Monday, January 15, 2024

Scotland Vacation October 2023 - Royal Yacht Britannia

We had a lovely breakfast at Clark Cottage Guest Hotel in Kelty before planning our last day of adventure in Scotland. The owners were very nice and helpful. My husband tried to purchase tickets online for the Royal Yacht Britannia, but was having connectivity issues. The hotel owners helped us out.

It was kind of a gray, cold, and windy day. We were happy to be doing something mostly inside where it would be warm. 

Description from the Royal Yacht Britannia website: Britannia was launched from the John Brown & Company shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland, on 16 April, 1953. For over 44 years the Royal Yacht served the Royal Family, travelling more than a million nautical miles to become one of the most famous ships in the world. To Queen Elizabeth II, Britannia provided the perfect Royal residence for glittering state visits, official receptions, Royal honeymoons and relaxing family holidays. For Great Britain, she was a majestic symbol of the Commonwealth and a proud ambassador generating billions of pounds in trade deals. For the Royal Family and 220 dedicated crew of Royal Yachtsmen, she was home.

We enjoyed our tour of the yacht. It was fascinating to see how much was contained in the ship. It was all beautifully preserved. We truly enjoyed our self-guided audio tour. The audio tour was a great option because it gave history and insight as you moved through the various areas of the ship. We were lucky to view the ship on a day that was not very busy. The tour included all parts of the ship - Royal Family bedrooms, sitting rooms, lounges, state dining room, laundry room, engine room, crew quarters, decks, medical facilities, and more. It took 300 service people to run the ship when the Royal Family was aboard.

To begin the tour, you walked through rooms with displays of artifacts and a photo timeline of the yacht's service.

Photo of the yacht's last time pulling into port in 1997.
I was surprised that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip had twin size beds in their separate staterooms. The audio tour said that the only full size bed was put in by request of Charles for him and Diana to share. The Queen's study was small and cozy.
Crew areas on the ship.
Bridge, decks, car (lifted onto deck and taken on tour) 
The State Dining room hosted dinners for world leaders, political figures and many famous faces. There were 968 state visits held on the Royal Yacht Britanna. If I remember correctly, the audio guide said it took three hours to set up service to Royal standards for 96 dinners. You can rent out the area for private events.

By the time we completed the tour, we were ready for lunch. We decided to have lunch at the Royal Deck Tea Room. We were lucky to get a table with only a couple of minutes waiting. 

We each ordered the Britannia Special - soup, sandwich, and potato wedges for 19.50.
The food was very good. It was the first time I have tried cream of courgette (zucchini) soup and it was delicious.

After we left the Royal Yacht Britannia, we returned our rental car and checked in at the Moxy Hotel. We were happy to have a quiet night and get to bed early.
Books on the ceiling and in the lobby.

We had an absolutely amazing time in Scotland. The scenery is gorgeous. I can't wait to go back and visit again. Next time, I want to tour the west coast and islands.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Scotland Vacation October 2023 - leaving Dalmunzie, The Hermitage, Culross

Storm Babet hit the Aberdeen coast very hard while we were vacationing in Scotland. It was an intense extratropical cyclone. The effects of the storm were felt in the highlands with lots of rain, flooded roads, and high winds. We were staying at the Dalmuzie Castle Hotel in the Spittal of Glenshee. The hotel's power was affected by the storm and they had to operate on a generator for almost 24 hours.

Our Scotland day 7 view as we left Dalmunzie Castle - wind, rain, and having to use the Waze app to dodge and reroute around all of the flooded road closures.

I had read quite a bit about how beautiful the hiking trails were at The Hermitage in Dunkeld. Even though it was raining, we still wanted to explore the trails. 

Almost every stump we saw was covered in coins that looked like they had been hammered into the wood.
Later, we saw these little signs all along the trail trying to get people to stop putting coins in stumps.
The forest was absolutely beautiful. 
The river was raging. 

We saw this "risk of death" sign on one of the trails. Wow! I was surprised they had not closed the trail. We decided to go a different way.

My husband was feeling braver than me. I did not go anywhere near the edge overlooking the river.
Ossians Hall - The original building on this spot was built in 1752. The National Trust has placed the current building here. There are murals on the walls.
View from Ossians Hall.

Parts of the trail were flooded.
This tree looked like it was growing straight out of the rock.

This totem pole is was installed in 2001 through a partnership with the Squamish First Nations group from Canada. 

We spent a couple of hours walking on the trails. About a week after we got home, I saw people posting pictures of The Hermitage with the leaves changed to fall colors. It was beautiful while we were there, but it would have been spectacular to see the changing of the leaves. 

We left The Hermitage and went to Culross. Our first stop was at the Culross Abbey. The foundation of the abbey dates back to the 6th century. Parts of the current building date to 1217.

There were many beautiful stained glass windows.

These are the remains of three 8th century Celtic crosses.

Most of the tombstones in the kirk were leaning over and covered in moss.

Culross is a National Trust area that is the most complete example of a 16th century village in Scotland. Some of the building were used when filming Outlander.
The wooden sign on this building says "Sassenach Apothecary Fraser's Ridge". 
The streets in town were made of cobblestones.
Culross Castle was constructed between 1597 and 1611. We went to tour the castle, the open sign was out, but the castle was closed. We asked in town about it and were told it could be closed due to the staff having issues with the weather. So, we just wandered around town.
Bessie Bar Steps lead up to a path that overlooks the back gardens of Culross Castle.
Path at top of steps.
After wandering through town, we had a late lunch at the Red Lion Inn. The inn dates back to the 1500s. It was really neat and very cozy. There have been many reports that the inn is haunted and has "active" ghosts.
The ceilings in the back dining area were painted with landscapes.
The ceilings in the front dining room were painted with Scottish beer logos.
Lots of red lion lamps in the room.

After lunch, we started heading back towards Edinburgh. We spent the night in Kelty at Clark Cottage Guest House.