When visiting new places, I love to embrace the tourist that I am and visit as many cultural and historical sites as possible. So, when the opportunity arose to see Edinburgh Castle, I was straight online to print off the map! It’s no secret Willow and I have a common thread of bad weather on the days of experience visits; therefore, you can imagine our surprise when we woke up to a beautiful sunny day in Scotland.
The castle opens at 9.30am daily and last entry is at 5pm, so we leisurely made our way to the bus stop and caught the bus into Edinburgh town centre and walked through Princes Street Gardens. The views of the castle from the gardens was a photographer’s dream, shown by our picture of the Ross Fountain and the magnificent castle situated behind. I would highly recommend walking through the park due to the beautiful landscaping and war memorials. As we approached the entrance to the castle the atmosphere was lively with bagpipes being played up the cobbled streets. There was a collection hut where you can scan your ticket barcodes, which then printed out your entry stickers. Ice cream vans scattered, and people admired the exquisite view, taking advantage of the photo op.
As we walked into the castle, we couldn’t help but look up at the tall walls that created a path leading into the heart of the castle. Guided tours are available and set off every half an hour in the summer months and every hour in the winter. The knowledgeable guides that meet you under the clock are a great way to learn insightful facts. If you didn’t want to go around with a group, do not worry, there is the option of an audio guide. This is offered in a range of languages for only a small fee. As we walked though into the heart of the castle, we noticed everyone gathering and looking out beyond the wall. We soon realised this was for the 1 o’clock gun fire. The landmark is extremely popular and the master gunner fires it every day apart from Sundays. The crowds went silent as we watched with anticipation and although I knew it was coming, I still jumped a mile at the loud bang. It was nice to see the gunman stayed afterwards for those who wanted to take a photo with him.
After the gun display, we saw Mons Meg, gifted to King James II in 1457. The high-end military weapon was used on many historical occasions including Mary Queen of Scots wedding day. This is located right next to St Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest building in Edinburgh, built in 1130. A highlight of the day for me was seeing the Scottish crown jewels, also known as the Honours of Scotland, they are truly breath taking. With no photography or filming allowed, you will have to visit Edinburgh Castle yourself to see them! The historic sights don’t end there, with the Prisons of War, National War Museum and the sacred Stone of Destiny, you will surely need to stop off at the tea rooms for a bite to eat between exploring. But don’t eat too much as this Experience Days voucher includes a three-course dining experience at the Merchant's Restaurant located in the town, off the famous Royal Mile walk. On the way out make sure you stop off at the Crown Gift Shop which is full of memorabilia.
A fantastic day out, full of history!