Posts for United Kingdom Category

Rosslyn Chapel Travel Guide

Destinations, United Kingdom - Ross French - March 7, 2022

Rosslyn Chapel Travel Guide

Scotland is a country where one will never run out of places to visit and things to see. The Rosslyn Chapel or the Collegiate Church of St. Matthew is a very popular place among them. Brought into popular culture by Dan Brown in ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ the chapel brings in tourists from everywhere. In this article, we will try to explore it in-depth.

Brief History and Importance of Rosslyn Chapel

William Sinclair – the 1st Earl of Caithness of the Scoto-Norman Sinclair Family – was the one who built the chapel. He established it on a small hill atop Roslin Glen as a Catholic collegiate church in the 15th century. If you were unaware, this church is third on the list of Sinclair places of worship at Roslin. The first and the second ones are Roslin Castle and what is today known as Roslin Cemetery, respectively. One can still see the latter’s buttresses (though collapsing) at Roslin Cemetery even today.

Sinclair’s motive behind founding the college was to celebrate the Divine Office 24/7. He also wished to celebrate Masses for all faithfully departed individuals. These included the Sinclair family members as well. During this time, the use of plainsong or polyphony was rampant to enhance the liturgy singing. William Sinclair also decided to fund the priests and choristers forever. The priests, however, had to fulfill their parochial responsibilities.

The year 1560 saw the Catholic worship in the chapel come to an end after the Scottish Reformation occurred. The Sinclair family never deserted their Catholic beliefs until the early 18th century. But they had to stop public worship in the abbey. It was until 1861 that it reopened based on the rites of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Sacred Messengers of God:

In 1914, this place was subject to a terrorist bombing. During this period, suffragettes started bombing and arson attacks throughout the country to campaign for women’s suffrage. As a result, on 11th July, a bomb exploded inside the building.

The chapel is not pretty small. However, the intricate stone carvings on the building have brought it a lot of fame worldwide. The place is vibrant and seems to tell its story itself through these striking stone carvings. Such carvings have given rise to many conspiracy theories. We will talk about some of those later.

In those times, bees were regarded as the sacred messengers of God. Thus, a concealed beehive was made high up the roof so that the bees could come and reside there.

Secrets and Mysteries Surrounding Rosslyn Chapel:

RosslynInteriorThe place has been a hot topic among mystery enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists throughout the years. It is because the place is surrounded by mystery. For example, some people believe that the chapel has the Holy Grail buried under it. They say that if we take a look at historical and religious texts, we can find evidence supporting this claim. Also, it is a fact that the church had ties with freemasonry and the Knights Templar. The members of the Knights Templar fled to Scotland after they faced a deadly uprising. For your info, the Sinclair family had close ties with these members.

Here’s another interesting fact. While the claim was long rejected, there has been enough evidence to prove the Freemason-Knights Templar tie. After fleeing their country, the knights who came to Scotland were known to reside a few miles away from Rosslyn. Thus, their known location was close to the Sinclair family’s allies.

The Da Vinci Code:

There are some people who believe that the building was indeed a hiding spot for some mysterious treasure. They believe it could have even been the Holy Grail and that the crypts and underground chambers have the answers. Some scenes from ‘The Da Vinci Code’ movie have been shot in an underground chamber here. Visitors can freely enter this chamber. Nonetheless, the building contains yet another underground crypt that has stayed sealed for centuries.

As expected, this sealed chamber has given rise to curiosity among people. Some even claim that they are certain that this chamber hides something valuable and mysterious. Unfortunately, the location of this crypt sometimes makes visitors miss it. So, remember to look straight down to the left side of the entrance. Their official website says they get flooded with one question a lot. Why not investigate the vaults and put an end to the speculation of what lies underneath? Their answer to this question is that the vaults beneath the building are burial grounds of several Barons of Rosslyn. It’s no surprise that the Earl of Rosslyn has zero intention to perturb the final resting place of his ancestors.

Holy Grail

Moreover, they say that it would harm the chapel’s structural integrity if they conducted such an excavation. But, as we all know, the building has been restored multiple times already. So, they can’t take any such risk.

