I recently went on a whistle stop trip to Scotland for four nights. The plan to visit Scotland had started way back when I first got a new laptop that had Windows 7, and came with a default alternating background which included Dunnottar Castle.
The idea was we would travel up through Edinburgh and see some things in Aberdeenshire, Perth etc. That trip never materialised as we decided to buy a house instead. This year Sam bought me this book:Exploring Britain's Castles
(For some reason mine has Corfe Castle on the cover rather than Harlech Castle)
If you hadn't guessed by now I like castles a fair bit. I found some amazing castles in this book so set upon creating a tour plan for us.
We would enter Scotland through Gretna Green and visit Caerlaverock Castle and if we had time, travel back on ourselves to see Hermitage Castle (Those who did A Level History will probably remember this castle being named a few times). Caerlaverock Castle was such an interesting design being triangular shaped. Hermitage is without doubt the most imposing castle I have ever seen and really emphasised it's dark history.
From there we then travelled to a hostel in Tyndrum where I faced criticism (from people who had no idea) that I had come to the wrong place to see castles, saying they were all on the other side of Scotland etc etc. We had prepared ourselves for long drives and knew this would be the only way we would get see all that we wanted to. The second day we saw four castles within a 40 mile radius. So there! These included Kilchurn Castle, Dunstaffnage Castle, Carnasserie Castle and Innis Chonnel. granted we didn't get to explore Innis Chonnel as it is off shore and private. If we would have only have had a rowing boat we could have explored the tiny island it stood on. If we go back we will defiantly contact the owners to get to see it.
The next day we travelled north and visited the infamous Eilean Donan Castle and Urquhart Castle. Both were lovely, although I felt the modern photographs of the family who own Eilean Donan Castle was completely inappropriate and felt as though they were desperate to cement a feeling of self importance. The sun came out in all its glory at Urquhart. It was a lovely location on Loch Ness with really scenic views, could have stayed there all day. From there we went up to Inverness to visit Sam's friend.
Day 4 we left the beautiful scenery of the west highlands and travelled east. I discovered that no matter where you are in the UK, travelling east is always much more boring than travelling west (scenery-wise). We travelled over to Stonehaven and visited Dunnottar Castle. Such an interesting and complex place set on the North Sea. It is well worth a visit as there is so much to explore. I did feel however that the owners would benefit greatly from merchandise. (no gift shop!).
We then chose to visit Craigievar Castle. Craigievar Castle is what I imagine Disney Castle was based on. Such a beautiful and enchanting building, and to make it even more fairy tale like, its pink. All visitors are treated to a (very interesting) guided tour. So beautifully designed with excellent examples of craftsmanship (although there were two exceptionally poor portraits).
I already can't wait to go back to Scotland and see some more. The landscape there is fantastic, although I certain and quite quickly got used to the scene (pine trees, mountains, lochs, fern grass and fox gloves). It is amazing how you'll be driving for hours, see one house and then drive a hundred miles more before seeing another.