Scotland (1): Edinburgh and the castles

IMG_20130709_075143

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.

DSCN3238DSCN3235

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.

DSCN3662DSCN3672 

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)

 

DSCN3286DSCN3321DSCN3721DSCN3455DSCN4515DSCN3987

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.

DSCN3637DSCN3479

Advertisements

Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

18 thoughts on “Scotland (1): Edinburgh and the castles

  1. jdons 12 August 2013 at 12:45 am Reply

    This is bringing back many memories,great idea to post this for us,I’ll look forward to following .

    • saucygander 12 August 2013 at 8:00 am Reply

      It’s a beautiful place, isn’t it? Thanks for visiting.

  2. Experienced Tutors 12 August 2013 at 1:53 am Reply

    This was great . Loved the photos. Scotland is wonderful. We have a time share for New Year’s week (Hogmanay) on the West Coast. Coming from England we do enjoy hearing those foreign accents north of the border!

    • saucygander 12 August 2013 at 8:03 am Reply

      Yes, and “wee” in every sentence! If we lived in the UK, we would think about a holiday house or time share in the Hebrides, loved our time there.

  3. Baking With Gab 12 August 2013 at 10:36 am Reply

    Beautiful photos! I’ve got travel envy!

    • saucygander 12 August 2013 at 11:15 pm Reply

      Thank you! Scotland was such a fun, interesting place to visit!

  4. lemongrovecakediaries 12 August 2013 at 8:46 pm Reply

    Brilliant photos. I love Scotland and the castles are absolutely amazing. I would love to go back for a “wee” visit 🙂

    • saucygander 12 August 2013 at 11:17 pm Reply

      Haha! Yes, and see the wee sheep and wee coo!

  5. lovinghomemade 13 August 2013 at 1:25 am Reply

    Beautiful photos!

  6. nadel&gabel 13 August 2013 at 4:38 pm Reply

    Beautiful pictures. I am excited to to see the ones from Germany 😉

    • saucygander 18 August 2013 at 12:20 am Reply

      Germany photos will be posted next week, or next weekend. So many castles, and the Mercedes car museum, I may need an extra post! 🙂

  7. Anne ~ Uni Homemaker 14 August 2013 at 5:05 am Reply

    Beautiful photos! Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. 🙂

  8. Jody and Ken 18 August 2013 at 5:11 am Reply

    Kilchurn Castle photos were particularly moving. You can feel the history oozing up out of the ground. So much of Scotland seems as it were constructed out of stone compressed out of the gray clouds and mist. Ken

    • saucygander 20 August 2013 at 1:46 am Reply

      Kilchurn was one of our favourites, precisely because there was such a strong sense of history. Oh, and a few black faced sheep…

  9. traceinthekitchen 18 August 2013 at 3:22 pm Reply

    Love your photos! I went to Scotland in May…looks like we hit many of the same places. I fell in love with that country! Kilchurn Castle is quite romantic, mysterious, so many things rolled into one! It’s def four seasons in one day eh? Glad y’all had a great time!

    • saucygander 20 August 2013 at 1:53 am Reply

      We also fell in love with Scotland, and even the weather had its charm, once we bought water proof hats. 🙂

      The historic castles and monuments are so atmospheric aren’t they?

  10. The Global Garnish Geek 23 August 2013 at 12:21 am Reply

    Great photos from one of my favorite European cities….

    • saucygander 25 August 2013 at 9:31 am Reply

      Glad you liked the photos, we also loved Edinburgh, if we lived closer to Europe we would be going back soon.

Penny for your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: