Monday, August 26, 2013

My First Scottish Adventure: Castles and Creatures

Read last week's Scottish Adventure post: Grantown-on-Spey
Whenever that silly question about what type of dwelling you would choose to live in, I more often than not choose castle. Not to say I wouldn't enjoy a nice stone mansion, or a cabin in the mountains, but there's something so magical to me about castles. It could be their longevity or fascinating stories about the grounds and those who lived there centuries before.

Absolutely my favorite part about visiting Scotland, other than the amazing landscape, were the castles. Looming over smaller dwellings on beautiful grounds - some in ruins, others impeccable in their upkeep.

Ballindalloch Castle, Banfshire
Ballindalloch, know as the Pearl of the North, is very much a fairytale castle or so I thought the first time I saw it and I still believe that. Pristine inside and out though unfortunately one isn't allowed to take pictures inside, take my word for it, it was a grand tour.

Ballindalloch gardens - so well maintained.
Gardener's cottage at Ballindalloch - I wanted to move right in.
My other favorite castle was Cawdor Castle. A medieval and hauntingly romantic castle, Cawdor in Nairn also has beautiful gardens and big woods with trees from different parts of the world. I even swiped a bit of soil from the grounds so I could take a piece of Scotland home with me.

I had wanted very much to drive down and visit Balmoral Castle, but alas I was at the end of my trip and didn't see the need to spend so much more money on petrol. Perhaps I'll see it next trip and have a pony ride while I'm at it. Below is a lovely photo of it from the BBC website - spectacular isn't it.

Photo Credit: BBC website

Highland Creatures
Driving along a narrow country road in the highlands can be a challenge, especially when you see a giant lorry coming towards you from the opposite direction and you're suddenly grateful the rental agency only had a tiny auto for hire. Meandering along the quiet country roads also has it's high points - pulling over whenever something strikes your fancy. I had a few moments when I pulled over the the side just because I wanted to say hello to the animal kingdom.

My first such stop was to enjoy the sight of Highland ponies. The moment I pulled to the shoulder, they walked briskly over. After a bit of petting and cooing I snapped a rather interesting picture of these beauties (unavailable for the blog at this time). They all seemed to enjoy a bit of attention.

Highland Pony walking towards me - photo by MK
My next fascination were the highland cows or wooley moo as the innkeeper informed me. These guys preferred to eat rather than venture over so I wasn't able to personally get a head shot, but cute aren't they.  

Highland Cow/Wooley Moo - Photo by MK
What would happen if a bison bred with a cow - photo by MK
One thing I did notice were the number of fowl species, especially ground-dwelling that live in the highlands. I even enjoyed some when the inn chef roasted a few. Difficult to spot, and I admit I wasn't willing to wait around to snap a photo, and a few times my camera battery died. One visitor center even had a signs with the different species telling drivers to be careful while driving. The next few photos were of species I did see, but didn't get any photos, so I graciously borrowed and made note of the site or photographer. 

Red Grouse - Photo Credit:
Common Snipe - Photo Credit: (he has some great photos)
Pheasant - Photo Credit: (pheasant hunting)

If you'd like to see an abundance of creatures, head over to Inverness-shire to visit the Highland Wildlife Park - I personally don't like zoos or anything that keeps an animal in a cage, but there are some preserves and habitats that do good work to preserve species.  

Photo Credit: Highland Wildlife Park


  1. Replies
    1. I enjoyed experiencing it! Can't wait to go back!

  2. Oh how sweet! I actually lived in the Gardener's Cottage at Ballindalloch Castle for much of my childhood but haven't been back for many years. How lovely to randomly come across a picture of it online. It was such a lovely little house. :)

    1. You lived there? It looked to be a most lovely place to live. I hope you get back there someday. I know I can't wait to visit again. Thanks for visiting. :)