Views From A Train Window

We travelled by train to Venice in 2016, I did post a lot of photos taken from the train windows at the time, but there were a few views that I couldn’t find out where they were.  But there were some wonderful castles, churches and villages that we passed going through Germany, Switzerland and Italy that I would have loved to have visited, but maybe one day I will get to see some of them.  So for now, these photos are of where I would have loved to have jumped off and explored.  


Portchester Castle, Portchester, Nr Portsmouth, Hampshire

We visited Portchester Castle, near Portsmouth on the south coast, a couple of years ago, and I thought, I had posted about the castle, I had up loaded the photos, but it would seem, that’s as far as I got.  This is a gem of castle, and its remarkable history begins in the 3rd century, when the Romans built a fort to combat attacks by barbarian pirates.  In the 5th century it was transformed into a Saxon stronghold, or burgh, to protect that part of the coast from Viking roads.  After the Norman Conquest in 1066, a castle was built inside the Roman Walls.  It later became a Royal residence.  Occupied until the 17th century, it was converted into a prison during the Napoleonic wars.  

As there is quite a lot to see, we will start the tour, with the Romans……..Since they were constructed over 1,700 years ago, the walls, towers and enclosing ditches of the square planned Roman fort have been at the constant and defining elements of the site.  Within the huge nine acre area they enclose, great changes have taken place.  

From the top of the Norman Keep, you can see how the Roman fort was laid out.


As it exists today, the layout broadly reflects the medieval  arrangement of the site, with a great tower or keep, at one corner surround by other important castle buildings in the inner bailey.  

Next we come to the Normans, who built the castle in about 1130.  

Now in the 1390’s a royal residence was erected for Richard the II.


There was a display area, that takes you through the history of castle.

Now there is just time to explore the site, before heading over to that very interesting looking church in the other corner of the fort…….continued in the the post.  I have added a few photos of Portchester Village, some nice buildings are left in the this ancient village.



Balfour Castle, Shapinsay Island, Orkney, Scotland

Iceland cruise March 2018 – This s a very special castle, as it was only castle that I saw on the whole of our trip, and I had given up seeing one.  I was on deck waiting to take photos of a lighthouse, when I suddenly saw Balfour Castle in the distance.  I didn’t know the castles name then, but having looked up details, I think I have missed my chance of visiting.  There were apparently trips with afternoon teas to the castle, but according to their web site, it is now a private home.  

Balfour Castle is aptly known as a Calendar House. It has seven turrets, twelve exterior doors, 52 rooms, and 365 panes of glass and is situated on the southwest end of Shapinsay Island of Orkney. 

In 1782 Thomas Balfour built a house called Cliffdale and It was inherited by his grandson, David Balfour in 1846 and the following year he decided to build Balfour Castle. It was completed in 1848. The castle incorporated the original house between a service wing to the north and the imposing public rooms of castle on the south overlooking the sea.

The last Balfour died in 1960 without an heir and the entire estate, comprising of an 800 acre farm and the castle were sold.  The castle was used as a hotel, but now it would seem it have converted back, to being a private house.  

Iceland Cruise 7 – Forteiland Fortress, UNESCO Site, Netherlands

I wanted to do a post on the The Forteiland, an island fortress, because on leaving Tilbury Port, you pass Tilbury Fort and with both sites I got amazing views of the structures. Tilbury Fort has already been posted on Iceland Cruise 1.  

The Forteiland IJmuiden is an island fortress located near the town of IJmuiden, in the mouth of the North Sea Canal. It was constructed in the 1880s to help defend the surrounding area and restrict shipping traffic heading for Amsterdam. This iconic site is actually half underground and is the largest building in the Defence Line of Amsterdam – a UNESCO world monument.  You can visit on certain days and it sounds very interesting if you are ever at the mouth of the North Sea Canal.

Next post is about the lighthouses you can see in the photos, for my lighthouse category.



