Overdue Scotland 2011 Trip Report

Old Jun 10th, 2013, 05:51 AM
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Overdue Scotland 2011 Trip Report

It’s raining today, so I will try to get started on a long overdue Trip Report (I have many of these!) for our trip to Scotland in 2011

I will try to keep it brief, with some comments on where we stayed and ate, and what we liked most (or didn't like)

We flew into Heathrow arriving at 11 PM, stayed overnight at the Heathrow Marriot, flew out the next morning to Edinburgh. For some reason I thought this would be a good idea, we would be more rested. WRONG! By the time we got checked in, we only had about 5 hrs of sleep before we had to get up for our flight to Edinburgh.

After arriving at Edinburgh and picking up our rental car we headed off to
Drummond Castle Gardens, absolutely gorgeous! Here is the description I had for the Gardens, definitely lived up to it!

*Drummond Castle was built on a rocky outcrop by John, 1st Lord Drummond. The 2nd Earl, a Privy Councillor to James VI and Charles I, succeeded in 1612 and is credited with transforming both the gardens and the castle. The keep still stands but the rest of the castle was restored and largely remodeled by the 1st Earl of Ancaster in 1890. Not even the dramatic avenue of Beech Trees as you drive to Drummond Castle prepares you for the delight of the Gardens. Beware of hedgehogs loitering in the road and tiny toads bouncing around the gateway. (Sadly we saw neither) On passing into the inner courtyard and attaining the top of the terracing the full extent and majesty of the garden is suddenly revealed. The dominant feature of the parterre design is a St. Andrew's Cross with the multiplex 17th century sundial at its centre. A strong north-south axis runs through the garden, down the impressive flight of steps to the sundial, through the classical archway and kitchen garden beyond, cutting a swathe through woodland before rising to the top of the opposing hillside. This idea of drawing the countryside into the garden is essentially French; however, Drummond is an eclectic garden and also rooted firmly in the Italian style with its fountains, terracing, urns and statuary.This is an amazing formal garden in the heart of the country. Stand at the main entrance to the garden and you almost get a birds-eye-view of the whole place. One of our younger visitors asked "Is this Alice in Wonderland's Garden?"

We also fit in a visit to Stirling Castle, a great “now I’m really in Scotland” experience. I think as most say it is a "must do" when visiting Scotland. The Royal Lodgings had recently been opened, very well done and interesting.

After Stirling Castle we headed for our B&B for 3 nights Craigatin House in Pitlochry. We chose it for a base for 3 nights, highly recommend. They have great reviews on TA and have received numerous awards.

http://www.craigatinhouse.co.uk/

Our favorite place for dinner while there was Fern Cottage.

http://www.ferncottagepitlochry.co.uk/

We had a semi disastrous meal at Port-na-Craig Inn where they gave my steak to another table, said they would cook me another one, returned with the same one, obviously just reheated in the microwave.

When staying in Pitlochry we visited Blair Castle (incredible trees in Diana’s Grove!) went shopping at House of Bruar, but missed seeing Edradour Distillery, as I had the hours wrong and we arrived after the last tour (husband was not happy with me)

But our most favorite day was at the Scottish Game Fair, held on the grounds below Scone Palace. If we go back to Scotland our trip would be timed so that we can go again. Wonderful shopping, so many different demonstrations and events (sheep herding, falconry, pipe bands, sheep show, dog races, fishing demos) ........and great food! Some interesting booths on conservation of land and wildlife. It was also so much fun people watching. I have a photo I took of an elderly man in a kilt that I just love. The only problem was we spent the whole day at the Game Fair, so we never visited Scone Palace

http://www.scottishfair.com/

Next....... headed north to Glamis and Dunnottar
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Old Jun 10th, 2013, 07:01 AM
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Reading with interest,

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Old Jun 10th, 2013, 10:12 AM
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More, more!!!!
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Old Jun 10th, 2013, 01:07 PM
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So, we left Pitlochry early and headed to Glamis Castle, supposedly one of Scotland’s most beautiful castles, and that it is. Stunning both inside and outside, wonderful gardens, and with a long history, including the birthplace of the Queen Mother. The weather was glorious, I got beautiful pics, except .................I had some difficulty getting a good shot of the whole castle due to the half a dozen exotic sports cars (I think they were Lamborghinis) that were lined up in front of the castle for pictures ( it was some type of club) This is another "don't miss" castle.

