I am setting out on an adventurous day of sightseeing before I start running out of time. It's amazing how quickly time flies by when you're having fun!
So, today I planned to set out for Linlithgow Palace, Blackness Castle, Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies.
First up, Linlithgow Palace. This palace was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. It was originally built in the 1100s. In the 1420s it was hit by a devastating fire, but at the request of James I, it was rebuilt. Much of what we see today is of the 1400s remodel as well as additions made in the early and mid 1500s. There was an additional upgrade when James VI was in rule during the early 1600s.
Just next to the palace is a visitor & education information center that also houses a large ballroom for private events. The building caught my attention as there was a bagpiper playing just outside. I noticed "Cafe" written on a sign behind him, so I went inside. I found out that he was playing for wedding guests as they arrived, but the cafe was still open to visitors. So I popped in for a nice lunch of a grilled ham panini with crisps and salad. It was a lovely lunch as inside there was a Celtic fiddler also playing for the wedding guests arriving.
Next, I decided that I wanted to get to Blackness Castle which was only 4 miles away on the river bank overlooking the Forth River. It was such a beautiful day out today so I had to capitalize on the good weather for a location such as this. The castle was built in the 1440s primarily as a residence for Sir George Crichton, Admiral of Scotland. The inspiration for the castle is a 'ship like' aesthetic. The castle has served many purposes and had been developed further throughout time. It was once a residence, then turned into a prison, heavily armed garrison fortress, and an ammunitions depot. It has not been used since WWI.
Blackness Castle was also used as a film location for Outlander. The location served as Fort Williams in the series, which I have not yet seen but I am continuously thinking I should spend some time upon my return to catch up on this series!
With Falkirk only being about 12 miles away, I decided that I wanted to squeeze in seeing both the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies. I am so glad that I did, especially with how gorgeous it was today.
The Falkirk Wheel is an amazing work of engineering. The wheel serves the purpose to move small boats from the top of one canal down to the loch (lake) and lower canals. The Falkirk Wheel is said to be the first and only rotating boat wheel in the world. It takes about 5-7 minutes for the wheel to rotate. The surrounding area of the wheel is quite beautiful - long streaming canals lined by trees and wildlife. The park at the wheel features a large visitor information center with several options for grabbing a bite to eat, have a spot of coffee or tea, do some shopping, or have your kiddos play on bungee trampolines or play sets. They sell tickets to ride on a small boat on the canal and to go on the rotating wheel.
Last stop of the day is to see the magnificent Kelpies at Helix Park in Falkirk. I have been looking so forward to seeing these in person. These structures were designed by Andy Scott who has some of the most impressive and beautiful sculptures throughout Scotland to Australia. They stand about 100ft tall and are made from galvanized steel. These sculptures are a tribute to the rich history of horse-powered labor. They sit at the far end of the wonderfully modern Helix Park and are joined by canals and waterways that meet the horses at their base. The park was buzzing with families and friends all coming to take in the good weather, the scenery of the Kelpies and the playful environment that the Helix Park has to offer.