Carn Liath Broch, Sutherland, Scotland

The weather on our way back from Orkney was beautiful and we decided to take a long slow journey back home, stopping off at anywhere that took our fancy. When I spotted a sign to a broch on the road between Golspie and Brora we just had to visit it. Carn Liath Broch is situated very close to the main road south and there is a good lay-by on the other side of the road for parking.

Carn Liath Broch

It’s fairly well preserved with some of the walls still 12 feet tall. It’s in a beautiful position fairly close to the beach – but not too close!

Carn Liath Broch

Carn Liath Broch

There’s still quite a lot to see and it’s easy to imagine what it must have been like for the original inhabitants, quite cosy I imagine.

Carn Liath Broch

Carn Liath Broch stairs

Carn Liath Broch chamber 1

We had the place all to ourselves and although there’s a main road nearby the cars weren’t visible.

Carn Liath Broch

cows and sea from Carn Liath Broch

The broch was probably built in the last century BC or first century AD. But it was first excavated in the 1800s. Nobody is quite sure about the purpose of brochs, and the ideas range from resource-hungry status symbols to temporary defensive structures for extended families and their livestock. Around 500 were built in Scotland, including good examples at Broch of Gurness in Orkney, Dun Carloway in the Western Isles and Clickimin Broch near Lerwick in Shetland.

I’m so glad I spotted that roadsign.

Castle of Mey, Caithness, and Sutherland, Scotland

Castle of Mey

On our way back from Orkney we realised that we would be very close to the Castle of Mey, the Queen Mother’s residence in Scotland. After her husband George VI died in 1952 she obviously had to vacate Balmoral and the other royal residences to make way for the new Queen. She took a fancy to the very remote castle after visiting it as a guest, luckily the owners wanted to move out. After lots of renovations she moved in, and in later years the Royal Yacht Britannia was used to take royal visitors to the castle. The Queen Mother could never persuade Princess Margaret to stay overnight though, Margaret always insisted on going back to sleep on the yacht, the castle was too cold for her apparently, but I suspect she wanted more privacy to get up to her well known shenanigans.

Castle of Mey
Unfortunately you aren’t allowed to take photos of the inside of it for security reasons apparently?! But you can see plenty of photos here.

As castles go it’s quite a cosy one with the rooms being not too big and our guide told us lots of stories about the Queen Mother, who obviously threw herself into the community and got involved with the local primary school children. There were lots of hand made gifts from them ranged around her sitting room, including a shell covered bottle made into a lamp.

I like the way they utilise the big flat stones that are on lots of the local beaches as partitions, it must be a fast way of building walls.

Castle of Mey

Castle of Mey
That was the first time we had been so far north and I thought it was really scenic, although admittedly we were very lucky with the weather, and just about everything looks lovely in the sunshine. You can look here at all the other places of interest in Caithness if you click on the list on the right hand side and here at all the small towns in neighbouring Sutherland if you click on the list on the left.

Castle of Mey garden + Hoy

It was a surprise to me how well things were growing way up north.

I just love old stone walls with wooden gates – what is the secret garden behind it like, most of the time they are locked though so they remain secrets!

East Garden door