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I always enjoy visitors to my little corner of Scotland. It gives me an excuse to go out and see things I haven't already seen in this beautiful country. I wanted to check out the Crathes Castle Rail Station for a couple of years, and a visit by my buddy from Liverpool provided the excuse. This is the station master, not my visitor.
The Royal Deeside Railway runs a summer steam train from Crathes to Banchory, only a couple of miles away.
I love these old steam engines. The British and Scottish are great restorers and maintainers of these old treasures.
We spent a lot of time wandering around the country roads of Aberdeenshire.
Further up the River Dee are several Victorian-era suspension bridges . . . this one damaged by a huge flood last winter.
Finding a gate house along the road usually means there is either a castle of grand manor house nearby.
Not all country houses are grand . . . not every farmer 'makes it.'
Lovely, bucolic rural Scotland on a rare perfect day.
One of the sites I wanted to see was the Natural Burial Ground near Alford. Cothiemuir Hill Natural Burial Ground was quite fascinating. People had chosen to be buried not in church or public grounds, but in nature, under the trees. Stones here and there, rocks, and a few plaques marked the burials.
The burial grounds were in an especially beautiful forest. I might like this as a burial option.
It was interesting to walk among the ferns looking for markers . . . an exercise in reflecting on our mortality.
It's also nice to have visitors so you can have a photograph of yourself once in awhile.
The next day we headed south, along the old road along the North Sea to the famous fishing village of Arbroath.
We walked around the village, ate a fine seafood dinner quay-side, and walked around the old harbour. The air was so still, the water so calm.
I have been to Arbroath many times. I always make a point of taking visitors there . . . the sweet pastel buildings and harbour boats are extremely picturesque.
Yes, it is a fishing village and they do have fishing trawlers based here. Those colors! Yes, the colors that day were intense.
Never in my life have I seen such a dramatic sky reflected in the sea! Astonishing!
The strong golden afternoon light played well on the moored fishing boats.
Arbroath Harbour is a living, working harbour. We walked up to the harbour breakwater wall to see what was on the other side . . . .
The view from the top of the harbour wall was up the coast of the North Sea to the Angus headlands. What magical light I had that day!
As it was getting late, we decided to drive back to Aberdeen . . . the late afternoon light on the Angus fields were spectacular. We stopped many times to gape at the view and take photos.
Wild flowers lined the fields and roads.
Golden fields of grain fringed by clusters of wild flowers. Ah! Scotland!
Late afternoon golden light, deep shadows.
Lovely daises everywhere.
We drove past these scenes for an hour, completely in awe of the beauty.
MORE TO COME!
As I often do, I tag along with my wife when she goes somewhere interesting to play in golf tournaments. This past week-end it was in the beautiful surrounds of central Scotland: Pitlochry and the tiny village of Moulin nearby. This is a quaint cottage in Moulin.
The village of Mulin is build around a square with the church and graveyard on one side and the Moulin Hotel (c1665) facing it.
Built on the site of the 1165 chapel, in 1873 the original church was gutted by fire and the present building was constructed. In 1989 the church was closed and became a community center.
These old rural graveyards are very interesting to me. I find the old 'furniture' and features sad and enlightening.
There are some fine, sweet cottage gardens in Moulin.
A lush garden in late summer.
The old hotel was dressed in beautiful flowers.
I left the village to explore the country above the town of Pitlochery.
Tree-lined country lanes . . . .
I walked along a trail at the base of Craigower Hill with an eye to walking to the top. Some ladies at the golf course said there was a wonderful view from the summit.
The trail began adjacent to the Pitlochery Golf Club.
It was a perfect day for a trail walk - the warmest day of the year and clear sunshine!
The trail began at a gradual incline . . .
. . . and ran under varying stands of trees.
But the trail became much steeper the closer to the summit I came. The trees thinned and the bugs increased. Unfortunately, I forgot to put on any repellant (SkinSoSoft). I got a number of midge bites here. Itchy!
Nearing the top.
The view back down the Tummel Valley, and the town of Pitlochery, from the summit.
A panoramic view from the summit of Craigower Hill.
There were some big patches of purple heather on the top.
I walked back along a different trail to where I had parked the car, and drove up this avenue of trees to pick my wife up at the golf course.
The village of Moulin through the trees across the field. After a delicious Sunday Carvery at the clubhouse, we took the long way home from Pitlochery to Aberdeen along the A93 up a Highlands pass on the Old Military Road.
The road from the Spittle of Glenshee to Braemar is a stunner.
Fast moving clouds in the strong late afternoon light left constantly moving dark patches across the Highlands landscape.
The heather was in full purple bloom up in the Highland passes.
