Home > Vacation > Scotland – Day 2: Glasgow, Alloway, Carlisle

Scotland – Day 2: Glasgow, Alloway, Carlisle

November 6, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Itinerary

Start your grand tour of Scotland with interesting Lowland sights: Scottish poet ROBERT BURNS’ BIRTHPLACE and MUSEUM at Alloway, and Gretna Green, where the blacksmith used to wed runaway couples. Step over the border for a guided visit to CARLISLE CASTLE, which has guarded England’s frontier with Scotland since the 11th century. Overnight nearby.

The Beginning

Our first real tour day. Breakfast was a buffet, as it would be much of the time. While similar to American buffets, there were more traditional local fares, such as haggis and blood sausage. Though we didn’t know that’s what they were at the time, since they weren’t labeled. Actually didn’t find out the latter until we reached Inverness.

As this was a typical morning, I’ll describe it now, so we don’t have to cover it later. Times vary each day, but the usual routine was breakfast at 7 and leave at 8. We normally stay at each hotel for 2 nights. On the day we leave, luggage is to be placed outside the room at 7. The hotel porters then pick it up while eat. No hotel tipping, if you’re curious. The tour costs cover all that.

And just to make it more typical, the weather was cold and rainy, as it would also be much of the time. September is supposed to be the dry month, but you never know. The odd arrival of Tropical Storm Katia did not help.

Alloway

Robert Burns Cottage

First stop was Alloway to visit the birthplace of Robert Burns. I knew the name, but not much else. He is arguably the greatest Scottish poet and lyricist. Wildly popular in Scotland. Anyway, not so much my thing.  The cottage above is pretty much it. Most of his belongings were moved to a new swanky museum down the street. Touring the cottage is pretty much a 5 minute walk-through from end to end, though there is a small gift shop next door. I would have liked to walk around the town and down to where the “Brig O’ Doon” was, but the rain sent us straight back to the bus. The new museum is quite impressive (though, still not so much for me). The number of objects both he and the museum have collected is daunting and we needed more time to see everything. My only complaint is that the museum is very dark.

Gretna Green

Gretna Green was a convenient lunch stop. A little too much so, as the parking lot had several tour buses, which made eating a little difficult. This is the ‘first’ village you come to when leaving England. This is important because the Scottish formerly had much more lax laws regarding marriage than England. Gretna Green became the de facto eloping destination. To this date it is still one of the most popular wedding locations. We didn’t look around much, except to eat and shop at one of the gift shops.

Carlisle Castle

Carlisle Castle

After lunch it was a quick hop down to Carlisle, located in England. To answer the obvious question, because of Carlisle Castle. Being so close to the Scottish-English border, the castle is in a highly strategic location. The Scots beseiged and occupied it several times. The castle has stood for several hundred years, so its history is much too complex to revisit here. As I will often state, I wish we had more time. I found the castle quite interesting. I would have liked to get some nice people-less panorama of the front.

View of Carlisle from the castle

Wetheral

Our room at the Crown Hotel

Lodging for the night was in the nearby Crown Hotel in the small town of Wetheral. I quite liked this hotel and it was one of my favorites of the trip. That said, I know some of the rooms were renovated and some were not. I don’t know which we had. The hotel layout, as was common with many of our hotels, was baffling. No elevators, either. It takes quite a few doors and turns just to reach the dining room :) There was a nice little bar next to the dining area and a couple of sitting rooms. Which was also the only place we could get a reliable WiFi signal (free!). I would happily stay here again, although it is not cheap. Before dinner we walked around the town green so I’ll end this post with some photos of the more impressive sights.

Crown Hotel

Full Gallery – Day 2

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