New Abbey, Dumfries and Galloway, South-west Scotland

The garden below might not seem spectacular but I’ve always hankered after a garden edged by a wee burn, and it would have to have the garden sloping down to the burn too, so there was no chance of the house being flooded. The one in the photo below would do me fine. New Abbey is a very Scottish looking wee village, just five miles south of Dumfries.

New Abbey garden, Dumfries and Galloway

If you want to visit Sweetheart Abbey it’s the village of New Abbey that you head for. Sweetheart Abbey is the nickname given to the new abbey by the monks there, as Lady Devorgilla who founded the Cistercian abbey carried her husband’s embalmed heart around with her for years until her own death in 1289. Jack posted pictures of the Abbey here.

New Abbey houses, Dumfries and Galloway

Dumfries and Galloway must have more abbeys and priories than anywhere else in Scotland. It’s close to Ireland and Christianity was brought to Scotland by the Irish. The sea crossing is usually rough and must have been terrifying back then. Of course the religious buildings are all ruins now, but still interesting to see.

I liked the porthole windows in the gable end below.

New Abbey , Dumfries and Galloway

The Corn Mill is run by Historic Environment Scotland – as is Sweetheart Abbey.
New Abbey Corn Mill, Dumfries and Galloway

The massive mill wheel below was turned by that wee burn in the first photo in its heyday and I suppose that the owner of the mill would have been one of the wealthiest people in the area. Sadly it isn’t a working mill now.

Mill Wheel, New Abbey, Dumfries and Galloway

Cardoness Castle and Carsluith Castle – Dumfries and Galloway

Cardoness Castle, Dumfries and Galloway, south west Scotland

Cardoness Castle Interior 1

It’s over a year since I visited Cardoness Castle, close to Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfries and Galloway, south-west Scotland. It was originally built by the McCulloch family around 1470 and they seem to have been a difficult bunch, not the sort of people that you would want as neighbours.

As ever – you get a great view if you’re willing to tramp up the spiral staircase. The view below is looking over the Fleet Estuary.

Fleet estuary, Dumfries and Galloway
And below is the view back up to Gatehouse of Fleet which is a small town which had a great secondhand bookshop in it and also a good but much smaller antique/bookshop.

View towards Gatehouse of Fleet

Twp castles for the price of one today!

Carsluith Castle, Dumfries and Galloway

Carsluith Castle , Dumfries and Galloway

Carsluith Castle is situated three miles south of Creetown and dates from the 1400s. Carsluith looks fairly solid and it’s easy to imagine how it must have been in its heyday. Over the years various outbuildings have been added very close by and one of them has been turned into a cafe, also it’s right next to the A75 which is a very busy road and detracts from the atmosphere of the place, but Carsluith has some lovely details in the stonework so it’s worth having a look at it if you’re in the south-west of Scotland.

Carsluith Castle, view from top, Dumfries and Galloway

From the other side you get a view of Wigtown Bay, but I didn’t manage to get a very good photo of it.
Carsluith Castle,view from  top, Dumfries and Galloway

Broughton House, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

Broughton House

Way back in May 2018 we visited Broughton House and Garden in Kirkcudbright (pronounced Kirkcoodbry, which is in Dumfries and Galloway. It was owned by the Scottish artist E.A. Hornel. You can read about him here and see some of his artworks, and read more about him here.

Broughton House, Dumfries and Galloway

Broughton House, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

It was a busy place when we were there so I wasn’t able to get much in the way of photos of the garden, but this lilac tree was at its best while we were there.
lilac flowers, Broughton House Garden, Dumfries and Galloway

plants, Broughton House, Dumfries and Galloway
The house is now owned by the Scottish National Trust and there are quite a few of his artworks on view there and if you’re interested you can see more images of his work here.
Broughton House, lawn stitch

Kirkcaldy Art Gallery always has a few of his paintings on display. The one below is a favourite with many but I find it a bit twee for my taste.

