I had a brief viewing of the Atholl monument, and got a bite to eat, then walked almost two miles to the Hermitage entrance....
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One of the most fascinating castles I’ve ever been in, if not the most fascinating, it’s recently completed a really thorough renovation project that began back in 1999. The Queen came and formally opened it just in 2011. I particularly enjoyed seeing the Royal Apartments furnished as they would have been during the life of Mary Queen of Scots and I also liked seeing the weavers at work who are currently completing the last of the panels which are a reproduction of the famed “Unicorn Tapestries.” There’s something about being in the shadow of a centuries-old castle that really sets a grand tone for New Year’s Eve and it turned out to be the perfect place to sport a Stewart tartan kilt. I enjoyed the live music, loved meeting the boys of the band “Bags of Rock” and Dougie MacLean’s acoustic version of ‘Caledonia’ actually made me tear up. The fireworks were the icing on a very nice cake.
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The important question to ask was if we wanted a long drive or a shorter one would suffice. Some of us still wanted to walk more and explore on foot. Internet was reaching out to us in bits and pieces and we were making judicious use of it. A safari park nearby popped up on doing a closer research. The public reviews of it also seemed very positive. For us, it meant a perfect blend of driving and walking. Till the park, it wasn’t a very long drive, suited us aptly for the day and within the park we walked around quite a bit. Located in the Stirling area, it was a one hour drive from the Hoot. We didn’t pack much food along, except for the munchies. Rains distorted us for quite some time but as we purchased the tickets, the day gradually started to brighten up. I was astonished to see that they handed us the map of the park, it was the first time ever that I was going for a safari. To call it a zoo would definitely be an understatement. The natural stance was maintained here by a huge team, making it a grand show in itself. From Asian to African, all sorts of animals and birds, big or small are stationed here. There are wild animals, calm animals, never moving animals (rhino), always busy eating animals(elephants), show presenting animals(sea lion show), animals across the river(apes), free spirited animals, anything that you may think of, is found here. The only drawback is that each time you have to park the car to visit the bay. Though it was a good walk, it was a bit too tedious at times. It would have been a little bit more fun had it been possible to take the car a bit closer, we could just roll down the window and say hello.But never mind the walking, I had not seen so many animals in one place before. The drive from Stirling to Rowardennan is a straight one. It feels like put your favourite music on and put the car on cruise control. Enjoy the view on the sides and munch your muffin while looking at the odd shapes of the clouds. As we reached back to our cottage, we were slightly tired and slightly sad. Tired from the day’s walking and sad about this being the last day of our holiday. Tomorrow will be the last sunrise that I will see over the loch, I said to myself. Without much a thought, I put myself to sleep, cuddled under the blanket.