31 January 2011

Dan & Kath Visit Edinburgh, Day 2

Well, the so-called Christmas lull over at our new blog, The Senseitions, has long since come and passed, with only the one Scotland backlog post to show for it. I thought I'd knock out another tonight, leaving us only one or two posts here before we retire The Educated Burgher for good.

In our last post, we saw my parents visiting Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders on their first day in town. In this post, we head north, through Fife and Perthshire and into the edge of the Scottish Highlands.

Dunfermline Abbey

Our first stop on the day trip was the town of Dunfermline, just across the Firth of Forth in Fife. (Say that ten times fast.)

Dunfermline has several claims to fame: it's the birthplace of steel magnate and icon of Pittsburgh history Andrew Carnegie, it's the site of a sprawling medieval abbey, and it's the burial place of most of Robert the Bruce. (As we saw in our last post, his heart is supposedly buried at Melrose Abbey.)

We spent our time in Dunfermline at the abbey, exploring the ruins of its former splendor and the adjacent nineteenth-century church.
If you look closely, you'll notice that the Victorians saw fit to improve upon the stately medieval abbey by adding a neo-Gothic bell tower. And yes, the tower does say "Bruce" in giant letters.

The other abbey buildings, like many of Scotland's medieval ruins, are fun to explore.

 A shot of the interior of the old abbey proper:
 It's built in an older style than Melrose Abbey--you can tell from the rounded arches and the geometric patterns on the columns.

Behind the rood screen above is the Victorian part of the church, which is still in use today.
Under the pulpit is the tomb of Robert the Bruce, with a new-and-improved slab.

Dunkeld is a pretty little town about 15 miles up the River Tay from Perth. It sits in Birnam Wood, made famous by the line from Shakespeare's Macbeth:

Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until 
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill 
Shall come against him

We stopped in Dunkeld for lunch and to check out its cathedral, situated on beautiful grounds beside the river.
 Nana and Kathy get their feet wet.
 Catching some of that fabled Scottish sun. It does exist!

 The old Dunkeld Cathedral.
The interior of part of the cathedral, which is still in use today. We were lucky enough to stumble upon a handbell choir concert here.

Loch Tummel and The Queen's View

We spent most of the afternoon driving a loop around Loch Tummel, which was also recommended by my dissertation advisor as one of Scotland's nicest drives.

The area is about as Scottish as it gets: dark water, thick woods, and rolling green hills backed by steep, heather-clad peaks.
You can see in the photo below why this spot was one of Queen Victoria's favorites, looking up the valley towards the high, pointed peak of Shiehallion in the background.

And that concludes Dan & Kath's Scottish adventure. Hopefully, they'll give us the chance to write about their Japanese adventures before too long!