Loch Leven Castle

We had been meaning to visit Loch Leven Castle for over 30 years and it was just one of those local things which you never get around to visiting, or almost never. It’s one of the many castles which Mary Queen of Scots escaped from. In fact I have a theory that her captors allowed her to escape so that they could follow her and be led to their enemies, she seems to have made a habit of escaping, so it’s either that OR those men were all charmed to bits by her good looks, red/gold hair, very long legs (she was 6 feet tall) and of course as she was brought up in France from the age of five, she had a French accent!

In the photo below you can see the castle. When she was there the loch level was higher than it is today so there was very little land around it, not that there’s much there today but you can take a wee walk around it. She complained bitterly about her living conditions and I don’t blame her really, it must have been very damp and cold.

Loch Leven

Below is an information board which I hope you are able to read.

Loch Leven

Loch Leven Castle is mainly a ruin but it’s still well worth a visit and there were quite a lot of visitors when we were there. Only ten people are allowed at a time in the boats which take you out there, it’s about a ten minute journey and the boat fare is included in the ticket price which was £5.50 and you get the boat from Kinross.

Loch Leven

Loch Leven Castle

Loch Leven Castle

It was a good afternoon out and although there were clouds of midges about which you can expect being near a loch I suppose – they weren’t bothering us at all, amazing!

Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser

This book was first published in 1969 and at 667 pages the sheer thickness of it could be a wee bit off putting to anyone with lots of books in the ‘to be read pile’. However, if you are at all interested in Mary Stuart then this is a must read for you.

You can easily tell that Antonia Fraser has a real passion for Mary and she obviously did a fantastic amount of research on her subject, which I suspect was a real treat for her.

Mary Stuart has always been a familiar tragic figure to me. My favourite doll as a teeny wee girl was that well known one of her dressed in a black velvet gown with a lace cloak. When I was told of her sorry tale and ghastly end – well, you couldn’t not love the idea of her.

So it was inevitable that I was going to read this book sometime.The book won the James Tait Memorial Prize and although it was written so long ago, it has never been bettered.

Although the book is packed with historical detail, it never becomes dry or boring as Antonia Fraser has a wonderful free-flowing way with words. Despite the fact that she is so keen on her subject, it hasn’t blinded her to the fact that Mary was very far from being perfect. It’s a real pity that she didn’t take a leaf out of her cousin Elizabeth’s book and steer clear of marriage altogether.

It seems that wherever you live in Scotland, you will be close to a castle or palace with links to Mary Stuart.

She was born in Linlithgow Palace in 1542. The palace is just a shell now as it caught fire in 1746, but it must have been wonderful in its day.

Linlithgow Palace and Loch in late evening

Her first marriage to the dauphin ended when he died of complications from an ear infection a month before his 17th birthday. So at the age of 18, Mary sailed for Scotland after 13 years in France.

Considering that she was a Roman Catholic queen in a Presbyterian country, things went rather well for her. She was greeted by enthusiastic crowds and she didn’t disappoint them.

Her choice of husbands left a lot to be desired and brought nothing but trouble for her.

She gave birth to her only child James VI in Edinburgh Castle.

Castle lit up at sunset - Explored

She spent a large part of her life being held captive in various
castles, and managed to escape from a few of them. Lochleven Castle being the most famous escape.

Loch Leven Castle

She loved to spend time at Falkland Palace in Fife, where she could ride and fly her falcons. This palace is well worth a visit, there is plenty to see, it has lovely gardens and the village of Falkland itself is worth a walk round. For those who are a bit more energetic, take time to walk up the East and West Lomonds, to get a great view.

Falkland Palace in Spring