«July 2016»


Photos © Ruud Leeuw


We continue our trip through Scotland.
We left Inverness and headed north. A lovely drive, the satnav programmed for Poolewe, we drove west of Loch Maree.
Loch Maree or thereabouts

Loch Maree or thereabouts

Loch Maree or thereabouts
We were very near Poolewe here I think, the road getting so small it would fit only one car.

Loch Maree or thereabouts
Reminded me of Norway and parts of Alaska.

Our goal here was to visit the Inverewe Garden. When my parents were still around and toured Europe over
the years with their campervan, they had visited these gardens as well and were very enthusiastic.
Recommendations by one's parents, well, you can't ignore those can you?!!
Inverewe Gardens, Scotland

Inverewe Gardens, Scotland

Inverewe Gardens, Scotland

Inverewe Garden is a botanical garden in the Scottish Highlands. It is located just to the north of Poolewe in Wester Ross, and is noted for the breadth of its collection.

The garden was created in 1862 by Osgood Mackenzie on the 850 hectares (2,100 acres) estate bought for him by his mother.
The original Inverewe Lodge was destroyed by fire in 1914 and replaced in 1937 by the current Inverewe House.

The garden continues to be developed by the small but dedicated garden team and is a riot of colour from April through to late Autumn. In the spring Inverewe is celebrated for its rhododendron collection which begin flowering in January and carry through most of the year.
In summer the walled garden and borders come into their own with many exotic plants from all over the world which grow here thanks to the influence of the North Atlantic drift (Gulf Stream).
Even in winter Inverewe is colourful as the bark of many rhododendrons is beautifully and delicately coloured and the collection of native and non-native trees add to the variety.
Highlights include the most northerly planting of rare Wollemi trees.

Inverewe Gardens, Scotland
The Garden covers some 20 hectares (49 acres) and has over 2,500 exotic plants and flowers. There is a
further 2,000 acres of land managed for recreation and conservation. The garden and estate has been the
property of the National Trust for Scotland since it was given to the Trust along with a generous endowment
for its future upkeep by Osgood's daughter Mairi Sawyer in 1952.

Inverewe Gardens, Scotland
Some of these plants are truly humongous!

Inverewe Gardens, Scotland
We considered ourselves lucky with the weather, it made our appreciation for this visit so much the greater.

Loch Maree
Due to the scarcity of accommodation we had to drive south again to the Inverness area, to Strathpeffer, for a hotel.
This time we took the east side of Loch Maree. Amazing to note that within 01:30 we had rain again.

Bay Highland Hotel, Strathpeffer

We arrived at the Bay Highland Hotel in Strathpeffer.
Before booking I had seen the reviews claiming this hotel was a bit old fashioned in many ways. It certainly was! For one, guests need to pay extra (the stay wasn't cheap, in fact costly if one consideres the small size of the room) for wifi in the room. The bar did not know what an IPA beer was.
Around 20:00 all these people, most getting on in age, suddenly gathered in the lobby.. Among the women not a jeans in sight. Apparently Ronnie Ross draws a crowd here with his music!
We did not wait for the music.
Not a hotel I would care to stay in again.


I had been unable to find suitable accommodation on the Isle of Skye, so it was in & out. Departing from Strathpeffer
and ending the day in Fort William made for a long drive and many hours in the car. Great scenery, though.
Loch Carron
Loch Carron; view on Stromeferry.

Loch Carron
Loch Carron, the scenery explained.

Eilean Donan Castle
While Eilean Donan Castle required a short detour which we could little afford, I knew that if we left it until we
would pass it on our way to Fort William, it might be closed by the time we would get there.
Eilean Donan Castle is certainly worth a visit.

Eilean Donan (Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Donnain) is a small tidal island where three lochs meet, Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh, in the western Highlands of Scotland.
A picturesque castle that frequently appears in photographs, film and television dominates the island, which lies about 1 kilometre from the village of Dornie.
Since the castle's restoration in the early 20th century, a footbridge has connected the island to the mainland.

Eilean Donan Castle
Beautiful main hallway.

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle
A detail I noticed in passing: Scottish history.

