Dunkeld, Perthshire

Dunkeld in Perthshire, or what I think is now called Perth and Kinross is one of my favourite places to visit, the drive up there is lovely and it isn’t too far from where we live. This time our visit was a bit different as we took an old friend with us, she hadn’t been there for decades, it’s not really the sort of place you go to on your own.
Dunkeld bridge, Perthshire

Anyway, I took some photos, mainly to show to another friend who used to fish in the area, but hasn’t been able to do that for years now. In the photo above I was standing on the bridge that takes you over the River Tay and into Dunkeld. My friend used to stay in the Atholl Hotel on the right on his fishing holidays.

Dunkeld Bridge, Perthshire

It was October but I think we were just a wee bit too late for the best of the autumn tree colour. The area in the photo below has changed quite a bit over the years, not the buildings obviously but they’ve spruced up the foreground and added more parking places by the side of the river which is just out of view. In the summer they put tables and chairs out near that area.

Dunkeld hotels, hills, Perthshire

The view to the other side of the bridge as you get into the Dunkeld is obscured by trees, but the trees are nicer than houses anyway.
Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland

Standing more or less on the middle of the bridge I took the photo below of the River Tay looking north.

River Tay north, Dunkeld, Perthshire

I pointed the camera a bit further to the right for the photo below, Dunkeld Cathedral is just beyond that area.
River Tay north, Dunkeld, Perthshire

I crossed the road to take the photos below of the River Tay looking south.
River Tay south, Dunkeld, Perthshire

River Tay south , Dunkeld, Perthshire

Really the trees below were looking good but they could be doing with having some trees with red leaves too, copper beech or maybe red maples, but maybe they wouldn’t grow so well there.
autumn trees, River Tay,Dunkeld Scotland

Beatrix Potter was inspired by the countryside here as she visited Dunkeld and Birnam with her parents on holiday every summer. You can read about that here.

When we were moving house all of almost six years ago now we looked around the Dunkeld area, just online, but there were only four houses for sale at the time and they were pricey in comparison with the other places we were looking. It’s maybe just as well, because it is quite far away from Edinburgh and we do enjoy being able to visit the city easily whenever we fancy. And if we lived in Dunkeld we wouldn’t be able to go there for a nice afternoon out every now and again!

Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline, Fife

On a lovely blue sky day in mid August we were in Dunfermline doing mundane but necessary domestic stuff, but when our wandering took us down to that dip and turn in the High Street which leads to the grand entrance gates of the Pittencrieff Park, we decided it was too nice a day to walk past them. I didn’t have my camera with me so the photo below is from the Wiki page.

Pittencrieff Park gates

So I was only able to take some photos using my phone, which isn’t great but better than nothing. As I recall – it was the day that Fife schools began again after the six weeks summer holidays and as ever Jack was particularly happy that day as he is now retired from teaching! Below is a photo taken from the park of the botanical glasshouses with Dunfermline Abbey and the Palace ruins in the background.

Dunfermline Palace and garden from Pittencreiff Park

The hanging plants looked luscious and I wish I could get mine to look half as good. I think I need to do a lot more plant feeding than I have been doing.

Pittencreiff Park gardens, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland

arch Pittencreiff Park, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland

Through the archway are some of the formal gardens.

Arch Pittencrieff Park,  Dunfermline

formal gardens, Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline, Fife

apath through Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline

From part of the park you can get a good view of Dunfermline Palace ruins.

Dunfermline Palace and Abbey

There’s a very good website here called The Castles of Scotland and there’s lots of information on the abbey and palace if you’re interested.

If you look carefully at the photo below you will see more or less right in the middle of it the three white looking sort of pyramid shapes which are the cable supports of the new bridge over the River Forth, the Queensferry Crossing.

Queensferry Crossing  Bridge

If you happen to be in Dunfermline it’s definitely worth having a wander around their unusually central Pittencrieff Park. The land for it was gifted to the town by Andrew Carnegie, the town’s most famous son and if there was ever going to be a patron saint of libraries it should be him as he financed so many of them.

St Mary’s Church, Mold, Wales

While we were visiting Gladstone’s Library at Hawarden in North Wales we took a trip to the nearby small town of Mold. It was the morning and seemed like a nice bustling sort of place, full of locals going about their business. On our wanderings around we spotted this old church called St Mary’s which turned out to be quite historic. Sadly we weren’t able to get into it.

