2016 British Isles/Celtic Highlights

Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland
June 13 after hotel early check-in, our Celtic adventure began with this first photo taken in Glasgow (Scotland) at 10:15 in front of a cafe (Costa) and a coffee-house (Caffè Nero) - St. Enoch Square, a public square in Glasgow situated at the junction of Argyle and Buchanan, the city's two busiest shopping streets... ... we're so happy as we're outside a bank (Bank of Scotland at Argyle/Buchanan), and we're all ready to explore this place - Glasgow, a port city on the River Clyde in Scotland's West Central Lowlands, famed for its Victorian and art nouveau architecture... Glasgow Cathedral, built on the site where St Kentigern (Mungo) is thought to have been buried in 612; Kentigern is believed to have been the first bishop of the area that is modern Strathclyde, his influence spread widely, and it was later claimed he led a diocese stretching from Loch Lomond to Cumbria... ... also called the High Kirk of Glasgow or St Kentigern's or St Mungo's Cathedral, the medieval cathedral today being an active Christian congregation of the Church of Scotland within the Presbytery of Glasgow... ... the awe-inspiring building dedicated to St Kentigern, also known as St Mungo, dating mostly from the 1200s and drew countless pilgrims to his shrine; today, it’s the most complete medieval cathedral on the Scottish mainland, having survived the Protestant Reformation of 1560 virtually intact. Tolbooth Steeple at Glasgow Cross - the clocktower built in 1625-26 at what was the crossing point for the main streets of Glasgow at that time... ... Broomielaw-Tradeston Bridge or 'Squiggly Bridge', a bridge opened in 2009 providing a vital pedestrian and cycle link between Tradeston on the south bank and Glasgow's International Financial Services District (IFSD) in Broomielaw, one of the urban redevelopment projects revitalising the Clyde Waterfront... River Clyde, a river that flows into the Firth of Clyde in Scotland, the eighth longest river in the United Kingdom, and the second-longest in Scotland; flowing through the major city of Glasgow, it was an important river for shipbuilding and trade in the British Empire; in the early medieval Cumbric language it was known as Clud or Clut, and was central to the Kingdom of Strathclyde. South Rotunda (background left) - Clyde Arc, also known as Finnieston Bridge or 'squinty' bridge crossing over River Clyde linking the Mavisbank Gardens-Pacific Quay area (photo left) and Finnieston area near the Clyde Auditorium (photo right)
Finnieston Crane (a landmark in Glasgow), in between Clyde Auditorium (familiarly known as the Armadillo, a concert venue) and the SSE Hydro (a multi-purpose indoor arena located on the site of SECC complex opened in September 2013) June 14 day 2 tour itinerary - from Glasgow, a city drive taking in the fine 12th century cathedral, imposing university buildings, and elegant Georgian squares; then on the way passing/visiting the “Bonnie Banks” of Loch Lomond, wild Rannoch Moor, Glen Coe, lovely Loch Linnhe, and Fort William beneath Ben Nevis - in the afternoon, look out for signs of the mysterious Loch Ness monster and spend the night in Inverness, the Highland capital... Loch Lomond, a freshwater loch (Irish and Scottish Gaelic word for a lake and a sea inlet) lying on the Highland Boundary Fault, often considered the boundary between the lowlands of Central Scotland and the Highlands; its southern shores some 25 miles northwest of Glasgow, a famous location in Scotland... Loch Lomond, a first hint of the Highlands and an area designated a National Park for its epic splendor, well-known as the subject of the 1841 song ‘The bonnie banks of Loch Lomond’ reportedly about a returning Highlander soldier... Inveruglas, a hamlet on the west shore of Loch Lomond fairly near the north end of the loch situated on the A82 trunk road connecting Glasgow to Inverness... ... Sloy Power Station, UK's largest conventional hydroelectric power station located on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond at Inveruglas, original power station opened in 1950 by the Queen Mother and was designed to provide power to Clydeside and Central Scotland at times of peak demand... Scottish Highlands is often used by people when they refer to Scotland; in earlier times the Highland region was dominated by the Gaels and their Gaelic language and culture while the lowlands were Scottish... The Great Glen bisects the Scottish Highlands into the Grampian Mountains to the southeast and the Northwest Highlands to the northwest... ... the Great Glen, also known as Glen Albyn or Glen Mor, a long and straight glen in Scotland running for 62 miles from Inverness on the edge of Moray Firth to Fort William at the head of Loch Linnhe; the area is very sparsely populated, with many mountain ranges dominating the region, and includes the highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis... Rannoch Moor, approx 35 miles north of Inveruglas, a 50 sq. miles inverted triangle of boggy moorland with a roughly level plateau that sits at an altitude of some 1000 ft, the A82 road crosses through Rannoch Moor on the way to Glen Coe and Fort William...
Fort William alongside Loch Linnhe shoreline, an important highland town in Scotland some 108 miles northwest of Glasgow and some 65 miles southwest of Inverness, said to be the 'Outdoor Capital of the United Kingdom'... ... a major tourist stop, Fort William, the second largest settlement in the Highlands of Scotland and the largest town (only the city of Inverness is larger) lying in the shadow of the mighty hulk of Ben Nevis (an Anglicisation of Scottish Gaelic name Beinn Nibheis derived from 'beinn nèamh-bhathais' translating to 'the mountain with its head in the clouds' or poetically as Mountain of Heaven)... ... the quaint old town is centered on this High Street which was pedestrianised in the 1990s... ... take a picture of me with this big glass of sundae... Can I have this big piece of candy to take home please? ... Fort William and Lochaber is a huge rural area in the west Highlands of Scotland with the principal town Fort William lying on the shore of Loch Linnhe below Ben Nevis, Fort William and Lochaber has played some important key parts in the political history of the people of the British Isles ... another candy/sweet shop... ... a town in the western Scottish Highlands on the shores of Loch Linnhe - Fort William is known as a gateway to Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis valley (home to Steall Falls) - Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, standing at some 4411 ft above sea level located at the western end of the Grampian Mountains in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands close to the town... ... tour day 2 morning driving journey from Glasgow following the A82 road by way of Fort William (with lunch break) to Inverness - the A82 road passing close to some of the most notable landmarks in the Highlands (such as Loch Lomond, Rannoch Moor, Glen Coe, Ben Nevis, the Commando Memorial, Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle)...
