Jennifer goes to Alnwick Castle, Stirling Castle, and Loch Lomond

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle

While in Edinburgh, I was lucky enough to fit in Alnwick Castle, Stirling Castle, and Loch Lomond. Alnwick Castle is not in Scotland. It’s in England, but is so close to the border that it’s easier to visit from Edinburgh than London.

Alnwick Castle parklands

Alnwick Castle parklands

Alnwick Castle parklands

Alnwick Castle parklands

Alnwick Castle is beautiful and has been home to the Percy family for 700 years. If you’ve seen the first two Harry Potter movies, then you’ve seen this castle. Alnwick Castle is where the students of Hogwarts learned to fly on their brooms and where the Ford Anglia crashed. If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey, then you saw the gorgeous State Rooms and parklands in the 2014 Christmas Special.

Treehouse at Alnwick Castle

Treehouse at Alnwick Castle

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle is most popularly know as the home of James V and Mary de Guise, the parents of Mary, Queen of Scots. In fact, it was James V who had the palace built on the Stirling Castle property. But its history dates back to 1110 during Alexander I’s reign. It is where William Wallace beat Edward I at Stirling Bridge in 1297, Robert the Bruce fought Edward II at Bannockburn in 1314, and Mary, Queen of Scots, was crowned at this castle in 1543.

View from Stirling Castle

View from Stirling Castle

Both castles offer plenty to see and do, even if you have children. There are dress up areas and Alnwick Castle provides broom lessons and a Knight’s Quest. I enjoyed the Downton Abbey exhibition that Alnwick Castle is currently offering.

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

While I saw plenty of castles on this trip, I took time out to for hiking and went to Loch Lomond. It is the most beautiful lake I have ever seen. If you have the chance to visit Loch Lomond, I highly recommend it and make sure to stop in the cafe and get an ice cream. It was delicious.

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

Have you been to Scotland? What did you like about it?

Next week, I’m back in England for the last stop on my trip.

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Jennifer goes to Edinburgh

Edinburgh

Edinburgh

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been sharing photos from my time in the British Isles. We are now to my favorite stop on my trip — Edinburgh, Scotland. I absolutely loved Edinburgh. It is a great mix of new and old. It’s easy to get around the city. I was able to walk most of it, but relied on the city buses when I was tired. The people are extremely friendly and, like Dublin, my gluten-free diet didn’t get in the way of me having a good time. Unfortunately, when planning my trip, I didn’t realize how much there would be to see and do in Scotland so I didn’t spend much time there. I guess it gives me a reason to go back.

The first place I visited in Edinburgh was Edinburgh Castle, which sits on Castle Rock overlooking the city.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

The castle was a royal residence from the 11th century to the early 17th century when James VI became the King of Scotland and England. Mary, Queen of Scots, gave birth to James VI in a small room in the palace. In addition to the palace, there are a number of museums to see, including the National War Museum of Scotland. It also houses Scotland’s Crown Jewels.

View From Edinburgh Castle

View From Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh

Edinburgh

After visiting Edinburgh Castle, I went to the Scottish National Gallery, which has one of the best art collections in the world. I love art museums and this was one of the greatest I’ve ever seen.

Sir Walter Scott Monument

Sir Walter Scott Monument

St. Giles Cathedral

St. Giles Cathedral

Palace of Holyroodhouse

Palace of Holyroodhouse

I then went to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is the Queen’s residence when she visits Scotland. The most fascinating part of this palace was Mary, Queen of Scots’ private apartments. Mary, Queen of Scots, led a tragic life and it is at this palace that her life took a turn for the worst. In Mary, Queen of Scots’ Outer Chamber, there is a plaque that marks the spot where David Rizzio, her Italian secretary, was murdered by her second husband, Lord Darnley. After the murder, she fled the palace and gave birth to James VI in Edinburgh Castle a few months later. Lord Darnley later died mysteriously and Mary married James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, who many believed was involved in Lord Darnley’s death. Her marriage to Hepburn was widely condemned and Mary was forced to abdicate the throne to her son, James VI. She sought refuge from her cousin, Elizabeth I, in England, which proved to be a mistake. She spent the next 18 years of her life confined in various castles until she was convicted for plotting to assassinate Elizabeth I and executed at Fotheringay Castle.

If you get to Edinburgh, I highly recommend visiting both Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The history is fascinating.

Have you been to Edinburgh? If so, what was your favorite place to visit?

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