Thursday, October 6, 2016

A wonderful day at Dunrobin Castle

It was no coincidence that when I decided to make a base in the county of Sutherland in the Northern Highlands I made it Golspie.  Not only was it handy for bus and train connections but very close to Dunrobin Castle. Back in 1994 I spent several days in Golspie and discovered this beautiful fairy tale castle then.  A repeat visit to Dunrobin was definitely on the agenda and this is where I immediately headed to on my first day in Golspie back in early May of this year.

After a hearty breakfast at my B and B (which sadly is closing at the end of this season so that the owners can open it up to their children and grandchildren) I headed off on the coastal path to Dunrobin Castle.  

This was my bed and breakfast - I stayed in the annex on the left side of the picture on the main floor.

I really love this village by the sea!

The start of my coastal walk - I spent a lot of time walking on this path and sitting on the benches just staring out at the sea.  (this blog was nearly called "Misplaced Ocean Child" - just so you know...)

For a while I walked with a chap who owned this dog whose name I can't remember now (didn't write it down..fatal thing to do at my age).  The second he heard I was from Canada he mentioned the famous Colin..I think his wife was related to Colin's wife's sister or something like was a pleasant chat and before he turned around he told me where to carry on along the path.  I think it would be pretty hard to get lost on the coastal path but if anyone can do it I can.

The view as I walked with the Duke of Sutherland (ugh) statue overlooking the area.

An old mill that is now a home..

 Along the way I met a lady walking a dog and we had a pleasant conversation as well - can't remember exactly what it was about except she told me her husband would be selling tickets at the castle that day.  The Highlanders are so friendly.

Ahhh...getting close.  Dunrobin looks like a fairy tale doesn't it?  I toured the interior of the castle but unfortunately no photographs were allowed.  

Okay have you finished gasping yet?  Isn't it gorgeous?  And the gardens are lovely.   I can only imagine how beautiful they would be in the summer...the last time I was here was in late May so they was a little more going on.

I toured the interior first but no photos to show.  I dithered over buying the guide book and in the end I didn't...but thank you Internet.  I ordered a copy last week and it arrived earlier this week.  The rooms are exquisite.  I don't dare scan any and share them or I'd be breaking copyright...sorry folks.   Click here to see the Castle website and you can see some pictures there on the castle tour.

Dunrobin or some form of it has been around since the early 1400's and means "Robin's Castle" after Robert, the 6th Earl of Sutherland. It has been a stronghold of the Sutherlands ever since.  The most famous of the Sutherlands was George Granville Leveson-Gower, the first Duke of Sutherland who was a prime driver of the Highland Clearances.  The Highland Clearances took place in the 18th and early 19th century when it was determined sheep farming was more profitable than having tenant farmers.  So the farmers (or crofters as they were known) were unceremoniously turfed off their land. Some were moved to the coast to work in the Duke's industries whereas others were given a one way ticket to Canada.  This is how my great great grandfather ended up in Canada. There is a statue dedicated  to the Duke of Sutherland on a hill overlooking Golspie.  You can walk up there to see it close up but even if I was physically able to do so I couldn't be bothered. Plus I might break my foot from kicking it.  The actions of the Highland Clearances caused a lot of hardship and families being pulled apart. While I am happy to be in Canada now it must have been terrible to have been forced to leave your loved ones to go somewhere where probably you knew no one at all.  Locally the statue is called "the mannie" and while there has been talk of pulling it down (in fact there have been attempts to pull it down "unofficially"!) most want to leave it up as a reminder of what happened so they will never forget.  You can see the statue in the distance on one of the photos above.

The Falconry Show 

The highlight of my trip to the castle was the falconry show.  It was definitely he best I've ever seen and the Falconer, Andy Hughes was amazing.  I enjoyed the show so much I stayed for the afternoon session as well!  (which used different birds as he does not want to overwork or stress them).

These hoods are used so as not to overstimulate these hawks as their hearing and eyesight are very sensitive.

I had this character sitting beside me for a while!

I thoroughly enjoyed the show and learned so much...well until I forgot it again!  I need to have an electronic notepad attached to my brain taking notes all the time.

Of course despite the big brekky I was a bit peckish by early afternoon so in between falconry sessions I visited the castle tea shop and had a cuppa and a piece of this delicious Victoria Sponge.

Yes the daffodils were still out in Scotland so I got a double dose of them which made me happy - I love them!

Time to set off back on the same coastal path I came on.  I could have walked along the road but why would I do that when I could take the same beautiful route back.

Goodbye Dunrobin!  See you again sometime..and I will.  Sutherland is in my heart and soul.

Of course there had to be a dog right?

Can you imagine being able to walk your dog along here every day..bliss!  Well except I'd be too damn far from London...hmmm...okay maybe not.  Okay I would come here ever summer to my holiday home to escape those terrible tourists in London!

I had some yummy fish and chips at The Trawler in Golspie for my supper.  I ate here a couple of times but then again there aren't a lot of places to eat in Golspie!  They were delish and I tried mushy pies for the first time EVER...and they weren't bad.   I've been coming to the U.K. for over forty years now and could not bring myself to ever try them.  Brought back memories of the canned peas I ate...or attempted NOT to eat as a child.  Can there be anything more disgusting han canned peas...on second thought yes..any canned vegetable!

I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and headed back to my room happy as can be with my first day in the Highlands.  Did I mention I love Sutherland?  More stories coming!!!  

No comments:

A bit of bliss in Mirissa, Sri Lanka

While I enjoyed my tour of Sri Lanka I also found it exhausting.  It was nothing against the tour - it hit all the spots I wanted to see an...