I found a small footnote in a brochure about an abbey in the middle of a lake and it intrigued me entirely. After doing some further research, I found that Inchmahome Priory is located only 25 minutes from my cottage apartment in Stirling. Today was the perfect day to go on this adventure. I took a small boat from the Port of Menteith to the island - about 7 minutes to travel. The lake is breathtakingly beautiful with thick forests butted up against the water, rolling hills in the distance and the sound of nature chirping and buzzing away.
Inchmahome Priory was built in the 1200s for a small community of Augustinian canons (monks). Robert the Bruce visited the abbey 3 times, and this was a place of refuge for Mary Queen of Scots when she was 4 years old. It was abandoned in the mid-1500s during the Reformation. It now belongs to the hands of Historic Scotland who works to preserve what is left of the ruins and the condition of the island.
Just around the corner from the Port of Menteith is a lovely hotel and restaurant. I had a very filling lunch with a gorgeous view of the lake.
From here I depart for Doune Castle. It sits on a wooded area overlooking the River Teith. This part of Scotland is known as the Trassachs - an area that is tied to the stories of Rob Roy. The castle was originally built in the 1200s and then damaged from the early wars of independence. It was rebuilt in the 1300s. It fell to ruin but in the 1880s the castle went through a series of Victorian restorations. Today, the castle is known for being a famous filming location for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, as well as the fictitious 'Castle Leoch' in Outlander, and a site for Game of Thrones.
Below are a few photos from Outlander to show what the castle looked like in filming.
Here are my photographs of my afternoon here at Doune Castle.
After yet another day of hiking through forests and climbing up towers, I was due for a delicious break. So, I headed out to Loch Lomond for a sweet treat at Oak Hill Inn. This is a mouthwatering baked hot chocolate chip cookie with homemade ice cream and whipped cream with strawberries.
I have been playing my stash of Celtic tunes and stumbled on "Loch Lomond". It only felt right to play it as I drove along the banks of the loch. If you are not familiar with the song, here are the lyrics. The song was written by MacGregor of Glen Endrick, who was imprisoned with his friend in 1746. The author had been condemned to death for his support of Bonnie Prince Charlie of Scotland in the 1745 uprising, while his friend was going to be set free. The song tells of the old Celtic myth that the soul of a Scot who dies outside his homeland will find its way back home by the spiritual road, or the low road. So the condemned man says to his friend: "You take the high road and I'll take the low road, and I'll be in Scotland afore ye...".
By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond Me and my true love were ever wont to gae On the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond Chorus Ye'll tak' the high road and I'll tak the low road And I'll be in Scotland afore ye But me and my true love will never meet again On the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond 'Twas there that we parted in yon shady glen On the steep, steep side of Ben Lomond Where in the purple hue the hieland hills we view And the moon coming out in the gloaming The wee birdies sing and the wild flowers spring And in sunshine the waters are sleeping But the broken heart it kens nae second spring again And the waefu' may cease frae their greetin'