Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


8.4.09
  Edinburgh, Antonine Wall, and Then Where to Go?

It looks like a trip to Scotland is a possibility this year (preferably late May/early June). I know I want to visit Edinburgh again and then explore the Antonine Wall / Falkirk area. After all, Falkirk Councillor Adrian Mahoney promised me the wall would be tidy, so I should have a look. *grin*

But I'm not sure what else to see. Of course, there are places I would love to revisit, but it won't make much sense to do a Highlights of 1998 Memory tour. I do know I want to go further north and/or west, into the Grampians or Argyll. What I have seen on my past round trip are Edinburgh, the Border abbeys Melrose, Dryburgh and Jedburgh, Dunfermline Abbey, the castles of Craigmillar, Tantallon, Aberdour, Dirleton and Stirling, Bannockburn, Fort William with Glen Coe and Ben Nevis, Eilean Donan Castle, part of Skye (with Armadale), Inverness, Urquhart and Cawdor Castle, Culloden.

I may put Stirling Castle on my list again since part of it was closed due to renovation, but for the rest I'm rather overwhelmed with possibilites and the problems to reach places by public traffic. So I'm looking for some suggestions, preferably not found on the tourist sites, or places I should see despite the tourists. My readers will know what I'm looking for: Roman remains, Mediaeval castles and cathedrals (ruins or still intact), and nature. Any of my Scottish friends got some ideas?
 
Comments:
What about Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull? You can get there by ferry from Oban (which is on the main line rail network) and then I believe there's a coach that meets the ferry and goes to Duart. Details on the website here. If you're keen on nature, there are some companies on Mull who do wildlife tours and can (usually) show you sea eagles, golden eagles and so on. When I was there they would meet people off the Oban ferry at Craignure and bring you back to the ferry to catch the sailing back to Oban. Gordon Grant Marine does boat trips from Oban to Fingal's Cave (Isle of Staffa, impressive columnar basalt like the Giant's Causeway in Ireland) and the Treshnish Isles (spectacular seabird colony). If you fancy the Iona monastery, their trips may drop you off on the island long enough to explore it (Google for their website and it probably has the itineraries), or I think there are some coach companies that operate tours to Iona from Oban via the Craignure ferry.
 
Ah yes, Iona should go on my list of places to see, and Duart Castle looks like an interesting place. Thank you. I'll check into Oban as one of my stations - maybe there's more I can reach from there.
 
Will you take lots of photos and share them? I'm hoping to visit Scotland for the first time in 2011, after my debut novel, Highland Blessings, is released in May 2010. My husband's family are the Campbells, Hendersons and Grants. My family are the Gregorys, Frasers and Galloways.
 
Jennifer, I will take lots of photos provided my camera doesn't break (I had problems with the old Spiegelreflex camera I used in 1998 halfway through the tour). And I will post some of them on my blog. More than some, actually. :)
 
Iona's good for views as well as the abbey. :) The first time I went, it was part of a coach trip across Mull which let us spend part of the afternoon on the island.

Dunstaffnage Castle is just north/north-east of Oban, if I remember. And in Argyll there's Kilchurn Castle at the north-eastern end of Loch Awe, and Carnasserie Castle just north of Kilmartin.

If you go north from Edinburgh, the earthworks of Ardoch Roman fort are in Perthshire.

There's Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven. Cawdor Castle is east of Inverness, and it has all the lovely gardens. There's also Elgin Cathedral in Moray. And there's various local museums in the north-east with Pictish stones.
 
I'd second recommendations of Mull (via Oban, which itself is a great little town for a quick visit - lovely setting).

Iona is an exceptional place, IMHO, and idyllic if you get a good weather day. If you go there, I'd suggest not just admiring the abbey but taking the short walk west from the landing stage over to the far side of the island: there's a great, open, windswept beach there (called the beach at the end of the world or something similar, I think). Also, at that time of year you should be able to hear corncrakes - one of the UK's rarest breeding birds - calling all around you as you walk over the island (virtually impossible to actually see one, even when you're within a few feet of it, but that just makes their weird calls all the more romantic and evocative).

Away from the west, one of my favourite bits of Scotland is the Spey Valley, around Kingussie, Newtonmore and north from there. Lots of exceptional nature and one or two castle-type things. I've always quite liked Ruthven Barracks, near Kingussie - very much post-medieval, but quite cool for its position and its state of preservation. Most of the tourists tend to be in Aviemore and its immediate vicinity, leaving a lot of the rest of the valley much less busy.

For more adventurous travel, I'd highly recommend Moidart and the Ardnamurchan Peninsula: wild(ish) and spectacular. Tough to get to if you're reliant on puiblic transport, though, I think.
 
Thank you, Kirsten and Brian.

I'm going to put Oban on my list. Not only is it the gateway to Mull and Iona, but there are other interesting places close by, like Dunadd. So it will be Edinburgh, the Falkirk area, Dunkeld with Inchtuthil Roman fort, and then the westcoast. Brian, thanks for the tip about Iona; I'll try to fit that into the schedule.

Probably a night in Glasgow as well since the West Highland Line leaves in the morning (I took that one to Mallaig last time). You got a spare matress, Kirsten? :)
 
Sounds like you've got quite a tour to plan! Hope the weather plays its part too! I'd like to get up to Bannockburn, but I really can't see it being this year :-(

Anyway, happy planning - and happy Easter!
 
Hi Gabriele

I hope you'll pay us a visit during your trip to the Antonine Wall.

Get details on places to see at

www.falkirkonline.net/antoninewall

There's also a video to see at

http://www.forthstimeline.com/pages/multimedia

CLLR ADRIAN MAHONEY
Falkirk Council
 
Adrian, I surely will. Falkirk looks like a good place to stay and go travel the important locations from there.
 
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The Lost Fort is a blog based on my travels in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and other places (like Flanders and the Baltic States), with essays on Roman and Mediaeval history illustrated with lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes. You may also find the odd essay about geology or Mediaeval literature.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who hasn't yet gotten an Instagram account. :-)


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