So far eleven castles and one palace while visiting Scotland and off to see another castle this morning when I finish this post. We’ve really been struck by the variety, and had great fun climbing the winding stairs, finding secret rooms, and ducking my head which is far too tall for life in a medieval castle. Here’s view of the three we visited our first day.
Scotland has lots of rain, sheep and wind. Our first castle stop was Lochleven castle in the middle of, well, Loch Leven. Mary, Queen of Scots, gave birth here shortly before Elizabeth arrested her. Unfortunately, the high winds prevented the ferry from taking us to the island so we had to be content with the view from shore.
We then had luck getting into Elcho castle along the RIver Tay. We were the only visitors, and had great fun figuring out where we were when exiting a door from the spiral stairs in one of the towers. This L-shaped castle was built around 1560 by the Wemyss family who had lived on this land for at least two centuries earlier. All castles in this post are under the care of Historic Scotland. If you ever will do extensive travel across the country, get a membership (and over age 60 you get a “concession”). Just visiting Edinburgh and Sterling castles will pay for the membership, and you can skip the admission lines, too! You can get the membership on-line, but allow a few weeks to get cards in the post. Also, they have costumes if you want to get into medieval garb when doing your tour.
There’s a wonderful orchard next to the castle. The caretaker said for a donation we were welcome to pick, and he gave a map to show which apple and plum varieties were ripe. Unfortunately, we were early for the pears.
When you are queen of the castle, you can climb to the top, enter a turret and enjoy the view of your kingdom.
Our final castle on day one was Huntingcastle. The caretaker at Elcho told us that it was OK we missed Lochleven, since the oldest tower in Huntingcaste was nearly identical to the one at Lochleven. The old tower is the one to the right in the image below.
One of the stories of the castle is that in one generation a younger brother built his castle next to his brother’s. The “newer” tower is the closer one on the left side of the image above, though both were built around 1500. In many of the castles or towers within the castle, wooden floors have either deteriorated or never been restored. You then get a nice view of the impressive interior architecture as in the next image of the left tower. The second image below is of the middle section connecting the two towers. Of course, the floors were of different height, so there’s a stairway to get from one level of the right tower to the same level of the left tower. You can also glimpse the spiral stairs in the walls.
What good is castle if you can’t look out the window and watch your sheep?