Hornel

Lamb House in Rye, East Sussex, England

Lamb House, Rye, East Sussex

Since I realised that the Mapp and Lucia books by E.F. Benson were set in Rye in East Sussex I’ve wanted to visit the place, especially as Rye was the location for the TV dramatisations. I certainly wasn’t disappointed as it’s a lovely place albeit one that has more than its fair share of tourists but that’s to be expected I suppose although I was surprised that there were so many German visitors around, I wonder why, is it the Mapp and Lucia aspect? Or maybe it’s Henry James. Both authors lived in Lamb House which used to be the home of the mayor of the town many years ago. It’s difficult to get a good photo of some of the buildings as the streets are so narrow.

The staircase in Lamb House is nice but nothing out of the ordinary really.
Staircase, Lamb House, Rye,

The study below is on the right hand side as you enter the front door. The cabinets are full of Henry James and E.F. Benson books, I had no idea that Benson had written so many.

Lamb House, Rye

Lamb House, Rye

The drawing room below is on the left hand side as you go through the front door and is bigger. There’s a drawing by Beatrix Potter on the wall.

Lamb House, Beatrix Potter

There’s also a framed L.P. of Land of Hope and Glory whose words were written by Arthur Benson, E.F.’s brother.

Lamb House, Rye

Henry James had always admired the house but never thought it would come on the market so when it did he snapped it up and lived there happily for decades. When Henry James died his family agreed to lease the house to E.F. Benson so between the two the house has hosted lots of visits from other writers over the years, but now it belongs to the National Trust and is a popular tourist destination.

The dining room is at the back of the house with doors which lead out to the garden.

Lamb House, dining room, Rye

A lot of entertaining must have gone on in these rooms over the years.
Rye, Lamb House, Henry James,

Only one bedroom is open to the public and it’s quite sparse, but I do love the corner fireplaces in Lamb House.

Lamb House, Rye,

It isn’t a particularly large house and not all of the rooms are open to the public, but I can see why those men both wanted to live in it as it would be a comfortable home and the garden is beautiful, but I’ll leave those photos for another day.

Of course E.F. Benson did end up being Mayor of Rye, for three terms I believe so he must really have thrown himself into the whole community. I don’t think he will ever have had to look far for his characters!

Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden, Flintshire, Wales

Gladstone's Library stitch

Gladstone’s Library at Hawarden in north Wales was actually built after William Ewart Gladstone’s death, it was planned by his children to house their father’s collection of books which had been living in what was called locally the ‘tin tab’ which was one of those corrugated iron structures which were built by little mission churches all over Britain about 100 years ago. The ‘tab’ was of course short for tabernacle. Below is a photo of it, although this seems quite a bit larger than the tin tabs that I remember seeing years ago.

original Gladstone's Library 1

After Gladstone’s death £9,000 was raised by a public appeal to build a more solid permanent home for the books and it was enough to build the rather grand looking building at Hawarden. It’s the only residential library in the world I believe. There are 26 bedrooms as well as conference rooms. This is Britain’s only Prime Ministerial Library and it’s an apt memorial to the four times Prime Minister.

Theology seems to have been Gladstone’s main interest, but he was ahead of the times really and collected books on religions other than Christianity. However there are also lots of books on Shakespeare, politics, poultry keeping, fruit growing …. all sorts of books.

I seemed to be one of the few residents who was actually interested in looking at the books and one evening I had the entire place all to myself. I must admit that it was quite a thrill to be given my own key to the place for after hours use.

Reading Room Key, Gladstone's Library

If you are thinking about going to this place as a resident don’t expect luxury accommodation, it’s pretty spartan but the food is good, no waitress service though, just grab a tray as you would in a canteen.

As you can see below, the view from our bedroom window was of the dead centre of town!
Gladstone's Library bedroom 2

The outer doors are very Victorian in that Gothic way.
Corridor at Gladstone's Library

In the drawing room which is called the Gladstone Room there are some shelves of modern books which you can take to read in your bedroom.
Gladstone Library, drawing  Room

You can also do a jigsaw puzzle if you’re so inclined.
Gladstone Room
It must be cosy in the winter when the fire is lit.
Gladstone Room

I’ll show you photos of the actual Reading Room/Library tomorrow.

