Thursday, 5 April 2012

Macbackpacking It to the End

Boxing Day was the final day of the Macbackpackers Christmas tour. We left early on that grey morning, and had a quick stop at 'the Well of the Seven Head's’ at Loch Oich. It is a reminder of Scotland’s ore gruesome past. It shows a column with a sculptured hand holding a dagger, surrounded by 7 stone heads. During a time when clan rebellions and warfare were common, two brothers of the MacDonald clan (one of them the chief) were murdered by rivals in their clan. Eventually the brothers’ deaths were avenged, and the seven murderers were killed and decapitated. On the way to present the heads of the murderers to the new chief of the MacDonald's, they were washed in the spring to make them presentable. Richard told us that comparatively recently 7 headless bodies were found at the bottom of the well, but a Google search suggests they may have been buried in a nearby mound, which has since been exhumed… We couldn’t actually get too close to the well though, as it was flooded, but it was interesting none the less.

Continuing on we stopped at a memorial for Scottish soldiers, before reaching Glencoe. In 1692 multiple members of the MacDonald clan were massacred, lead by the chief of the Campbell clan, simply for pledging allegiance to the new monarchs, William and Mary. To this day there is tensions between those with the last name MacDonald and those with the last name Campbell. We then had a quick stop at Doune Castle, where Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed.

The hills of glencoe

Doune Castle

Wallace Monument
Our final stop before heading back to Edinburgh and the end of the tour was at the Wallace Monument in Stirling. William Wallace was the Guardian of Scotland’ who defeated an English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. Wallace wanted freedom form England and Kind Edward I, and peace for Scotland. But he was captured, and then hung, drawn and quartered for high treason against the king. To this day though, his is still a hero in the eyes of the Scottish.

To get to the monument we had to walk up a bit of a hill. Unfortunately, due to the season, the monument was closed – you can pay to go inside the building. But it was still pretty impressive and the view from the top of the hill is good. On the walk back down the hill I finally got to see a red squirrel!! Well… at least I think it was one. All I saw really was a red streak, as something ran across the path. Oh well, even if wasn’t a red squirrel, I’m going to say it was, just so I can say I’ve seen a red squirrel :P Then it was back on the bus, back to Edinburgh, and the end of a pretty damn good Scottish Christmas tour.

Stone carving of rope around the monument

The view down on to the town of Stirling


east grinstead car hire said...

Doune Castle! Such a mysterious castle. When Doune Castle was constructed is a question never answered. Some study says that it was built in the 13th century and was damaged due to the Scottish Wars. You have made a great trip!