St Mary's Church, Mold, Wales

But the information board outside was interesting. The church was built/funded in the 1480s by Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry Tudor.
The church was built in thanksgiving for Henry’s victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field.
St Mary's church info, Mold, Wales

The gravestones seem to have been re-arranged over the years and I doubt if many of them are really marking the actual grave of the person named. Most of them were written in Welsh but it seems to me that Welsh women keep their husband’s name after they die as women do in England too. Of course in Scotland the name on a gravestone is her maiden name, it makes life much easier for people doing family research I think.

St Mary's Church, Mold, Wales, gravestones

St Mary's churchyard . Mold, Wales

It’s a very grand church for such a small town but it’s such a shame that the locals haven’t managed to organise some volunteers to show people around the church – at least during the summer months, and make sure that nobody can vandalise it. Apparently vandalism has been a problem in the past. The old church in the teeny town I live in manages to keep the chuch open with volunteers in the summer, and it’s a focal point for people walking the Fife Pilgrims Way.

St Mary's  stitch

Directly across the road from the church is this Tudor building which has lovely old diamond paned windows. I waited and waited for that car to move, but although the driver was sitting in it he seemed determined just to stay there staring into space. I suspect he moved as soon as we left the area!
Tudor style S (windows)

If you happen to find yourself in the area of Mold it’s worth a visit, but there doesn’t seem to be much else of interest around there, or if there is – we missed it!

Chester

The city of Chester is a lovely place to visit if you want a wee bit of a change from the rural scene in nearby Wales which is where we were staying for a few days when we visited this place. Chester is absolutely choc full of history. We stuck to the townscape but if we had done our homework beforehand we could have visited a Roman amphitheatre and all sorts – next time maybe.

Chester was founded by the Romans in AD 79 and in the photo below you can see that there’s still quite a lot of the original Roman wall that they built around their fort still in existence.

Roman Wall, Chester

Chester Town Hall (maybe)

We didn’t take many photos as there were so many people about, but in the one below you can see the famous Chester Rows – the two tier medieval shops which are still being used as shops today. There are lovely arcades which you can wander around in, keeping dry if it happens to be raining.

Chester Rows

Next time we visit we’ll definitely be aiming for the Roman amphitheatre, which you can see here.

We did visit the Cathedral but that will be in another post.

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire, England

At Calke Abbey in Derbyshire I was surprised by how crowded the place was, well, I suppose it was a Saturday and a lovely day, far too hot for the end of September but I suppose we can blame global warming for that.

On entering the hall Jack spoke to the guide who asked him to repeat himself – which he did, speaking in his very best clear English with far less accent than the ‘locals’. She still said she couldn’t make out his accent. So I said in strident tones – he’s from Glasgow – which is a slight exagerration as I’m the Glaswegian and he comes from 15 miles north of there, but as I expected, it did the trick and amazingly she had no problem after that. Maybe she was worried about getting a ‘Glasgow kiss’.

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire
As you can see it was nigh on impossible to get photos without people in them, except of the upper parts of the very high walls. Someone was obviously very fond of stags’ heads.

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

The rooms are so cluttered, just as they were left to the National Trust, that it’s sometimes difficult to see what the room was originally for. Below is probably a drawing room but it also has a lot of specimens of fossils and just things of interest to collectors of ‘stuff’.

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire, National Trust

shells, Calke Abbey

I’m so glad that I don’t have to keep on top of the housework in here.
Calke Abbey, Derbyshire, National Trust

I’d love to have the library/study though.

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

library, study, Calke Abbey, National Trust

The Jacobean coat below is a real work of art, but the Chinese silk bed is amazing. I’ll show you that tomorrow.

jacobean coat, Calke Abbey, National Trust

If you’re interested in the history of Calke Abbey have a look here.

Calke Abbey, near Ticknall, Derbyshire

It was way back in September when we visited Calke Abbey, a National Trust property which I had heard about but never seen before so when we saw it on the roadsigns we decided to stop off there, we weren’t in a hurry and it was a beautiful day. In fact it wasn’t all that easy to get there, the road to it becomes very small and twisty turny and it isn’t well signposted from there. We had to stop a dog walker to ask directions and it turned out that we were very close to it, it just wasn’t visible. I think we took an alternative entrance, one favoured by walkers. The house is in Ticknall, Derbyshire which I think might be my favourite English county.

Calke Abbey from distance

There were people all over the place, it’s obviously a favourite destination for loads of people, many of them probably just stick to walking around the grounds, there were a lot of dogs. Apparently Calke Abbey never was an actual abbey, one of the earlier inhabitants had changed its name thinking that ‘abbey’ sounded more up-market.

