The garden at Edzell Castle dates back to 1604. Apparently Sir David Lindsay wanted the protection that a medieval castle gave him and his family, but he also wanted his children to experience the more beautiful things in life such as this renaissance garden. You can read about it here.
The niches in the walls are normally planted with flowers but due to Covid it hasn’t been done this year, most of the historic places have just reopened to the public, the gardener is also having a tough time with the box hedging which was famous for its intricate topiarised Latin inscriptions, but sadly the box got blight and is nothing like it should be, it is being replanted I think but it’ll be ages before it’s back to its former glory as in the old image below.
The wee house in the next photo is a summerhouse which was used for entertaining in the garden.
The walls have carvings of planetary gods on them and the swallows often nest in the small wall niches, especially the star shaped ones.
There’s a well in a corner of the garden and when I had a look down into it (as you do) I could see that there was no water in it, just some sweetie wrappings deposited there by some ‘charmer’. So that led us to go on a search for the source of the water as you can’t have a castle without a water supply. Presumably there was a burn (stream) which supplied the well in days gone by but it must have been diverted or drained, probably by modern farming. We found the West Water about a mile from the castle, it’s a lovely walk down to the river with fast flowing clear water, but I’ll leave that for another time.
On Monday we visited Edzell Castle which is near Brechin in Angus. It’s the first time we had visited anywhere like that since Covid because they’ve all been shut until recently – and now you have to book a time slot for your visit, so you have to think ahead which isn’t something we normally do much of nowadays. Since retiring we prefer to see what the weather is like and what we feel like and then just visit places on the spur of the moment. In other words, we’re not terribly well organised! We had been to the garden 30 odd years ago, before digital cameras.
The castle was built by the Lindsay family in the 1500s but prior to that they had built a motte and bailey nearby. From the photo below you can see it’s now just a mound in the landscape. It is now owned by Historic Scotland.
Back to Edzell, the doorway below leads into a courtyard and from there you can see the remains of the kitchen and you can get upstairs via a modern wooden staircase.
But there’s also an ancient staircase, just mind your ‘heid’ as the lintels are very low!
The photo of the archway below is all that remains of the collapsed oven, it was quite a size.
In the photo below you can just catch a glimpse of the garden which is well known for it’s unusual and beautiful design, but I’ll blog about that tomorrow.
One hot afternoon last week we went for a drive along to the East Neuk of Fife, starting at the village of St Monans. Below is a photo of St Monans kirk with some beach explorers in the foreground. If you look closely you should be able to see the ancient sea worn steps that lead up to the church. Presumably in years past some people did sail there to the church service. For many it would have been a lot easier than tackling roads which would have amounted to little more than tracks.
The teazles and geraniums right above the beach were looking great. It’s surprising how much salty atmosphere some plants can put up with.
It was a sparkling day, too hot for us at around 70F, but I still didn’t fancy my chances in the Firth of Forth/North Sea, far too cold without a wet suit on.
Further along the coastal path you reach a windmill which was used in the salt making industry which went on by the edge of the water, there are only indentations left in the grass now, all the buildings having been washed away by the sea years ago I suppose.
There is a rather primitive outdoor swimming pool in the photo below. It has been cleared out recently by some local people as the council had stopped maintaining it, so I was pleased to see that it was actually being used by a brave soul. The straight edge is the swimming pool edge, it’s much longer than the usual length of a swimming pool. I would drown before I reached the far end of it as I’m not a great swimmer!
The rocks above the beach are interesting looking, to me anyway. I need a geologist.
As the school holidays have already begun in Scotland there were lots of people about so I didn’t take any photos of the old fishing village of St Monans but if you want to see some images look here.
The only photo I took at the nearby village of Elie was of the ancient doorway below. It’s a pity that the stonework is so worn as I think the carving would have been interesting.
Earlier in the week we drove to the very historic wee coastal village of Aberdour, just for a change of scenery. If you look carefully at the photo below you’ll see there are stone steps which have been cut into the rock years ago, but they have almost been worn away by the daily batterings from the Firth of Forth on its way to the North Sea.
I was standing on the beach at Aberdour when I took these photos and if you click to enlarge you will be able to see Arthur’s Seat, the Salisbury Crags and the smaller lump of rock to the right is Edinburgh Castle. In reality you can see it fairly clearly from the Fife side of the Forth.
The large building at the far end of the photo below is a hotel, well it used to be but it may not be now. There were actually a couple of women swimming in the sea, I think they must have had wet suits on though as it’s absolutely freezing and it wouldn’t take long for hypothermia to set in. There weren’t many people around though so it all felt very safe.
I should have taken a photo of the houses at the edge of the beach but I didn’t, however you can see them in the background of the photo below of Jack and our friend who had never been to Aberdour before. There are some lovely houses there but they would be very expensive as Aberdour is an easy train journey from Edinburgh.
