Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Many Faces of Dunnottar Castle

It was wintery March the first time I saw the enigmatic Dunnottar castle. 
The sleeting rain and heavy winds didn’t detract from my first castle experience. I was visiting my parents during Spring Break, and it was a world away from the beaches of Gulf Shores that I was used to frequenting during the week before Easter. 
No, this was a very different coast line, one that haunted me in a fabulous way. 
Despite being supremely photogenic, pictures don’t do an ounce of justice to this jewel of North Eastern Scotland. I’ve since been back to visit three times, and often get a glimpse of the castle ruins on my way to drop the dogs off at their boarding kennels. It never gets old. 
The only thing that gets tiring is trying to capture the mystery and drama of the cliff-side castle within a photograph. It just never seems to fully narrate the complete atmosphere. I’ve tried on four different occasions, during 3 different seasons. 

The first trip, I mentioned, was dreary and cold. My mom and I bundled up and hunkered down against the fierce winds to explore the granite ruins. 
My second trip was on a sunny September day, back to visit my parents, but this time with my new husband in tow. 
The clear skies, nonexistent wind, and warm temperatures led to a much more pleasant experience. The castle seemed completely different without the ominous skies and miserable Scottish weather as a backdrop. 
It went from being perfect scenery for a horror film to quite a nice spot for a picnic…or for a few Christmas card poses. 
When April arrived for her visit last September, we were blessed with another picture perfect day. 
I was happy that I got to share my first castle with my best friend and get to see her discover a piece of the magic about our borrowed country. 
When Jonathan mentioned taking a visiting coworker to tour some of the local sights, I knew we had to take him to Dunnottar. I prayed for decent weather, but instead we woke up to foggy and drizzling skies. Not ideal. But still, somehow, just right. 
With my camera (aka i-phone) in tow, I set out to photograph another face of Dunnottar castle. The ‘haar’ (word for Scottish fog) diminished visibility but also added a certain something to the mysterious air of the ruins. 
I excused myself from Jonathan and Rob to do a little exploring by myself. Since we were there early on a dreary morning, there were times when I had the eerie feeling that I was alone on the castle grounds. It reminded me of the setting of so many of my beloved historical novels. I half expected to walk through some time warp and wind up back in 16th century Scotland. Instead, I spent time gazing out onto the violent north sea, pondering the people who used to call this fortress home. 
No, it never gets old. Especially since the Scottish weather and plant life provides a constantly changing landscape. I have visited this landmark twice as a tourist, and twice as a local; both in ideal and dreadful conditions. I know that long after we have said goodbye to Scotland, this cliff top castle will still haunt us, in the very best of ways.  
What was your first or favorite castle? 

(P.S. I've been dealing with some harassing comments on the blog, so for the time being I've changed my settings to where I have to approve any comments before they can be published. So if your comments, don't show up right away, this is why. Hopefully, I'll get this little problem cleared up soon!)


  1. It never gets old. Still one of my favorite places on planet Earth!

  2. Neuschwanstein in Germany is the only true castle I've been to. It's gorgeous architecture and location but no one actually ever lived in it so it has a kitschy tourist vibe when you tour the inside. Enjoying the outside panorama is incredible! I would love to visit Scotland and see more castles.

  3. My first castle was Bothwell Castle. It is still one of my favorite. It is so perfect and old in so many ways. Derelict in parts and beautiful in others. It is one of our favorite picnic spots too! You can take a walk by the river when you're finished. It is quiet and seem to almost always have the place to ourselves.

    I'm moving to Aberdeen! We just found out today! I never thought we'd be going this far north. We'll be there in roughly 6 wks time. I'm nervous and excited! I hope we'll like it.

    1. Yay! I'm excited about your upcoming move and I hope you are too. I think you'll really like it here. There is a large expat community here that is super welcoming, and it includes lots of families with young kids which will be great for your little guy. Can't wait to welcome you to the 'Deen! Let me know if you have any questions!!!

  4. Dunnotar. So glad we were the ones to take you there first. Dad and I have visited Dunnotar soapy times I can't count them and as you said and captured so well in pictures it was different everytime. Love you and glad you love Dunnotar. Most all of your immediate fily has been there also

  5. I would trade Gulf Shores and Orange Beach for Scotland any day! Patricia