It’s unusual for a National Trust property in that they took the decision to leave it as it was when the owner left it to them, instead of putting it back to how it would have been in its heyday. It was a good decision I think as it had been left untouched for generations and they never threw anything out, just moved stuff into store rooms when they weren’t needed any more. When the National Trust took it over only six of the rooms had electricity and they’ve just kept it that way.

On getting close to the house we could see a row of vintage cars and lots of people about, including a couple who had evidently just got married.
vintage  cars, Calke Abbey

With the help of their very large dog.

vintage  cars  wedding party + dog

I must admit that as we had a family wedding coming up last February I had become slightly addicted to watching that TV programme Say Yes to the Dress (much to Jack’s disgust!) and I have to say that there have been very few of them that I would have said YES to, but this bride got it right, she looked so elegant in her dress – just perfect. Then I think they got in the white car and drove off, but I’m not sure as I didn’t like to gawp too much at them. I wonder if the dog fitted in!

vintage cars, bridal party, Calke Abbey

The badge on this car says Hutson. The blue plaque reads Rural Leicestershire AGM. A car club I assume.

vintage car

Anyway, that’s what was going on outside, tomorrow I’ll show you some of the inside.

Castle Campbell, by Dollar, Clackmannanshire,

Castle Campbell, Dollar, Clackmannanshire, Scotland

Castle Campbell which is situated in Dollar Glen close to Dollar in Clackmannanshire. It was originally named Castle Gloom but was changed to Campbell in 1489-90 by Act of Parliament with the approval of King James IV. The word Gloom was probably from the Gaelic glom meaning a chasm. As you can see it was a gorgeous blue sky day when we visited at the end of October.

Castle Campbell, Dollar, Scotland

Castle Campbell,Dollar, Scotland

Castle Campbell, great hall, Dollar, Scotland

Below is a photo taken from the top of a spiral staircase – you have to be fairly fit!
Castle Campbell, spiral staircase, Dollar, Scotland

The large vaulted room at the top has a cute wee window seat at one end, a perfect place to sit and read or admire the view.
Castle Campbell, Dollar, Scotland

If you look carefully at the photo below you should be able to see two carvings of faces that look a bit like the Green Man. There are holes at the mouths and it’s thought that lamps probably hung from there.
Castle Campbell, ceiling face carvings

Onwards and upwards to the roof which would have been a good place to relax, away from the bustle of the castle and servants, somewhere to have a private conversation – and get away from the smell of the loos as many of the rooms have an ‘en suite’ – non flushing of course.
Castle Campbell roof, Dollar, Scotland

And a fine view can be had in all directions, below is a photo looking over to the wee town of Dollar.

view from Castle Campbell, Dollar, Scotland

It’s a popular place with hill walkers, but we stuck close to the castle grounds, not feeling too energetic – and I didn’t bring the correct footwear – well that’s my excuse!

view from Castle Campbell, trees, Scotland

a view from Castle Campbell, Dollar, Scotland

Of course there had to be water nearby and below is a rushing rushing burn, eager to join up with more of the same which could be heard thundering far below in the glen.

burn, Castle Campbell, Dollar Glen, Scotland

It’s definitely a good place to visit although there’s an uphill walk of about 800 yards from the car park so it’s not great for anyone who couldn’t tackle that by foot

Info Board, Castle Campbell

Falkland Palace autumn gardens

Falkland Palace, gardens, Fife, Scotland

A couple of weeks ago I decided that we should visit the nearby Falkland Palace, before they shut the place for the winter. I specifically wanted to see what the gardens looked like as autumn crept up on us. In the photo above you can see the palace and ruins as viewed from the back. The palace was built as a pleasure palace, mainly used as the ‘hunting palace’ of the Stuarts. It was a favourite place of Mary Queen of Scots as it reminded her of the French palaces she had grown up in.

Falkland Palace, gardens, Fife, Scotland
It was even a wee bit misty – as befits the season.
Falkland Palace, gardens, Fife, Scotland

I think I zoomed in on the one below too closely as it looks a bit pixelated, but it gives you an idea of the autumnal shades.

Falkland Palace gardens, Fife, Scotland

The stone building in the photo below houses the real or royal tennis court. One time we went there people were actually playing real tennis, I think it calls for more skill than the modern version. The court is the oldest surviving one in the country, I think there are only a couple more of them.