Eilean Donan Castle

The castle was founded in the 13th century, and became a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and their allies the Clan Macrae.
In the early 18th century, the Mackenzies' involvement in the Jacobite rebellions led in 1719 to the castle's destruction by government ships.
Lieutenant-Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap's 20th-century reconstruction of the ruins produced the present buildings.

Eilean Donan Castle
Could well have been a scene from 'Upstairs, downstairs'..

Eilean Donan Castle

It is possible that an early Christian monastic cell was founded on the island in the 6th or 7th century, dedicated to Donnán of Eigg, an Irish saint who was martyred on Eigg in April 617.
No remains of any Christian buildings survive, though fragments of vitrified stone, subjected to very high temperatures, have been discovered indicating the presence of an Iron Age or early medieval fortification.

Eilean Donan Castle
Music from the 'local scene'.


From Eilean Donan Castle we drove back to Skye Bridge, filled the gastank in Broadford (we'd been warned
about limited fuel facilities on the Isle of Skye) and fetched a lunch at the Co-op before we continued
to Dunvegan Castle, via the westerly route along Loch Harport.
Dunvegan Castle & Gardens

Dunvegan Castle is a castle a mile and a half to the north of Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye, situated off the West coast of Scotland. It is the seat of the MacLeod of MacLeod, chief of the Clan MacLeod.

A curtain wall was built round the hill in the 13th century around a former Norse fort which was only accessible through a sea gate.
A castle was constructed within the curtain wall by Malcolm MacLeod in about 1350.


Dunvegan Castle & Gardens
Since the weather was dry we decided to visit the gardens here at Dunvegan first, as rain could fall any minute.

Dunvegan Castle & Gardens
We enjoyed the gardens, esspecially the walled garden was exquisite.

Dunvegan Castle & Gardens

Dunvegan Castle & Gardens

Dunvegan Castle & Gardens
Next we entered the castle.

Dunvegan Castle & Gardens
Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the stronghold of the
chiefs of the MacLeod clan for more than 800 years.

Dunvegan Castle & Gardens

Dunvegan Castle & Gardens
I was pleased I could add a few images for my libraries collection once again, this being a privat library.
See also my

Dunvegan Castle & Gardens
Books for the Dunvegan library were bound esspecially for the family. 'Dunvegan' printed at the bottom of the back.

Dunvegan Castle & Gardens
Believed to be a youthful portrait of Scotland's
Bonnie Prince Charlie; on display here at Dunvegan Castle.
Charles Edward Stuart a.k.a. Bonnie Prince Charlie | Jacobite Rising of 1745.

Dunvegan Castle & Gardens
Again Scottish music here on the castle grounds; very nice.

Seumas' Bar
Seumas' Bar, near Loch Sligachan and the river of the same name.

Seumas' Bar

The view from outside the bar. Time to get in the car again, for another 2:30 to drive to our hotel in Fort William.



The Ben Nevis Hotel at Fort William. A very small room at a very high rate; but the breakfast buffet was perfect.
No wifi in the room unless paid extra. Really behind in the times these people are. Before we checked out here I
had changed my booking with DFDS Seaways, to leave home three days early. Sheer frustration.

As soon as we exited the parking lot of the hotel it started to rain. It would rain all day.

Castle Stalker
Castle Stalker. We did not try to visit this castle, not sure if it is possible, but the puring rain was
very discouraging. Instead we stayed a while at a café named Café Stalker View. We drank our
cappucciono's at leisure with a view on this castle, hoping the rain would stop. But it wouldn't.

Castle Stalker is a four-story tower house or keep picturesquely set on a tidal islet on Loch Laich, an inlet off Loch Linnhe.
It is about 2.4 km north-east of Port Appin in Argyll, and is visible from the A828 road about midway between Oban and Glen Coe.
The islet is accessible (with difficulty) from the shore at low tide. The name 'Stalker' comes from the Gaelic Stalcaire, meaning 'hunter' or 'falconer'.

In recent times, the castle was brought to fame by the Monty Python team, appearing in their film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Castle Stalker is entirely authentic.

