Travel Tips & Adventures

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International Travel Planning … on your own … without a net…Part 11

Scotland: Fall 2009

DAY 14

Even though we just got there (Edinburgh), it’s time to get out of town!

What do Mel Gibson, Liam Neeson and Angus Macfadyen have in common? They have all portrayed Scottish heroes at your local Cineplex. Whether or not the movies were entirely accurate (Braveheart & Rob Roy) is beside the point. The characters were real. William Wallace, Rob Roy and Robert the Bruce were, in fact, local heroes, much to the chagrin of the British monarchy at the time.

We are going into what was then their land and stopping by some of the most historical spots in Scotland.


A short 41-minute drive northwest of Edinburgh is Falkirk.

On July 22, 1298, William Wallace was defeated at the Battle of Falkirk by King Edward I due much to disorganization and, in part, treachery mounting behind the scenes. The independence of Scotland was at stake, but this was not the last time we would see Wallace or his friend Robert the Bruce.

In stark contrast to battles for independence of the 13th and 14th centuries is the modern use of ingenuity on the part of some crafty mechanical engineers.

How do you get rid of 11 locks that previously connected two canals … well that’s easy, you build a Ferris wheel!

All you have to do is change the name slightly, and you have the Falkirk Wheel.

Falkirk Wheel

With a difference of about 79 feet between the levels of the two canals, engineers decided to build a boat lifting mechanism that actually does resemble a Ferris wheel on steroids! Huge rotating arms lift gondolas from level one to level two connecting the two canals.

You can book a 1-hour ride on a boat that will take you up to the next canal and back. There are also trails, canal walks, a gift shop, interactive displays and a café in the visitors’ centre to which entry is free.

Boat Trip Prices
Adult £8
Child (3-15 years) £4.25
Child under 3 years FREE
Concession (Seniors) £6.50
Family ticket (2 adults/2 children) £21.50

Parking: £2.00


It’s about a 20-minute drive north on the A9 to what is probably the most significant battlefield in all of Scottish history.

Robert Bruce’s Scottish army of a mere 5,000 defeated the 20,000 troops of Edward II on June 24, 1314. The English left Scotland, Bruce was left to sit on the throne, and, although 10 years later, the English finally conceded Scottish independence.


Walk the battlefield, see the exhibits and, of course, rummage through the gift shop.

Granted, this type of excursion isn’t for everyone, but if you are interested in history, this certainly is a must see.

Directions: 2 km south of Stirling on A872,

Adults: £5.50
Family: £15
1 Parent: £10
Concession (Seniors): £4.50


If you only see two castles in Scotland, it has to be Edinburgh, and Stirling. Sitting atop a commanding rock makes it visible for miles. This castle reeks of history. Built between the late 1400s and 1500s, there are many buildings and battlements (overlooking two battlefields, Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn) to see while you are there.

**The Palace is currently closed for major renovation to show the King’s and Queen’s Lodgings circa mid-1500s. The current reopening date is March 2011.”

1 April – 30 September: 9.30 am to 6.00 pm
1 October – 31 March: 9.30 am to 5.00 pm
Adult: £9.00
Child: £4.50
Concession: £7.00
Car parking: max 4 hours – £2.00.

William Wallace Monument

Talk about a view! This is the place.

It took eight years to build, stands 220 feet above Abbey Craig and is accessed
inside by 246 steps on a spiral staircase – the Wallace Monument is the epitome
of “old school” sightseeing.

No elevator, and little in the way of handicap access (Disabled access to the grounds and visitor’s pavilion. Limited disabled access to The Monument), this monument will literally leave you gasping (at the view, and for air).

Hop on a free shuttle from the “free” parking lot, or walk up the wooded slopes of Abbey Craig. Just two miles from Stirling is the hill where, in 1297, William
Wallace watched the English army cross Stirling Bridge before leading his army into battle and victory.

There are four levels within the monument, each with something to see. Seventy- one steps lead to level 1 and a history of Wallace’s life. Also, on display is what is “supposedly” Wallace’s 700-year-old sword (obviously not authenticated).
Trek up 64 more steps and you will be at Level Two, the Hall of Heroes.

Level Three (62 steps) is the geographic Diorama which shows you the lay of the land surrounding the monument.

It’s only 49 more steps to The Crown of the Monument to peruse the landscape you were shown on Level Three.

They always say going down a stairway is easier. This narrow spiral staircase to ground level might question that statement. But, if you make it successfully, head to the Gift Shop, or Victorian Tea-Room before heading back down to the car park.
With a few exceptions, The Wallace Monument is open daily, all year somewhere between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM depending upon the season.

Admission Prices – 2009
Adult: £6.50
Child: £4:00
Student: £4.90
Family (2 Adults/2 Children): £17.00

This will have been a packed day, so we’ll head back to Edinburgh.

TOMORROW: St. Andrews – Can you say … FORE!

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