Welcome to the Wyre Forest & District U3A Travel Group.
All members are automatically members of our group and can access all activities and trips.
Ros James Group Leader
The Travel Goup goes north of the border.
As a change from their normal seaside destinations the Travel group decided to head north and experience the pageantry of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Leaving early on a Sunday morning in August we met our driver John who throughout our trip entertained us with his singing. Besides the normal service station stop we also had a break at Tebay sevices which are more like a farm shop than a service station. They are the sister station to Gloucester services and if you have been watching the TV series will know what a great variety of food is on offer.
Late afternoon we arrived at our destination, the Rob Roy hotel Aberfoyle. The hotel is situated in the middle of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park. A Trossach being a narrow wooded valley in central Scotland and situated between Loch Achray and Loch Katrine (more of that later).
After settling in, enjoying a fine evening meal and a good night’s sleep we departed the next morning for the historical part of our journey with visits to the Palace of Scone and Glamis castle. The present Palace was rebuilt in the early part of the 19th century but the history of the site goes back to Roman times. In 843 AD Kenneth MacAlpin, King of the Scots, is thought to have brought the Stone of Destiny to this site. Although the stone later disappeared it did not stop the site being used to crown the kings of Scotland including in 1306 Robert the Bruce. Glamis castle is a more traditional building with ramparts, turrets, winding stone staircases and ghosts galore. The present castle dates back to the 1400s and is said to have inspired Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. In more recent times it was the childhood home of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and in August 1930 the birthplace of Princess Margaret.
The next day brought us more up to date with visits to the Kelpies and the Falkirk wheel. The Kelpies are two gigantic steel statues situated next to the M9. They are two horse heads, 30mtr tall, weigh 300 tonnes each and are constructed from 900 stainless steel scales. Whilst Kelpies are mythical beast said to haunt rivers and streams, these two heads also represent the horses used in agriculture and towing the canal barges.
The Falkirk wheel connects the Forth and Clyde canal to the Union Canal and is an ingenious way to reconnect these two canals for the first time since the 1930s. As its name suggests this is a rotating boat lift and raises boats some 24 mtrs. On the way back to the hotel we travelled through typical Trossach countryside before coming to Loch Katrine, where some of us had a very pleasant hour long cruise on the loch. This loch is supposed to have inspired Sir Walter Scott to write his poem Lady of the Lake.
That evening we were entertained by a Scottish folk singer who treated us to a variety of ‘traditional’ songs. Also staying at the Rob Roy were a party of Swedish students who were soon singing along with rest of us, although I am not sure if they understood all the lyrics.
Then comes the big day, leaving the hotel at mid-day we arrived in Edinburgh in plenty of time to explore the city prior to seeing the tattoo. Some of us walked whilst others took the hop-on hop-off bus tour. The tattoo is held on the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade and we had been warned that it can get very cold and rain is always a possibility in Scotland. However this was not the case and the audience of some 8,800 enjoyed a pleasant summers evening. Throughout the evening we were treated to the rousing sound of the Massed Pipes and Drums and the Massed Military Bands supported by the Tattoo dancers and Fiddlers. In addition there were performances from the US Air Force Band, limbo dancing and fire eating from Trinidad and Tobago, together with performers from Australia, Norway and Switzerland. This year the Royal Air Force were the lead service and gave a tremendous display of precision marching. All in all a great evening and well worth the long trip to north of the border
Our last day soon arrived and with it being the drivers rest day meant that it was spent around the village of Aberfoyle. At the back of the hotel was a disused railway line that was now a country path providing a very pleasant short walk into the village. In the evening the Swedish youngsters gave an impromptu band concert and dance sequence in the grounds of the hotel and looked very smart in their outfits. Later that evening we were entertained by a singer who not only got our party rocking and rolling but the whole room including the youngsters doing the okie coky. Some of our party even got some of the Swedish youngsters on the floor to teach them how to jive.
Friday arrived and home we went, stopping at Gretna Green to buy any last minute presents or keepsakes.
It was a long way to Aberfoyle but the countryside views and visits to places we had only heard about made it all worthwhile.
11 September 2023
5th to 11th OCTOBER 2023
5th October Drive to Llandudno via Chester
6th October Bangor and Penrhyn castle
7th October Caernarfon Castle
8th October Free Day
9th October Leave after breakfast