Tolquhon Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Earlier in August we were in Aberdeenshire – for one night only, but we managed to fit a lot in as usual and Tolquhon Castle near Ellon was one of the places we visited. It was built in 1580 and although it’s now a ruin it’s well worth visiting, it’s easy to imagine how elegant and luxurious it must have been in its heyday. It’s thought there were earlier structures here around the 1200s.

Tolquhon Castle, Aberdeenshire

Originally built for the Forbes family it was eventually sold in 1716 as the then laird had lost most of his money in the disastrous Darien Scheme.

Tolquhon Castle, Aberdeenshire

Tolquhon Castle, Aberdeenshire

Although it’s a ruin there’s still lots to see and loads of spiral staircases to climb up and descend, always more difficult coming down – and slightly scary!
Tolquhon Castle, Aberdeenshire

The very narrow stairs in the photo below lead up to the highest point of the castle, a teeny wee room. These rooms are always my favourite part of castles as they would have been used mainly by the owners, probably the lady of the castle – a great place to read or just get away from it all, although this one only has one small window and there’s nowhere to sit outside on the walls – as other castles often have.
Tolquhon Castle, Aberdeenshire

As you can see below it’s dark in there so maybe it was used for assignations!
Tolquhon Castle, Aberdeenshire

Tolquhon Castle, Aberdeenshire

Below is the only straight and wide bit of the many staircases and must have been a later construction I think, built after the castle was used mainly as a home rather than a place of defence.
Tolquhon Castle, Aberdeenshire

You get a good view from the top, but I was really interested in the two white bulls in the field below – well I think they were some variety of bull as there was nothing else in the field but they seemed placid.
Tolquhon Castle, Aberdeenshire

Castles are all very well, but most of us would have been living in a wee cottage way back then, if we were lucky to have one, and I would have been happy in one of these cute wee ones at the entrance to the castle. One of them is now a visitor centre. What about you – castle or cottage?
Tolquhon Castle, Aberdeenshire

Haddo House, Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Last weekend we drove up to the north-east of Scotland, a couple of hours from where we are in Fife. The main reason for the trip was so that Jack could watch his beloved Dumbarton football team play Peterhead – and ‘collect’ one of the few football stadiums that he hadn’t visited in Scotland. As ever we tried to squeeze in visits to other places of interest locally which is why we ended up at Haddo House which is near Ellon. It was built in 1732 and was designed by William Adam in the grand Georgian/Palladian style. Sadly I didn’t manage to get a photo of the front of the house as the heavens opened just as we walked to the house from the eatery for our scheduled guided tour, then we had to leave early as we were in danger of missing the football match!

Haddo House Garden, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

The house is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland and they don’t allow photography inside this property which is a real shame – even our guide agreed that it was a daft decision. The windows are shaded to prevent the textiles from being damaged by bright light and there was only one window not covered and I was allowed to take these photos of the garden from it.

There’s a very long winding road leading to this house and it isn’t the original access road. This property was handed down through generations of Earls of Aberdeen and one of them married a woman who didn’t like the house and would only marry him if she could change things. I think it’s obvious from the photos I took that the original driveway was through the middle of the avenue of trees, it would have been a much more elegant and scenic arrival for guests. Aparently her husband gave her the equivalent of £14 million to reconfigure the house to her liking. We all agreed that moving staircases and adding some bits on including a chapel couldn’t have cost that much, we suspect the rest of it went into her private coffers for dresses and jewels!
Haddo House garden, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

There are quite a lot of photos of the interior at the Undiscovered Scotland site.

There were only ten of us on the guided tour but this place is obviously very well used by locals as a great day out for families, the car park was very busy.

During World War 2 the house was used as a maternity hospital so the guide always asks if there are any Haddo babies among the visitors so he can show them where they were born, we were the most local people in the group though as the others were mainly from London, apparently visiting Scotland now as they feared they would need a passport in the future! The rooms used for the expectant mothers had been used by Queen Victori and and Prince Albert during their one night only stay.

Haddo House Garden, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

You can read more about the history of Haddo House here.

Thankfully Dumbarton beat Peterhead 3-2.

John Muir, Dunbar, East Lothian

On our trip to Dunbar last month to visit the battlefield – such as it is almost 500 years after the fact – we stopped off at the actual town of Dunbar which is in East Lothian about 30 miles east of Edinburgh. The High Street there boasts the birthplace of John Muir and although we had often been to the small coastal town, we hadn’t been into the birthplace museum, so we rectified that this time around. As you can see below it’s a rather spiffing looking Scottish Georgian building.

