We said a reluctant farewell to Orkney on a dreicht morning. We boarded the ferry just before rainfall. Unlike our previous passage from Aberdeen to Kirkwall, a 6 hour journey, this crossing from Kirkwall to Scrabster on the northern-most tip of Scotland only took an hour and a half.
As I glanced over my photos and notes, I wondered how I would fit all of this day into a single post. I can't. As with other posts, I decided to take my time and savor each step along the way. I really want to show you Dunrobin Castle today, so grab a cup of your favorite beverage. You're going to enjoy this.
Shenanigans with Thorfinn the Mighty on the ferry. Just for grins.
The landscape we drove through was especially interesting to me as The Highlander's Viking Bride is set partly in Caithness. I truly soaked in the views, thinking through scenes, murmuring, 'Yes, that would be right' as I saw places where Katja traveled on her way to the coast. (I'm only guessing my fellow travelers didn't notice anything amiss.) Her journey would have taken her to Kirkwall, and that created part of the special feel of the tour. But to tell you the truth, Orkney holds a special place in my heart on its own merits. I definitely want to go back.
Here are a few views of Caithness:
On our trip south, we stopped at the Laidhay Crofting Museum where we had a lovely lunch, Thorfinn made a new friend (despite how things appear in the photo), and we got to wander through a croft as it would have been about 250 years ago.
We left the teahouse with our tummies full and ready to visit Dunrobin Castle. The photos I took can't do the castle justice. It's a beautiful place.
Dunrobin Castle is one of the oldest continually inhabited houses in Scotland. The oldest parts of the castle date back to 1320, built by William, 3rd Earl of Sutherland. A stone keep was added in 1401. This was originally a medieval fortress, though much of the defenses were hidden by construction in later years.
The fairy-tale, French style chateau we see today was begun in 1845. Sir Charles Barry, who designed the Houses of Parliament, was challenged to create a home of French elegance overlooking the North Sea. This ornate palace with its conical turrets was his answer.
Now, on to the gardens...
I'm very much a gardener at heart, and while the interior of the castle was awe-inspiring, I spent more time outside, lost in my thoughts as I wandered the gardens. It was easy to imagine a book in my hand, seeking a favorite hidden nook as a breeze from the North Sea dallied with my plaide, and waves crashed on the shore below.
In case you wondered, the pink flowers on the hillside are rhododendron.
Where would you find yourself spending the most time? In the lavish rooms of the castle? Or strolling the formal gardens?
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This is where I talk about things in my life outside of writing. Mostly gardening and dogs.
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