We had more than 2500 photos from our holiday in Scotland and Germany! This is the first of four posts, featuring some of the highlights, that will be published over the next few weeks. There was so much to see, so many things to remember, ranging from sweeping landscapes to the corner of a room, these photos are only a fraction of the sights I want to tell you about.
Let’s start with our first sight of Edinburgh. The summer sun still lingered at 10pm as we walked to our B&B. In the dust, the tall stone buildings around Edinburgh Waverley station looked even more imposing, forbidding. The dark, almost black stones looked austere, yet many had unexpected gothic ornamentation that gave them fantastical profiles, etched against the sky. The next day, the buildings looked less forbidding, but no less fantastical.
The mixture of austere, fantastical, brooding and romantic also characterised many of the monuments of Scotland. Starting with Scot’s Monument and Edinburgh Castle, we also visited many others. Some are household names, others relatively unknown but no less interesting: Stirling, Alloa Tower, Blackness Castle, Inverary, Kilchurn, Duart, Kisimul, Urquhart, Blair, and of course the romantic Eilean Donan.
One day, we found ourselves alone at Kilchurn Castle, on Loch Awe, near Inverary. Sure it was raining, but even Sir Walter Scott would have been impressed by this Romantic view.
Castles bring out our inner child. There is something about crawling through dark, narrow passages, ducking to walk through doorways, and exploring steep, shadowy staircases. The buildings speak of strange times and unknown lives, the very stones seem mysterious, heavy with the history of the Jacobite rebellion and invasions from McDonald, Lord of the Isles. (Often, the stones were also heavy with moisture, moss, fern, and constant gusts of wind. Such is summer in Scotland)
A number of castles lie in ruins, shells that remind visitors of the very real violence and battles that happened on those grounds. These weren’t pretty hunting lodges or palaces for summer recreation, but fortresses, tower houses, where the family and their soldiers lived and fought enemy invasions or sieges. Sometimes, it was about land, other times, it was religion and political power. Even small castles had their own chapters in Scotland’s history. We particularly liked some ruined castles, as we could explore the buildings and grounds at will, see the bare bones of their architecture, and imagine what might have been.
Other castles have been restored and furnished in something like their former lavish style. These castles speak to visitors of fairy tales, four poster beds, harps and pianos, and knights with their armours and swords. Some of these are still inhabited by the present-day Earls and Dukes, and these castles tell stories of elephant polo, summons to the UK Parliament, highland armies and highland games, visits from the Queen, and deer hunting.
And more clan tartan than even I thought possible.
Next post in this series: all about peat bogs, sunset, beaches and the Calmac ferry.