But Maureen thought that this quaint wee house below on the town’s High Street would just do her fine! Do you ever pick out a favourite house when you visit a new place?
One lovely afternoon last week we drove to the beach at Seafield, part of the Fife Coastal Walk. This cormorant was drying its wings in the sun. The concrete blocks are the remains of some of the World War 2 defences which thankfully were never tested, but you can understand that people would be worried about a Nazi invasion back then.
If you click on the photo below you should be able to see the seals that were basking on the rocks. They blend in very well and I didn’t even realise they were there until I heard them mooing.
There are lots of them on the rocks in the photo below. When we walked past them about ten minutes later some of them were still sticking to their little patch of rock, despite it almost being covered by the rising tide.
I don’t know how people walking on the coastal path could disturb seals, anyway obviously it isn’t a good thing to do as it uses up a lot of their energy if they are frightened off their rocks before they’re ready to swim again.
It seems that you’re never very far from a ruin of some sort in Scotland and the one in the photo below is what is left of Seafield Tower which has been ravaged by the North Sea over the years. It’s in a very poor state now, it was built around 1542.
After our wee walk we were too hot to do anything else, such as go to the shops or around the park, but it was nice to have a change of scenery.
It’s a couple of weeks since we were down in County Durham for a few days, one of the places we visited was the town Barnard Castle but we didn’t manage to get into the actual castle because strangely English Heritage had a strict booking policy so despite the fact that we are members of Historic Scotland and would have got free entry – we didn’t manage to get in at all. It’s particularly weird as there were hardly any other visitors and as the castle itself is a ruin it’s all in the open air – hopefully we’ll get in there one day. At least we got some photos and had a walk by the river and around the town.
The castle looms high above the town as you would expect. Of course it has been in the news recently as the place that Dominic Cummings visited to ‘test his eyesight’ when the rest of us were adhering to a strict lockdown and staying very local!
The castle was founded in the 12th century and is in a lovely position high above the River Tees as you can see below. I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen the Tees, I love rivers and this one is very scenic in this area anyway and looks unpolluted as far as the naked eye is concerned.
You get a good view of the river when standing on the old stone bridge – as you can see.
The town itself is a nice place to visit with interesting looking independent shops – if you’re that way inclined. I only bought a book (surprise surprise) which I got from the Oxfam charity shop.
Our Saturday afternoon walk took us through the Balbirnie Estate woodland in Fife, which in these pandemic times is much busier than it used to be. There are lots of snowdrops looking their best at the moment and I thought they would be visible in the photos but obviously I need to do a close up of them as even I can hardly see them, and I know where they are!
The path leads to a wooden bridge which is perfect for playing Poohsticks, if you’re that way inclined.
A bit further on there’s a good view of the surrounding park and farmland which was once part of the estate which was owned by the Balfour family. A train dashed across the middle of the scene but I didn’t manage to get it in my photo, it’s behind the trees to the left.
You can see lots more photos of the parkland here. The landscaping of the estate began in 1779, you can read a bit about it here.
Back home in my garden the most colourful spot at the moment is the pot of dwarf Iris reticulata (Joyce). There are some planted directly into the ground but they haven’t appeared yet.
Yesterday we woke up to about five inches of snow which had fallen overnight. The first real snow of the winter, prior to that we had only had sprinklings overnight which only lingered on the grass. I had been able to smell snow for a few nights running earlier in the week, but that must have been on its way to England as unusually they got it before we did. Above is a photo of my back garden.
The walk for the paper was actually easier than it had been as for weeks on end we had had to walk gingerly on grass that was so icy it resembled an ice floe. I can’t honestly say it was cold either.
If you look at the right hand side of the photo below you’ll see some kids having a fine time sledging. There’s not much home schooling going on – and who can blame them, it’ll be the first real snow that these kids have seen in their lives probably.
It’s a strange sort of snow, I’m sure that if we got lots of snow we would have a special word to describe it but I can only say that it’s soft powdery stuff which is very pretty as it looks like individual snow particles are glistening in the sun instead of it all being lumped together and smooth.
The Balbirnie estate gates are enhanced by snow, it settles on the stonework of the gateposts. It’s a pity there’s a car parked there otherwise it would look white Christmas card-ish.
This morning there was even more snow, we now have about nine inches of the stuff!
I feel that things are getting very samey around here, normally I would be able to blog about my travels and visits to what I regard as interesting places but lockdown has scuppered that. While You Tube wandering – not something that I do a lot of – I came across the scenic films below. I hope you enjoy them. You’ll have to click over to You Tube to view the first film. Meanwhile I’m going to trawl through my old photographs to remind myself of where I’ve been before lockdown and haven’t got around to blogging about.
Scotland’s Mountains from the Air
The Finest Mountain Between Heaven and Hell
The film below has some great scenery on it with a couple of kayakers travelling to Knoydart, then climbing a mountain. Armchair travelling is the perfect way to do it – no midges involved.