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.

Falkland Palace Gardens

Nowadays we visit the historical village of Falkland almost every week, we like visiting the wee library there and having a chat with the very friendly Sandra who works there – if she’s not too busy. The modern wrought iron gate below is at the entrance to Falkland Palace orchard. Of course it was too early for there to have been any fruit trees blossoming.

Falkland Palace gate

That’s the orchard wall you can see in the background and the trees and daffodils in the photo are in the main part of the palace gardens, it’s a cute wee summerhouse/shelter, obviously modern.

It’s funny to think that Mary Queen of Scots (amongst many others) walked around these gardens getting on for 500 years ago. This is just a wee bit of the gardens, there was nothing much blooming elsewhere, it was that funny time of spring when the crocuses are over and the other flowers are still waiting in the wings.

Falkland 5

The photo below was taken from the orchard and you can see some of the village with one of the Lomond hills beyond. It was quite a cold and slightly misty day, but it’s worthwhile taking a hike up those hills on a clear day, as long as it’s not too windy!
Falkland 8

Falkland, Fife – Outlander

Falkland in Fife

On Monday we went to Falkland, a nearby village, it’s a place we visit regularly, it’s very quaint and it’s good walking country, but this time the main street was lined with ‘no parking’ traffic cones as you can see, and lots of people were hanging about, presumably to make sure nobody parked there anyway, you know the way there are always those who believe that any rules don’t apply to them.

I hope that paint comes off the stonework all right, the drainpipes are normally all shiny black paint but you can just see that they have painted the one on the left to look all rusty and grotty, the ‘wet paint’ sign is still on it.

Falkland  in Fife

The shop below is normally a gift and coffee shop but it was in the middle of being kitted out as a furniture shop, 1950s style I would say.

Falkland  in Fife

The upshot was that they are filming Outlander there, it seems that just about everywhere we go has been in Outlander, but as it’s on a cable TV channel that we don’t have we haven’t seen any of it.

I say 1950s because there are loads of bananas in the fruit shop display, but I suppose it might be the 1930s. This shop is normally a restaurant/coffee shop and they have just about managed to cover up the modern shop sign with the awning.

Falkland  in Fife

The boarding in the two photos below is not normally there.
Falkland in Fife

We noticed a couple of weeks ago that the biggest pub/restaurant was closed and boarded up which seemed weird but presumably they were busy doing something to the interior, they would have to, because the place had been gutted and was very modern looking inside.

Falkland in Fife

And across the road from all that stands Falkland Palace, it has seen a lot in the lifetime of its stonework, as it was the hunting palace of the Scottish royalty – the Stuarts and a favourite home of Mary, Queen of Scots, before her imprisonment by the English.

Falkland  in Fife

I’m now definitely buying the Outlander DVDs so that I can play at spotting all the locations.

TV

It was still daylight at 5 pm today, I love it when it gets lighter, especially as there have been so many days this winter when we’ve had to have the lights on in the daytime due to it being so dark and dismal outside, it’s so depressing, even if you aren’t normally that way inclined.

But apart from getting a lot of reading done this winter I’ve been watching TV too. In fact it snowed here in Fife again on Saturday and I ended up watching 84 Charing Cross Road again, that very bookish film – and I still love it. Apparently the building which housed the bookshop is now a fast food restaurant, what a come-down for it.

Otherwise I’ve been watching Death in Paradise where Kris Marshall plays the part of a twit but somehow always comes up trumps. I enjoy the programme but I always think of him in the part of Pasha Antipov (Strelnikov) in the 2002 TV miniseries of Doctor Zhivago, it was so different from anything else we had seen him in and he was great in the part. It’s such a shame that he doesn’t often seem to get the chance to show off his acting abilities.

Happy Valley is back and watching the first one the other night I remembered that although it’s good, I don’t half find it uncomfortable viewing, I’m not sure why really.

Shetland has sort of sprung a split personality as quite a lot of it has been filmed in Glasgow. As a Glaswegian that’s more than fine with me, it’s a good change from the landscape of Shetland which I find a bit bleak and weird looking, even when there’s plenty of green and rolling hills in the background, the lack of trees is just unreal looking to me, it’s a good series though. well worth watching.