Dunstaffnage Castle, Oban, Scotland
Dunstaffnage Castle, Oban, Scotland.
The castle dates back to the 13th century, making it one of Scotland's oldest stone castles, in a local group which includes Castle Sween and Castle Tioram. Guarding a strategic location, it was built by the MacDougall lords of Lorn, and has been held since the 15th century by the Clan Campbell.

Dunstaffnage Castle, Oban, Scotland

Dunstaffnage Castle is a partially ruined castle in Argyll and Bute, western Scotland. It lies 4.8 km N.N.E. of Oban, situated on a platform of conglomerate rock on a promontory at the south-west of the entrance to Loch Etive, and is surrounded on three sides by the sea.

The castle itself was built in the second quarter of the 13th century, as the seat of Duncan MacDougall,
Following Alexander III's repulse of the Norse influence in Argyll, the MacDougalls backed the Scottish monarchy, and Ewen's son Alexander was made the first sherriff of Argyll in 1293. However, they supported the Balliol side during the Wars of Scottish Independence which broke out a few years later. Robert Bruce defeated the Clan MacDougall at the Battle of the Pass of Brander in 1308 or 1309, and after a brief siege, took control of Dunstaffnage Castle.

Dunstaffnage Castle, Oban, Scotland

Dunstaffnage Castle, Oban, Scotland
This was the kitchen. By the fireplaces one can see we are looking at several windows & fireplaces on different floors.

A short drive brought us to the centre of Oban. The rain made us soon divert into the bar of the Royal Hotel.
We lunched on coffee and scones (they were small compared to most we had in other places).
The Royal Hotel, Oban

We walked around a bit afterwards, but we decided to make an early departure for our B&B.
Where we read and slept until it was time to go out for dinner. But Corrie Bank B&B is 'quite rural' and has no
restaurants in close vicinity. So we hopped back into the car and went to the Glenochrie Lodge as recommended
by our kind host.
It was only a 4 mile drive to the Glenochrie Lodge and found we came on a quiet night. We had a lovely meal & drinks.

The next morning, upon our departure from Corrie Bank B&B (Lochawe), we were glad the sun was out in full force.
Corrie Bank B&B, Lochawe
Our B&B was near to Kilchurn Castle, but we missed it, did not see a sign for it and left this castle ruin for another day.


I was not impressed by the scenic route along Loch Lomond. The area around Glasgow did not look appealing either.
Lauder, Scotland
We were almost near our intended destination, Melrose Abbey, when we saw a sign for Thirlestane Castle.
But when we drove to the gate we found it closed on saturdays. Instead we headed into nearby Lauder for lunch.

Lauder, Scotland
Lauder. Somewhere down on the right is the Firebrick Brasserie, where we had a nice lunch.

Lauder, Scotland

Next was Melrose Abbey. There are four historic abbeys here in the area, the one in Jedburgh we've seen but
will keep the one in Kelso and Dryburgh for another day. Perhaps we do the walking tour, the Border Abbeys Way?
Melrose Abbey
Monumental, quite literally..
Alexander II and other Scottish kings and nobles are buried at the abbey.

St Mary's Abbey, Melrose is a partly ruined monastery of the Cistercian order in Melrose, Roxburghshire, in the Scottish Borders. It was founded in 1136 by Cistercian monks at the request of King David I of Scotland, and was the chief house of that order in the country until the Reformation.
The east end of the abbey was completed in 1146. Other buildings in the complex were added over the next 50 years. The abbey was built in the Gothic manner, and in the form of a St. John's Cross.

Melrose Abbey

An earlier monastery was founded by, then later dedicated to, Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne. This was shortly before his death in 651 at Old Melrose, then within the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria, on a site about 3 km east of Melrose Abbey.

In the 12th century, around Melrose, the Cistercians implemented new farming techniques and marketed Melrose wool throughout the great trading ports across northern Europe. A town slowly grew up around the abbey. During a time of famine four thousand starving people were fed by the monastery for three months.
The monastery had 100 monks, exclusive of the abbot and dignitaries.

Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey
Melrose was the first Cistercian abbey in Scotland. King David I wanted the new abbey to be built on the same site,
but the Cistercians insisted that the land was not good enough for farming and selected the current site.
It was said to have been built in ten years. Its first community came from Rievaulx Abbey (North York Moors).

Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey
So much detail, in different ways.

Melrose Abbey
The abbey is known for its many carved decorative details, including likenesses of saints, dragons, gargoyles and plants.


A lead container believed to hold the embalmed heart of Robert the Bruce was found in 1921 below the Chapter House
site; it was found again in a 1998 excavation. This was documented in records of his death. The rest of his body
is buried in Dunfermline Abbey.

Melrose Abbey
Some history in writing. And a Dutch connection.

A quick look around in Melrose. We looked for an appealing pub but did not spot one. So we left.

A sense of direction.



For the night we drove on to Jedburgh. We passed here on a previous trip and knew about the abbey.
For dinner we walked around, in search of a place, stopping at the abbey only briefly.
Jedburgh Abbey is a ruined Augustinian abbey which was founded in the 12th century.
Jedburgh Abbey

In 1118, prior to his ascension to the Scottish throne, Prince David established a foundation of canons regular of the order of St. Augustine at, what is now Jedburgh.
After the death of King David I of Scotland, the patronage and privileges of the abbey were accorded to his grandsons Malcolm IV of Scotland and William I of Scotland also known as William the Lion.

After the defeat of the Earl of Surrey in 1297 at Stirling at the hands of William Wallace, the abbey was pillaged and wrecked by the English as retribution.
Robert I of Scotland (The Bruce) continued to patronise the church during his reign in the early 14th century. In 1346, after the Scottish defeat at the Battle of Neville's Cross, the English once again slighted the church. Later that century, in 1370, David II of Scotland was instrumental in the completion of the north transept we can still see today.

The abbey faced more torture and destruction in 1410, 1416 and by the Earl of Warwick in 1464.
In 1523, the town and abbey were set ablaze by the Earl of Surrey.
The abbey faced more indignity in 1544 at the hands of the Earl of Hertford.
The end came for the great Abbey of St. Mary of Jedburgh in 1560 and the coming of the Scottish Reformation.


Jedburgh Abbey
Marvellous detail in the masonry.

Jedburgh Abbey

Jedburgh - Wordsworth visit in 1803

Towards the middle of the 9th century, when the area around Jedburgh was part of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria, there were two Gedworths (as Jedburgh was then known). One of them became the Jedburgh we know now, the other was four miles to the south.
It has to be mentioned that over the years, Jedburgh has been described by 83 different names or spellings!

Robert Burns (b.25Jan1759 – d.21Jul1796), also known as Rabbie Burns, the Bard of Ayrshire and
various other names and epithets, was a Scottish poet and lyricist. [Wikipedia]

This looks nice, but Jedburgh gave me a distinct impression of worn down, quite a few houses boarded up.
We had trouble finding a place for dinner, most places were booked solid for the saturday night. Quite a few of
these restaurants gave the impression of 'moved in with minimum of alteration'. We ended up in a curry place, cash only.


After a lovely breakfast at our B&B, Glenbank House, it was time to get a move on once more.
Scottish Borders

Soon after we left Jedburgh, heading south, we crossed the border into England again.
We stopped at the Scottish Viewpoint. This is a well known parking spot.
Two minutes before turning into this parking we witnessed the scene of a serious traffic accident: a motorcycle
going through the curve on this hill slammed against a car which was exiting backwards onto the road from where
it was parked (the other side of this parking I was on).
A large group stood around, looking devastated due to their mate's accident.
There are a lot of motorcycles touring in these parts. Traffic accidents seem to happen a lot around here.

Driving south, on impulse I decided to follow a sign for Hadrian's Wall, as I never looked at it up close.
But before we got there, we saw a sign for Aydon Castle and decided to visit it instead.
Aydon Castle

Aydon Castle

Aydon Castle, previously sometimes called Aydon Hall, is a fortified manor house at Aydon near to the town of Corbridge, Northumberland, England.
Documentary evidence shows that a timber hall first existed on this site.
The manor house was built by Robert de Reymes, a wealthy Suffolk merchant, starting in 1296. In 1305 he obtained a licence to crenellate his property and added battlements and curtain walls. It was captured by the Scots in 1315 and again in 1346.

