OK, back to bonny Scotland for just a wee bit more! This walk happened Saturday, May 24.
Was walking to the top of the William Wallace Memorial at Stirling a hike? Well, not really, although we did walk up the trail - about 10 minutes each way, uphill on the way up, then downhill on the way down - just to get to the monument, and then there were the 280 or so steps to the top. So I did enough walking to at least write about this monument, which is near Wallace's signature victory against the English Army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297.
Ever see the movie "Braveheart?" Well, I hadn't, but I have since rectified this omission after returning from Scotland. I know that Mel Gibson's epic was a movie, and that it took a lot of literary license, but it also had much factual material, and it made me glad I was never a Medieval soldier.
This is a view of the Wallace Monument from several miles away near Stirling Castle. It is very Gothic and can be seen from almost anywhere in the area. You can see that it is built at the top of a tall hill.
Here is what the pathway looks like on the way up to the monument. You can also ride a free bus up there. Would I do that? Maybe in a few more decades. Maybe.... There are several miles of additional trails that can be hiked if one chooses. If it had not inconvenienced the others, I would have likely walked a few more miles exploring the woodlands here. It is a beautiful spot.
Two thirds of the way up was this nice pastoral view.
Miles away, you can see Stirling Castle, which we had toured for several hours that morning. It is fascinating.
Wallace is one of Scotland's most revered heroes. Here is a likeness sculpted part way up his monument.
He must have been incredibly strong to have wielded a sword like this one, a replica of his Claymore. I mean, you could have stood in upstate New York and stabbed someone in New Hampshire with this thing!
Here's a depiction of William Wallace in stained glass near the top of the monument, which has several rooms with exhibits as you climb the spiraling staircase.
From the very top is a large viewing platform. Here is part of the mostly pastoral view.
And here is a panoramic view from the top.
The Battle of Stirling Bridge was fought right in that section of the river, back a bit from the foreground.
Wallace was a brave man, and he paid for his bravery and his convictions with an absolutely horrific and unimaginably cruel death at the hands of the English as their prisoner in 1305, eight years after his historic and still remembered victory at this place.