and a nicely worked cast-iron bank. So there are actually special things to be found everywhere. Cambusbarron was already inhabited during the Bronze Age and there are still some remnants of Pictic forts but we are not looking for them now, it is too cold and too wet.
Statue of Rob Roy in Stirling Neglected monuments in StirlingFifteen minutes later it is suddenly dry again and we decide to take a walk through Stirling and have a look at the buildings and monuments. We have already visited the castle extensively, so we skip this crowd puller. The town is very central in Scotland and if you went overland from south to north, you had to pass by this town, it was the only route, so strategically very important. The old town is built on a steep rock that dominates the fertile plain around it. The city has a long history of struggle and conquests and a statue of the opportunistic freeman and hero Rob Roy fits here.
Drive slowly through Stirling Street in StirlingThe old town runs up the hill and the streets are paved with cobblestones but there is still traffic. The ncity counscil has been smart enough to make them into one-way roads because in summertime it is usually crowded with tourists. Today there are not so many.
The Tourist Office of Stirling The boys club, StirlingThe center of Stirling is still full of old buildings from the Middle Ages to the Victorian era. In the old city prison (Old Town Jail) you can make a tour (check first if it is open) which gives a lot of information about the history of the prison system in Stirling and the nasty punishments that were given. From the observation tower you also have a nice view of the city and the surroundings.
The castle of StirlingThe castle of Stirling is one of the royal castles of Scotland and also one of the largest. From the 12th century this was the residence of the Scottish kings, but the building as it is now visible dates mainly from the 14th and 15th centuries. Because it was in such a strategic location, the castle was often besieged and also conquered. Well-known men like William Wallace and Robert de Bruce have fought for this castle. How would I love to walk around with my metal detector here in the neighborhood, but that is probably not allowed.
Cemetery in Stirling The star pyramid in StirlingOn the slopes below the castle is an extensive cemetery with ancient tombs and some monuments such as the Star Pyramid, a pyramid of sandstone with white marble bibles at the foot, which was built in 1863 and dedicated to all martyrs who suffered in their struggle for religious freedom in Scotland. The cemetery has been completely refurbished in recent years and restored to its Victorian glory, a special place to wander around.
Wallace monument at Stirling Menstrie CastleA little outside of Stirling stands the Wallace monument in honor of William Wallace, the well-known Scottish freedom fighter also known as Braveheart. Every time we are here the weather is bad and every time we promise ourselves that next time we will really climb the tower. But not today, again.
In Menstrie we happen to pass Menstrie Castle, the birthplace of Sir William Alexander, a well-known scientist and poet from the 17th century. Behind the facade the courtyard is completely open and apartments have now been built.
Gatelodge at Dollarbeg castle Castle-like house along the B9140 at DollarbegAt the end of the afternoon I find some last unknown roads on the map and look, first we see a very nice gatekeeper's house in the neighborhood of Dollarbeg and not much further a castle/country house that I particularly like, especially because it is not is that big. You can at least keep it clean normally, at a large castle you immediately need staff. But perhaps it is not a castle at all, I interpret everything that has a tower as a castle.
The rain starts to fall heavily again and our last day of the holiday is over. We drive back to the Travelodge and we prepare for the trip through England to Canterbury tomorrow and then the day after the boat to Dunkerque and home. Still, I want to drive a few unknown roads tomorrow so I'm going to study the map a bit.


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