In the middle of the 16th century it was renovated and in the middle of the 17th century it was converted into a farm.


Aydon Castle
The landscape provided lovely scenery and the visitor center lovely ice creams!

The building remained in use as a farm until 1966 but has since been restored to its medieval appearance.

Aydon Castle
There was not much decoration or artifacts inside the castle, but the explanations gave an idea of contempory living.

Aydon Castle
People were much smaller centuries ago, which is obvious here. Huge fireplaces, as they hated the cold as we do today.



And the next stop was Raby Castle. When I had changed my booking for an earlier sailing home, I had realized that this was a good opportunity to visit Raby Castle, never mind the detour, for this castle had eluded us on an earlier visit.
Raby Castle

Raby Castle is located near Staindrop in County Durham, England. It sits among 200 acres (810,000 m2) of deer park.
It was built by John Neville, 3rd Baron Neville de Raby, between approximately 1367 and 1390.
Cecily Neville, the mother of the Kings Edward IV and Richard III, was born here.

After Charles Neville, 6th Earl of Westmorland, led the failed Rising of the North in favour of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1569, Raby Castle was taken into royal custody.
Sir Henry Vane the Elder purchased Raby Castle in 1626 and neighbouring Barnard Castle from the


Raby Castle

Raby Castle

Raby Castle
The Duitch connection: On 17Mar1849, William the then Prince of Orange, succeeded to the throne of the Netherlands. He was at that moment a guest of the Duchess of Cleveland in Raby Castle! [Wikipedia]

Raby Castle

Raby Castle
The present family is responsible for the great collection of art in the castle.
In 2007/08 about 26.000 people visited the castle.

Raby Castle
The Earls of Darlington and Dukes of Cleveland added a Gothic-style entrance hall and octagonal drawing room,
seen on the above image on the left (photography prohibited, a steward on guard).
Extensive alterations were carried out in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Raby Castle
I hate it when they charge you a hefty sum to visit, but don't allow any photography. Quite behind in the times,
contrary to modern day transparency and sharing experiences through photography. I'll be the anarchist then!

Raby Castle

Raby Castle

Raby Castle

Raby Castle
Any household that has a good selection of books in the living room has my highest regards!

Raby Castle
As it once may have looked. These days it is very much restored and there is no moat; but perhaps this is
overlooking the 'low pond', a body of water in the grounds we did not visit.


We had a lovely stay at the Red Well Inn, in Barnard Castle. Room exquisitely decorated and a nice pub.

May well return here some day, as there is Barnard Castle and the ruin of Egglestone Abbey nearby.
And the Bowes museum... Yes, may well return here some day!

On our last day in the UK I wanted to have a look at 'The Angel of the North'; it was on our way to Newcastle anyway.
Angel of the North
A remarkable work of art, in my opinion.
It stands on a hill on the southern edge of Low Fell, overlooking the A1 and A167 roads into Tyneside,
and the East Coast Main Line rail route, south of the site of Team Colliery.

Angel of the North

The Angel of the North is a contemporary sculpture, designed by Sir Antony Gormley, located near Gateshead in Tyne and Wear, England.
Work began on the project in 1994 and cost £800,000. Most of the project funding was provided by the National Lottery. The Angel was finished on 16 February 1998.

Due to its exposed location, the sculpture was built to withstand winds of over 100 mph (160 km/h). Thus, foundations containing 600 tonnes of concrete anchor the sculpture to rock 70 feet (21 m) below. The sculpture was built at Hartlepool Steel Fabrications Ltd using COR-TEN weather-resistant steel. It was made in three parts-with the body weighing 100 tonnes and two wings weighing 50 tonnes each-then brought to its site by road. It took five hours for the body to be transported from its construction site in Hartlepool, up the A19 road to the site.

