Archive for October, 2011

Journey No 17

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Journey No 17 – 20th to 24th October 2011

20th October 2011

We departed Carrick Castle in the morning with our first stop visiting the Bannockburn Visitors Centre near Stirling. Bannockburn was Robert the Bruce’s famous victory over the English in 1314. This is a National Trust for Scotland property.

Robert the Bruce Monument at Bannockburn

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Next stop was the Alloa Tower in Alloa, Clackmannanshire but it was closed to visitors so we were only able to view it the 14th century tower from the outside. The tower was one of the ancestral homes of the Erskine family. Douglas’ grandmother was an Erskine. This is a National Trust for Scotland property.

Alloa Tower, Alloa

Our next stop was at the Wallace Monument by Stirling. As we arrived too late for a tour up the monument, we decided to walk up to the monument and stay in their car park overnight and have the tour in the morning.

Harrie parked up below the Wallace Monument

21st October 2011

In the morning, we were the first to visit the monument. We were surprised at the size of it when inside. After a climb of 246 steps, we reached the top and looked down at Harrie and the views over the River Forth. The Wallace Monument was built in the 1860’s to commemorate Scotland’s hero Sir William Wallace.

The Wallace Monument

Sir William Wallace

The River Forth from the top of the Wallace Monument

Looking down on Harrie from the top of the Wallace Monument

We then drove over to Culross in Fife and visited Culross Palace, the home of Sir George Bruce, 1550 – 1625. This is a beautiful place with original painted woodwork and contemporary furniture. The palace was built between 1597 and 1611. (Note – the ‘L’ in Culross is silent for pronouciation).

Culross Palace, Culross, Fife

The gardens behind the palace have been recreated to how the gardens would have been laid out in the seventeenth century. This is a National Trust for Scotland property.

Culross Palace garden

Culross is a very interesting town to visit with most houses dating from the 17th & 18th centuries. There is also Culross Abbey, partly a church now otherwise ruins. This is definitely a place to visit if you haven’t already been there.

Our next visit of the day was to Falkland Palace (1501), in Falkland, Fife created by James IV & James V at the site of the original Falkland Castle of 1337.

Falkland Palace entrance

Falkland Palace is an impressive building. It is fully furnished to the period of the times but the furniture is not original although the National Trust for Scotland have recreated the rooms as near to how they would have looked.  The gardens are extensive and include a ‘Real Tennis Court’ that was built in 1539 for James V and is the oldest in Britain.

The back of Falkland Palace from the gardens

That evening, we parked Harrie up for the night on the top of a hill in West Lingo Woods, Fife.

Harrie in West Lingo Woods, Fife

22nd October 2011

We were the first visitors of the day at the Secret Bunker, Troywood near Anstruther, Fife. This establishment was the Underground Nuclear Command Centre in Scotland built in the early 1950’s during ‘The Cold War’ period and remained on the Secret’s List until 1993. In 1994 it was purchased by a private investor who opened it to the public as a visitor attraction. It took us three hours to walk around the bunker entering via a 150 metre long tunnel with blast-proof doors and decending down to two floors. All you would have seen from the surface was a farmhouse building where you enter the bunker.

The Secret Bunker farmhouse building entrance

What lay below this house was  a maze of tunnels and rooms where under three metres of concrete, three hundred staff manned this secret bunker 24/7 in the event of a nuclear attack.

Royal Observer Corps Operations Room

RAF Operations Room

Liz on duty in the telephone exchange - "Secret Bunker here! Can I help you?"

Secret Bunker Radar Room

There are many rooms to visit and a lot to see.  The film of what happens in a nuclear attack is very powerful and makes one hope that this never happens ever again in the future… The Secret Bunker is open from 1st April to 31st October.

Our next visit of the day was to the 15th century Kellie Castle & Garden in Fife. Another line of the Erskine’s once lived here although the castle is better known for its use by the Lorimer family. You feel that the castle was a family home with so much original decoration, furniture and content.

