Tuesday, December 18, 2012

6 Castles and a Palace

Matthew and I dashed off for a weekend, and in the span of 3 days, we managed to stumble across six castles and a Palace. A couple of these places were so fantastic, that they warrant their own post... so, if I can find the time, I'll share them over the next few days (with more photos than you'd ever care to see). But for now, here's the mini rundown:

Blackness Castle
This was the first castle we came upon and is just outside of Edinburgh. It is right on the firth and within clear view of the Firth Rail Bridge.  If I remember correctly Blackness Castle was in use up until the 1920s. (but I could be getting facts confused through this entire post, so don't quote me on anything). We had a great time roaming about the grounds and through the towers. We saw the prisons- the nice one with the window and fireplace for fancy prisoners, and the pit, a windowless hole that was so far below that the freezing sea water would come in and out with the tides. When we arrived at Blackness,it was literally at the end of a rainbow... Ah, Scotland. You do rainbows like no other place I've been!

Linlithgow Palace
There has been a royal structure on this site since the eleven hundreds... but this particular building was built a few hundred years later. James V and Mary Queen of Scots were both born in Linlithgow Palace, and spent time in this palace during their reigns. It is thought to be haunted by Mary of Guise (mother of Mary Queen of Scots.. lots of Marys... got to keep them all straight). Now, it is partially destroyed, without a roof in several parts, but still very impressive. Walking through the halls and chambers, it is easy to imagine it in its former glory.

Airth Castle
 This place is now a spa and hotel. Matt and I stopped because it was right on our way to where we were staying for the night and we though we would grab a bite in the restaurant. But, we ended up stumbling into someone's wedding preparations. The place was crazy with flustered women, and I think I spotted the mother of the bride-to-be hurrying about holding and armful of gowns. We got out of there pretty quickly. Maybe we'll try Airth again another time (especially since there is a spa! Castle + Spa = Happy Place)

Broomhall Castle
This is our castle... in the sense that this is where we spent two nights. It is outside of Stirling, surrounded by beautiful countryside and huge craggy mountains.  Our room had a super deep claw foot bathtub and a ginormous bed (well, I think it was a king, but after sharing a double bed for the last few months, it felt ginormous to us!). The place was not very busy, but well staffed, so it kind of felt like we were royalty!

Doune Castle
This was my favorite stop, and it will definitely get its own post.  But for now, I'll say that Doune Castle, right on the River Teith, has its own kind of magic. It has history, of course, that matches many of the other castles we visited... but it has something more. A little bit of movie magic happened here nearly 40 years ago and still draws the goofiest of fans to the site. What movie, you ask? I'll tell you later, I promise.

Menstrie Castle
Since we had a rental car, we decided to follow a few road signs that lead us here, to Menstrie Castle. Built in 1560, it is now 4 residential flats, and one was becoming occupied as we walked about. Kind of funny to be snapping photos as the moving guys unloaded the truck. I got the feeling that it was no big deal to live in or around this place... it was just part of a suburban neighborhood. It's as if this country is overrun with castles!

Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle is said by many to be the best castle Scotland, and it lives up to this reputation. We spent a few hours there and didn't see it all. Luckily for us, it is only a short train ride away from Edinburgh and as members of Historic Scotland, we can return for free any time! The day we visited was misty and cold, and that just added to the atmosphere. This place has all the castle-y highlights...moats, iron portcullis, gardens, walls, kitchens, great halls, and a beautifully refurbished Palace (that of James V and Mary of Guise, parents to a little lady known as Mary Queen of Scots- in fact the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots occurred here on December 14th 1542 when she was just 6 days old).

1 comment:

  1. Wow. It looks like you had a fantastic weekend. I can't wait to see more photos of the beautiful Scottish countryside. I hope your husband, Matt appreciates what an adventurous, fun-loving gal you are...actually, I am totally sure he does! Ciao.