The next castle we visited was Dunnottar, oh so different! Dunnottar is a ruins, set on the most spectacular cliff. This from their website ~

*... A dramatic and evocative ruined cliff top fortress in a truly stunning setting. 
William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II, all graced the Castle with their presence. Most famously though, it was at Dunnottar Castle that a small garrison held out against the might of Cromwell’s army for eight months and saved the Scottish Crown Jewels, the ‘Honours of Scotland’, from destruction. Crown, sceptre and sword now take pride of place in Edinburgh Castle.

And the area has prehistoric roots
*The site on which the Castle sits has been inhabited since Pictish times (5000 BC to 700 AD) although an exact date is not known.
The importance of the site to the Picts stems from their religion, believed to be akin to Druidism, and which worshiped masculinity, femininity and nature spirits. The site of the Castle and the surrounding area has a strong feminine nature and symbology, which at Dunnottar takes the form of the "green lady". The spirit of the green lady has been seen in the brewery at the Castle.  She is said to be looking for her "lost children" who are the Picts who converted from her religion to Christianity around the 5th Century AD.
The name Dunnottar stems from the Pictish word "Dun" which means hill fort or place of strength.

We loved Dunnottar, it was a castle to walk around wondering “what would it have been like?” Probably one of my favorites of all the castles I’ve seen, such a beautiful and haunting place. If you are anywhere near here, and the weather is decent, make the trip!

That night I had wanted a B&B or Hotel nearby so that we could go to Crathes Castle in the morning. I chose Tor-na-Coille Hotel in Banchory, as Crathes was just around the corner. It was a nice stopover for one night, clean and friendly, nice rooms, decent food.

Another nice day, another gorgeous Castle and Gardens! Crathes Castle has beautiful walled gardens and ornately carved yew hedges, oh my, the maintenance! The Castle is really well preserved, there are some painted ceilings that were only discovered in the late 1800’s although they were from the 1500s. We spent a lot of time there, had a nice late lunch in the cafe, and then headed west towards Forres, so that we could be at Cawdor Castle the next morning.

The drive to Forres went through Cairngorms Park, and we drove past Corgarff Castle, which is set in a barren moorland, no way anyone could sneak up on you without being seen! We didn’t stop though as we were running late.

Our rooms that night were at Mayfield B&B, it was OK, we got a bad first impression when arriving as the grounds were not in very good shape, I would probably look for someplace else next time. We ate dinner at a local Inn/Hotel just down the road whose food was not memorable.

Are you getting the theme of Castles and Gardens for the first part of our trip

Next, excitement at Cawdor Castle!
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Old Jun 11th, 2013, 03:54 AM
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Loved the Scottish Game Fair- it was the highlight of our trip too! And just like you, we spent so long there that we missed Scone Palace. Enjoying your report- it brings back great memories. There's just something about Scotland!!!
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Old Jun 11th, 2013, 05:37 AM
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Great report! We are going to Scotland in ten days!!
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Old Jun 11th, 2013, 01:52 PM
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Saraho, where all are you going?
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Old Jun 11th, 2013, 09:26 PM
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We are going to England first for a week- to Much Hadham, Hatfield House, Ely, Hadrians Wall, then Edinburgh for four days. We will then spend a day driving to Culross, Dunkeld, Drummond Castle Garden, etc. depending on the weather. The next two days we will stay at Stirling and also go to the Lake of Menteith. We will end up at Chester for a night before flying home out of Manchester.

We can't wait!!
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Old Jun 12th, 2013, 02:26 AM
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Saraho, Lake of Menteith is very atmospheric, I think you will enjoy it, and I am VERY jealous you're going to Hatfield House, it is in my "next time UK" file. Have a great time!
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Old Jun 13th, 2013, 08:10 AM
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Raining again here, can't work. So............

AAAAGGGGHHHHH previous day I forgot to mention Craigievar Castle. What a fairy tale Castle, it’s PINK. it looks like Disney Castle for a Princess. It also has a really nice big Monkey Puzzle Tree and some other fine specimen trees. I was glad we went.

So back to Cawdor Castle. We had a slightly overcast morning when we arrived at Cawdor Castle. Because there were chances of rain later, we decided to visit the beautiful gardens first. Lovely perennial gardens, hedges (of course!) and a large nicely designed Parterre. I took a lot of pictures as even though in Virginia we can’t grow a lot of the plants that thrive in the UK, it always gives me ideas for composition and colors.

