"It is in the wild places, where the edge of the earth meets the corners of the sky, the human spirit is fed." Art Wolf

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

More Day Trips and Castles

Initially here, I was still working out of my base outside Inverness until I wasn't and the next day I started my drive towards the Aberdeen  area.

My last day trip was to the west coast to to the small sea port of Unapool. I enjoyed the sunshine.

I found the small harbor.

I walked around town for a few blocks. 

I returned to my last night on the farm and was met by the Labrador greeter and she introduced me to momma pig.

Baby pigs, too! 

Leaving the next day, demonstrating my increase driving confidence, I purposefully drove into Inverness to visit a used Book store.

The book store is in an old church and I did find some labeling of topics in certain sections but not well organized. This is a book store for just finding surprises.  The range of bird books made me think of several of my friends from the WomenRV Forum.   The UK love their birds.

From the book store visit I headed east towards Aberdeen with a plan to visit at least one castle depending upon travel time and distractions along the route.

My first castle stop was at Huntly Castle, chief seat of the Gordon Dynasty.   It is one of the magnificent ruins. The original section of the castle was first built in 1190's but out of timber and briefly used by King Robert the Bruce.  It was remodeled by the early 1600's by George Gordon to more closely resemble the palace that you see here.

As those of you that have read through some of these adventures have noticed, some of these castle had more luxury and did more entertaining than others.  Some castles and families had to do more defending.  

These were not the days of low carb diets.

The brew house.

The fancy decorations over the front door.

This is a small tower room at the top of the castle that was thought to have been a small library or sturdy with a small fireplace and wonderful views.  Yes, I liked this room. In my mind I saw the tapestries and the fire...... 

One of the top floors missing its floor but who built that neat nest?

Many of the circular steps had been restored (and a rope added) enough for the tourists.

Observed in the kitchen - the top area is where the water was run into the castle by tile and the lower opening is where the dirty water was thrown out.  Gee, now all the castles in the neighborhood will want piped in water.

And we think that "crock pot" cooking is so convenient.

Leaving Huntly Castle, I still had enough time to swing past another castle, Fyvie Castle.  Unfortunately, or fortunately since I was already heavily castled out for the day, I was working off a "Castle Trail" pamphlet that may have been out of date, because the castle itself closed earlier that I thought and only the grounds remained available. Another saving grace of coming in October is that tourist season is winding down. Many sites are not open after the end of September or run on more limited days and or hours. 

I have enjoyed touring several of the castles that are still or have been restored with the old tapestries and dining rooms and libraries but the empty half standing ruins have a great deal of appeal in there own way.  All the these great houses have several things in common: they served families over centuries and most found themselves re imagined over time.

This castle has had 5 successive families in its 800 years. Each family added a tower to make it their own.  My feet didn't mind walking around the ground but were happy not to have climbed any of the stairs this time.

Entrance into he gardens

Several fruit trees had been trimmed and trained to grow flat against the wall of the garden. 

These daisies were popular with butterflies and bees.

The castle lake bordering the lane out.

This was my first B&B that felt more line a small Inn or Hotel.  It had a pub on the ground floor but not a pub with food but just a room of neighborhood drinkers or I guess tired tourist.

This location was also one that had food choices within walking distance around the corner.

Tomorrow is my Tuesday travel day and more site seeing.

Monday, October 14, 2019

And More Scottish Explorations

The day of driving around doesn't stop at one castle.  The route back took me north of Inverness to Fort George just to see something that wasn't a castle.   The fort is one of old history (250 years) and current history as it is still being used by the army.  Folks over here do seem to be able to repurpose buildings well.  I notice the similarities between early forts in the colonies and these.   That turet looks like the ones that were on the fort in San Juan. 

The moat.

The draw bridge was here.  

More moat.

And then you see this, over 40 acres of grounds and buildings.

On each side of the battlements there was a sally door that soldiers could use to run out and confront the enemy.  One side the door remains the same small size it always was and on the opposite side the door has been enlarged to serve as the main gate for the current military needs and vehicles.

Looking back across the Parade Grounds at the main gate of the old fort and imagining just how many individuals were housed and marched here long ago.

On the way back out I watched a young officer get out of his car and proceed to help his three small children out of the back seat.  This housing might be a bit bleak for children.

And these were only one section of barracks.....

The view off the head lands of the Fort. It was and is still well positioned.

On my walk back towards the car working to keep my ears warm in the wind I spotted some brave Kite Surfers.....hopefully all in warm wet suits.  

Later, I drove down the farm lane, past the chickens and up the road to the pub for dinner.

The next morning I got up and started a little earlier than usual so that I could make the first run of the Steam Train. There were clouds again but also sunshine.

The Steam Train runs from a small town south east of Inverness along the edge of the Cairngorm Mountains.  The area was originally just known for its winter skiing but has now developed "wild" camping and hiking in the area and the stores in town reflect their hoped for market.

The train runs out to two different stops. At the second stop the train pulls past and waits while the engine repositions itself to pull us back.

It was a small station out in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, I seemed to get in the line for the bathroom early.  There was a bathroom on the train but I was not  interested in that much of an adventure.  Nothing fancy here, nothing to see.....

At the stop it became apparent that the windows do get washed.  From our standard compartment we were not sure. They were dirty.  We wondered if you had to upgrade to First Class to get clean windows.  Apparently, First Class doesn't see out much better.  It was difficult to tell which windows had been washed......  Old steam trains also have old steam train windows.

This is the beautiful area around the small station.

And someone came to see their visitors off.

If I opened the small window above the seats and stood, there were a few photogenic possibilities.

Back in town it was time to wander past the stores (including three different thrift/charity shops) and find something to eat.  This was my Fish and Chips day.  The fish was delicious but most of the chips got left behind.   

Just some of the nice architecture in town.

From the train ride I drove back north again to visit the Culloden Battlefield and Memorial.  I met this handsome fellow grazing near the parking lot.

This is a reproduction of the original crofter's cottage that stood on the field at the time of the battle and is referred to on maps and writing from the time.

A big field on which the English and the Jacobites lined up across from each other.  They were out numbered. They were out maneuvered.   They lost horribly and so ended the last Jacobites rebellion.

A four month old Cocker Spaniel out exploring the grounds.

The memorial built for the Jacobites.

Individual stones have been set for each Clan and some for a mixture of more minor Clans.  The battle field felt like holy ground in the same way that Gettysburg does but on a smaller scale. 

This one is for the Clan Munro who I believe brought 426 men to fight for the English.

But he is just so handsome.

Just throwing in random photos from the B&B including the evidence of puppy teeth chewing on one of the breakfast chairs.

And I know that my friend Sarah will appreciate the silver toast holder and appreciate that it gets used every morning.