Monday 9 July 2018
First thing this morning we visited Dumbarton Castle which has the longest recorded history of any stronghold in Scotland. It was attacked by the Picts, the English, the Vikings, Oliver Cromwell and by James IV. It has been the site of a fortification for at least 1500 years. Mary Queen of Scots sailed to France from here as a child in 1548 and William Wallace was taken from here to be executed.
The castle sits on a plug of volcanic basalt known as Dumbarton Rock which is 73 metres high. To get anywhere on the rock you need to climb large numbers of stairs and then return the same way. We climbed more than 500 steps throughout the castle grounds but the view from every battlement of the River Clyde and the River Leven on the other two sides was absolutely stunning. The castle is not really a castle in the traditional sense as the rock is incorporated into it but is still a fascinating site.
We then drove to Alloway to see Robert Burns family home where he was born on 25 January 1759. It is a simple two-roomed clay and thatch cottage. The walls of the cottage have been covered with fragments of his verse and in one corner is a tiny box bed which Robert shared with his three siblings. As you enter the kitchen area, a rendition of Tam o’Shanter begins. Outside is the garden where he worked with his father and brothers.
Last top of the day was a layby about 1 ½ miles from the ferry terminal. Tomorrow we are catching the vehicle and passenger ferry to Belfast, Ireland.