Olympic Torch relay: Thousands see Edinburgh Castle by torchlight

Torchbearer Lesley Forrest lights the flamein front of thousands of people. Picture: SNS
Torchbearer Lesley Forrest lights the flamein front of thousands of people. Picture: SNS
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THE Olympic Torch completed its final full day in Scotland last night before an 8,500-strong crowd at Edinburgh Castle.

Crowds thronged the Lawnmarket section of the Royal Mile ten-deep to greet the last stage of the relay.

The castle was bathed in sunshine as Scots singer Emile Sandé took the stage at 7pm in front of the iconic backdrop, where the crowd broke into a vast Mexican Wave just before the torch arrived.

Among the spectators was John Taylor, of Dunfermline, in Fife, who had brought his 15-year-old son Carter to the castle after the youngster had the honour of carrying the torch earlier in the day.

Mr Taylor said: “Carter got the chance to carry the torch as he is the only competitive water skier in Britain who is also autistic, so he competes against able-bodied athletes.

“It was an amazing experience for him to carry the torch and we got the chance to come here too.

“It is a really special night with the atmosphere, the weather and some of the other amazing people we’ve met. There is a great buzz.”

The historic relay has seen the torch tour some of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks over the past few days.

More than 100 torchbearers had the honour of carrying the flame past some of the nation’s most recognisable sites, including the home of golf in St Andrews, the Forth Road Bridge, Stirling Castle, the Wallace Monument, Falkirk Wheel and Hopetoun House, near South Queensferry.

The 26th day of the 70-day tour around the UK began in St Andrews, where the torch was taken across the famous Swilcan Bridge on the Old Course and on to the West Sands beach, where the famous scene from Chariots of Fire was recreated.

Louise Martin, chair of SportScotland, who carried the torch across the Old Course, said: “Now that it’s over, it’s quite surreal. I can’t believe I’ve actually done it. It’s churning inside, just the pleasure and what it meant to me.

“Words can’t explain how I feel to have just done what I’ve done with the Olympic Flame in my hand.”

Joseph Forrester, 13, ran with the flame along the West Sands, followed by some 20 pupils from Madras Primary School.

Joseph, a member of Fife Athletics Club, said: “I was kind of nervous before it because there’s loads of people here, but I’m all right now.

“I’d love to compete in the Olympics one day.”

In Falkirk, sheriffs ordered their courts to recess, took off their wigs and gowns, and stood in the sunshine in “civilian” dress together with prosecutors, defenders, court officers, clerks, journalists, and several accused, as the Olympic torch passed the building.

Earlier, students and staff at Stirling University sported the colours of the Olympic rings and formed a guard of honour as the torch passed the campus.

PE student Thomas McCulloch played the bagpipes as torchbearers Cameron Oliver and Vicky Jack exchanged the flame.

One of the most memorable shots of the day was when long-distance cyclist Mark Beaumont carried the torch across the Forth Road Bridge, with the rail bridge in the background.

The Olympic flame was carried up to the castle esplanade by Lesley Forrest, who received a kidney transplant in 1996 and a year later started competing in the British Transplant Games. She has since won multiple medals in both British and World Transplant Games and has been made an MBE.