Welcome to another instalment of Virtual Loose Ends. We left off at the Dunbar End, behind Easter Road Stadium in Edinburgh. By its name it leads to Dunbar Town House, the oldest municipal building still in use in Scotland. It now houses the Town House Museum, telling the story of the town with a temporary art exhibition usually going on too. I remember the Town House being a browny-red though about ten years ago it was harled white, which was its colour for a long time, the red of the stone coming through by years of wind and rain. It is a very handsome building with the town clock and Council Chamber with heraldic panels, one from 1686 from the time of James VII/II, the other from later, when the Hanoverians were in charge.
I thought of two connections that would lead from Dunbar Town House to Dumbarton Castle. Dunbar, of course, but also Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary left from Dumbarton to go to France as a young girl in 1547 and also fled to Dunbar after the Battle of Pinkie twenty years later. Dumbarton Castle sits high on a rock overlooking the Clyde and the Vale of Leven. Its buildings are more modern, changed and adapted according to the needs of the day. The views from the top are superb, up to Glasgow, down the Clyde towards Greenock and to mountains to the north.
From the top of Dumbarton Castle Rock it is possible to see Bowling Harbour. Bowling is where the Forth and Clyde Canal meets the River Clyde. It has a handsome harbour with canal boats, yachts and a derelict boat silting up nearby. I haven’t been in a few years but like to sit there and watch the world go by. There are some decent owl sculptures there, if memory serves.
Near enough the other end of the Forth and Clyde Canal is the Falkirk Wheel, a boat lift which links the Forth and Clyde to the Union Canal, making boat travel possible between one side of the country and another. The Falkirk Wheel is a handsome structure, using simple physics to make it work. I was there and had a tour just at the start of the year. The tour was excellent.
Also by the canal a little way away across Falkirk are the Kelpies, two large sculptures of sea creatures. I was also there in January and they are gorgeous up close.
In only six years the Kelpies have become a symbol of Scotland, often lit up as part of charity awareness campaigns. Another symbol of Scotland, possibly used too often to represent our country, is Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh Castle is right at the centre of our capital and it has the National War Museum, National War Memorial and the Crown Jewels. My favourite bit of the castle is the view. It is the only place in Edinburgh where you can’t see Edinburgh Castle. When studying a few years ago, I often sat in the cafe at the Castle and looked out. There’s worse places to sit.
Edinburgh has other castles and my favourite of them is Craigmillar Castle. It sits on the outskirts of the city and it is possible to see Edinburgh Castle from its ramparts. It is quite substantial though ruined and a good hour or more can be spent roaming its confines. The courtyard is particularly fine at Craigmillar with an overhanging tree giving shade.
That’s another Virtual Loose Ends adventure done. Tune in next week for another seven places, back to Glasgow and finishing high on a hill. Until then, keep safe. Cheers just now.