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  • Writer's picturePamela Lawton

Bonnie Banks, the Bruce, and Kelpies Too

Today was beautiful--sunny and warmish---perfect weather for a day trip through Rabbie's Tours to the Kelpies statues, Loch Lomond, and Stirling Castle. Our guide Nik, was really knowledgeable and engaging, a retired music store manager and native of Edinburgh. He told us the legend of the kelpie---a mythical water spirit that when on land is a white horse with a golden mane and tail---but is truly a demon. If a person touches it they get stuck to it and the demon drags them down under the water to its dark lair never to return. The huge kelpie statues in Helix Park, an extension of the Forth and Clyde canal, were designed so that the horses bodies appear to be underground (underwater) with just their heads above the surface.

Our next stop was Loch Lomond. Nik told us the sad story behind the song. Two brothers, Jacobite supporters captured by the English are told one will be executed and the other set free, but they had to choose between them which would die. The high road refers to the road back to Scotland from London, and the low road to the underground fairy kingdom where the spirit of the dead brother would go. We hiked around the lake which is very clear and rocky---I picked out two nice rocks (which I love to collect) as a memento of the trip.

Our last stop was to Stirling Castle, probably the most strategic of all the Scottish castles. It was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and pivotal in the fight for Scottish independence (William Wallace and Robert the Bruce). The castle changed hands many times and was destroyed by Robert the Bruce in an attempt to keep it from falling back into English hands. Stirling Castle served as a military garrison through 1963. It took four years to restore it based on historical records. From the castle grounds the graceful tower of the William Wallace monument is visible.

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