Sheep grazing in the summer light. This pass is deep with snow all winter.
Scottish roads, a Wonder of Nature around every corner.
The deep shadows of late afternoon along a Highlands road. Magnificent.
Coming down from the summit of the pass we came onto small crofters patches.
Picture perfect . . . a perfect day.
It has been a good summer. I spent several week-ends away accompanying my wife to golf tournaments around Scotland. While she plays, I explore the area with my camera. This entry chronicles three days in Ayrshire, southwest of Glasgow. Here are the bridges of Ayr.
Ayr was founded as a city in 1205. It is a nice little city to walk around in.
There are several fine old chapels and church yards in Ayr.
I love these old church yards.
Ayr is a 'beach town.' It is in very nice shape, but there were very few tourists there.
Ayr is not far from the village of Troon, and its fine beach. Troon is also the site of the Royal Troon Golf Club, which was to host The British Open just a week after we were there.
Ayr has a fine medieval feel to it.
There are some fine seaside parks in Ary.
An Ayr sunset.
One of the great attractions of Ayrshire is the Robert Burns Cottage.
The Robert Burns House was beautifully preserved. The house was built by his father in 1757.
The cottage had a thriving heritage vegetable garden.
There was a misty rain falling the morning we went to the Robert Burns Cottage.
As sweet as the exterior of the cottage was preserved, the interior was full of period furniture and fittings.
With the light outside not conducive to good photography, I welcomed the opportunity to shoot several lit interior windows.
The cottage had very thick walls, nice for framing a window.
A period doll's crib.
There were many displays in the cottage. This one was a little creepy.
Many depictions of Burns' poems could be found throughout the grounds.
I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the birthplace of one of my favorite poets, Robert Burns.
Our afternoon journey took us down the Ayrshire coast on small roads.
We had come to see a very special castle . . . .
. . . fantastic Culzean Castle.
Culzean Castle Gardens.
Since 1987, Culzean Castle has appeared on the back of the five pound note in Scotland . . . similar to Monticello on the five cent piece in the USA.
As members of the Scottish Historical Trust, our entry was free. Colzean Castle was begun in the 10th century and expanded and modernized many ties since.
The first room we encountered was a waiting room filled with ball flintlock pistols, 'the largest collection of such pistols in the world,' the guard told me. He also said that all of these weapons had been 'fired in anger' at one time or another, mostly in the Napoleonic Wars.
Weapons, weapons, and more weapons made for a macabre display.
Colzean Castle dining room . . . still used for weddings and official occasions.
Beautiful colors . . . but who designs these interiors?
The drawing room.
One of many sumptuous apartments . . . one of which was given to General Eisenhower after WWII as a kind of a prize for defeating Germany. He used it regularly.
The public spaces were full of fine works of art. Here Napoleon.
We went back outside to enjoy the views over the Firth of Clyde.
There were fine views up the southwest Scottish coast from Colzean Castle.
A short walk up a forest path led to the working farm and shops of the castle.
A thousand years ago all castles had to be completely self-sustaining. They grew their own food, made their own clothes, manufactured their own implements and crockery on site. Everything.
The caastle's farm buildings themselves are very attractive and imposing.
The interior farmyard is now made up of shops and a cafe where we enjoyed a nice lunch.
We enjoyed our long week-end in scenic Ayrshire very much.
Here I am again . . . tagging along with my wife on her golf tournament. I dropped her off at Duff House Royal Golf Club and set off for a little photographic expedition to the coastal villeges nearby: Banff and MacDuff. This is the village center of Banff.
Banff is a very old village. It had its first castle in 1163, build to repel the invading Vikings.
Banff is a more prosperous village. It was a trading center until the 1770s, when a port was constructed.
Banff is built up the side of a rather steel hill that rises up from a broad bay. There are still narrow walking paths that give the only access to quaint cottages.
A typical 17th century house in Banff.
Banff is a lovely village. It is just big enough to offer all the amenities, but small enough to still feel like a village. I could see living in this house (it's for sale) on street off the bay.
There are a couple of scaled-down 'supermarkets' in Banff, but the downtown is still vibrant, owing to the fact that the nearest mall is 50 miles away.
There are several quaint old hotels in town.
I couldn't resist snooping around the fascinating old cemetery . . . right in the middle of the village.
I come from a very wet place (Western Oregon in the USA), so I understand this kind of moss.
There were several extraordinary crypts and carved grave covers.
Just so your survivors wouldn't have to wonder what happened to you . . . you put a skull and bones on your grave marker. [Note to self: do not have horizontal grave stone in rainy environment.]
