Posted by Lizzie Lamb
This post is part #2 of our tour of Scotland this summer, from Edinburgh to Balnakeil in the north west corner of Scotland and back to Glasgow.
I’d always wanted to visit Rosslyn Chapel – and the Royal Yacht Britannia, and that’s exactly what we did.
I was intrigued to compare the actual chapel to the scenes from the movie – but was disappointed to discovered they only filmed the scene in the crypt there. So no cabalistic signs, Knights Templar or hidden symbols connecting the chapel to the Virgin Mary, but lots to see, otherwise. The chapel is full of the most amazing carvings, including a frieze of maize or Indian Corn surrounding a window. This was constructed fifty years before Columbus discovered America in 1492 – so, go figure, as they say.
(sadly, no internal photos so you’ll have to go to the website for those.) Here are my photos . . . click on each one for a description.
If you arrive before 11am you can join the FREE guided tour, which is well worth it. The guide said that the chapel was falling down around their ears and they prayed for a miracle. God sent them one in the shape of Dan Brown and the Da Vinci Code. Now the chapel is being preserved for posterity. Great cafe, too, in case you wondered.
The Royal Yacht Britannia – well worth the money
We spent a very happy three hours looking round the RY Britannia. With our headsets we explored the yacht at our own pace and you really do have ‘access to all areas’, including HM’s bedroom. Parking is free and the tour cost £13.50. Amazingly, the yacht is moored at the end of the Britannia Shopping Mall, Leith and, if at the end of your time you still have energy, there’s a great shopping centre there, too. Here are the pics . . . click on each one for a description. Of course, being us, the tour started in the restaurant where we had tea and scones (not silly prices, either).
We spent a lot of time practising saying: The Leith Police dismisseth us, in order to prove we were sober, so we felt we’d earned our tea break.
We’ve spent many summer on the Isle of Wight and the ferry took us past the Royal Yacht moored off Cowes in the Solent. It was sad to see this grand old lady moored next to a shopping centre, IMHO, but at least we had a chance to look round which otherwise would have been denied to us. Of course, we were interested to see the bedroom and sitting rooms and they were all of show, along with boiler rooms etc.
Everything is very simple and pared back. Apparently, Her Maj rejected for the first set of plans for being ‘too grand’, she wanted a ‘country house interior’, and that’s what she got. As I was peering into Charles and Diana’s bedroom – the only one with a double bed, which Charles ordered specially for their honeymoon – the ladies behind me were quite vocal on their opinion of ‘how he done her wrong,’ even after all this time.
The yacht had to be functional as well as ceremonial and it had its own laundry, dentist’s surgery, operating theatre and sick bay. You can see why everything has to be ‘shipshape and Bristol fashion,’ can’t you?
The lone figure at the end of the pier is an Antony Gormley sculpture (creator of the Angel of the North et al) and was is life-like that, apparently, people keep ringing the police thinking someone’s about to throw himself into the Firth of Forth.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my second blog post and that you may be tempted to visit Edinburgh and East Lothian for yourself. Scotland is a fascinating, beautiful, mystical country and has something for everyone. Next time, we’ll travel across the Forth Road Bridge and head for Inverness, Culloden and the Black Isle. I hope you’ll travel with me. In the meantime, do check out my novels on Amazon and feel free to sign up for my newsletter.
I can’t leave Edinburgh without sharing the last four photographs taken by author Helen Barrell who took Tall, Dark and Kilted back to its roots in Scotland. Thanks Helen!