Our last day in Scotland dawned bright and clear – a welcome change from the rain and clouds we’d grown accustomed to!
We headed towards the Castle via a new route which showed a different side of the famous monument and allowed us to enjoy the glorious sunshine.
From the top of the Royal Mile we ambled south at a leisurely pace with no specific destination or timeline in mind. As it was still early the streets were quiet which was a rare treat, especially considering the time of year.
Though sunny it was still quite brisk out but I wasn’t complaining because the chilly morning air provided the perfect excuse to pop back into our favourite new discovery – Mimi’s – for more hot chocolate (with a side of breakfast).
Happily full, we made our way back up the Royal Mile and then across to the Christmas market in Princes’ Street Gardens to browse the stalls and pick up some last-minute souvenirs.
With one last wave to Edinburgh Castle we popped back to the hotel to check out and then got back in the car to head north (yet again) before flying home.
Our destination for our final afternoon was Stirling Castle. We timed our arrival perfectly as we missed the tour bus crowds who flock the site in the mornings and had it largely to ourselves to explore!
Located at the meeting point of the highlands and lowlands and home to many famous Scottish monarchs (including James V, Mary Queen of Scots and James VI), Stirling Castle has historically been seen as the key to Scotland.
Though many monarchs called it home, it was James V who is most identified with the castle and whose design features can be seen most clearly. He even makes an appearance in the stonework! (That’s him below).
I’ve been lucky enough to have visited a lot of castles and Stirling was definitely unique. It was fabulous to be able to explore it without the crowds and the free introductory tour they offer was superb…even if I couldn’t always understand the guide. The Scottish brogue is charming but a bit incomprehensible at times!
Before we knew it the sun was starting to set (you can definitely feel a real shortness in the days in Scotland at this time of year!) and it was time to head towards the airport.
We had one final stop we had to make though because I wasn’t leaving Scotland without finding out just what these were:
Ladies and gentlemen, please meet The Kelpies – the largest equine sculptures in the world.
We had driven by them a handful of times as they’re just next to the M9 and so pulled in to see them up close. They’re silver by day but by night they rotate through different colours (the red and green we saw were very festively appropriate) and it’s really cool to see the transition as it radiates from the inside out. It was deathly freezing so we didn’t stay long but what a fun and unique final stop on our trip!
From the kelpies we drove to Edinburgh airport and soared off into the night, already planning a return trip.
Until next time, Scotland!