Friday, December 24, 2010

Stirling, Lecropt, & Dunblane: Christmas Eve

We awoke Christmas Eve to very chilly and blustery conditions in Stirling. We bundled up and headed straight to the Wallace Monument in Stirling.


The monument is elevated on a hill that provided a great view of the city below.



Inside the 220 foot monument, we climbed winding stairs all the way to the top where it was even colder and windier. We managed to stay on top for a while to enjoy the spectacular view.




And before we left, Matt sacrificed himself to get this shot of the bottom of the top peak of the monument.


We descended the monument, got back into our warm car, and started driving toward the town of Dunblane. Along a small, country road, we saw this tiny, beautiful church and decided to stop and explore for a bit.


This is Lecropt Church, which services the small parish of Lecropt.



Unfortunately, it was closed, so we could only explore its grounds, but that was still an adventure.


As with most churches in the UK, an old cemetery lay beside the building. We all remember how much I love photographing old cemeteries, right?



I love the ancient reverence and beauty that exists in old cemeteries. Call it creepy (or ironic), but I feel life pulsating in a blanket of holiness when I wander old cemeteries like this one in Lecropt.


After our unexpected side trip, we were back on our way to Dunblane to visit its cathedral where we had decided to attend Christmas Eve Watchnight services. We thought we would visit during the day to explore and photograph the cathedral since we wouldn't be able to do so that night.


This 13th century cathedral was such a magical place to welcome Christmas in.


The Watchnight services we attended included carols, readings, and a sermon on the beauty of being home for Christmas. It seemed quite fitting since, as Christmas Eve wore on, the more we missed our families. We were incredibly excited and grateful to be spending Christmas in such a beautiful part of the world, but it was just the two of us. And even surrounded by the folk of Dunblane that night, we still felt lonely and missed home.

Seeing Scotland at Christmas was truly the trip of a lifetime, but I don't think we'll ever plan on traveling at Christmas time again. Without family, delicious food, and 24 hours of "A Christmas Story", Christmas just wasn't the same last year.

However, the beauty of this cathedral certainly made up for those feelings of loneliness. The stained glass was particularly gorgeous.






After many carols were sung and the sermon preached, all of the lights went out inside the cathedral except for a few candlelight flckers and the lights on the Christmas tree. We awaited the coming of midnight and the sound of the bell to ring in Christmas day. I was brought to tears with the immense feelings of tradition, reverence, and love during those moments as we welcomed Christmas day.

Dunblane Cathedral will always be close to my heart, and instead of talking more about the beauty of this cathedral, I will simply let the remaining photos speak for themselves.





Here are a few more photos we took from the road that afternoon on our way back into Stirling where we ate a fabulous dinner (with Yorkshire pudding!) at a cozy Scottish restaurant.

You might recognize this castle (Doune Castle) from a certain scene in a certain film.


These are photos I took from inside the car as we wound our way through country roads.




Come back tomorrow for photos from Christmas day!

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