This morning we had some trouble. Addam misplaced his wallet. After pulling everything out of the van and calling around to the places he went we still can’t find it. It had his IDs, a $2 bill from his grandfather and our American sim cards. Hopefully someone found it and will mail it back to us. Otherwise everything except that special bill is replaceable.

The timing was bad because we also had to make a very early ferry connection from Belfast to Cairnryan (a port on the southwest part of Scotland.) We boarded with our campervan by 7am and did the 2 hour ferry crossing over to Scotland.

I really liked Stena Line. Their ferries are like little cruise ships. They have restaurants, game rooms, a mini movie theatre, massage therapy and cabins for those doing longer overnight journeys. We went with the basics since it was just 2 hours. Got some breakfast and then laid our heads on the table from sheer exhaustion. But by 10.30am we came up to the shores of Scotland, with its great looming green hills, and woke up immediately to take some photos.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be visiting Scotland. I have always been more of an England girl but in the past couple of years I’ve been getting into the history of Scottish royalty and Diana Gabaldon’s book series (now also TV series), Outlander. I won’t lie – our itinerary in Scotland is very much centered around Mary, Queen of Scots and the Outlander series. I’m also throwing Addam a bone and letting him visit some Scotch distilleries. You’re welcome, husband. 😉

Culzean Castle

We immediately drove to our first stop – Culzean Castle. I had never heard of this place before a few days ago when Addam added it to our trip planner. He hadn’t heard of it either but it popped up along the way to our next stop so we thought why not?

Glad we picked it because it is stunning and has a rich history behind it. For example Culzean Castle happened to be a favorite of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. It also housed the world’s biggest used gun collection. (The walls were plastered with them!) The tour guide pointed out that each one of these guns were used “in anger”. I guess the Kennedy family who owned the house and the gun collection had an interesting background. (No, not the American Kennedy family.)

We have a habit lately of just skipping over lunch entirely so we can get to where we’re going and do as much as possible. I kind of hate this but it just takes too long to find a restaurant, eat, and then go again. So immediately after Culzean Castle we drove 1.5 hours, through Glasgow, and on to Stirling Castle.

Stirling Castle

I repeat – Stirling Castle! Ever since the TV show ‘Reign’ aired on Starz I have been obsessed with Mary, Queen of Scots. I’ve read biographies about her, watched movies, and basically stalked her through the history pages for information about her life. She was beautiful, kind, but totally unequipped to be a ruler, which ultimately led to Queen Elizabeth (her cousin) having her beheaded.

Stirling Castle is actually the place where Mary was crowed Queen as an infant and where she spent her early years until she was whisked away to France. We’ll be visiting some other castles where she spent more of her adult life later in our trip but this was such an exciting moment for me because I was able to live out some of my literary obsessions in real life. (Something I will be doing a lot of in England.)

I was a little bit disappointed in how small and unfurnished the castle was. I was also a bit annoyed at how they repainted some of the original artwork in the “style” of how it would have been. To me historical sites should be preserved, not tampered with, because ultimately people want to see what it was originally like, not what they think it should look like.

Stirling Castle made me realize how the English and French must have looked down on their more “barbarian” Scottish neighbors because the size and ‘splendor’ of the castle in no way reached the heights the English and French were capable of creating in their own castles and palaces.

I want to reserve judgement here because I have only visited one Royal castle so far.

The National William Wallace Monument

After Stirling Castle we exercised. No really, that’s how it felt when we were at the National William Wallace monument – a steep 247 step tower. We were dizzy and a bit short of breath when we finally reached the top but the whole experience was very enjoyable and worth it if you want to see stunning views of Sterling, the city.


William Wallace lived in the 1200s and was a Scottish knight who was of no family, or position, but became one of the leaders during the Wars of Scottish Independence. Wallace was responsible for defeating an English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in September 1297. This monument tower was built to commemorate his victory and his place in Scottish history.

Addam was particularly excited to visit this place because he likes the movie Braveheart – on which this story is based.

Camping In The Best Spot In Scotland!

I’m not usually this excited about camping. Give me a hotel any day. But the views at this campsite are like none other we have experienced. (Okay the Grand Canyon was pretty awesome. But this is a bit different.) We’re camping right by Stirling and we’re surrounded by steep hills covered in flowers, grazing lambs and cows. We also have a great view of the William Wallace Memorial. It’s so peaceful and quiet out here. I can’t help but feel happy in this gorgeous country I’ve dreamed of visiting for so long.