I thought I would take a different angle on writing a blog post on my trip to Scotland. I have written a brief blog post about my train journey from London and the intention was to write a blog post for each day of my trip.
Instead I will write about why I didn’t visit Edinburgh.
I purposely picked Linlithgow because it was out of the city. I feel too many people stay in large cities and never make it outside, missing out on the wonderful locations and small towns in the surrounding areas.
I don’t want to suggest that cities don’t hold any magic or are not worth visiting, but some of my favourite city breaks have been largely because of the small places that lie just outside. Sintra and Lisbon immediately comes to mind. This was my rationale behind choosing to stay in Linlithgow, and not Edinburgh.
Linlithgow is lovely. It is almost the quintessential British town, with the additional bonus of having a palace (which is more like a castle) set against a loch.
The High Street is littered with lovely pubs. The type that have a fire burning in the winter and only one lager on tap among the many bitters and ales. Order a lager and you may see a few heads shaking. I am sure most are owned by the large breweries, but the point is they feel like they don’t.
Aside from a Subway, the town is free from McDonalds, Burger King and Pizza Hut. The cobbled High Street is lined with small cafes, eateries and pubs. There is a ‘proper’ fish and chip shop too.
Linlithgow is everything that a city isn’t.
Photo: Linlithgow Palace, Linlithgow (2017)
Despite a 10k race taking place later in the day, the loch was peaceful. It is a world apart from walking around Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park. The Palace, which is more like a Castle, is charming. It was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and has been left in the same condition following a fire in 1746. A real ‘castle’ that has escaped modern renovation.
You may by now have guessed this is the type of place I prefer.
The original plan was to visit Falkirk the following day and Edinburgh on my last day. Things don’t always go to plan.
I did visit Falkirk. I have mixed opinions on the town.
My day started at the train station and the long walk to the Kelpies. These are impressive to say the least but there is little else to do here, there is a guided tour but I chose not to go on this.
From the Kelpies I walked to the Falkirk Wheel on the recommendation of a friend. Had I been left to my own devices, it is unlikely I would have visited it. The walk was just over 4 miles along the Union Canal towpath. The canal in parts was very pretty, in others walking past industrial estates.
Photo: The Kelpies, Falkirk (2017)
It is probably best if I provide a link to Wikipedia to explain what the Falkirk Wheel is. I can say that it is an amazing engineering achievement and very impressive, both from the ground and from the top of the Wheel. I hope to upload a photo(s) at a later date.
Would I recommend Falkirk? Probably not, but you live and learn.
It is probably worth mentioning at this point that the trip was quite booked last minute, meaning my opportunities to research the places I planned to visit was quite limited.
I wanted to visit Stirling, but with only one day left I wasn’t going to have enough time if I visited Edinburgh.
I had the evening to think about where I was going to spend my final day; I quickly realised that I didn’t really want to visit Edinburgh. The only reason I planned to visit was for the simple reason that I couldn’t travel to Edinburgh and not see the city itself. It was a simple decision, my final day was going to be spent in Stirling.
I am glad I did.
I started at Stirling Castle, walking through the old town along the way. I like castles and Stirling Castle has a certain charm about it with some amazing views. If you like Braveheart you’ll also like Stirling Castle.
The walk from the castle to the Wallace Monument felt like a long one. In reality it was probably only about 2 miles, although the final stretch was uphill and quite steep to add to that.
I still hadn’t made it.
After buying my ticket to the monument, one final push was needed up an even steeper road.
I had made it to the bottom of the Monument. Now only 246 steps to climb to get to the top, where like the castle, the views are breathtaking and worth every agonising step to get there. Not only were the views amazing, the monument had three separate rooms on the climb up, each detailing the history of William Wallace or the Anglo-Scottish wars. Again, if you love Braveheart, or just history in general, you’ll love the Monument. The Monument is built on the hill Wallace was meant to have scouted the battlefield before the Battle of Stirling Bridge.
I loved Linlithgow, I loved Stirling, I loved Scotland. Would I have got to see them if I had stayed in Edinburgh? Unlikely, and certainly not to the extend I was able to experience and enjoy Linlithgow had I chosen to take a day trip from Edinburgh.
I know plenty of people who will express shock that I didn’t visit Edinburgh, but I’m sure there are plenty of other people out there who can resonate with the reasons why I choose not to.