... the Commando Monument, a place of reverence and respect, dedicated to the men of the original British Commando Forces raised during World War II; located in a stunning location overlooking Ben Nevis and the Mamore mountain range; some 10-miles driving distance along A82 road from Fort William, and situated just north of Spean Bridge in the Scottish Highlands... ... the Commando Memorial, a large three-figure bronze statue commemorating the service and sacrifice given by thousands of Allied troops during the Second World War, the 17-ft  bronze statue officially unveiled by the Queen Mother in September 1952. Urquhart Castle, the ruined medieval castle located on the western shore of Loch Ness on the rocky promontory of Strone Point, along the A82 road with the village of Drumnadrochit approx 1.5 miles to the west, Inverness is another 15 miles to the northeast... Clava cairn, a type of Bronze Age circular chamber tomb cairn, located approx 7-mile east of Inverness city center - Clava Cairns at Balnuaran, one of Scotland’s most evocative prehistoric sites, the exceptional remains of an ancient cemetery extending along a gravel terrace raised above the River Nairn. June 15 Wednesday Day 3 British Isles/Celtic Highlights tour itinerary: Inverness - Culloden - Braemar - Edinburgh... let's venture to Culloden just about six miles to the east of Inverness - let's get in the visitor center and hear the story of the crushing Hanoverian victory over Bonnie Prince Charlie's Scottish clans, shall we? Culloden Battlefield (Culloden Moor, Inverness), site of the bloody last battle of Jacobite Rising... Battle of Culloden, the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745 and part of a religious civil war in Britain - on 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart (also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Young Pretender) were decisively defeated by loyalist troops commanded by Prince William Augustus (son of King George II), Duke of Cumberland; with over 1200 dead in just one hour, Culloden was a short but bloody battle - the last to be fought on British soil. Balmoral Castle, a large estate house in Royal Deeside (Aberdeenshire), approx 9-miles to the east of Braemar village in the Highlands  of Scotland... Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852...
... welcome to my summer cottage in Balmoral Scotland... ... the garden fountain - sorry, it's a rainy day so no outdoor BBQ today... ... it's so wet outside, my pet deers wanted to stay indoor as well... ... I'm hiding my 1929 Austin Ruby grocery van in the courtyard depot - Balmoral Castle, 50K acres estate located in way between Ballater and Braemar, some 100 miles north of Edinburgh... We're in Edinburgh on Tour Day 4, June 16 Thursday; another rainy morning while visiting Edinburgh Castle - Crown Square, surrounded by the Royal Palace (east), Great Hall (south), Queen Anne Building (west) and Scottish National War Memorial (north)... Edinburgh Castle, a historic fortress dominateing the skyline of the city of Edinburgh from its position on the Castle Rock, buildings of present castle compound dating from the 12th to 21st centuries... ... the Clock Tower-Royal Palace on the east side of Crown Square, Edinburgh Castle... ... take a picture of me outside the Royal Palace - the crown room housing the then Scottish 'Honours'; no photo inside so I can't show the oldest Royal Regalia (the crown, sceptre and sword of state) and the Scottish Crown Jewels, dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries... ... standing guard in front of the Scottish National War Memorial main entrance at Crown Square, Edinburgh Castle...
... eastern corner on Crown Square (between Royal Palace and Scottish National War Memorial) - gate-walkway leading to David's Tower near Half Moon Battery... ... just take a picture of me with the 1810 iron-gun lining up at the Forewall Battery (Upper Ward), a continuation of the Half Moon Battery defending the eastern end of the Castle... ... simply magnificent Edinburgh Castle occupying the summit of an ancient volcanic rock-plug, the old fortress towering some 260-ft above the city providing spectacular panorama of Edinburgh... ... background (right) being the long sloping forecourt Esplanade at the eastern front of the Castle continuing onto the Royal Mile-Castlehill and the Arthur's Seat... ... north/east exterior of Scottish National War Memorial building, the reservoirs, St Margaret’s Chapel and the Mons Meg - as viewed from the Upper Ward of the Citadel near the castle well at Forewall Battery... ... let's take a selfie together with Mons Meg in front of St. Margaret’s Chapel... ... Argyle Battery at the Middle Ward right beneath the Half Moon Battery - further down on city ground being the Ross Theater Bandstand within Princes Street Gardens, in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle... ...Princes Street Gardens created in two phases in 1770s and 1820s following the long draining of the Nor Loch and building of the New Town beginning in the 1760s... ... lying at center of Edinburgh's World Heritage Site within New Town and Old Town Outstanding Conservation Areas, listed in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscape in Scotland and has geological and botanical scientific interest, the Gardens set in the valley between the old and new towns with Edinburgh Castle on its rock towering above the western end...