The Angel aroused some controversy in British newspapers, at first, including a 'Gateshead stop the statue-' campaign, while local councillor Martin Callanan was especially strong in his opposition.
However, it has since been considered to be a landmark for North East England and has been listed by one organisation as an 'Icon of England'.
It has often been used in film and television to represent Tyneside, as are other local landmarks such as the Tyne Bridge and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

Angel of the North
It has its feet firmly secured, deep into the ground, to withstand the windforces.
Completed in 1998, it is a steel sculpture, 20 metres tall, with wings measuring 54 metres across.
The wings do not stand straight sideways, but are angled 3.5 degrees forward; Gormley did this to
create "a sense of embrace".

We still had time before our sailing from of the docks of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and decided we could have a look in nearby Tynemouth. A spot of lunch with a refreshment would do. And wouldn't you believe it, they have a castle there!
Tynemouth castle & priory

Tynemouth Castle is located on a rocky headland (known as Pen Bal Crag), overlooking Tynemouth Pier.
The moated castle-towers, gatehouse and keep are combined with the ruins of the Benedictine priory where early kings of Northumbria were buried.
The coat of arms of the town of Tynemouth still includes three crowns commemorating the tradition that the Priory had been the burial place for three kings.

Tynemouth castle & priory

Little is known of the early history of the site. Some Roman stones have been found there, but there is no definite evidence that it was occupied by the Romans.
The Priory was founded early in the 7th century.
In 651 Oswin, King of Deira was murdered by the soldiers of King Oswiu of Bernicia, and subsequently his body was brought to Tynemouth for burial. He became St Oswin and his burial place became a shrine visited by pilgrims. He was the first of the three kings buried at Tynemouth.

In 792 Osred II, who had been king of Northumbria from 789 to 790 and then deposed, was murdered. He also was buried at Tynemouth Priory. Osred was the second of the three kings buried at Tynemouth.

The third king to be buried at Tynemouth was Malcolm III, King of Scotland, who was killed at the Battle of Alnwick in 1093.
This is the same Malcolm who appears in Shakespeare's Macbeth. [Wikipedia]

Tynemouth castle & priory

In 800 the Danes plundered Tynemouth Priory and afterwards the monks strengthened the fortifications sufficiently to prevent the Danes from succeeding when they attacked again in 832.
However, in 865 the church and monastery were destroyed by the Danes.
At the same time, the nuns of St. Hilda, who had come there for safety, were massacred...
The priory was again plundered by the Danes in 870. The priory was destroyed by the Danes in 875.
In 1110 a new church was completed on the site.

Tynemouth castle & priory

Tynemouth castle & priory

In 1093 Malcolm III of Scotland invaded England and was killed at Alnwick by Robert de Mowbray.
Malcolm's body was buried at Tynemouth Priory for a time, but it is believed that he was subsequently reburied in Dunfermline Abbey, in Scotland.
In 1095 Robert de Mowbray took refuge in Tynemouth Castle, after rebelling against William II.
William besieged the castle and captured it after two months. Mowbray escaped to Bamburgh Castle, but subsequently returned to Tynemouth. The castle was re-taken and Mowbray was dragged from there and imprisoned for life for treason... [Wikipedia]

Tynemouth castle & priory

One final lunch, and a good pint, before boarding DFDS Seaways, homeward bound.

I am a fan of Bill Bryson's books and in his 2015 'The Road to Little Dribbling' I came across many of my subjects of fascination but also the frustrations I encountered during this trip.
What I would like to quote is why I keep returning to Britain, for the simple reason there is so much to see and absorb...
Here's Mr Bryson "..say some numbers.
Britain has 450.000 listed buildings 20.000 scheduled ancient monuments, 26 World Heritage Sites, 1.624 registered parks and gardens (that is, gardens and parks of historic significance), 600.000 known archeological sites (and more being found every day; more being lost, too), 3.500 historic cemeteries, 70.000war memorials, 4.000 sites of special scientific interest, 18.500 medieval churches, and 2.500 museums containing 170 million objects."
Nobody says it better than Bill Bryson (including his acrid and caustic observations)!