Some Scottish castles…
Where is your favourite castle? I love castles – always have. Enormous, stony, historic – and usually with spectacular grounds. Have a quick cyber tour of Scotland here, stopping off at a few of my favourites. Please excuse the photos – they are just what I have in my phone of castles I have taken pics of in passing in the last year.
This is the “worst” of my favourite castles. It is a 400 year old keep that I have seen weekly, if not daily for almost my whole life. It sits in the middle of suburbia, looking incongruous on the edge of a random cliff above lots of 1930s houses. This one just gets a mention as it is so familiar. I was first in it when I was about twelve. Our church, which shares its land, used to have its Good Friday service in it. Dark, damp, dingy – but quite atmospheric. We met in the “great hall” with its little minstrels’ gallery. Now it is too damp, probably unsafe and sitting there in vain hope of some grant or other to save it from ruin. But it is a thoroughly unspectacular castle. But thoroughly familiar. Home to a lot of big black birds and any amount of lichen.
Great castle, about an hour from here. This is the view from the beach there over to Arran. Culzean has a huge and very well maintained castle that you can tour – packed with thousands of antiques. I wonder if antique enthusiasts ever tantrum on the way out! Too much to see. My favourite thing used to be a bath in the shape of a boot – but it wasn’t there the last time we were there. There is a part of the castle you can book in to stay at – the “Eisenhower”apartment, that Eisenhower was given in the 1940s as a base in Scotland. The castle has an ornamental walled garden, a deer park, a swan pond, a play area and a beach – as well as a visitor centre and various other buildings on the estate. We never have had a bad day at Culzean. 🙂
3. Blair Castle
We went to this castle this April. Like Culzean, it is a well presented visitor experience. There was a peacock strutting about the car park. Again, the castle was packed with weaponry, animal heads, thousands of antiques and artefacts. There was a huge ballroom also. The owners have built a very nice visitor extension with a shop and cafe. There was a walk to a little ruined church and there was an enormous walled garden – that was where we saw the very aggressive swan that I wrote a poem about. Beautiful castle.
4. Last summer we went to this castle at Kelburn
although I don’t know if the castle itself is open to the public – but the estate is well developed for visitors with walks and a children’s zoo and the “secret forest” which is like a fantasy world that children love and adults feel uneasy about as it is such a complicated maze. Sometimes I think we will never get out! Kelburn Castle is famous for this mural, but I believe they have discovered that it is eroding the castle and will have to be got rid of. I am not sure what I think of the mural anyway.
5. Dunrobin Castle is the most beautiful castle I think. But I can’t find a photo, so please have a look at the link. Disney would be proud of the turrets I think. It is north of Dornoch. We were there a few years ago and saw a falconry display. They have a disturbing but amazing building in the grounds where they have heads of every animal – shot in the days when people went to Africa and to prove they had seen big game, they felt they had to shoot it and bring back the evidence. There is a giraffe neck and head as if it is coming up out of the floor at you. Really horrible. But, I was carrying daughter#2 at the time and she was astounded, giving it “Whit’s THAT?” all the way around the multitude of severed heads. That castle is owned by whoever is the Count/Countess of Sutherland. Back in the past, they were infamous for being active in “the clearances” when indigenous Scots were put off the land to make way for sheep, hence the amount of sheep and lack of people in the highlands. However – very beautiful castle.
So, that’s five of my favourites. The others that came to mind were Brodick Castle, Crathes Castle, Balmoral, Craigevar and St Andrews Castle, Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Eilean Donan Castle, Urquhart Castle…. Perhaps another time.