... rear of the small rather rough stone building sitting on top of the very highest crag of castle rock - St. Margaret's Chapel - dating back to David I's rule in the 1120s and dedicated to his mother, the oldest structure still standing at Edinburgh Castle... ... a close-up in front of the north-facing facade, Scottish National War Memorial... ... the north-facing facade of the Scottish National War Memorial, the main entrance of the Memorial is at Crown Square... ... Scottish National War Memorial, Edinburgh Castle... ... Mills Mount Battery, the One o'clock Gun, the Cartsheds (now a tearoom) located on the ground of the Middle Ward, and the National War Museum also within Edinburgh Castle at the northwestern-western section of Castlehill... ... a picture of me taken from the Upper Castle Ward near Mons Meg with the castle cafe/restaurant as well as a giftshop on Middle Ward, National War Museum and Edinburgh New Town as background... ... to access the Upper Ward of Edinburgh Castle, the more common approach is via this oddly named Foog's Gate, the cobbled walkway curving down to the Middle Ward cartsheds tearoom and Argyle Battery, via Portcullis Gate-Argyle Tower further down to the Lower Ward Gatehouse entrance... ... Portcullis Gate, the main entry to the castle since the repairs after 1573; the upper storey being the Argyle tower added in 1887 as part of the Victorian prettification of the Castle... ... Edinburgh Castle, a world famous icon of Scotland and part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh's World Heritage Site (background, as viewed from Johnston Terrace, being the Royal Palace (Upper Ward), Half-Moon Battery (Middle Ward), the Gatehouse outer entrance (Lower Ward), and the Esplanade (home to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo)...
... Tartan Weaving Mill historic building and the 1835 Camera Obscura Outlook Tower over my right shoulder, the former Church of Scotland parish church and general assembly hall originally known as Victoria Hall constructed between 1842-1845 now housing The Hub and Scotch Whisky Experience (photo right) - Castlehill-Royal Mile, Edinburgh... Palace of Holyroodhouse, Her Majesty the Queen's official residence in Scotland; the Queen usually is in residence here during Holyrood week which takes place from the end of June to the beginning of July... ... historic apartments at the Palace of Holyroodhouse once the home of the ill-fated Mary, Queen of Scots, following her return from France in 1561; the State Apartments today are used by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family for official ceremonies and entertaining... ... commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace, Holyroodhouse standing at the end of Edinburgh's Royal Mile at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle against the spectacular backdrop of Arthur’s Seat... ... originating from a medieval legend, Holy Rood (meaning Holy Cross - rood, an old word for the cross which Jesus Christ was crucified upon), name of the abbey founded by King David I of Scotland in the 12th century, the cloister precinct turned into the modern Renaissance palace Holyroodhouse, and became the royal family’s main home in Scotland by the time of the Reformation... ... the picturesque dramatic remains of Holyrood Abbey, at the northeast corner of the present day Palace... ... Holyrood Abbey founded by King David I - legend has it that a vision of a stag with a cross glowing between its antlers came to David while hunting in the royal forest below Salisbury Crags, interpreting this as an act of God, the King endowed a 'monastery of the Holy Rood' be built on the same spot... ... exterior of the massive passageway, Holyrood Abbey - Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh... ... the grand structure with huge sweeping tower and a massive west passageway adjoining the northeast corner of the Palace - Holyrood Abbey...
... Holyrood Abbey - Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh... ... the north garden adjacent to the abbey, Palace of Holyroodhouse... ... in the garden near the abbey, Palace of Holyroodhouse - the Queen Mary's Sundial made in 1633 for Charles I's coronation... ... located at the Mound, Edinburgh city center - The Royal Scottish Academy, a bright, elegant Georgian gallery built in 1826 housing modern art and architecture exhibitions... ... standing behind me at the corner of West Princes Street Gardens and the Mound (west of the Royal Scottish Academy) - statue erected in 1865 of Allan Ramsay (1686-1758), a Scottish poet and literary antiquary... ... Princes Street West Garden and the majestic Edinburgh Castle sitting on top of Castle Rock... ... George Street, located to the north of Princes Street and south of Queen Street, running along the high point of a ridge connecting St Andrew Square with Charlotte Square and taking its name from King George III; initially a residential area but by 2013 became "the city’s most prestigious shopping district" - St. Andrew's and St. George's West Church, building with clock tower completed in 1784... ... tour day 4 afternoon, an excursion out to the Ocean Terminal in Leith district on the shores of the Firth of Forth 3 miles north of Edinburgh Castle - the 11-ft LEGO replica model of Britannia showcasing at the Britannia Visitor Centre in Ocean Terminal... Royal Yacht Britannia now permanently berthed at Ocean Terminal, in Edinburgh's historic port of Leith...
... also known as Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia, the former royal yacht of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II... ... the former floating stately home in service from 1954 until 1997... ... Leith Waterfront, Firth of Forth, Edinburgh... ... let's ring the Ship's Bell, Britannia's Verandah Deck... ... let me show you around the Royal Yacht Britannia, home to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family for over 40 years, sailing over a million miles around the world... ... the Royal Deck Tea Room... ... the State Dining Room... ... the State Drawing Room... ... during the intervening 44 years, Britannia carried the Queen and the Royal Family on 968 official voyages in almost every part of the globe...
... let's have a photo with Norrie (Britannia's longest serving Royal Yachtsman, having served on board for 34 years from 1954-1988)... ... so long Royal Yacht Britannia - goodbye Edinburgh, until next time... June 17 Friday, tour Day 5 itinerary - morning departure from Edinburgh on the way through the history-steeped Lowland Hills, stop at Gretna Green; then, leave the land of the Scots and journey into England through the tranquil Lake District to Grasmere, home of poet William Wordsworth, to try original GRASMERE GINGERBREAD. In Liverpool, visit the award-winning BEATLES STORY, an atmospheric journey into the life, times, culture, and music of the “Fab Four”. Gretna Green, a village approx 85 miles south of Edinburgh... ... the small Scottish village famous for runaway weddings sitting alongside the main town of Gretna, at the very south of Scotland just north of the boundary and only some 3500 ft west of River Sark or Sark Water best known for forming part of the border between Scotland and England... ... let's take a picture with the 'Gretna Green lovers'... ... what about a photo with this 'hands' sculpture... ... Big Dance, title for the centerpiece sculpture installed in 2010 - this impressive sculpture of two hands clasping, standing 13 feet tall and made of weathering steel, creating an impressive backdrop for wedding photography and holiday snaps... ... another one with Big Dance (one hand with short and the other one with sharp-long fingernails) from another angle...