Graffiti in Brougham Castle, Cumbria

I have already posted about Brougham Castle in Cumbria, but I forgot to post about some graffiti that I found in the little chapel at the top of the keep.  I love finding old graffiti, maybe it would be better it there were none, but as man has always had the need to make his mark, its interesting to see how he made it down the ages.  The graffiti I came across in the keep it not the oldest I have found, and there might older on site, but I found some dated from the 1800’s……… I must say they were very neat.  

Schloss Oberhofen, Lake Thun, Switzerland

In September 2015 we are staying near Interlaken, in Switzerland, in a lovely hotel on the side of Lake Thun.   One evening we were exploring the local surroundings and found a castle or Schloss.  Unfortunately it was closed, but that didn’t stop me from having a good look at the exterior.  I would like to go back and have a look, as it does sound quite interesting with a lovely garden.  The weather was horrible, rainy and quite cold, so the photos were very dark and were headed for the trash.  But I wanted a record of the castle, so with a bit of magic, I think I have just about saved them in mono and chrome.  Thats another good reason to go back to capture the castle in the sunshine.

A little history that I found……The mighty keep of Schloss Oberhofen dates back to the twelfth century but the main palace and chapel are from the fifteenth century. The picturesque little tower in the lake is even more recent and a typical nineteenth-century addition.  One of the first owners of Schloss Oberhofen was Walther von Eschenbach, who was an accomplice in the murder of the Roman German King Albrecht the First in 1308. Ironically, the castle soon after ended up in the possession of the Habsburgs just to lose it again after the Battle of Sempach (1386). From 1844 to 1925, Oberhofen Castle was the summer seat of the Pourtalès family of Neuchatel-Prussian nobility, who converted it into its present state, built the delightful little tower in the lake, and planted the park.


Castle Tioram, Eilean Tioram Island, Scotland

Last years holiday to Scotland in 2017, was mostly a wash out, but we did have a few nice days and on one of these we came across Castle Tioram, sitting on the tidal island of Eilean Tioram.

Castle Tioram is a ruined castle that sits on the tidal island Eilean Tioram in Loch Moidart, Lochaber, Highland, Scotland.  It is located west of Acharacle, approximately 80 km from Fort William.  You find it down a two mile bumpy single track road, but it is worth it.

We parked the car in the sandy carpark and walked across the sandbar causeway, you should watch the tide, but I should think it would be ok unless it was a very high tide, but its better to be on the safe side.  We started to climb the grassy slope up to the castle gate.  There had only been another couple, but they disappeared, so we were quite alone.  We came to the gate, which was broken, the door was swung open, the following photo shows the gate from the inside……yes we went in, we should not have, as it is very dangerous, but we did.  I think going into this castle is the closest I have been to a castle that had has not really been changed in hundreds of years.  The owner wants to turn it into a house, which would be a terrible mistake, it needs to be consolidated and open to the public, its a little gem of history.

The origins of the structure you can see today, date back to the building of a castle at some point in the 1200s.  This would have comprised a curtain wall, following the irregular plan still evident, though probably of rather lower height as there is evidence of the walls being heightened later in the castle’s life. Access was by the barrel vaulted gateway which remains the only entrance today.  Over the following four centuries, Castle Tioram was altered and added to many times, but most of these changes affected the interior accommodation, with the result that the basic shape of the castle today would still be recognised by its original builders, some eight hundred years ago.

The castle courtyard is on two levels and is heavily over grown. 

Castle Tioram was recorded as being in a poor condition when occupied by a garrison of 14 government troops during the 1715 Jacobite uprising.

The following are photos of the interior, which is not very safe, and I stayed outside trying to imagine what it would have been like about 800 years ago.  Work was carried on consolidating the castle in the second half of the 1800s by the neighbouring estate and again in 1926, but one can’t help, but feel not enough was done.  In 1997 it was sold and that brings us back to changing the castle into a house…..I do hope not, but something does need to be done, if the castle is not to fall into the sea.