William The Cat:

Another mystery was the appearance of William the Cat. A cat, really? Yes, a cat. For many years, William was a resident and the feline guardian of the chapel. The local tour guides explained that William came from a bloodline comprised cats coming to the abbey for decades. The locals had seen William frequenting the place for over 14 years, just like his father did before him. Sometimes the cat slept on the church pews. He seemed unfazed by the hundreds of visitors who assembled inside the church every day. Other times, he was seen walking under the cherry blossom trees. Nobody could answer why the cat or his ancestors visited the church.

Interestingly, he had a home in Roslin village, and his owners used to adore and care for him. Still, William the Cat showed up day in, day out to guard the mystifying abbey. Unfortunately, the cat died last year. But it is still a mystery even today.

Let us now take a look at the exact location of this architectural wonder to make things easier for you.

Location of Rosslyn Chapel:

Chapel Loan, Roslin EH25 9PU, United Kingdom

How to Reach the Chapel?

Residing close to Edinburgh, the church stays open every day all year long save Christmas and New Year’s. The church timings are 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM (6 PM in the summer). However, you got to remember that you have to enter half an hour before the church closes. Otherwise, you won’t be able to enter it at all. Adults have to pay 9 GBP as an entry fee, while kids can enter the place free of cost.

You can find six guided tours (only three on Sunday) throughout the day. Therefore, you can avail such a tour if you want answers to the many questions you have in mind. FYI, the tour schedule is subject to change. So, it would be best to check their official site for the most current schedule. If you don’t own a car, you can take either bus 37 or 40 from Edinburgh. Don’t worry. It would take about 45 to 60 minutes to reach the place, depending on the traffic.

Best Time to Visit Rosslyn Chapel

As we mentioned earlier, the chapel stays open all year long except Christmas and New Year’s. So, you can visit the church any time you want. However, if you wish to get a better view of the church’s exterior, it’s best to choose summertime. It is because, in summer, the weather is more likely to be in your favor than winter or monsoon. Additionally, summer is the perfect time of the year for exploring the grounds as well. Also, try to visit the chapel on weekday mornings to get some peace of mind. Again, it’s because, during this time, the area remains very pleasant and tranquil.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What is buried under Rosslyn Chapel?

Inside the chapel, a Spartan stone crypt has given rise to many myths and legends. Some even believe that the treasure of the mythical Knights Templar is stored in a deep vault whose entrance is sealed.

  • Is the Holy Grail in Rosslyn Chapel?

Some people believe that the church is home to many hidden treasures, one among them being the Holy Grail. While there has been no evidence of the Holy Grail being kept there, they still believe so.

  • Was The Da Vinci Code filmed in the Collegiate Church of St. Matthew?  

Yes, it was. The church was selected as a location for ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ adapted from the novel of the same name. It was chosen for its ambiance and the mysterious aura that surrounds it.


As you can see, the Rosslyn Chapel is one of the most popular places to visit in all of the UK. The architecture’s popularity was its amazing stone carvings and the mystery surrounding it. The mysterious vibe it emits results in it being a subject to uncountable myths, legends, and conspiracy theories. So, don’t wait any longer. Visit it ASAP to experience first-hand what it has to offer.


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Things You Need to Know About Future Travel to the UK & Europe

Europe, United Kingdom - Ross French - February 10, 2021

Travel to the UK

There have been some big changes in Europe and the UK recently. If you happen to live anywhere on that continent, you will know exactly what we’re talking about. But for everyone else, here’s a quick catch up, in case you missed the news.

As of January 2021, the UK is officially no longer part of the European Union or EU. You might have heard the term ‘Brexit’ being thrown around, as in ‘Britain’s Exit’ from the EU. Not Europe – the UK is still geographically part of the European continent. But politically, it has left a union made up of 26 other nations.

This change in the relationship between the UK and this big gang of other European nations has all sorts of practical implications for people wanting to travel, work and do business between Britain and the EU – some big, some minor. Mostly, these changes affect British and EU citizens. But there are also a few knock-on effects worth raising for anyone from the rest of the world planning on doing any traveling around Europe (post-COVID pandemic, of course).

