Educational and splendid trip through Scotland and England


Shannon Rapp

Edinburgh Castle, the main attraction in Edinburgh, Scotland, stands tall over the city as a reminder of the people that protected the city in years past. The infamous castle took shape from an igneous rock that came from a volcano millions of years ago. Its large structure and versatility made it one of the top visits of the tour, and students learned about its history, uses, and how it’s appreciated in modern day. “It [Edinburgh Castle] was cool; the view was especially nice, but I was still a little nervous because it was like the first day there,” NC graduate Carson Braddy said.

Shannon Rapp, Arts & Entertainment Editor

This past summer, 28 Honors students traveled to Scotland and England for the experience of a lifetime from June 6 to June 14.  NC English teacher Renee Brown sponsored the trip and traveled with the group as they found both education and splendor. Students began preparation for the trip starting in 2016 when many Honors students received an invitation to an interest meeting for the trip. The nine-day excursion gave students and chaperones the opportunity to explore two unique cultures and learn more about the world around them.

“I thought the trip went really well. We got to see some things that we had never seen before, so it was not a repeat of a previous trip. I’ve got chill bumps just thinking about it,” Brown said.

To kick off the trip, students traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland where they visited Edinburgh Castle, took a ghost tour, shopped, and ventured around the historic city. Much like the stereotypical idea of Scottish culture, bagpipe players stood upon every street corner, creating an authentic experience for students and chaperones.

“I love Scotland. It never got warm; it was always cool, and you didn’t have to wear a jacket all the time. You just look out over Edinburgh Castle, and it’s just so cool,” Brown said.

After two eventful days in Edinburgh, students moved south into England, where they visited Yorkshire. While in Yorkshire, the group took a tour of the city and the famous York Minster Church, as well as strolled down one of the best preserved medieval streets: The Shambles.

“My favorite place was York. I loved walking around and seeing the town. It was very pretty with walls surrounding the city, making it easy to walk anywhere in the city within twenty minutes. It felt like I was walking through another time with the streets and buildings still looking like they did when they were first made,” NC graduate Carson Braddy said.

Shannon Rapp
As one of the oldest preserved medieval streets in Europe, The Shambles serves as a location of shopping and eating, however in medieval times its use differed greatly. The street held butcher shops, slaughterhouses, and stalls filled with goods for patrons to purchase. A cobbled channel runs straight through the Shambles that waste used to wash down towards Fossgate, another medieval street.

Continuing down further into England, the tour brought students to the Birmingham area. The first half of the day consisted of visiting Warwick Castle where attractions included navigating through a maze, touring the castle’s dungeon, watching a medieval trebuchet in action, and viewing a reenactment of the War of Roses.

Later in the afternoon, students took a tour of Shakespeare’s birth home, followed by a tour of his wife Anne Hathaway’s cottage in Stratford. On the following day, students traveled via charter bus to Oxford, where they took a tour of the city of Oxford, as well as New College.

“I loved going in there [Shakespeare’s Birthplace]. To look at the window that everybody writes on in homage to Shakespeare is amazing; it’s so incredible,” Brown said.

During the tour, students learned of an Oxford tradition 600 years in the making. On a Sunday evening around 600 years ago, Fellows of All Souls College, a branch of Oxford College, misplaced a mallard within their school and failed to ever find it. To honor the missing mallard, every hundred years a don (teacher) dresses up as a mallard and leads a procession through the college “brandishing a duck on a stick.” This tradition embodies a legend that Oxford College holds dear to the school’s almost millennial history.

The last stop of the nine day tour took the group to London. A favorite among the group, they visited the famous Windsor Castle, where the recent wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle took place. The group also enjoyed watching the changing of the Queen’s guards. After touring around the castle, a bus tour around London took the group to Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, the state apartments, St. George’s Chapel, and Buckingham Palace. Excitement uplifted the tired students when they saw the Royal Standard flag flying high above the palace, indicating Queen Elizabeth II currently resided inside. Later that evening, the group enjoyed The Play That Goes Wrong at the Mischief Theatre in Central London.

“Buckingham Palace was cool; it was so cool thinking that someone so important is in the building right in front of me,” Braddy said.

Shannon Rapp
The gate to Buckingham Palace serves as protection for the Queen and all other royal family members. The Queen’s guards stand outside the palace along the gilded fence as an extra source of protection and keep to their stiff, professional nature twenty-four hours a day.

On the last day of the tour, the majestic nature of Stonehenge filled the first half of the day, followed by a quick visit to the town of Salisbury. Students received an authentic London experience by riding the subway system, also known as the Tube, throughout their two days in London. To complete the trip, students rode the London Eye and took pictures from high above to capture their last golden memories of the city.

“I felt honored to get chosen to go to Europe, especially with Mrs. Brown. It was an incredible experience that I will always remember, every minute was amazing,” Braddy said.

Shannon Rapp
As one of the world’s most famous prehistoric monuments, Stonehenge completely captured students attention due to its majestic, yet mysterious nature. Built about 5,000 years ago, the unique boulder circle took form in the late Neolithic period. To this day, historians struggle to figure out what exactly the formation meant and how people used it.

Overall, the trip provided students with the opportunity to experience different cultures through new food, friends, and experiences. Mrs. Brown’s next trip will take her to Spain, Portugal, and the French Riviera in the summer of 2019. Current sophomores and juniors look forward to the trip they will embark on in the coming Summer.

“On our next trip, we’re going to Spain and Portugal, and I’m so excited to go to the Alhambra and to go back to Barcelona. They have the most incredible churros and chocolate; it’s amazing. It’s going to be great. I can’t wait,” Brown said.