During the winter we rarely go out at night so I’ve been enjoying watching The Young Montalbano and when the series came to an end last week I thought there would be a big Montalbano shaped gap in Saturday nights but luckily Trapped came along, a crime series from Iceland. It looks like it’s going to be worth watching, I think that Icelandic is the language which doesn’t seem to have much in the way of similarities with any other languages I know.

Then there’s Outlander – now I’ve never seen Outlander because it’s on some cable TV channel that we don’t get, but it seems that everywhere we go in Scotland there are people telling us that it has been used for filming Outlander. When we went out for a walk today in the nearby village of Falkland it was being done up for filming tomorrow, it was interesting to see what they had done with some of the shops and surroundings. Photos tomorrow!

Falkland Palace – again

Falkland Palace in Fife

I just felt like getting out of the house last Saturday, but it was too hot and bright (really!) to travel far, so we ended up at Falkland Palace, yet again. The palace was the hunting palace of the Stuarts and it was well used by them, Mary Stuart (Queen of Scots) enjoyed riding and hunting around this area. You’ll be getting fed up with the place, but I never do somehow. Why is there always a car parked where it shouldn’t be?

Falkland Palace and Gardens

I wanted to sit and enjoy the gardens there, they’re looking good at the moment. So we had a cursory walk through the palace itself and admired the royal bedrooms, then went out to the gardens and sat on a bench for a while admiring the view, and watching gardeners pruning trees, that’s always more enjoyable than doing the work yourself!

Falkland Palace Gardens

Anyway, how many times have I been there? I’ve lost count, but I had never noticed the horse head detail in the stonework at the top of the stairs in the previous photo. So I snapped it for posterity, I think it must be hundreds of years old. Its twin is at the other side of the steps.

Falkland Palace

The photo below is of a more formal area, all lavender plants and juniper trees, I think, and the building in the background houses the real/royal tennis court. It’s a more complicated game than the game which we call tennis nowadays.

Falkland Palace Gardens

On the way back to the car I snapped the floral display outside one of the pubs in the village. I’m always envious of this sort of thing because I just can’t manage to get my tubs looking as lush as these ones and I’ve given up on hanging baskets completely. I think I just don’t feed and water them as much as they need.

Falkland, Fife

The photo below shows part of the pub and the adjoining house which has a good display too. These buildings are some of the more modern ones in Falkland. I’m assuming that both buildings are owned by the same person, otherwise I can’t imagine anyone buying a house right next to a pub, but I suppose it takes all sorts and if you’re that way inclined then you don’t have to worry about driving home after you’ve had a drink!

Falkland, Scotland

The East Lomond in Fife

It’s time to dust off your walking boots again and blow some of those cobwebs away if you’re feeling energetic enough. This time we’re going up the East Lomond in Fife. Don’t worry, it’s an easy one! I took the photo below from the car park and it’s looking over to the Firth of Forth in the distance with the town of Glenrothes in between. I hate having to get into a car to reach a decent hill-walk.

Firth of Forth

This patch of heather which is just coming into bloom is apparently the largest bit still growing in Fife according to a signpost nearby. That was a bit of a shocker to me. I must admit that I never think that heather is anything to write home about. I think all those homesick Scots living in far-flung countries must have been looking back nostalgically and writing romantic songs about it. When I lived in England and was homesick I just went out and bought a Corries album, something which I would never have done in Scotland!

Scottish heather

Now you can see where we are headed, the top of the East Lomond. At this point there’s a path as you can see, quite well worn as it’s a popular walk but we only saw two other walkers. Sometimes there are mountain bikers, runners (mad) and hang-gliders (madder).
East Lomond

Not far from the top now, you can just see the village of Falkland down below. If you want to see what the village and estate look like you can see some photos of older Falkland posts of mine here. There will be some of a previous West Lomond walk there too.

Falkland below

The photo below is looking to the north to Perthshire in the distance with the edge of Falkland village on the right and Falkland House and estate to the left. Falkland House is now a school for autistic children and children with special needs, but anyone can walk in the estate grounds and it’s a good walk if you don’t want to go uphill too much. It’s popular with dog walkers, keep them on a lead though as there are a lot of sheep about.

Falkland and North

The photo below was taken looking east over to Largo Law in the distance. From here it looks like a small bump just to the left of centre in the landscape but is in fact quite a large hill. ‘Law’ is a Scots word for hill.
east to Largo Law

The photo below is looking east from the top of the East Lomond. There are actually a couple of reservoirs there but one of them looks almost empty, it has been unusually dry for quite a while now.

looking east from the East Lomond.