... the Gretna Green famous Blacksmiths Shop is where couples have come to marry since 1754... ... happy tinman playing accordion outside the giftshop, Gretna Green... ... finishing up this brief visit at Gretna Green, let's leave the land of the Scots and journey into England through the tranquil Lake District (or Lakeland) to Grasmere, another 55 miles further to the south - Grasmere village, in the center of England's Lake District surrounded by high ground on the river Rothay flowing into adjacent Grasmere lake; probably the most popular village or tourist destination of Cumbria... ... St Oswald's Church dating from the 14th century, Grasmere - after our lunch-break and brief photo stop on June 17, let's continue journeying for another ninety-some miles heading south to the tour's first England overnight destination, Liverpool... ... having rested in our comfy motor coach for almost three hours while Stuart driving us for some 95 miles from Grasmere, arrived in Liverpool outside The Beatles Story Exhibition where the Beatles' lives and times told through memorabilia, interactive exhibits and high-tech displays... ... The Beatles Story - let's get going on a magical history tour and see how four young lads from Liverpool were propelled to the dizzy heights of worldwide fame and fortune to become the greatest band of all time; from their Liverpool childhood, through the early days of the band, to world domination and on to their solo careers... ... an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960, acquired the nickname 'the Fab Four' as Beatlemania grew in Britain in 1963, with band members John Lennon (1940-1980), Paul McCartney (1942-...), George Harrison (1943-2001), and as drummer from 1962 Ringo Starr (1940-...); sadly, the group publicly acknowledged its break-up in 1970 as a result of a cumulative process of conflicts arising from differences in artistic vision... ... The Beatles, widely regarded as the foremost and most influential act of the rock era; rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, the 'Fab 4' later experimented with several musical styles, ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock, often incorporating classical elements and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways... ... Yellow Submarine, the tenth studio album by The Beatles released in January 1969, issued as the soundtrack to the animated film premiered in London in July 1968 - album side one with six songs from the film, and the song Yellow Submarine with Ringo Starr as lead vocalist...
... the spectacular feature Yellow Submarine debuted in 1968, instantly recognizable as a landmark film - by merging the visual splendour of animation with a fantasy-adventure tale filled with peace, love, hope and of course music, Yellow Submarine captured the essence of the 60s; and by integrating the freestyle approach of the era with innovative animation techniques, revolutionized a genre... ... previously based in the United States and last played by the Liverpool legend hours before his death in 1980, this piano unveiled as a special exhibit by Lennon’s sister Julia in August 2015 and on display at the Beatles Story for the following three years - the piano was instrumental in Lennon’s later music, he loved it so much that those closest to him renamed it as the "John Lennon Piano" due to his insistence on moving it to every studio he was working in... ... in their native United Kingdom during 1962 to 1970, the Beatles released 12 studio albums, 13 extended plays (EPs) and 22 singles; however, the band's international discography is complicated, due to different versions of their albums sometimes being released in other countries, particularly during their early years in North America - it's said that over 300 original songs written by the Beatles, most recorded but some not released... ... Paul McCartney concert in Red Square, May 2003 - well, I didn't go to Moscow for his concert... ... the Beatles Story Exhibition at Britannia Vaults/Albert Dock, Liverpool... ... Echo Ferris Wheel and Echo Arena at Kings Waterfront (Kings Parade on Kings Dock) located immediately south of Albert Dock... ... Kings Dock opened 1785 on the River Mersey as part of the Port of Liverpool situated in the southern dock system, the wet dock closed in 1972 and its two branch docks later filled in; a regeneration project of Kings Waterfront resulting in successful development of leisure, residential and conference facilities completed in 2008... ... Albert Dock, leisure complex in old Victorian docks and vibrant heart of Liverpool's historic waterfront, its renovated red-brick dock buildings now housing a range of museums, restaurants, cafes and bars - the striking modern purpose-built Museum of Liverpool on the Mann Island site at the Pier Head opened in 2011 (background center)... ... Liverpool, a maritime city in northwest England where the River Mersey meets the Irish Sea, a key trade and migration port from the 18th to early 20th centuries; also famously the hometown of The Beatles...
... Liverpool Waterfront, the area stretching along the waterfront from Albert Dock (south) through the Pier Head up to Stanley Dock (north), and through the historic commercial districts and the Ropewalks (east) area to St. George’s Quarter; granted as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004 reflecting the city's significance as a commercial port... June 18 Saturday tour Day 6 let's bid farewell to Liverpool (England) and off we go on our way to North Wales, ferry crossing the Irish Sea for a fun Irish cabaret evening in Dublin... Betws-y-Coed, a village and community located in the Snowdonia National Park (close to its northeast boundary), in Conwy county of Wales, some 70 miles driving distance to the west-southwest of Liverpool... ... founded around a monastery from the late 6th century, much of the small quaint community was built in Victorian times - Betws-y-Coed, meaning prayer-house in the woods, said to be North Wales' most popular inland resort area and one of the honeypot locations in Snowdonia... ... the official Gateway to Snowdonia and the principal village of the Snowdonia National Park, Betws-y-Coed, surrounded by dense woodland and magnificent mountains, in the beautiful valley where the River Conwy being joined by its western tributaries Llugwy and Lledr... ...  Snowdonia National Park covering more than 800 sq. miles in the northwest of Wales, a region of haunting beauty and grandeur, of wild rocky mountains, hidden valleys, cascading rivers, still glacial lakes and deep forests... North Wales (Welsh: Gogledd Cymru), the northernmost unofficial region of Wales, an old country geologically old with some of the most ancient rocks in the world - Wales, a country in southwest Great Britain known for its rugged coastline, mountainous national parks, distinctive Welsh language and Celtic culture... ... from lovely Betws-y-Coed, the next Wales stop - Caernarvon, approx 24 miles driving distance to the west through the incomparable landscapes of Snowdonia National Park and over the breathtaking Llanberis Pass... Caernarfon - a royal town, community and port in Gwynedd county (in north-west Wales named after the old Kingdom of Gwynedd) on the eastern shore of the Menai Strait opposite the Isle of Anglesey - home to Wales's most famous castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site...
