Fresher’s Week Part 2: Out of Edinburgh

I have officially survived Fresher’s Week! I’ve been to a ceilidh, tried haggis, signed up for societies, AND I’ve even gone a full day without getting lost. I also managed to make my way out of Edinburgh.

“Out of Edinburgh?!” you say, “You’ve barely arrived!” Well, yes, that’s true, but when the chance arises to see three different castles with the Archaeology Society for 3 pounds, you take it.

Our first stop was Linlithgow Palace (Birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots), where our tour was unexpectedly cancelled because the guide had just quit. Not to worry, though, we were still allowed to walk and explore by ourselves, from the ornate fountain to the heights of a tower. I almost preferred being able to explore by myself – I was able to see all of the historical bits AND climb to the top of one of the towers, thereby completing one of my goals quite early. I even got a postcard to add to my collection.

At Dirleton, our next stop, our tour guide was not only there but dressed up in a full suit of armor! His tour was excellent, with lots of amusing digressions about ingenious defensive tactics and dysentery and Hollywood, but the tour only went around the outside of the castle and lasted so long that we hardly had any time to explore. I ended up trying to run around and see everything, which is probably the last thing you should do in a crumbly old ruin, and nearly missed the bus! I made it in the end, and on to the last stop, which was…

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*Drum Roll, Please*

Hailes Castle! This is probably the least visited of the three, being just a small ruin with no visitor center and no gift shop, on a two-way road so small a bicycle had difficulties getting past our bus. However, it’s probably my favorite of the three because of its picturesque location (despite being such a gray day) and rustic appearance. It also had a lot of really neat features, including a couple of pit prisons and a cellar for making breads and ales!

Seriously... how'd the bus fit?
Seriously… how’d the bus fit?
From inside Hailes... Sort of.
From inside Hailes… Sort of.

That wasn’t the last of castles for me, though, because the next day I was able to go to St. Andrews! The ticket came with a free pass to see both the castle and the cathedral, though due to my sometimes terrible sense of time I only made it to the castle.The castle has an incredible amount of visible history, including a mine that was dug during a siege and counter-siege in the 1540s. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, so much of the rest of my time was spent on the beach admiring the views and hopping across seaweed-covered rocks to find that perfect spot:

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And with that, I ended Fresher’s Week! At last, a chance to relax… For now.

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