Kellie Castle, Fife


The back of Kellie Castle


Part of the walled gardens at Kellie Castle

Our last visit of the day was to Hill of Tarvit, by Cupar, Fife, a mansion house & garden built in 1906 by Sir Robert Lorimer around Mr F B Sharp’s collection of furniture, taperstries and other collections of works of art. This is a National Trust for Scotland property.

Hill of Tarvit Mansion House & Garden

Following this visit, we refuelled Harrie in Cupar with 49.37 litres of diesel (£64.64) and then returned to the Hill of Tarvit car park where we stayed over night.

23rd October 2011

On Sunday morning we drove to Perth where we visited the Kayak Show as Liz wanted to purchase some accessories for her kayak trips.  We met a lot of people who she knew and some I did.

We then headed north out of Perth to visit the Stanley Mills looked after by Historic Scotland. These cotton mills were founded 200 years ago on a majestic bend in the River Tay and only closed in 1989. The interpretive displays were excellent, particularly the model of the water wheels that you could operate!

We next drove north to Killiecrankie and had a walk down to the River Garry. On 27th July 1689, the Jacobite army defeated the goverment forces (the Red Coats) at Killiecrankie. This is a National Trust for Scotland property.

River Garry at Killiecrankie

Douglas & Liz at Killiecrankie

After having dinner in the Killiecrankie car park, we headed south to Pitlochry to go to the Enchanted Forest event at 7.40 pm. The walk around this forest garden was quite crowded with everyone enjoying the lighting and sound effects. Although it was quite difficult to get good photos at night without using flash photography, the following photos give an idea of the event we visited over two hours.

The Enchanted Forest, Pitlochry


The Enchanted Forest, Pitlochry


The Enchanted Forest, Pitlochry


The Enchanted Forest, Pitlochry


Liz at the Enchanted Forest, Pitlochry

After the event we drove south to The Hermitage by Dunkeld and parked Harrie overnight in the National Trust for Scotland car park.

24th October 2011

Harrie in The Hermitage car park by Dunkeld

We had a pleasant walk around The Hermitage going to the arched bridge over the River Braan by the folly of Ossian’s Hall that overlooks the Black Linn Falls and then beyond to Ossian’s Cave. These woodlands have one of the tallest trees in Britain – a Douglas Fir at over 210 feet high (64m). This is a National Trust for Scotland property.

The arched bridge at The Hermitage


Douglas on top of the bridge at The Hermitage

The River Braan at The Hermitage

Our next visit was to Dunkeld where we visited the 15th century Dunkeld Cathedral on the banks of the River Tay. Historic Scotland look after the ruined part of the cathedral.

The 15th century nave of Dunkeld Cathedral

The choir of Dunkeld Cathedral is now the parish church

After a walk through the town looking at the 20 houses restored by the National Trust for Scotland and Telford’s bridge that crosses the River Tay, we drove south to Perth and filled up with diesel again ( 32.41 litres/£42.77 at 119327 km). This gave us an average of 22.35 mpg or 26.7ppm.

We then visited Huntingtower Castle, Perth, an Historic Scotland castle dated from around 1500. This is an interesting castle as is is made up of two tower houses with a three metre space between the towers that was eventually covered up to form one building. Each tower was owned by two Ruthven brothers.

Huntingtower Castle, Perth

The painted ceiling at Huntingtower Castle, Perth

Highlight of the 'Green Man' - a pagan fertility symbol?

Harrie at Huntingtower Castle, Perth

Following this visit we drove down to Glasgow where we met Liz’s son, Calum and did some shopping before driving home to Carrick Castle in the evening.

Summary: This was an excellent journey visiting many sites. Two good walks, a Kayak Show, a forest event, many National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland properties and two memorable visits particularly to the Wallace Monument and the Secret Bunker.  We packed a lot into five days and generally the weather was favourable with only a few showers during the day although there was some heavy rain over night.

Total mileage for the trip was 708.8 km / 443 miles.
Total mileage to date was 119,421 km / 74,638 miles.