... Caernarfon Castle (Castell Caernarfon), one of a series of castles built by King Edward I of England after the end of the second Welsh War of Independence in 1282 - King's Gate, main entrance facing Castle Ditch separating the site of the castle from the town to the north... ... the fortress, with its unique polygonal towers, intimidating battlements and color-banded masonry, dominating the walled town also founded by Edward I... ... history comes alive at Caernarfon in so many ways - along the lofty wall walks, beneath the twin-towered gatehouse and within imaginative exhibitions located within the towers - let's begin with having some panoramic views along the lofty parapet walk, shall we? ... let's take a selfie - parapet wall walkway above the King's Gate twin-towered gatehouse, Caernarfon Castle... ... another one with the Granary Tower right behind us - Granary Tower to the east of King's Gate, together with the Well Tower west of King's Gate, the northern castle-ward built between 1295 and 1323... ... a photo of me with the south/west ward of Caernarfon Castle behind me (photo left to right - Chamberlain Tower, Queen's Tower, Eagle Tower)... ... Black Tower and the southern castle-walls built between 1283-92 - Seiont River, Caernarfon and the Llanfaglan-Bontnewydd township as backdrop... ... I'm atop the parapet wall near the east tower-gatehouse of King's Gate main entrance - Chamberlain Tower and Queen's Tower across the inner ward-courtyard... ... view to the east - the north parapet wall-walk connecting the King's Gate gatehouse to Granary Tower (center), continuing to the North-East Tower...
... North-East Tower built between 1283-92, where the whole story of Caernarfon Castle is told in light and sound in the lower chamber of this two-storey tower... ... Queen’s Gate, the eastern entrance to Caernarfon Castle, linked to the north being the Watch Tower-North-East Tower (photo left); to the south the Cistern Tower and the Black Tower (photo right)... ... passageway leading out to the Queen's Gate glass balcony... ... Queen's Gate glass balcony overlooking Castle Square and the Seiont River town harbor - The Queen and Prince Philip stepped onto this refurbished Queen's Gate balcony during their visit to Caernarfon Castle in 2010... ... Queen's Gate high above the Maes (Castle Square)... ... view to the west from the Upper Ward outside the Queen's Gate - Chamberlain Tower (photo left), Eagle Tower, the unfinished inner-ward side of King's Gate... ... Caernarfon Castle, Wales... ... Investiture Dais at the Upper Ward outside (south of) the Granary Tower, this disc of Welsh slate was the site of the investiture of the Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) in 1969... ... trying to look inside the head of Edward I   this ‘Legends’ exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to look and discover his appropriation of Welsh myths and legends to underpin his claim to be the ruler of Wales
... foundations remain of the Great Hall (bottom left), once a splendid building and the center of castle life - Queen's Tower (photo left) - the three-turreted Eagle Tower - the lower inner ward courtyard, Castell Caernarfon... ... Eagle Tower, the three-turreted tower at the west end, the greatest of all the towers at Caernarfon; this was only two storeys high when Edward’s son was alleged to have been born here... ... take a picture of me with Edward I and his boy Edward of Caernarfon or Edward II... ... the 'Games of Crowns' exhibition with a ‘life-size chess-board’ on display inside the Eagle Tower... ... Eagle Tower, the grandest apartments having been built to accommodate the King’s main representative in north Wales... ... this First Floor of Eagle Tower said to be exhibiting the life of Edward I's wife (Queen Eleanor of Castile) but at the time of our visit, this level was just empty, only with this display on the wall... ... lower ward outside the Eagle Tower - Great Hall foundations remain and Chamberlain Tower (photo right), the castle's kitchens used to lie between Well Tower and King's Gate (photo left where banners hanging on wall), Watch Tower and Queen's Gate (center background)... ... Castle Ditch, Caernarfon... ... old city wall standing between today's Hold in the Wall Street and Greengate Street/Castle Hill, at Castle Ditch-Castle Square, Caernarfon (North Wales)...
