Edinburgh Castle

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For years I’ve told visitors that the real Scottish experience of Edinburgh Castle is to come, stand outside the gate, take some pictures, and then leave – appalled at the entry price.

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This is something I stand by. However, every so often you need to make the effort to break with these self-imposed rules, bite the bullet, and just pay the extortionate fee to get in and take a look around for yourself.

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Since we were ‘doing’ Edinburgh properly over a few days last March, it would have been criminal not to actually go inside the Castle. As castles go, it’s a fairly good one, and who knows where we might end up long term? This was as good a time as any.

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Note the size of the Saltire, compared to the Union Flag.

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Just saying.

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One of the coolest things about paying to get into the castle is that you can see the 1 o’clock gun from close up. As it sounds, this gun is fired every day at 1pm, originally to mark the time, but now purely out of tradition.

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The whole process only takes a few minutes, but it seems like an un-necessarily long time passes from when the shell is loaded – all the while people are lined up against the walls, poised to get a photograph or video.

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This had the effect that when the gun did actually go off, everybody jumped out of their skin.

Whilst I did get a picture of the smoke coming out, I jerked my arms up, evidenced by this creative composition:

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That’s a big shell.

Since it was quiet, the guy gladly stood and posed for pictures with anybody who wanted them. This isn’t something that happens later on in the year when the tourists descend in their droves.

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The castle is one of a few places where you can get really beautiful views across the city. This is partly why we don’t have American style skylines in Scotland. Hills and vantage points get in the way. I always forget that Edinburgh is on the coast, and you can see all the way out to sea from here.

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This is ‘Mons Meg’ – a huge cannon that the Scots used to literally cart around the country to blast apart the walls of enemy fortifications. You can’t really appreciate its size from the picture, but it’s massive. It’s apparently one of the largest cannons in the world by calibre. The plaque said something about how it used to terrify the enemies of Scotland… and it’s not hard to see why. If I was in a camp and saw this beast (slowly) coming towards us, I’d probably just surrender on the spot. The power of the thing is difficult to comprehend.

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The view just gets better the further up you go as well.

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There was even a cemetery for the dogs of soldiers that had died, buried within the castle walls.

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When you see the amount of firepower and protections places like this had, it’s difficult to imagine how anybody ever managed to capture them.

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I’ll probably take back what I’ve said about going into the castle. If you’ve never been, it’s worth doing.

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March 2014 – Edinburgh
Olympus Trip 35 – expired 35mm film.

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