Castle bagging replaces Munro bagging

Edinburgh Castle 908
Edinburgh Castle 908
historic castles and stunning natural beauty but the less energetic have started a new craze , swapping Munros for the new sport of castle bagging.Touring the country and visiting the most castles in a weekend has become a popular pastime for recession hit Brits.

Historic Scotland has noticed an increase in the number of visitors to their properties who say they are on a mission to bag the most castles they can. Edinburgh Castle is one of the top tourist attractions in the whole of the UK
They have realised around 20 visitors a month are making the most of Scotland’s multiplicity of strongholds and travelling around to visit them as a day out or weekend away. One family even managed to visit 20 properties in just seven days.
In today’s credit crunch Britain one in five people are choosing to holiday at home – staycations as some people say – and experience Scotland’s culture and heritage.
Historic Scotland is taking advantage of the situation and offering six months free on their family membership when you buy 12 months. Families will pay just £6.16 a month to get free access to more than 70 properties across Scotland and can bag as many castles as they like.
To celebrate the Make Your Own History campaign they are challenging families to take up the new craze in a search to find the country’s most cultured family.
Barbara Smith, executive manager of Edinburgh Castle, said: “We have noticed an increase in visitors who say they are trying to visit as many castles as possible. It seems to have become a bit of a sport to see who can “bag” the most.
“Historic Scotland looks after more than 60 castles across the country so there’s plenty to choose from. It’s a great way in the current climate for families to spend quality time together and get out and experience Scotland’s culture and heritage for themselves.
“The hard part is choosing which castles to visit and how much time to spend there as there is so much to see and do. We’d love to find the family who have bagged the most of our castles to date.”
I have drawn up a list of the top ten castles in Scotland . You can debate this list in our castles forum
Elaine and Alistair Greig are possible contenders after notching up 39 castles around Scotland. The enthusiasts enjoy spending time with their children Ewan, seven, and Eilidh, five, touring Scotland’s keeps.

Elaine said: “I’ve loved visiting castles ever since I was a little girl and my children love it now too. Their favourite pastime at the weekend is a visit to Edinburgh Castle. They can run around for hours at a time and let their imagination go wild.
“It’s a great way to spend time together as a family. We often take a picnic with us when we go for the day. We are spoilt for choice in Scotland with the number of beautiful historic properties we have and they are perfect for families to explore.
“All young children love the history behind castles and the people who live there like knights and kings and every property has its own unique story.”
And foreign tourists are getting in on the act with one German family visiting 35 sites in 10 days and a Spanish couple managing 37 in 14 days.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland said the new trend is slightly less strenuous than Munro bagging but still a great way to spend a day out enjoying Scotland’s natural beauty.

David Gibson, Chief Officer for The Mountaineering Council of Scotland, said: “Scotland’s castles and mountains are inextricably linked though their history and beauty and are both set in wonderful scenic landscapes that are great to explore. Like munro-bagging, castle bagging carries a health warning – it can be seriously addictive.”
Historic Scotland will reward the family who can bag the most castles in a weekend. The winning family will be reimbursed for entry.
For more information on Historic Scotland and the full terms and conditions of the membership offer visit www.6monthsfree.co.uk

Linlithgow’s Medieval pageant celebrates 1503

Medieval Knights will escort King James IV and his queen to palace joust . Linlithgow Palace has announced details of one of the biggest-ever weekends of visitor events at the Royal Palace.

Party at the Palace, a key part of the national Homecoming celebrations, takes place on 23 and 24 May and will be an extravaganza of entertainment and fun based round events at Scotland’s royal court in 1503. It was a year in which Scotland celebrated the marriage of King James IV to Margaret Tudor and the signing of the Treaty of Perpetual Peace with England.

Each day will start with a magnificent horseback procession in which a cavalcade of up to 10 mounted knights in armour will escort King James and his new queen along Linlithgow High Street to the palace.

They will be accompanied by dozens of courtiers and the followers of four great noble families whose champions will then take part in spectacular jousting.  It promises to be a truly memorable weekend full of medieval colour and spectacle – and will recall the days when Scotland’s kings and queens were frequent visitors to their great palace in Linlithgow .This is one of the largest events Historic Scotland has ever staged and will include more than 120 costumed performers. There will be lots to do and see with jesters, poets, storytellers, musicians, dancers, falconers and cooks filling the palace. There will even be an alchemist trying to turn ordinary metals into gold, and an etiquette tutor who will teach young visitors what to do and say if they bump into the king and queen.

And there’s every chance of that happening as James introduces his bride to her subjects and they walk the grounds and watch the tournament held in their honour.Party at the Palace is based on a period of significant historical importance and looks set to be a fantastic fun-filled weekend of education and entertainment for all ages.

There will be two sessions of horseback jousting each day, plus a display of falconry.

The outdoor activities will come to a climax each afternoon when up to 80 foot warriors will gather in the main arena and do battle to decide which great clan will be the tournament champions.

The clans fighting it out will be the:

Campbells

Lindsays

Douglases

Hamiltons

All were powerful and influential in the early 16th century, and constantly struggling for supremacy and doing all they could to gain royal favour.