... the 1883 Caernarfon Presbyterian Church on Chapel Street at the east end of Castle Square - let me walk down Castle Hill and take a look at the Afon Seiont... ... the dramatic 13th century waterfront Caernarfon Castle standing on the north bank of the river Seiont looking across the Menai Strait to Anglesey - with the mouth of Afon (river) Seiont in Caernarfon creating a natural harbor flowing into the Menai Strait, abundant natural resources in and around the strait enabled human habitation in prehistoric Britain... ... Saturday June 18, Day 6 of our 13-day British Isles/Celtic Highlights tour - we travelled from Liverpool (England) to North Wales first stopping in Betws-y-Coed, after a short visit/lunch break here at Caernarfon, then heading over to the Isle of Anglesey and at Holyhead Port, we're to board the Irish Ferries leaving the island of Great Britain to Ireland... Llanfairpwllgwyngyll...gogogoch, what a tongue-twisting pronunciation (with 58 alphabets) - in the Guinness Book of Records for being the world's second longest official one-word place name, this village community situated west of Menai Strait, on the Isle of Anglesey off the northwest coast of North Wales; from here, another 20-miles heading northwest to Holyhead Port, then off we go ferry crossing the Irish Sea for an early evening arrival in Dublin (Ireland)... Good morning from Dublin, Ireland - it's Sunday June 19, day 7 of our tour... St. Patrick's Cathedral, the largest church in Ireland; the site of the Cathedral is said to be the earliest Christian site in Ireland, where St. Patrick baptized converts... ... outside the Berkeley Library next to the Museum Building, Dublin Trinity College - this stunning artwork "Sphere within Sphere" (Sfera con Sfera) or Pomodoro Sphere as known locally, created in 1982 and donated by Italian sculptor-artist Arnaldo Pomodoro with support from the College and Italian organizations... ... the Berkeley Library forecourt, Trinity College... ... the Old Library exhibiting Ireland's greatest cultural treasure the Book of Kells, an extraordinary illuminated manuscript decorated with lavish Celtic and Christian iconography and its distinctive designs firmly rooted in Irish identity - the massive Old Library located between the Fellows Square (south) and Library Square (north), Parliament Square along with the chapel to its west, New Square and College Park to the east; Trinity College Dublin...
... Trinity College Dublin, created by royal charter in 1592 with Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland as founder, one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland, as well as Ireland's oldest university... ... Bank of Ireland College Green - the former Irish Houses of Parliament, world’s first purpose built parliament house to serve both chambers (House of Lords and House of Commons) of the Irish Parliament - original building constructed between 1729-1739 - across the street from Dublin Trinity College... ... Dublin Castle, founded in 1204 as a major defensive center against the Normans when King John of England commanded that a larger castle be built with strong walls and good ditches (moats) for the defence of the city, the administration of justice, and safe custody of treasure... ... situated on a site previously settled by the Vikings, the medieval castle built originally as a defensive fortification later evolved into a royal residence and until 1922 the seat of the United Kingdom government's administration in Ireland, Dublin Castle today is a major Irish government complex... ... Christ Church Cathedral, or more formally The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, located in the heart of Medieval Dublin - founded in 1030 by Sitriuc, King of the Dublin Norsemen and was incorporated into the Irish Church in 1152 and eventually led by the famous Archbishop and patron saint of Dublin, Laurence O’Toole... ... Christ Church Cathedral, a major pilgrimage site in the medieval period, with an important collection of relics ranging from a miraculous speaking cross to a piece from the crib of Jesus... ... late afternoon excursion to Guinness Storehouse and we're to round off the evening with dinner here on tour day 7... ... this is the second floor Tasting Experience level... ... located in the heart of the St James's Gate Brewery, the Guinness Storehouse, a former fermentation plant, remodeled into the shape of a giant pint of Guinness...
... the highlight - 7th floor Gravity Bar where 18+ can sample a pint of the "black stuff" and enjoy the breathtaking views across Dublin City... ... we're having half-pint only... ... nice panorama up here... ... together with the Brewers' Dining Hall, this 1837 Bar & Brasserie and Arthur's Bar are on the 5th floor Food & Drink level... ... let's get going... ... oh no, it's closed already; the storehouse closes at 7pm (last admission at 5pm); longer hours during July and August... ... what a collection... ... this Guinness Flagship Retail Store on G/F still open but getting ready to close for the day... ... Guinness Storehouse, Dublin...
... I'm getting tired after a full dinner and so much Guinness, ready to go to bed and rest up... Look, the sheep is reading the morning paper by the hotel reception - bye-bye Dublin, we gotta get going; our tour Day 8 itinerary (June 20 Monday):  Dublin – Kildare – Cashel – Blarney – Killarney... Horse-racing country this Monday morning driving across the Curragh to visit the Irish National Stud at Kildare - Irish National Stud and Gardens, whose thoroughbreds command respect on the racecourses of the world, also symbolizing all that is great about County Kildare... ... Irish National Stud & Gardens at Tully, Kildare Town, County Kildare, Ireland - from horses to horticulture - horses have been born and bred on the 800-acre site since 1900... ... St. Fiachra's Garden at the Stud, a tranquil spiritual place seeking to represent the naked backdrop of Ireland at its most raw and rugged - born late in the sixth century and descended from a King of Ireland, St. Fiachra was renowned for his charitable work and devotion to those in need of help; he also encouraged his followers to cultivate gardens, hence the naming of the garden in his honor... ... the Monastic Cells at St. Fiachra's Garden - let's go in and take a look at the Waterford Crystal sculpture shaping the rocks, ferns and other natural elements of the surrounding garden... ... the Stallion Paddocks/Oak Walk, Irish National Stud... ... after an approx 45 minutes guided walking tour of the stud farm, we're being treated to tea and scone at the Irish National Stud Japanese Gardens Restaurant... ... what, you want a bite of my yummy scone?
... it's said that the beauty of the Stud's horses is matched by its gardens which represent a glorious union of Eastern and Western cultures... ... the Japanese Garden, created between 1906 and 1910, is more than just a feast for the eye- it's a story of life told through rocks, trees, water and more... ... should we take a peek into the garden-house? ... the serene bbeauty - Bridge of Life, the Garden of Peace and Contentment - Japanese Garden, Irish National Stud & Gardens... ... do you think I can walk through this narrow pathway... ... let's take a photo before we say goodbye to this magnificent beautiful Stud-Gardens - from Kildare, let's continue our journey; we've to travel almost 200 miles heading southwest to our tour day 8 overnight destination, but first, let's go some 68 miles and stop at the Rock of Cashel... ... the Rock of Cashel, more formally St. Patrick’s Rock, also known as Cashel of the Kings - a spectacular group of Medieval structures set on an outcrop of limestone, reputedly the site of the conversion of Aengus the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century... ... a quick photostop at the Rock of Cashel, one of Ireland's most spectacular archaeological places, a historic site located at Cashel, County Tipperary - from here let's continue heading southwest for another 60 miles along the M8 road to our next stop Blarney... ... for many of the visitors to Blarney, their first priority is to kiss the famous Blarney Stone high up on the Castle battlements; since we're hungry, we didn't go kiss the Blarney Stone but rather had late lunch and a stroll around the well preserved quiet little village town in County Cork, approx 5 miles northwest of the City of Cork...
