We tidied up our flat and packed our bags before Sally and I took one more stroll up the Royal Mile to buy a shirt she had set her eyes on. We also shopped the tartan scarfs having decided that we would capitalize on the reduced prices advertised when two are purchased instead of one. Most of the shops did not open before 10:00 a.m. When we arrived at Tartan Woolen Mills up near the castle, we were most thankful to find it open. Sally snagged the shirt she was after and we spent some time pondering over scarves before sensory overload struck and we simply decided against the whole idea.
When we arrived back at our flat, Bill had already loaded most of the luggage into the car. We’d grabbed a couple scones across from the Tolbooth Tavern and quickly enjoyed half each. When we finally conveyed all of our possessions to the car garage…surprise! There was a parking ticket on the car for 70 pounds! Apparently, I had been misinformed that the parking placard had been left on the dash. It had not.
Our first stop this morning was The Kelpies sculpture, According to Scottish folklore, kelpies are a water spirit that takes the form of a horse. It was said that they delight in drowning travelers. The less scary description of the Kelpie Sculpture was that it represents the lineage of heavy work horses. Either way, in the Helix Park of Falkirk in Scotland are two, 100-foot high horse sculptures rising out of a pond of water on one side. They are absolutely magnificent. Again, the changing light of Scotland chased around a bit as we did our best to capture some photographs. It was just a pleasant park and place to be for a while. We could not check-in to our last lodging in Scotland until 3:00 p.m. and so we enjoyed a very leisurely visit.
When we did set out again, our destination was Culross (Coo-riss), on the north shore of the Firth of Forth. The National Trust of Scotland has tenderly assisted in the renovation of this example of a 16th – 17th century village. Many of the houses and structures date back to the 1600s. The streets are cobbled and narrow making Culross a perfect place for the filming of several episodes of “Outlander”. In fact, the Merket Cross was the location where the witch Geillis Duncan was burned at the stake. The buildings were painted gray for the filming and then returned to their much lighter appearance when shooting was done. You can easily Google “Culross” and “Outlander” for more filming locations.
The road we took into Culross brought us first to the abbey above the town. Reportedly there was evidence of a Pictish Alter from about the 5th century at the site. Much of what the visitor now sees was part of a Cistercian Abbey founded in 1217. In one transept of the church was the tomb of John Stewart and his wife. John Stewart died in 1445 a.d. We did some wandering here and…looking for Sally – I ended up in the back of the abbey where there are ruins to explore. There were remains of the monastery building in back of the currently in-use church structure. There was a ladder leading up to a section of the ruins that provided some very up-close-and-personal views of the roofing arches. (I’m sure there’s a more sophisticated name for those but I am not an architect!)
We snaked down the narrow lane toward the Mercat Cross, grateful not to meet another vehicle. We found our flat in what was formerly a Free Church. It was now called “Cunningham House”. We squeezed the car in a parking space and set out to explore this unique village. The small doorways and windows were quite striking. Orange tiled rooftops and row-houses lined the streets The structures of the mustard-yellow palace dated back to 1597 a.d. – 1611 a.d. We wandered into a gift shop in part of the Town House that had served to hold women on trial for witchcraft. It was believed that approximately 380 individuals, predominantly women – were tried and executed for practicing witchcraft in this area. Many were executed in Culross.
We found a “vennel” (alleyway) that cut across to the railroad tracks along the water’s edge and a long pier reaching out into the Firth of Forth. There was a large, underwater coal shaft in that general area hundreds of years ago. Bill and I met a local man at the end of the pier who gladly shared this history with us. As we walked along we determined that the most popular greeting in this village was “Hi-ya”, not “hello”.
Our reservations for dinner were at the Red Lion Inn. It was just about the only tavern/restaurant serving this town of approximately 400 individuals. We enjoyed our meals; Bill sticking with the beef and vegetables theme, Sally with her halloumi cheese salad, and I went for trout in a lemon ginger sauce. We finished off our last meal with sticky toffee puddings and returned to make preparations to fly out in the morning.
Photo Credits of Bill and Kelly to Sally Daab Armstrong
Upon the hearth the fire is red,
Beneath the roof there is a bed;
But not yet weary are our feet,
Still round the corner we may meet
A suden tree or standing stone
That none have seen but we alone.
Tree and flower and leaf and grass,
Let them pass! Let them pass!
Hill and water under sky,
Pass the by! Pass them by!
Home is behind the world ahead,
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadows to the edge of night
Until the stars are all alight.
Then world behind and home ahead,
We’ll wander back to home and bed.
Mist and twilight, cloud and shade,
Away shall fade! Away shall fade!
Fire and lamp, and meat and bread,
and then to bed! An then to bed!Adapted from “A Waking Song” J.R.R. Tolkien “Lord of the Rings”