Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Three Hour Tour

One of the attractions that has been on the top of my Must Do Before We Leave list was Inchcolm Abbey.  A cool thing about the Abbey is it is located on the island of Inchcolm in the Firth of Forth.  Therefore, the only way to access the island is by boat.  We signed up for a 3 hour tour (1.5 hours on the island and the rest on the boat) aboard the Maid of the Forth.

This is our boat as we are getting ready to board and leave the island.
This was probably the longest sightseeing day on record for the Walker family.  We left the apartment after breakfast to take a bus to the Waverly Train Station.  We then took a train to Dalmeny Station, which accesses South Queensferry.  Once off the train we had to walk through a forest to get to Hawes Pier which is located under the Forth Rail Bridge.  As you can imagine, this was no easy quest without a car but like I said above, I was determined to see before we left!  Thankfully, Bobby is good with directions and he got us there without any problems.
Amelie liked being "in the forest" as she put it.
The only negative was carrying Liam in the stroller down all of these steps.
The boat ride was fun as we were able to sit on the upper deck for magnificent views.  We were also able to see Grey Seals both coming and going to the island along with MANY species of birds.

Once on the island we had so much fun exploring the Abbey grounds.  The Abbey dates back to the 12th century.  Like Craigmillar Castle, we were able to explore at our leisure.  The kids loved finding staircases, tunnels, and crevices to climb in, on, and through.

Since coming back to the States, we now have The Bob Stroller.
With it's large wheels, we can take it anywhere.

The location of the Abbey was beautiful as you can see from the window.   Liam has been making a lot of silly faces lately.  He is also a collector.  You can see that he has found a rock that he is holding in his hand. He carried this rock around for a long time.  
This was the Warming Room of the Abbey where the cannons would congregate.  This is why the fireplace was so large.  Behind the glass on the side of the fireplace where I was sitting was Latin that was carved into the wall by one of the monks.  
Amelie enjoying climbing a very narrow spiral staircase.

The Chapter readings would occur in this round room with benches surrounding the room.  The abbot would sit in a seat of importance where Liam and I are sitting and the remaining cannons would sit on benches that lined the room.  Even in the current state of ruin, this room was beautiful.

In addition to the Abbey, the Island was also home to around 500 soldiers during both World Wars to protect the Royal Navy's base at Rosyth as well as the Forth Rail Bridge from attack by sea.  In 1916 an ammunition tunnel was dug through the eastern end of the Island by the Royal Engineers.  We were not able to explore this area of the Island as we would have wanted because of time and the large number of nesting birds.  Liam and Bobby tried to make a run for some of the buildings but were repeatedly attacked (nothing harmful) by the birds so they turned back.
Amelie walking on a path lined with birds and their nests.  There was SO much bird poop and feathers it was unbelievable.  Bobby and I felt we were being starred down by the birds as we walked along the path.  It was very intimidating.  There were warning signs at the start of the path about birds attacking during nesting season so we were understandably a little on edge.  
The bunkers and other buildings used by the soldiers during the war.   You can even see rail tracks which must have been used to transport ammo and other supplies up and down the hill.
Liam and I at the end of the ammunition tunnel.  You can faintly see the light on the other side in this picture.  There were no lights lining the tunnel.  It was extremely dark traveling through.  Amelie had me carry her because she was afraid of rats.  As she was telling me this, I was like "Oh great, I didn't even think of rats!"  We made it through safely coming and going. ;)
On the boat ride back to mainland, the kids were able to rest a little while Bobby and I were able to talk with a Scottish family about their plans to visit the Florida Keys.  We then walked to the nearby village of Queensferry for a delicious (fancy in Amelie's terms) dinner.  After dinner we walked on the beach next to our restaurant and had lovely views as the day drew to a close.  Bobby and Amelie were able to collect more sea glass while Liam found other treasures.  After the walk back to the train station, we then had to wait 45 minutes for the next train. :( To pass time, we talked to the only other couple on the platform.  They were from Maine.  We finally made it home at 10:45 pm.  The kids were such troopers!  Don't get me wrong, I do not plan on being out this late any time soon.  We had a couple of melt down moments, but overall I'm thankful for the ability of our kids to roll with the punches and have a flexible schedule.  

The Forth Rail Bridge.  Construction started in 1883.
It has the second-longest single cantilever bridge span in the world.
We sailed under it to travel to Inchcolm Island.
The weather has been more rainy over the past couple of days.  I was thankful that we did not get rained on at all!  Instead, it rained all day the following day which allowed us to play and rest around the apartment.

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