... Church Of the Immaculate Conception, a freestanding gable-fronted double-height Roman Catholic church built around 1900 - after a quick stop here at Blarney, we're to head west-northwest for another 55-60 miles to our overnight destination, Killarney... Good morning - June 21 Tuesday, our tour Day 9 morning itinerary - let's step back in time and experience Ireland’s most traditional mode of transport, a jaunting car tour of a northern section of Killarney National Park, the Knockreer Demesne; renowned for their wit and charming storytelling, the local jarvey horsing through the park regaling us with local history, stories of old and Irish legends... Killarney, a town in County Kerry situated on the northeastern shore of Lough Leane, at the southwestern region of Munster Province; part of Killarney National Park, its natural heritage, history and location on the Ring of Kerry make Killarney a popular tourist destination... ... continuing on the famous Ring of Kerry scenic drive around the Iveragh Peninsula in Ireland’s southwestern County Kerry, an approx 111 miles circular route taking in rugged and verdant coastal landscapes and rural seaside villages... ... Killorglin, a town located on the Ring of Kerry and the Wild Atlantic Way, situated on a hill overlooking the wide and graceful River Laune, a river famous for its salmon and trout fishing... ... Ring of Kerry begins and ends at the same point, Killarney - anti-clockwise from Killarney following the N72 road to Killorglin, then along the N70 road around the Iveragh Peninsula passing villages/towns of Killorglin, Glenbeigh, Cahersiveen, Waterview, Sneem to Kenmare, and along the N71 road passing Moll's Gap, Ladies View, through the Killarney National Park before returning to Killarney... ... Ring of Kerry around the Iveragh pensinula (the largest peninsula ( in southwestern Ireland), a section of the Wild Atlantic Way officially launched in 2014, a 1550-mile coastal driving route on the west coast of the island of Ireland stretching from the north county Donegal to the southern tip of county Cork... ... we stopped by this thatched cottage-restaurant in Glenbeigh on the Ring of Kerry route for refreshment tea and scone... ... it's a bit windy up here - Beenarourke, a 984-ft mountain peak almost five miles south of Waterville on the Ring of Kerry route - Waterville, a small coastal village located on the scenic Ring of Kerry and Wild Atlantic Way, stunningly situated between the wild Atlantic Ocean Ballinskelligs Bay on the west and the fresh water lake of Lough Currane to the east, with Currane River connecting the two...
... a panorama of the islands lying off the Iveragh Peninsula, North Atlantic Ocean - Ring of Kerry southern lookout area, Beenarourke... .... Ladies View, scenic point on a peak above the Killarney National Park overlooking the famous lakes of Killarney - let's get going and continue the journey to our overnight destination, Limerick, some 80 miles up north... ... an evening of medieval banquet and entertainment, day 9 of our tour - the Great Hall, Bunratty Castle... ... savoring a goblet of Mead while enjoying the music pre-banquet at this Upper Great Hall, a picture with the castle butler after listening to his relaying the history of Bunratty... ... down at the dining hall getting ready for our meal... ... Bunratty Castle, a large 15th century tower house in County Clare, located approx six miles east of Shannon town; Limerick city another eleven miles to the southeast... River Shannon, Limerick... June 22 Day 10 of the British Isles Celtic Highlights tour - scenic driving journey from Limerick to the spectacular Cliffs of Moher, then reaching Galway via the limestone plateau of The Burren, overnight in Sligo (Republic of Ireland)... Stretching for five miles along the Atlantic Ocean on the western seaboard of county Clare - the Cliffs of Moher, rising to 702 feet at its highest point...
... viewing platforms and almost half a mile of pathways along the cliff edge allowing visitors to enjoy a spectacular and healthy cliff walk... ... O'Briens Tower - built in 1835 by Cornelius O'Brien, a descendant of Brian Boru, the High King Of Ireland... ... the human story and history of the Cliffs of Moher dates back at least two thousand years as the name derives from a 1st century BC fort that stood where Moher Tower now stands; the old Irish word "Mothar" means ruined fort and it is this that gives the cliffs their name... ... Cliffs of Moher are home to one of the major colonies of cliff nesting seabirds in Ireland - the area was designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) for Birds under the EU Birds Directive in 1986 and as a Refuge for Fauna in 1988... ... included within the designated site are the cliffs, the cliff-top maritime grassland and heath, and a 650-feet zone of open water, directly in front of the cliffs to protect part of the birds feeding area; the designation covers 200 hectares and highlights the area's importance for wildlife... ... the Cliffs of Moher located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare, Ireland... ... Cliffs of Moher have been used as the location for many movies over the years - In Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince, Harry & Professor Dumbledore apparate on a rock off the shore from forbidding sea cliffs and enter a cave to find one of the Horcruxes in which Voldemort has hidden part of his soul. The footage was filmed on location at the Cliffs of Moher in September 2007 although the rock involved is actually Lemon Rock, some 93 miles southwest of the Cliffs of Moher. The sea cave was recreated in studio from exact measurements taken onsite. ... the eco-friendly grass-roofed set into the hillside Visitor Center, a unique cave like structure which minimizes the visual impact on this fabulous scenic location - Cliffs of Moher, Ireland... ... the Cliffs of Moher form part of the Burren-Cliffs of Moher Geopark which was awarded membership of the UNESCO supported Global Geoparks Network in 2011...
