Travels in Scotland – Back on The Castle Trail

July 21, 2015

Today Rosehearty was bathed in sunshine and it was time to get back on the Castle Trail. My first stop was Huntly Castle, number ten on the list and about an hour and a half drive from the Devron Hotel. Apparently, the earliest fortification on this site sheltered Robert the Bruce.

Huntly CastleHuntlly Castle

My next stop was Spynie Palace where the pretty lady steward at the visitor centre talked me into buying a guide book. The palace was the residence of the medieval bishops of Moray. It once stood on the edge of a large sea loch giving safe anchorage for fishing and merchant vessels. But Synie loch’s size has become greatly reduced and is now some distance away. Mary Queen of Scots spent two nights here before defeating the Earl of Huntly at the Battle of Corrichie near Huntly Castle.

Spynie PalaceSpynie Palace

One of the delights of visiting ruined castles is that I get a chance to take some dramatic and dare I say “artistic” photographs of some of the impressive structures I see about me.

Spynie Palace 2View of the impressive David’s Tower at Spynie Palace

The climb to the top of David’s Tower was scary but safe and the views from the top were breath taking.

Spynie Palace 3A view from the top of David’s Tower

I drove on to Belvenie Castle which was a stronghold of the Black Comyns who were rivals to Robert the Bruce in the early 1300s. Mary Queen of Scots also stayed here, much later of course in the mid 1500s.

Balvenie CastleBelvenie Castle

The castle contained some interesting nooks and crannies which were a delight to explore.

Balvenie Castle 2Part of the interior of Belvenie castle.

The three castles mentioned above were enough to take in for one day so I decided to drive the seventy or so miles back to Rosehearty where I ate a delicious evening meal of chicken and chorizo pasta.

Keith Jahans

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Travels in Scotland – The Castle Trail Continued

July 19, 2015

Today I checked out of the Rosemount Palace and set off north along the Castle Trail intent on seeing more wondrous castles along the way.

The next one on my list was Tolquhon Castle and this is how I like my castles in ruins with plenty of atmosphere. It looked like I was the only one to have arrived. The lady steward in the gift/information shop sold me a ticket to go inside and a guide book for only £1 as it was shortly to be reprinted. She apologised that she had not been able to sweep up the leaves upstairs because of the rain and told me to take extra care when moving around. This was to be the first castle where I was to venture inside and from what I saw it was well worth it.

Tolquhon CastleTolquhon Castle

Tolquhon Castle 2Inside Tolquhon Castle

A little further along the trail was Haddo House. This was more like a Stately Home than a castle and I nearly passed it by but as it was on the list I took some photographs of the exterior and then moved on.

Haddo HouseHaddo House

The next three castles all seemed to be still lived in and again looked a lot like Stately Homes. Delgatie Castle seemed to be the most run down and so to me was the most atmospheric of the three.

Fyvie CastleFyvie Castle

Delgatie CastleDelgatie Castle

Duff HouseDuff House

Duff House is the ninth castle on the list and is the halfway point along the trail. It is near the coastal town of Banff. From there I travelled eastward along the coast to the village of Rosehearty and the Davron Hotel where I had booked to stay for the next three nights. I got there at 2.30 pm and they were still serving lunch so I treated myself to a Sunday roast. It was delicious.

Keith Jahans