Falkland Palace gardens, Fife, Scotland

I took the photo below just by turning around after taking the photo above it, so we’re looking back in the direction of the palace again.

Falkland Palace gardens, Fife, Scotland

Falkland Palace gardens, Fife, Scotland

Falkland Palace gardens, Fife, Scotland

The church in the photo below is next door to the palace, but it’s a lot more modern than the palace which dates from 1501, but there was a hunting lodge belonging to the Macduff Thanes of Fife, as long ago as the 12th century.
Falkland Palace gardens, Fife, Scotland

Click here if you want to see more photos and read a bit more about Falkland Palace which is now run by the Scottish National Trust.

You can see images of the real tennis court here. It’s a complicated game as you get points for hitting the ball through the windows in the back wall so the scoring system must be very different. You serve by hitting the ball onto the small sloping roof at the side.

We did go inside the palace but they don’t allow you to take photos which is a shame. The chapel is still used as the Roman Catholic church for the area. However as lots of people are very happy to dodge the rules there are images online of the interior of the chapel which you can see here.

Like so many places in Scotland, Falkland has been used as a location for filming Outlander.

Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire

Ashby Castle, Leicestershire,

On our trip down south last month we stayed for one night only at Ashby de la Zouch in Leicestershire, just because I’ve always been intrigued by the French name of the town. However the road signs pointing to it only say Ashby well let’s face it, it’s a lot easier and cheaper, but it turns out that the town was originally called Ashby – right up until 1086 and the de la Zouch was added on after the Norman conquest when the town became a possession of the La Zouch family, during the reign of Henry III.

Ashby Castle

I had no idea that there was a castle there, it dates from the 12th century, is a short walk from Market Street and although it’s a ruin it’s still well worth a visit. Sir Walter Scott mentions it in Ivanhoe – which might be what g0t me interested in Ashby. In Regency times the town was a popular spa destination. Can you believe that when we drove into the town we couldn’t get down the main street which is Market Street because there was a fair in full swing? It was strung all along the street. I thought it was only St Andrews in Fife that had a fair like that. It made it difficult to see the buildings and not that easy to get into the shops, I doubt if the heavier footfall does anything for the local economy.

As you can see, it was a beautiful blue sky day, and really hot and the local church bells were ringing, probably practising. This seems to be something that happens in England a lot.

Castle + Church bells, Ashby de la Zouch

Ashby Castle, Leicestershire

Ashby Castle Board

The edges of the grounds are a bit wild but beyond this fankle of greenery below is (I think) what was the jousting ground as mentioned in Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe.
Ashby Castle Jousting Grounds (ivanhoe)

The photo below is a stitch of the castle so looks a wee bit wonky. If you happen to be near Ashby de la Zouch it’s definitely worth a visit, or even if you aren’t near as we travelled quite along way and weren’t disappointed. The town looks like a nice wee place – from what we managed to see of it through fair rides!
Ashby Castle stitch

We climbed up the 96 steps of the castle tower and took a video of the view from the top – where it was quite windy.

Panorama From Tower Ashby de la Zouch

Saint Barbara’s Church, Chester

I suppose I have to admit to having an interest in church buildings, although I’m not in the least bit religious, so when we stopped off at Overleigh Cemetery in Chester to feed Jack’s definite obsession with Commonwealth War Graves, I was surprised to see that the church in the centre of it was flying an unusual flag. I had originally thought that from the architecture the church looked Scandinavian, but the flag turned out to be Bulgarian so Saint Barbara’s is a Greek Orthodox church. The graveyard surrounding it seems just to be used for any locals though.

St Barbara's exterior

The church was open as there was someone busy in the back offices, so we took the opportunity to have a quick keek inside. It was a bit of a WOW moment as there’s so much gold in there, very different from the austere decor of Scottish Presbyterian churches.

St Barbara interior, Chester

The effect doesn’t really show up so well in the photos, but it looks like they didn’t want to leave any saint out. I’m presuming that these icons depict saints.

St Barbara interior, Chester, orthodox church

We crept in and Jack quickly snapped these photos, and the impression was of opulence, but now that I have the leisure to really look I can see that the walls are just bare brickwork.

St Barbara interior, Chester, orthodox church

St Barbara interior altar, Chester, orthodox church

This was once one of Overleigh Cemetery’s chapels despite the architecture not looking very English. 1987 was the year when it became a Greek Orthodox place of worship.

St Barbara's exterior, Chester, orthodox church