John Muir Birthplace, Dunbar

What a disappointment when we got inside though. The whole building has been stripped back so there’s really nothing left to see of the internals, apart from a hole where a fireplace must have been once. I assume that it must have been riddled with dry rot and it was easier and much cheaper just to scrape everything away down to the bare stonework, no floors or ceilings left. You can go upstairs but it is modern and is almost as if another building has been built within the original one. It’s such a shame as there’s no ambience at all and it’s impossible to imagine how it was in John Muir’s day.

I took a photo of an embroidery sampler which I believe was supposed to have been done by his mother, sorry about the reflections. I have a couple very similar to this one, but mine have the embroiderers name on them – as most do.

John Muir's birthplace, embroidery Sampler

You might be asking who John Muir was, I think he’s possibly better known within the USA than in his country of birth. He was a writer, explorer, naturalist and environmental campaigner and was years ahead of his time, realising that humans were damaging natural environments, and seeing that something had to be done – he is seen as the ‘Father of National Parks’.

Like most coastal towns Dunbar isn’t what it used to be, people would rather go on holiday to Spain than brave the icy waters of the North Sea, but it’s still a scenic area, you can see more photos of the area here.

There’s now a walk called The John Muir Way which stretches 134 miles from Helensburgh (one of my favourite areas) in the west of Scotland to Dunbar in East Lothian. That’s even longer than Hadrian’s Wall is and if I ever get around to a long walk like that I think I’d rather do the wall, if not the West Highland Way. Click the links if you want to see some stunning images of the walks.

Largo and Newburn Parish Church, Upper Largo, Fife, Scotland

Largo and Newburn Parish Church

Largo and Newburn Parish  Kirk 1

At the end of June we got around to visiting Largo and Newburn Parish Church in Upper Largo. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for decades as I could see it in the distance every time we drove to St Andrews. The church wasn’t open though so we didn’t get a keek at the interior. The oldest parts of this church date from the 17th century but there has been a church here since the 9th century.

It was a really hot day and as all of these old churches are built on the highest ground in the village there was a decent view over the rooftops to the Firth of Forth. Originally before this was a place of Christian worship this was probably a place of religious significance for the older religions, possibly some sort of druids.

There’s an ancient stone monument in the photo below, I think this was originally a Pictish stone and when the place was Christianised they carved a cross on it. It’s behind ‘bars’ for protection as you can see.

Old Stone, Upper Largo Kirk 2

Old Stone, Upper Largo Kirk

The decoration on the other side is definitely Pictish.
Pictish stone

sea from Upper Largo church,

aUpper Largo and sea from Kirkyard

I’m glad we managed to get there – before the very recent collapse of part of the churchyard wall, which seems to have been caused by the frequent bouts of torrential rain that we’ve been having over this strange summer. You can read about it here.

You can see a lot of old and new photos of the area here.

Gala at Moffat, Dumfries and Galloway

About a month or so ago we were travelling down to the north of England for a few days, just for a change of scene and as usual we stopped off at the couthie wee town of Moffat. We normally have our lunch there and check out the secondhand bookshop. Yes I did buy a few books!

Georgian Hotel, Moffat, Scotland

It was busier than usual but we put that down to it being a Saturday. Just as we parked the car – congratulating ourselves on managing to get a space in the High Street we heard pipers tuning up and realised it was their Gala day.
Pipers and drummers

The wee Border towns have been better at holding on to these old traditions, Moffat choose a ‘shepherd and lass’ each year and they’re in the carriage.

It was impossible to get photos without people in the way but you can also see the lovely cushioned hills in the background, perfect backdrop to any town.
Moffat Pipers and drummers 3

Moffat Gala Day, Horse drawn carriage

Jack took a couple of very short videos while we were there.

Shepherd and Lass Carriages, Moffat

Pipers and Drummers, Moffat

They haven’t got around to putting up a video of the 2019 gala yet but you can see a wee bit of what went on in the 2018 gala if you’re interested.