I decided to walk back through old town Banff toward the sea and the jetty. These are the oldest continuously inhabited buildings in Banff, dating from the mid-14th century.
Being such a very old village, there were, of course, a few buildings that were in full deterioration. My favorite photo subject!
House number 30.
I love the story of time and weather written on these old, unattended, doors.
House number 32. Nobody home.
The sea wall at high tide. I followed the wall out to the jetty next to a raging North Sea.
Crabbing and shrimping pots lined the old stone jetty.
I studied these for a few minutes, imagining myself as a crab, but I couldn't work out how these thing worked.
View from the jetty: A broad bay separates Banff from the even smaller village of MacDuff, seen on the horizon. This is where the River Deveron estuary ends in the North Sea.
Ther is a small light at the end of the jetty. At high tide the waves occasionally break over sea wall.
I was getting hungry, so I took a different street back to my car. I passed this relic of days gone bye.
I often ask myself, what is it about old doors that compel me to take a photograph? Something about mortality, I believe.
I made my way back to the village center and then on up the steep hill to a nice cafe and had a bowl of Cullen Skink, a scone, and a cup of coffee.
After lunch I decided to find the castle whose sign I saw driving in. My GPS said there was a castle only four miles away. I ended up on this gravel road through a beautiful wood.
I knew I was getting close to a castle when I started to see the old outbuildings.
I love these old abandoned stone houses. I have a fantasy each time of fixing it up and living in it.
Now I knew I was getting close . . . a castle gate house . . . and occupied too.
AH! There it is. A castle through the trees. I was not sure if this particular castle was occupied by the laird, or was open to the public. I was a little concerned someone would run our and yell at me that I was trespassing.
I stayed back in the trees, just in case . . .
I left the castle for a short drive to the harbour village of MacDuff. We stayed in this village right after we moved to Scotland. In fact, it was the first over night stay we made.
MacDuff has a proper shipyard for refitting fishing boats.
Shipyards are visually intereting places. What in the world are these sharpened steel 'blades' used for? I have no idea.
The rust was thick, but the pattern and color was captivating.
Nice clean and newly painted fishing boats. I got lucky as the sun finally came out in the afternoon.
I could have stayed all day in the MacDuff shipyards, but my wife called to say her round was over. Great idea to affix these benches inside the seawall.
We drove on the A947 back to Aberdeen. We passed a sign for Fyvie Castle . . . and I couldn't resist going in. My wife hadn't been before.
Fyvie Castle was closed, but the vast grounds and gardens were opened. I will post more from the fabulous gardens soon.
The ruins of Arbroath Abbey (c1178) is one of the most important historical sites in Scotland. The current fishing village of Arbroath has formed aroound the ruins.
The Arbroath Abbey was the site of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath (actual document HERE) the document proclaiming Scotland an independent nation, foreshadowing the US Declaration of `independence.
Although the Arbroath Abbey was one of the richest, it was closed at the Reformation, and from 1590 on, it was robbed of its stones by local builders.
The cathedral at the abbey was huge.
Wonderful olde world passages and twisting stairwells.
I would love to have seen the Abbey when it was in all its pristine beauty.
The Abbey was constructed of red sandstone, a somewhat unique building material from the time.
Not all of the structures were completely destroyed.
The magnificent Abbots House, also of red sandstone - very red because of the rain. That door going under the house sure looks inviting . . .
The vaults under the Abbots House . . . this tourist came in while I was shooting . . . and stayed very still.
Some of the 'extra' archeological finds are displayed in the basement of the Abbots House.
The ghostly green light, the other-worldly sounds, and the strange light emanating from behind this door were enough to inhibit further exploration . . . . so I left.
There were several high vantage points to view the lay-out of the original Abbey. The main chapel must have been very grand, as the huge column bases indicate.
I left my shoes in this photo . . . on the Stairwell Unto Hell . . .
I'm a sucker for photos framed by arches. Guilty as charged . . .
I also enjoy photographing doors . . . all over the world. They are the portals to an enclosure; an enclosure of that which is on the other side.
I wandered into this chamber and discovered a very informative exhibit about the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath (document and translation HERE), signed on 6 April, 1320, which declared Scotland independence.
Wonderful medieval atmosphere in here . . . the literal home of freedom.
I enjoyed wandering around in these old spaces. I had the whole place to myself.
. . . if these walls could talk . . .
I was surprised to find this apparition had appeared on a photo I took under the Abbey . . . who is this guy?
Fresh Spring grass, arches, and rooms to explore.
Even though it was a murky day in northeast Scotland, I still managed some pretty good photos . . . and had a nice afternoon while my wife was playing in a golf tournament at Carnustie.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION !