Scotland

Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe, Scotland

In 2016, I ticked a castle off my wish list, Kilchurn Castle, one of the iconic castles of Scotland.  We have passed by so many times, and each year I wanted to visit, but I wanted a nice sunny day.  Well I got the sunny day in 2016, we parked in the small car park and then walked to the castle.

The closer we go to the castle, the bigger my smile got, finally I was going to explore one of my favourite castles.  We walked up to the door…….it was locked, we tried again, and still it remained firmly locked……no it was suppose to be open, more people turned up, a discussion follow, but still it stayed well and truly locked.  I did find a window to hold the camera up to, to get a shot of inside, as there wasn’t really any other way of seeing the interior, I got a little glimpse, which will have to do until we go back.

 

 

A little history ………Kilchurn Castle is a ruined structure on a rocky peninsula at the northeastern end of Loch Awe, in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It was first constructed as a five storey tower house with a courtyard in the mid-15th century as the base of the Campbells of Glenorchy, who extended both the castle and their territory in the area over the next 150 years.

By the 17th century, it was a military barracks and in 1760 it was damaged by fire and abandoned. Kilchurn fell out of use and was in ruins by 1770. It is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland.

After exploring in the sunshine, we made our way back to the car, a little disappointed, but it was still a good visit.  The following photos show you how most people first see the castle from the road, the second is a close up of the same photo, but I have changed it to b&w.

Ledbury, Market Town, Herefordshire

Ledbury is a lovely little Market Town in the beautiful county of Herefordshire, which we visited in February 2015.  While I have been sorting photos, I found a group the I had sorted and were meant to be a post…….but thats as far as they went.  As we have spent the whole day in the garden, due to the wonderful weather we are having again, and gardening, not sunbathing……I thought I would use the photos, shame not to, as they do portray a wonderful little town.  

The Market House in the centre of the town was built in 1617

The church spire of St Michael & All Angels.

There was a small antiques fair in St Katherine’s Chapel & Hall…… I did come away with some lovely old crystal glasses…. one of my weaknesses lol. 

Ledbury is full of lovely little shops, eating places and many more interesting building.  It has that wonderful feeling of how all ‘English Market Towns’ would have looked, but many towns have now lost that timeless appeal.  You could almost imagine it has been the venue for a ‘Murder Mystery’ book, maybe it has.

 

To The Lighthouse, Ardnamurchan, Scotland

After travelling along the long narrow twisting road to Ardnamurchan Point, in the Highlands of Scotland, May 2017, we were suddenly at the gates of the imposing lighthouse.  Well not really gates now, but the posts remain, and it was quite interesting watching quite a large motorhome squeeze past them, thinking to myself….please do not get stuck, its the only way out.  This is quite a tower and we went up to the top……still quite amazed that I did that, but it is a Stevenson Lighthouse, so it had to be done.   The building on the left of the tower, has been made into a lovely cafe and gift shop, so after the long trip, you can at least get a drink and a bite to eat, if needed…..we did and the coffee was excellent….but back to the lighthouse……

The Lighthouse is still operated and maintained by the Northern Lighthouse Board and it one of over 200 located around Scotland’s wild coastline and The Isle of Man.  In joint partnership with the Board and the Lighthouse Trust you can now climb to the top of the tower, for a small fee….worth every penny, just wish there were more than you could climb.

Egyptian Influences

Standing 36 metres high and 55 metres above sea level the lighthouse was built by Alan Stevenson in 1848.  This is the most westerly point on the Scottish mainland, so the light plays a vital role in the safe keeping of sea vessels. 

The site for the lighthouse was chosen in 1845 and 20 acres of land was purchased for the sum of £20.00.  It took three years to complete the building, which was built of Ross of Mull granite.  It stands secure on the surrounding dark coloured gabbro (meaning smooth) volcanic rock.  Egyptian influences  can be seen in the entrance to the tower, the chimneys of the cottages and the top of the lighthouse tower beneath the balcony.

On our visit, we met some four legged friends, the lighthouse dogs, a pair of very friendly collie dogs, in fact one was so friendly, that she would try to bite the tyres of any cars that were leaving ……lucky for us, she was worn out from the heat to stop us.

We stopped to look at the exhibition, before we started our mammoth climb and had a good look at the lens which had been removed when the tower became automated in 1988.  Prior to this there would have been a Principal Lighthouse Keeper and two assistants, with their families living at the lighthouse.  The families were almost self sufficient and would have kept cows and sheep at the station.

The original lens was a Fresnel lens, so named after its French inventor, Augustin Fresnel.  The lens was made from a series of perfectly polished crystal glass lenses set in a bronze structure.

On entering the tower the first thing you see, is the lovely sign dated 1786 and then the stairs, which were a bit boring, so husband modelled  for me.

On and on we went, stopping and starting, then finally we made it to the top.  We did’nt get to see outside at this point, you are shown where the lighthouse keepers went about their duties and then an interesting talk on the history of the lighthouse.

 

Of course this is not the original workings. I think the guide said they were from the automation, but soon these will be replaced, but hopefully they will find a place in the exhibition.  After the talk it was time to crawl out on to the balcony and I do mean crawl through a very low door opening, but even for someone who has a fear of heights, it was worth it.  I’m must admit I only did half way round the balcony, but I am proud that I did that, the guide said it had taken him quite a few hours before he could make himself go through the door, let alone walk around the balcony, so yes, very pleased with myself.

And then the views.

Back inside the light to have a look at the modern day lens, an array of sealed beam electric lamps which look like car headlights to me, but soon they will be updated and then there are hopes of putting the original lens back, hopefully.  There are some nice brass lion heads and I did a b & w version of the glass, as I liked the reflections, but it was time to leave and make the trek back down the stairs, as it was the turn of someone else to see these wonderful views.

We had learned a lot about Lightkeeping, it was a remote, lonely and hard existence.  At night each keeper was required to keep watch in the lightroom (the room where we had listen to the talk) to ensure that the light flashed correctly.  During the daytime the keepers were kept engaged in cleaning, painting if necessary and generally keeping the premises clean and tidy.  

We were now going to make our way to Sanna Beach as suggested by the guide, who is a bit biased as he lives there….but he was right, more to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

In Search of a Lighthouse, Ardnamurchan, Scotland

This year 2017, we explored a part of Scotland that was new to us, Ardnamurchan, which is a peninsula, on the west coast of the Highlands of Scotland.  We did the trip twice, once in fog and the second in sunshine, this turned out to be quite normal on this holiday.   On the first trip we were looking for a new whisky distillery, which we found and the second a lighthouse, which we climbed.  The first photo is of the caravan site which we were staying at, just outside of Onich, opposite Corran on the map, and we had the most wonderful views across Loch Linnhe.  The rest are of our road trip searching for the lighthouse at Ardnamurchan Point and on the last photo you can just see the top poking out of the landscape.  Next stop is the lighthouse…..

May 2017

Island Washing, Skye, Scotland

Washing drying in the sun, on the Isle of Skye, taken on holiday May 2016.  I see washing hanging out and I have to take a photo…..I’m not sure why, I just like seeing it dancing in the wind, especially if it’s really windy.  Also the cottage reminded me of the ones that we had seen on the Isle of Tiree, last year 2016, with the black stones, which are called ‘Pudding Houses’  or ‘Spotted Houses’

I also found another example, where you can see the stone work more clearly.  This cottage was a little further away from the first cottage, the first cottage didn’t have bay windows, but otherwise it’s quite similar. 

May 2017

Blue Skye, Scotland

When we were on Skye, Scotland, a couple of weeks ago, we stopped on our ’round island road trip’ to have a picnic.  I’m not sure that we have had one, with such a breathtaking view before.  I think…..we were looking at Applecross on mainland Scotland, with the little island of Rona in the foreground, but I’m not a 100% sure.  The sky had a slight haze, which made everything in the distance have an ice blue tint, it was far more beautiful than I could really capture, but they are a lovely reminder of a beautiful picnic.

May 2017

Duntulm Castle, Skye, Scotland

Duntulm Castle with spectacular views of the Outer Hebrides, you can understand the reason they built it there, and no, not just for the view, although I would have done.  The castle, with sheer cliffs on three sides, stands ruined on the north coast of Trotternish, on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, near the hamlet of Duntulm.  We were on our round the ‘Island Road Trip’, a week ago on holiday and I suddenly noticed the ruins, not sure how I missed them in pervious years…..most probably busy looking at the view.  We didn’t have time to stop, as we had a ferry to catch and we still had a long way to go, so the photos were taken out of the car window….. again.

 

A little history…..Duntulm is believed to have been first fortified in the Iron Age, and the site continues to be associated with the name Dùn Dhaibhidh or “David’s Fort”.  Later in life it was fortified by the Norse, and subsequently by their successors, the MacLeods of Skye. It would have been while it was under the MacLeod’s tenure that James V visited the castle in 1540, where he was impressed by its strength and the quality of the hospitality on offer.  In the 17th century it was the seat of the chiefs of Clan MacDonald of Sleat.  The MacDonalds abandoned the castle in about 1730 in favour of nearby Monkstadt House and then Armadale Castle in Sleat.  We did visit Armadale Castle, which has a lovely garden, and I will post about it later.  

 A little haunting for you…. a nursemaid accidentally dropped the baby son of the clan chief from a castle window above the cliffs.  The ghost of the nursemaid, killed in retribution, is still said to wander the ruins. She is apparently kept company by the ghost of Hugh MacDonald, who plotted against the rightful clan chief in the 1600s, and who was starved to death in the dungeon at Duntulm.   

There were quite substantial ruins left in the 1880, a large keep several stories high, which would have looked quite impressive on the cliff top.  But, as with many of theses castle ruins, the stone work was removed for building projects and other parts eroded away, or just fell into the sea.  

May 2017