Here is part of the description I had for my travel file

*A superb fourteenth century castle (+ seventeenth century additions) with park and gardens. Cawdor is fortunate to have three gardens. The Walled Garden is the oldest and dates from c.1600 and later became a kitchen garden. The Flower Garden was laid out some 100 years later and was originally designed for enjoyment in late summer and autumn. However this garden's season has been extended to give pleasure from early spring, with bulbs, bedding plants, herbaceous borders, ornamental trees and shrubs all providing delight. The Wild Garden is the youngest, being planted in the 1960's and lies between the Castle and the stream of the Cawdor Burn. The castle was made famous by Shakespeare, in Macbeth. Cawdor Castle is the home of the Cawdor family to this day. Although the House has evolved over 600 years, later additions mainly of the 17th century were all built in the Scottish vernacular style with slated roofs over walls and crow-stepped gables of mellow local stone. This style gives Cawdor a strong sense of unity, and the massive, severe exterior belies an intimate interior that gives the place a surprisingly personal, friendly atmosphere.

So after the gardens we started inside. The above description is correct, the Castle is quite severe on the outside, but so lovely inside, one can actually imagine living there. We were really enjoying ourselves when............FIRE ALARM!!!!!!! All of the guides posted in the rooms IMMEDIATELY herded us into groups to get out via the closest exit. They were very efficient. They had no idea what was going on but jumped into action right away. So we all stood in a group outside, looking for signs of smoke, seeing none, and thinking it was a false alarm when the FIRE TRUCKS arrive! We stayed a few minutes and then decided that since we wanted to visit the gift shop we should go now so that we didn’t run out of time. So we did a little shopping, all the time waiting for the fire trucks to leave which they didn’t. We looked at our watches. We wanted to stop at Loch Ness on the way to our B&B in Badachro. 3 hours of driving plus Loch Ness. So, very disappointed, we got into our car to head to Loch Ness, vowing “next time Cawdor Castle!”

It was probably a good decision as Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness were so much more than I thought they would be. The Castle has such a long history and is SO much larger than I thought. The exhibits were very well done, we would go back there again.

And ladies, the gift shop got my credit card in trouble.............

http://www.sheilafleet.com/

After Loch Ness we headed towards our B&B for a one night stay, Aird Hill B&B, in Badachro, Wester Ross. I chose this B&B because of the good reviews on TA and the prompt and friendly emails from the owner, and because, I wanted someplace that would be convenient to get to Inverewe Garden the next morning. The setting for Aird Hill is lovely, and we had a very nice dinner with the locals at the Badachro Inn. It was a nice stop.

I had heard a lot about Inverewe Garden and was really looking forward to it. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I was pretty disappointed. I thought all of the previous gardens at the Castles far surpassed Inverewe. Except for maybe the vegetable and cutting garden at Inverewe, that was one of the largest, most amazing ones I have ever seen!

So after Inverewe we headed towards our next B&B on Isle of Skye. This drive was about 3 hours but my how the time flew, it was magnificent scenery around every corner, up and over every pass. Even if there was some rain or low clouds in one place, in another 20 minutes you would have clearing swirling skies with sunlight beaming down on the countryside. We were already in love with Isle of Skye

Next Skye and single Malts
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Old Jun 13th, 2013, 10:37 AM
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I love your report! I live in Virginia, too.
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Old Jun 13th, 2013, 12:43 PM
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Where in VA?
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Old Jun 13th, 2013, 10:07 PM
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Winchester
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Old Jun 14th, 2013, 12:06 AM
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Really enjoying your report! I'm in Scotland now and heading to Sterling Castle today! Looking forward to reading more!
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Old Jun 14th, 2013, 03:14 AM
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Saraho ~ Hume/Orlean area west of Marshall !!!!

Florida1, where do you go after Stirling Castle?
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Old Jun 14th, 2013, 05:52 AM
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Small world! I was in Marshall a couple of days ago. My mother was from that area.
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Old Jun 14th, 2013, 06:07 AM
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Really enjoying your report and reliving my past trips to Scotland. Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to more.
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Old Jun 14th, 2013, 12:47 PM
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Yay glad you are writing this. I am sitting here at my in-laws in Aberdeen on Day 1 of our trip. Might go to Castle Fraser tomorrow, weather depending.
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Old Jun 14th, 2013, 01:52 PM
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wrenwwod, we leave Edinburgh for home day after tomorrow. We are already planning our next fantasy trip to Scotland though!

We had a great day at Stirling Castle today! Must do the trip report when we get home... I'm so lazy about that!
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Old Jun 14th, 2013, 02:42 PM
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I will continue, but it may be a few days as it has stopped raining, weather glorious, so that means I am working no matter what day of the week it is.

I don't know why we procrastinate on trip reports, this is bringing back SO many memories!
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