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Day 8 - Fortifications and fighting

  • Drummond Castle Scotland (map)

This morning we will enjoy a private visit to Drummond Castle gardens, which claims to have the best terraced gardens in Scotland.  Exclusively ours for an hour, Drummond, with its formal planting of shaped box and conifer and extraordinary hedge patterns, has all the spirit of a formal 17th-century garden, but has been restored in Victorian times and in the 20th century. Our tour includes commentary by the Head Gardener – who has great stories about the filming of Outlander on the estate, which stood in for “Versailles”. 

Afterward, we will swing by Glenturret, the oldest distillery in Scotland, for a tasting or picking up a bottle for later. Back at Gleneagles, enjoy a few hours of free time for playing golf, clay shooting, fishing or biking – or the gym/spa, multiple swimming pools, riding or tennis.

Late-afternoon, we leave for the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre, built on the site of a great Scots victory against the English in the early fourteenth century. This state-of-the-art facility opened for the 700th anniversary in 2014 uses 3D technology in an interactive Battle Room to allow us to participate in the deadly battle between Robert the Bruce and the English King Edward II.

On leaving the center we will have a private battlefield tour with our Scottish Guide. Nobody is entirely sure where the battle took place, but they do know that it was protracted, lasting nearly two days, and it included single combat between Robert the Bruce and a young English aristocrat, whose head was smashed in the exchange.

Lastly, we drive to Stirling Castle for a late Thursday opening, something that only happens in August. Grey, turreted and battlemented, it crouches on a ridge known as the Stirling Still, brooding over its long history; it was besieged by the English before the Battle of Bannockburn. We will see the Great Hall, Royal Palace and Great Chapel (built by King James VI in the 1590s, just before he became King James I of England). After we visit this mighty fortress, we will retreat to the nearby Portcullis pub for a Scottish fish-and-chip supper.