From a traveler’s point of view, one of the great things about the EU is the relaxed or open borders that exist between member states. So if you land in, say, France, you have complete freedom to go explore Spain, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic and every other EU country without being stopped and quizzed at every border.

This is particularly beneficial if you are planning to hang around in Europe long enough to need a visa – especially if you plan to work while you are there – or if you happen to be from a country that requires a visa to enter the EU full stop. It’s a case of presenting all of your paperwork once on entry, and that’s it. No more long waits to have your credentials checked as you move from country to country.

Now, it should be pointed out that the UK never signed up to the full ‘open borders’ policy, known as the Schengen Area, that the other 26 states agreed to. That means you’ve always had to go through border control traveling back and forth between the UK and the rest of the EU.

But even so, because of the shared visa arrangements, it was very easy (and common) to use the UK as a hub for some long-term travel across the rest of Europe. That is still going to be possible, of course. But there are likely to be added complications.

New visa rules

We’re still in the early stages of what travel to a non-EU Britain looks like (and no one is doing much traveling right now, anyway). But the UK will start to roll out its own visa rules and arrangements at some point and you will need to be up to speed with both to travel between the UK and Europe.

For example, from 2022 the EU is launching a paid-for electronic entry authorization system similar to the ESTA in the United States. This will not grant you permission to travel to the UK. Another important change for long-term travelers is that an EU work visa will not give you the right to pick up a job in the UK. You might have to think more carefully about where you want to base yourself for the majority of the trip.

Other possible changes are to things like travel insurance. Instead of buying a single policy for travel anywhere in Europe, you might find certain providers start to make exemptions and require you to purchase UK-only policies if you want to head there.

This is because the EU, for example, has very clear and consumer-friendly rules on things like flight and package holiday refunds that no longer apply to UK companies, which changes the game for insurance companies in terms of paying out for cancellations.

Given the risk of having your travel plans trashed by COVID-19 lockdowns and ever-changing rules from one place to the next, it’s definitely a good idea to get the right type of cancellation cover wherever you are traveling to.

To find out more, visit Avanti Travel Insurance.

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A Complete Guide to Places to Visit in Wales

Wales - Ross French - January 24, 2021

Places to visit in wales

Wales is one of the most picturesque component countries of mainland Britain. There are uncountable reasons for a traveler to want to come to Wales. Surreal castles, cozy lanes, all make Wales a must-visit place for all the fellow travelers.

At present, travel is a bit restricted due to the pandemic situation. However, with passing time, things are returning to normalcy. The travel restriction is still existing. After the vaccine is in place, it is expected to ease up. But travelers need to plan their trip beforehand. Wales has been one of the most popular destinations.

Wales has more than 400 castles to explore. Innumerable castles and gardens all around, heritage trains and the culture and people of Wales make the country so beautiful. There are many places to visit in Wales. Here is a complete guide to what to do in Wales. Continue Reading

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5 Places to Enjoy A Budget Vacation in the UK

Travel Tips, United Kingdom - Ross French - July 17, 2018

They say if you want to enjoy a good vacation, you should make a rough draft, and then double the budget and halve the time. Heartbreaking, is it not? Nevertheless, the idea of a budget vacation is always attractive, especially when you are just starting out in life. And while you may not think of Britain as an inexpensive tourist destination, we are here to burst that myth for you. Let’s talk about five great places in the United Kingdom and help you find a cheap break to go on for you next vacation.

1. York

This charming city in northern England is everything you would imagine of an English town. Filled with medieval castles built around an intersection of two rivers, York used to be England’s passage to Scotland. You can stay at decent bed and breakfast places around the King’s College for mere £20 a night. Food is cheap too, and we suggest you try the local specialties like chips and steak at Cafe No.8 Bistro.

2. Bath

Located less than a hundred miles from London, this city oozes culture. It is a World Heritage Site, and that is obvious when you take the city tour (Bath has two for one city tours, great for your budget trip). The city is dotted with museums and theatres. Lodging is cheap as this is a university town, and you can get a dorm room for as little as £30 a night. If you are travelling in a group, getting a farmhouse B&B is just as cheap per person. There are also many eateries in Bath where you can eat for under £10 a meal.

