Monday 26 May 2003

My First Castle!!

Today I saw my first castle!!!

Crathes Castle

Now how would you pronounce "Crathes"? I still don't know, because EVERYONE I talked to pronounced it differently. I got everything from Crates to Crathies to Craithes and anything else you could think of. The only problem with this is that if you don't pronounce it they way the person you're talking to does, then they don't understand which castle you're referring to. This is the first time I've had issue with the accents here.


On to the Castle itself. . .

After getting up a little late, I got to the bus station only to find out that they were running a shortened schedule, so the next bus wouldn't get me there until almost 3pm, giving me only 2 and a half hours to see the castle. Oh well, better than no castle at all right?

The bus turned out to work pretty well because it literally dropped me off at the gates, then turned into a lovely short walk through a forest. In the open feild right before getting to the castle grounds themselves, they were having a vintage car ralley, complete with Scottish band playing what sounded like a Roland arrangement of 80s pop. Very strange.

Anyway, when I got to the ticket area, they were having a "National Heritage Appreciation Day" which meant that everyone got in FREE!! Very cool. The downside was that the increased demand (other people had gotten wind of this apparently) meant they were giving out time specific tickets, meaning you had a ticket that was only valid beginning at a certain time. I got one of the last ones for the 4:00pm slot. Yess! This then meant that I had almost an hour to wander around the castle gardens, which were magnificent. It was raining just slightly with the sun coming out intermittantly.

The castle itself was made out of red granite, so the wet stone in the sunshine shined like new copper. Breathtaking, really breathtaking.

Crathes Castle was build in 1596, which makes it "young", and evidently it was inhabited by the same family lineage until 1980, when they turned it over to the Scottish Heritage Society. This means that it is exceptionally kept up, with several original pieces of furniture left as well, most of which is carved wood, and stunning in its own right.

I got lots of pictures! But, only of the outside. I did get a really neat guide book of the interior with lots of history as well, so everyone can read that when I get back. It's just as well too, because it would have been difficult to get as good of pictures, since it was pretty dark in some places, as well as having lots of people. . .including the requisite group of Japanese tourists. It was also much smaller on the inside than what I expected it to be. Evidently, though, it had been two whole wings larger, but a fire in 1966 destroyed those, leaving the castle pretty much as it was when originally built.

I stayed right up until the place closed and the meandered back to the bus stop through a really nice wooded trail. When I got to the bus stop, however, I found out that yes the bus runs every hour. . .until 5pm. After 5pm it runs every two hours.

And everything was closed.

And it was raining.

2 hours.

The longest two hours of my life.

The most annoying part of the wait, however, were the drivers that would go by, honk and wave, spraying me with water from the road. Yeah, great, thanks, hi to you too.

On the upside I saw a slug for the first time. I didn't realize that they got so big!! We're talking almost 6 inches long and almost an inch in diameter. Monster slug.

By the time the bus got there I was pretty cold, and very thankful that the Scottish don't turn their heaters off until mid June.

So tomorrow I'm going to the ruined Castle Donnotur that is on the bluffs overlooking the North Sea. And I'm making sure to get a good EARLY start tomorrow, since it's supposed to be almost an hours hike after you get off the bus. But it's a hike I'm really looking forward to because it's along the same bluffs.

Good thing I brought my extra memory card!