Wednesday, September 14th.
Rose early, and departed before breakfast. The morning was dry, but cold. Travelled as before, along the shores of Loch Lubnaig, and along the pass of the roaring stream of Leny, and reached Callander at a little past eight o'clock. After breakfast set off towards Stirling, intending to sleep there; the distance eighteen miles. We were now entering upon a populous and more cultivated country, having left the mountains behind, therefore I shall have little to tell; for what is most interesting in such a country is not to be seen in passing through it as we did. Half way between Callander and Stirling is the village of Doune, and a little further on we crossed a bridge over a pleasant river, the Teith. Above the river stands a ruined castle of considerable size, upon a woody bank.
We wished to have had time to go up to the ruin. Long before we reached the town of Stirling, saw the Castle, single, on its stately and commanding eminence. The rock or hill rises from a level plain; the print in Stoddart's book does indeed give a good notion of its form. The surrounding plain appears to be of a rich soil, well cultivated. The crops of ripe corn were abundant. We found the town quite full; not a vacant room in the inn, it being the time of the assizes: there was no lodging for us, and hardly even the possibility of getting anything to eat in a bye-nook of the house. Walked up to the Castle. The prospect from it is very extensive, and must be exceedingly grand on a fine evening or morning, with the light of the setting or rising sun on the distant mountains, but we saw it at an unfavourable time of day, the mid-afternoon, and were not favoured by light and shade. The Forth makes most intricate and curious turnings, so that it is difficult to trace them, even when you are overlooking the whole.
It flows through a perfect level, and in one place cuts its way in the form of a large figure of eight. Stirling is the largest town we had seen in Scotland, except Glasgow. It is an old irregular place; the streets towards the Castle on one side very steep. On the other, the hill or rock rises from the fields. The architecture of a part of the Castle is very fine, and the whole building in good repair: some parts indeed, are modern. At Stirling we bought Burns's Poems in one volume, for two shillings.
Went on to Falkirk, ten or eleven miles. I do not recollect anything remarkable after we were out of sight of Stirling Castle, except the Carron Ironworks, seen at a distance; - the sky above them was red with a fiery light. In passing through a turnpike gate we were greeted by a Highland drover, who, with many others, was coming from a fair at Falkirk, the road being covered all along with horsemen and cattle. He spoke as if we had been well known to him, asking us how we had fared on our journey. We were at a loss to conceive why he should interest himself about us, till he said he had passed us on the Black Mountain, near King's House. It was pleasant to observe the effect of solitary places in making men friends, and to see so much kindness, which had been produced in such a chance encounter, retained in a crowd. No beds in the inns at Falkirk - every room taken up by the people come to the fair. Lodged in a private house, a neat clean place - kind treatment from the old man and his daughter.
Thursday, September 15th.
Breakfasted at Linlithgow, a small town. The house is yet shown from which the Regent Murray was shot. The remains of a royal palace, where Queen Mary was born, are of considerable extent; the banks of gardens and fish-ponds may yet be distinctly traced, though the whole surface is transformed into smooth pasturage where cattle graze. The castle stands upon a gentle eminence, the prospect not particularly pleasing, though not otherwise; it is bare and wide. The shell of a small ancient church is standing, into which are crammed modern pews, galleries, and pulpit - very ugly, and discordant with the exterior. Nothing very interesting till we came to Edinburgh. Dined by the way at a small town or village upon a hill, the back part of the houses on one side overlooking an extensive prospect over flat corn fields. I mention this for the sake of a pleasant hour we passed sitting on the bank, where we read some of Burns's poems in the volume which we had bought at Stirling.
Arrived at Edinburgh a little before sunset. As we approached, the Castle rock resembled that of Stirling - in the same manner appearing to rise from a plain of cultivated ground, the Firth of Forth being on the other side, and not visible. Drove to the White Hart in the Grass-market, an inn which had been mentioned to us, and which we conjectured would better suit us than one in a more fashionable part of the town. It was not noisy, and tolerably cheap. Drank tea, and walked up to the Castle, which luckily was very near. Much of the daylight was gone, so that except it had been a clear evening, which it was not, we could not have seen the distant prospect.
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