3. Belfast

If you do not live in the UK, visiting Belfast is a must for an Irish experience. This city has excellent places to shop cheap, delicious cuisine and its own unique place in history. Have coffee and enjoy modern architecture for breakfast at City Hall or go to the medieval Belfast Castle. There are plenty of great fast food options and healthier options around the city where you can eat for £5-8 a meal.

4. Dorset

This south-west coastal English town is a hidden gem. It has been named an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by the government, and for good reason. The cliffs of Dorset along the English Channel are full of fossils and are reputedly as old as dinosaurs. Dorset offers the perfect getaway for nature lovers, and you can book four-star hotels offering as low a tariff as £20/night some parts of the year.

5. Liverpool

The only real city on our list, Liverpool is a must-see if you are a Beatles (or football) fan. And for all the city’s culture and beautiful architecture, it is still cheap to stay at (unlike London). You can find cottages for £80 a night that house as many as seven. Also, Liverpool’s pubs are the cheapest, so, if you are a party person, your vacation just got a lot of fun.

These places are definitely magical, and with the right planning, you can have the best British experience at a fraction of the expected cost. Time to pack your bags and start making your bookings then!

Quick tip: You can save some additional money on communication services by buying an international prepaid SIM card.

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England - Ross French - November 10, 2017

Located on the coast of North Yorkshire, the small fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay is a perfect place if you want to spend your vacation away from the hustle and bustle of touristy locations. The village is situated in a cleft between two cliffs, giving the place a striking look. The cliffs tower over a cluster of former fishing cottages, which go on till the edge of the sea. The beautiful location creates a beautiful place which is a perfect getaway for anyone in search of breathtaking scenery and unusual architecture. The raw and elemental coastline of Yorkshire will surely take your breath away, as you spend your leisurely days at this pristine location. Here are some of the things that you can do during your stay in Robin Hood’s Bay besides enjoying the raw nature and untouched beauty, to turn your holiday into a memorable experience.

Enjoy a leisurely day at Robin Hood’s Bay Beach

The Robin Hood’s Bay Beach is not your everyday beach decorated with deckchairs and beach umbrellas. Instead, the beach here is much more untouched, pristine and unadulterated. Accessible during the low tide, the beach here is full of seashells and beach rock pools. You can enjoy a relaxing day walking on the beach, collecting some seashells, have ice cream from the beacon farm and chase crabs. It is truly a different kind of beach experience, and you will surely fall in love with this beach.

Explore the archaeological remains of Alum Works

This industrial archaeological remains located on the Yorkshire Coast was the spot used for producing liquor from 1650-1860, which was then used in dyeing and tanning leather. You can take part in various hands-on activities and exhibitions at the site to explore the local geology and the wildlife. You can also visit the nearby Coastal Centre in Ravenscar village, where you can find out more about the 11 miles of beautiful coastline, which is taken care of and protected by the National Trust.

Visit Farsyde Riding Centre

The Farsyde Riding Centre is the perfect place for anyone who wants to enjoy the beautiful coastal scenery of the countryside while riding on a horse. Riders of any skill set can come here and enjoy this spectacular experience. If you are a capable rider, you can enjoy a ride along the beach, moors and the scenic former railway to Scarborough. Novice riders can enjoy a ride on more modest paths along this former railpath which climbs gradually towards Ravenscar while enjoying some breathtaking views of the bay.

Go whale watching

Whale watching is one of the biggest kept secrets of the coast of Yorkshire. The North Sea, just off Whitby, holds a rich variety of beautiful marine life just under its surface. And during the late summer and autumn months, huge groups of herring migrate to these waters. This huge shoals of herring, in turn, attracts a lot of sharks, birds, seals, white-beaked and bottle-nosed dolphins, Minke, humpback, sei and fin whales. You will get the opportunity of spotting all of these beautiful creatures and much more if you go on a whale watching tour while you are in Robin Hood’s Bay.

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