Friday, September 25, 2015

The British Isles # 19: Northbound Ramble & Ramparts

After a few days rest from the road, we began our trek north into the Highlands of Scotland. We first stopped into Linlithgow Palace near Edinburgh. It is quite evident that this is more of a palace than a fortress. The size, the grandeur, the ornamentation says stately, royal. And Linlithgow has had a royal presence since the 1100's, however the palace that still stands is from the 16th and 17th centuries. It was here that Mary Queen of Scots was born. Luckily there were many covered corridors to duck into and out of the rain.

Linlithgow Palace

Linlithgow Palace Courtyard

Linlithgow Palace

Linlithgow Palace
Next we traveled to the formidable 15th century Blackness Castle on the Firth of Forth. This castle is most certainly a fortress and has even been used as a prison.
Blackness Castle on the Firth of Forth

Blackness Castle

Blackness Castle
Interiors Blackness Castle
Aberdour Castle was more ruined that others we visited on this day, dating back to at least the 12th century. There were dark rooms to explore, still, and some very old painted panels as well. It reminds me that it is a good idea to have a tiny flashlight to explore the many dark chambers of some of these castles. The orchard, terraced gardens, and dovecote behind Aberdour remind me that so many of these castles operated like self sustaining communities.

Aberdour Castle circa 1100 AD

Aberdour Castle

Dovecote and Terraced Gardens at Aberdour Castle

Aberdour Castle
Lastly, in the gray afternoon, we made it to St. Andrews were we visited the ruined Cathedral. Construction on what is called Scotland's greatest cathedral began in 1160 and continued until 1272. In the Middle Ages, this was the center for the Catholic Church in Scotland until the Protestant Reformation in 1560. Up the coast just a bit, lies the ruins of St. Andrew's Castle which we just viewed as we walked by and then the famous St. Andrew's Gold Course, the famed birthplace of golf, where I stopped to buy some obligatory gifts for my father and brother, both golf enthusiasts. It was rainy, foggy, windy, and about 45 degrees out and there were golfers still on the greens.
Ruins of St, Andrew's Cathedral 

St, Andrew's Cathedral

St. Andrew's Cathedral

St. Andrews Coastal Walk looking out to the North Sea

Crumbling Ruins of St, Andrew's Castle

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