Currently, Ian Rankin’s The Impossible Dead is occupying my bed table as my book of the moment.
His novels, which I am a big fan of (especially the Rebus series), are all based around Edinburgh, Scotland.
After a few hours of relaxing on the couch and reading last night , I turned to my boyfriend and set up to confess a very odd secret. Don’t judge me…
When I am reading the book, I assume a Scottish accent in my head.
Maybe I am trying to take it all in and really become one with the story?
Me thinks I am just a bit odd.
So, my boyfriend gave me a look. Not a “you-are-a-crazy-person” look, but a sheepish “I have something guilty to tell you” look. HE did it as well.
I guess we are both odd ducks. And maybe that’s why we work so well together.
Annnyway. Now I am daydreaming of the beautiful/haunted sounding Edinburgh.
Here is my imaginary hiking tour (from Visit Scotland):
Follow this trail around some of Scotland’s finest castles and ruins, to discover where Mary (Queen of Scots) lived, hid and died. While the trail highlights the range of attractions and things to see and do linked to her life, you may also want to check out our café stops along the way and travel options. In addition, discover more about the area she reigned and find out if you have Stewart ancestry.
1. Dumbarton Castle, Dumbarton – 4 star castle
Dumbarton Castle has the longest recorded history of any stronghold in the UK. It was the centre of the ancient kingdom of Strathclyde from the fifth century until 1018. Impressively situated on a volcanic rock overlooking the Firth of Clyde, Dumbarton was also an important royal refuge. The castle protected the infant Mary Queen of Scots for several months in 1548 before her safe removal to France.
2. Inchmahome Priory Lake Menteith, Nr Callander – 3 star historic attraction
Set on an island in the Lake of Menteith, Inchmahome Priory is an idyllically-situated Augustinian monastery dating from 1238. Much of the 13th century building still remains intact. Mary, Queen of Scots was brought here as a young girl for her own safety after the battle of Pinkie in 1547. The area has also long been associated with fairy lore and legends.
3. Stirling Castle Ballengeich Pass, Stirling – 5 star castle
One of Scotland’s grandest castles due to its imposing position and impressive architecture, Stirling Castle commands the countryside for many miles around and towers over some of the most important battlefields of Scotland’s past, including Bannockburn and Stirling Bridge. Mary, Queen of Scots was only 9 months old when she was crowned Queen of Scotland in the Chapel Royal in Stirling Castle on September 9, 1543.
4. Callendar House Falkirk – 4 star historic house
Built in the style of a French chateau and set in the splendid grounds of Callendar Park, Callendar House has long played a major role in Scotland’s history. Mary, Queen of Scots spent much of her early life here.
5. Linlithgow Palace Linlithgow, West Lothian – 4 star historic attraction
Home to all the Stewart Kings and birthplace to one of the great tragic figures of history, Mary, Queen of Scots, Linlithgow Palace is one of the most atmospheric ruins in Scotland. The palace sits above a tranquil loch with fine views and it is easy to imagine how life was lived in such a fine building.
6. Loch Leven Castle Castle Island, Loch Leven – 4 star castle
Securely located on Castle Island in Loch Leven, this late 14th or early 15th century tower was the setting for the most traumatic year in the life of Mary, Queen of Scots. It was here in 1567 that she was imprisoned and forced to abdicate the throne before her dramatic escape a year later.
7. Falkland Palace Falkland, Fife – 4 star visitor attraction
Falkland Palace is an impressive Renaissance building set in the heart of the town at the foot of the Lomond Hills. Built by James IV and James V between 1450 and 1541 the palace was a country residence of the Stuart monarchs of Scotland for over 200 years. Lush green lawns, colourful herbaceous borders and many unusual shrubs and trees complete the setting for this memorable property. Mary, Queen of Scots favoured this palace as a place of retreat and leisure.
8. Scottish National Portrait Gallery Queen Street, Edinburgh – 3 star visitor attraction
At the impressive Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which reopens in December, you can view an oil painting of Mary, Queen of Scots, done in the early 1600s.
9. Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh – 5 star castle
A majestic landmark, which dominates the capital city’s skyline just as it has dominated Scotland’s long and colourful history, Edinburgh Castle is the best known and most visited of our historic buildings. Perched on an extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle offers stunning views over the city and it is the city’s most popular tourist attraction, as well as part of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. Surrounded by mystery, it is believed the body of Mary’s son, James VI was found here behind the panelling in the room she gave birth in.
10. Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh
Founded as a monastery in 1128, the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh is The Queen’s official residence in Scotland. Situated at the end of the Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is closely associated with Scotland’s turbulent past. Mary, Queen of Scots spent most of her turbulent life in the Palace. She married two of her husbands in the Abbey and her private secretary, David Rizzio, was murdered in her personal rooms by a group led by her husband, Lord Darnley, who believed she was having an affair with Rizzio.
11. Craigmillar Castle, Edinburgh – 4 star castle
Built around 1400, this well preserved medieval castle lies 3 miles south east of Edinburgh city centre. In 1566, Mary Queen of Scots sought the peace and quiet of Craigmillar after the murder of her private secretary. It was here in that same year that the famous “bond” was signed between the Earl of Bothwell and other noblemen, which led to the murder of Mary’s second husband, Lord Darnley.
12. Newbattle Abbey, Edinburgh
Newbattle Abbey is a working college situated in the outskirts of Edinburgh on the banks of the River Esk. A stunning chapel houses a font which was used to baptise Mary, Queen of Scots, at Linlithgow Palace in 1542. The engravings are of people related to Mary and her time. They include: the Royal Arms of Scotland, Marie of Guise, second wife of James V and mother of Mary; and James Haswell, Abbot of Newbattle at the time of Mary’s baptism. The font was dug up in the grounds of nearby Mavisbank House in 1873.
The accent that I imagine in my head can be heard at the end of this clip:
Finally – a word of advice from Lonely Planet:
“Do not talk football until the other person declares their team”