Below is looking over to the north west. Perthshire in the distance.
looking north west

This is a photo of a ladybird on the distance marker at the top of the East Lomond. Like most people I love ladybirds but this is just the third one which I have seen this year. I think that very long winter we had must have been too much for a lot of them as they hibernate, often in conifers.

a ladybird
Here’s the proof that we actually made it to the top, as you can see we are a bit windswept, sunglasses are required up there mainly to keep the wind out of your eyes!

aselfie 3

There was a flock of sheep in a field to the right as we were going up the hill, we could just see a few of them but decided not to get any closer and disturb them. But on the way back downhill, these two decided to break ranks and come to take a look at us, a sheep and her fat lamb who was still keen to keep close to mum. We couldn’t decide whether they were suspicious of us and ‘seeing us off’ as they followed us down hill or if they were lost and thought we might know the way home!

sheep 2

So are you feeling bright and breezy after getting some virtual fresh air? I didn’t feel too bad the next day either, which was a nice surprise. I hope we can get a few more different hill walks under our belts before the winter sets in.

The West Lomond in Fife

This is a the view from the top of the West Lomond looking over to Loch Leven. Confusingly the Lomond hills aren’t anything to do with Loch Lomond which is in the west of Scotland where the scenery is altogether much more spectacular.

Loch Leven from West Lomond

Friday was a lovely blue sky day so we decided to go on our first hill walk of the year and chose the West Lomond hill near the village of Falkland in Fife. Usually both of the Lomonds are incredibly busy, in fact the first time I walked up them there were hoards of people going up and down which was a strange experience for me. I prefer hill walking to be fairly solitary with just a few people visible in the distance. Here is the West Lomond, it’s just as well that you can’t here us peching and panting our way uphill!

West Lomond from the East

I had my wish this time and on the whole walk we only saw four other people. The hills are full of ground nesting birds at this time of the year and the whole place was full of larks singing very high up in the sky.

Maiden Castle from West-ish

If you veer off the track to the right you can see a large green mound which is called Maiden Castle. It’s the remains of an Iron Age settlement and although it’s really just a big mound of grass it’s nice to have a walk to the top of it and imagine what it must have been like all those years ago. The mounds in the next picture are where the entrance is supposed to have been.

Maiden Castle entrance

Just to prove that we did actually make it to the top of West Lomond here is a photo of yours truly standing by the Ordnance Survey marker, the shades were as much about keeping the wind out of my eyes as the sun.

Piningforthewest

So that was the good part of the day. The bad part was being stuck in Edinburgh airport waiting to pick my brother up and his flight being delayed for over four hours. Now I remember why I don’t like travelling!

Falkland, Fife.

The village of Falkland in Fife is dominated by the Royal Palace of Falkland.

My photo is a stitch of two because I couldn’t get the whole Palace into the one frame. Shame about the red car.

The village and Palace are well worth a visit if you are in the area. It’s stuffed full of ancient history but it also played a part in more recent times with The Chapel Royal being used by the Polish Airborne Forces during World War 2, when they were stationed nearby. They were allowed to use it as there wasn’t an ordinary Roman Catholic Church in the vicinity.

I really liked the royal (real) tennis court. It’s the oldest one in Britain and was built for James V in 1539. When we were there , a match was actually taking place. It is a sort of cross between tennis and squash.

An ancient street in Falkland

The village itself is very quaint and has a variety of interesting houses. Some of them are absolutely tiny but people are still living in them today. I think they were probably inhabited by weavers originally.

Doorway lintel, Falkland.

It was traditional to carve the initials of the original house owners as well as the date on the door lintel. This is known as a marriage lintel.

Gatehouse, Falkland estate.

Falkland Estate is on the outskirts of the village and has a very pretty gatehouse. As you can see there is a pond by the house. It’s usually full of ducks and moor hens but it was deserted when I took this photograph.

Stone bridge, Falkland estate

The lovely wee stone bridge just leads into a field. It crosses the burn (stream) which fills the pond. The burn continues its way from the pond and under the house. That is the one thing that puts me off the house. I would hate water running underneath my home, especially as it is a rushing torrent and noisy.

You can walk through the estate which has a very smart cricket pitch, which I think is probably a bit of a shock to English tourists, but cricket is actually quite popular in more rural areas. We’re just not very good at it.