Scotland – Day 3 – April 18 2011
Today dawned another lovely day in Scotland, blue skies and crisp clean air. I started my day about 6:30 am with a walk thru some of the woods that surround our little holiday cottages. I walked across the golf course and thru a gate into a forest path that lead me up and and up and up, finally to a dirt road which I followed for a while. I could not see much because of the trees, but the ground was covered in these black slugs, from little tiny ones to the largest one I saw which had to be about 4 inches long. They gave me the creeps. On my way back down I meet up with Annski and we walked back together.
We left for Fort George in search of dolphins. The guest book in the cottage had entries that mentioned seeing them in the Morey Firth there. So off we went. Fort George is a working army base that was built out in the wilds of Scotland in the 1700, it was about as remote as you could get, still is pretty remote. It has been an army base, a prison, a hosptial and now again the base for famous Black Guard. The museum showed the evolution of the Queens Highland Brigade and Camaron's. Lots of kilts and it was finally nice to see what an actual dirk looks like.
Then we went to Elgin Cathedral, which is a ruin that was orginally built in the 13th centrury. That is the 1200's, for peets sake. In 1390 the cathedral was burned down by Alexander Stewart, otherwise known as the Wolf Of Badenoch, in a dispute about his being excommunicated, this does not sound like a way to get back into the good graces of the church to me, not sure if it worked or not. Since the cathedral was not a parish church after the reformation it was not treated very kindly. It was abandoned by its bishops and left to be cannabalised for its lead roof and bells. In 1637 the remaining roof blew off the choir and then in 1640 the parish minister broke up the rood screen for firewood. The central tower collapsed in 1711 and it was nearly the end for Elgin. In the 1820's pressure mounted to save the cathedral or what was left of it.
What is left is not much. A couple of towers and parts of other walls and the graveyard. You can see were the columns were and I as amazed at how big this place must have been. Surely someone must have been sad when it was left to rot.
Then we drove to Duffus Castle. The original building was started in the 900's!!! The original was also made of wood which weighs a lot less than stone, too bad that the builder of the next building there did not keep that in mind. The original was built on a earthern man made hill and when they put the stone on it after a few years it started to move. This was an upscale castle it had not one but two latrines, one of which is now on the bottom of the hill at an odd angle. I'm assuming these people moved on to somewhere else after their bathrooms ended up on the floor below them.
Then we went to Burgerhead (the smallest streets in the fucking universe) and Hopeland in search of dolphins, only to be told that they had left and were on their way to …. Fort George.
Oh well, sometimes Mother Nature just has a mind of her own. So we headed for a distillery,which was closed by the time we got there. Well, there are many more.
We headed for home and I don't know about you, but I have not seen a whole lot of pheasants in my life. Well, this ride down a country road filled my lifetime quota of pheasant watching. They were everywhere, the colorful male birds and the plain females. There was also a little sign that said “please drive slowly – baby pheasants about - I did not see any of them, but the adults were everywhere. In trees, on the road, in the fields. Picture the most pheasants you can and then multiply it by 10 and you have a picture of Pheasantville.
Then back to our little cottage for dinner and a few games of BannanaGrams where Chip kicked our asses.