Each clan will have its own tented camp where visitors can meet the nobles, soldiers and their followers and discover what life would have been like in 1503. Inside the palace children will be able to help bakers knead the dough for fresh bread to be served to the king and queen when they arrive for a meal . Another special feature will be that the King’s Fountain, a 5m tall masterpiece of Renaissance architecture located in the palace courtyard, will be made to flow. Discuss this article on the castle pictures blog

Small flags will be available on the day with the coats of arms of each clan taking part in the tournament so visitors can show who they support. Linlithgow Palace is a medieval castle for the day

Party at the Palace is part of Historic Scotland’s contribution to the Scottish Government’s 2009 Year of Homecoming and is part-funded by Homecoming Scotland 2009. Linlithgow Palace screensavers

Stirling Castle gets brand new image

Stirling Castle is one of the best castles in Scotland with a rich and fascinating history  .Stirling Castle is now getting a makeover with a striking new brand identity to raise its profile as one of Scotland’s premier visitor attractions and further develop its tourism business.
The creation of the Stirling Castle brand is part of the £12 million Stirling Castle Palace Project which will see the royal lodgings at Stirling Castle returned to the Renaissance magnificence of the mid 16th century.
The stunning stronghold’s unique identity conveys both its character and significance in Scottish history.

The exclusive, striking logo contains references to Scotland’s coat of arms, the unicorn tapestries and the sculptures on Stirling Castle’s Great Hall roof.  The unicorn, the enigmatic mythological beast, features throughout Stirling Castle.  The new mark also takes its shape from the famous circular wood-carved Stirling heads.  Its references and complex detail are emblematic of pageantry and royal status, and features Stirling Castle sitting high up in its green and leafy setting.
Historic Scotland Marketing and Media Manager Rebecca Hamilton said: “This new logo we have created conveys a sense of depth, experience, royal authority, richness and intimacy.  Marrying the highly decorative with an intimate experience is very apt for Stirling Castle.
“Our aim was to create a distinctive, memorable and stronger visual identity which embodies the special importance and character of Stirling Castle.  It is a truly outstanding attraction with a range of visitor experiences.  And the completion of the Stirling Castle Palace Project in 2011 will see the visitor experience enhanced further.”
The logo will be phased in at the attraction for a wide variety of uses including signage, vehicle livery, staff uniforms, publications for visitors, and interpretation of the castle’s history, as well as in Historic Scotland’s website details on the site.

The Stirling Castle Palace Project involves the conservation and refurbishment of the Royal Lodgings to present them as they might have appeared in the heyday of Scotland’s Stewart court in the mid 16th century. Extensive historical and archaeological research has been carried out to ensure the interior decoration, as well as the materials and craftsmanship used, are as authentic as possible.
An interpretive display on the court of James V will be created in the palace vaults and a Renaissance Gallery on the upper floors of the palace will house the original Stirling Heads, a rare group of intricately carved oak ceiling medallions depicting kings, queens, courtiers and mythological creatures.  Costumed interpreters will bring the rich history of the 16th century to life to enrich visitors’ enjoyment.
Chris Watkins, head of Historic Scotland’s major projects team, said: “The Stirling Castle Palace Project will not only conserve the palace as a monument of international importance but also present and interpret the magnificence of the royal lodgings, the superb Renaissance carvings and the life of the royal court.
“The project will enable us to maximise the appeal of Scotland’s finest Renaissance palace and encourage more people to visit both the castle and the city of Stirling.  And the creation of the Stirling Castle brand, with its distinctive new logo, will play a very important part in helping us promote and project all that this wonderful attraction stands for and offers.”

Stirling Castle videosStirling Castle picture gallery

Falkirk Wheel – videos of Scotland

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique engineering achievement enabling canal boats to be transferred from the Union Canal to the Forth and Clyde Canal. My video shows the wheel turning and transporting a canal boat from one canal to the other . I have speeded up the video as it takes about 5 minutes for the whole transfer to take place . The Wheel is one of the Millennium projects funded in Scotland.The Millennium Link was an ambitious £84.5m project with the objective of restoring navigability across Scotland on the historic Forth & Clyde Canal and Union Canal, providing a corridor of regenerative activity through central Scotland. A major challenge faced, was to link the Forth and Clyde Canal, which lay 35m (115ft) below the level of the Union Canal. Historically, the two canals had been joined at Falkirk by a flight of 11 locks that stepped down across a distance of 1.5km, but these has been dismantled in 1933, breaking the link. Completion of The Millennium Link project was officially marked by Her Majesty The Queen on 24 May 2002 at The Falkirk Wheel.

Forth Bridge lights go out

The Forth Bridge is set to join a number of Edinburgh buildings and those around the world in switching its lights off to highlight the battle against climate change.

The Parliament joins Edinburgh Castle and the Forth Bridge in marking Earth Hour, which will be held on March 28. A number of iconic landmarks around the globe, including the Eiffel Tower and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, are also taking part.Over 500 cities are taking part in the event, which is being organised by conservation charity WWF. Dr Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland, said: “It is great news the Parliament has given its backing to Earth Hour.”
Parts of Edinburgh Castle may have to be covered in grey wire mesh permanently to prevent further debris falling.
Historic Scotland officials are looking at covering Edinburgh Castle rock with massive sections of mesh to try to stabilise the wall. The city council is already looking at preventing buses and taxis from parking below the castle rock for at least 18 months while tests are carried out. A ban on coaches entering the esplanade is being explored to help protect the castle rock and improve safety for visitors.

A spokesman for Historic Scotland, the agency responsible for the care and maintenance of the castle, said a decision on whether to keep any mesh in place in the “long term” would not take place until initial works had been completed. The spokesman added: “The precautionary measures are designed to identify and secure areas of rock which might be at risk of coming loose.

“It is the latest stage in an on-going monitoring, care and maintenance programme which aims to conserve the castle rock in the best possible condition and minimise the number of rock falls which are the inevitable result of the natural erosion which has been taking place for millions of years.”

David Storrar, regional architect for Historic Scotland, added: “The castle rock is a national treasure and we carry out regular specialist maintenance work to protect it and maintain rock stability.

“Our consultant engineers recently identified eight areas on the north-west face where it would be prudent to carry out precautionary stabilisation work.

“This will involve drilling into the rock and inserting stainless steel pins to keep it firmly in place.”