The Burren, a remarkable place where geology, ecology, archaeology, agriculture, history, food and traditional Irish music are deeply rooted in the landscape and culture of the region - a landscape of hills, valleys, plateaus, cliffs, beaches, turloughs, lakes, streams, depressions, and caves - all of which providing a truly remarkable window into the geological history of North Clare and the west of Ireland... Oh hi, good day; we bid farewell to the Republic of Ireland and the first highlight of tour day 11 June 23 - Derry, also known as Londonderry, a city on the River Foyle in Northern Ireland... ... Derry Guildhall, a beautiful building built in 1887 located in the heart of the city just outside the city walls and close to the Peace Bridge; the Guildhall Clock designed as a replica of  Big Ben in London... Derry (officially Londonderry), an ancient yet contemporary city, the second largest in Northern Ireland and the 4th largest on the island of Ireland... ... the seven cannons overlooking the Guildhall betwen Magazine Gate and Shipquay Gate, one of these was presented by Queen Elizabeth in 1590 and the others were donated by various London Guilds ... Doire ~ Derry ~ Londonderry ~ or even 'Legenderry' as recently been called, a center of culture and creativity - this vibrant destination offers a unique combination of rich heritage and a buzzing social scene... ... Derry-Londonderry, a 6th century city that today resonates to the sounds of the 21st century; next coming up - the Antrim-Causeway Coast... Giant's Causeway located some 40 miles northeast of Derry/Londonderry, lying at the foot of the basalt cliffs along 4-miles of the sea coast on the edge of Antrim plateau in Northern Ireland... ... its unique rock formations, for millions of years, standing as a natural rampart against the unbridled ferocity of Atlantic storms; these collections of curious columns contributed to the causeway being designated Northern Ireland's only World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986...
... the causeway, a fascinating array of basalt stones having been subject to several million years of weathering, some of the notable formation resembling objects being called the Camel, Shepherd's Steps, the Honeycomb, the Chimney Stacks, Giant's Gate, the Organ, the Giants Eyes and Giant's Boot... ... the Runkerry Head cliffs overlooking Portnaboe Bay - Portnaboe's most famous resident being Finn McCool's camel Humphrey, can you spot him somewhere? ... the causeways and the Chimney Stacks of Finn MacCool's house furthur out there... ... Great Stookan, one of the three rock outcrops, jutting out the eastern shore of Portnaboe (bay behind the headland) - Giant's Causeway... ... Port Ganny, Giant's Causeway... ... Port Ganny curving round from the Great Stookan to the second rock outcrop/causeway known as the Honeycomb... ... Giant's Causeway according to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant striding over the sea to Scotland... ... the rocks are slippery and uneven, Giant's Causeway honeycomb basalt columns... ... formed 50-60 million years ago, the Giant’s Causeway resulted from successive flows of lava inching toward the coast and cooling when they contacted the sea...
... layers of basalt formed columns, and the pressure between these columns sculpted them into polygonal shapes that vary from 15 to 20 inches in diameter and measure up to 82 feet in height, the stone pillars arrayed along cliffs averaging some 330 feet in elevation... ... Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast, a spectacular area of global geological importance; the most characteristic and unique feature of the site being the exposure of some 40,000 massive, regularly shaped polygonal interlocking basalt columns... ... the Wishing Chair, Giant's Causeway... ... Giant's Causeway, the jewel in the crown of the fabulous coast of Antrim... ... the Chimney Stacks, the Amphitheatre Headland, the Giant's Causeway (County Antrim, Northern Ireland)... ... the honeycomb causeway... ... volcanic activity helped Finn McCool forge this world-wonder some 60 million years ago; Giant's Causeway today is the habitat of rare plants and animals... ... let's have a picture of the pathway steps left behind by the giants... ... amazing landscape or rockscape, isn't it?
... the tall exposed vertical/tilted rock pillars, near the Giant’s Gate, Port Noffer... ... Port Noffer or the Giant's Port, ending point of the almost one mile moderate level Blue Walking Trail along the shore - the Amphitheatre headland as backdrop... ... blocks of vertical pillars flanking the Giant’s Gate, marking the end of the lower pathway... ... Giant's Causeway - shaped by imagination... ... Giant's Causeway, a geological wonder steeped in legend and folklore; inspired by the site's 40K hexagonal basalt stones and the stories of legendary giants Finn McCool and Benandonner, the main feature of this Visitors Center, opened in 2012, being its 186 basalt columns made from locally quarried stone... Belfast City Hall located in Donegall Square, Belfast (County Antrim, Northern Ireland)... ... the site now occupied by Belfast City Hall was once the home of the White Linen Hall (an important international Linen Exchange); plans for the City Hall began in 1888 when Belfast was awarded city status by Queen Victoria, in recognition of Belfast's rapid expansion and thriving linen, rope-making, shipbuilding and engineering industries... ... Monument to Queen Victoria in front of the main entrance - Belfast City Hall... ... the iconic Belfast City Hall first opened its doors in August 1906, and was officially reopened in October 2009 following its two-year refurbishment program...
... let's have a selfie with the green-domed tower as background,Belfast City Hall... ... the Cenotaph at Belfast City Hall along with its Garden of Remembrance - Belfast Northern Ireland... Belfast, the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland (a country of the United Kingdom with an area of some 5400 sq. miles located in the northeast of the island of Ireland) - this June 24 morning Belfast city tour concluding our 13-day British Isles/Celtic Highlights Glasgow-Glasgow tour with nine major overnight cities in Scotland, England, Ireland and Northern Ireland; ferry crossing from North Wales to the Republic of Ireland.