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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Culzean Revisited

It's Monday the 8th of October, and I've arranged to meet my walking friend from Cumnock at Culzean Castle. Since we're both members of the National Trust, we'll take the guided tour of the castle. 
Culzean Castle with its associated country park in Ayrshire is regarded as the "jewel in the crown" of the heritage organisation, the National Trust for Scotland. "Culzean" is pronounced "Kull-ane", with the accent on the second syllable. The Kennedy family became established in the area in the 12th century.
It was not until the 18th century that the wealthy family, now known as the Earls of Cassillis, engaged Robert Adam to design a splendid castle. And to add to the wonders, a 565 acre parkland surrounding the castle was designed by Alexander Nasmyth and two pupils of Capability Brown. 

It's a glorious Autumn morning, although a bit chilly.........

.......................but perfect for photographs.

Over the water, the Isle of Arran looks mystical.
As in most National Trust Houses, photography isn't allowed.
The tour took around an hour, and was excellent.
In the first room which was the Armoury, we learned that this was the largest collection of muskets (apart from Windsor Castle) in the country. 
We learned that the top floor (now an exclusive hotel) was gifted as a thank you from the people of Scotland to General Eisenhower in 1945.
We saw beautifully detailed ceilings in the Blue Drawing Room and the Long Drawing Room. We saw a full size portrait of Napoleon in the central "Courtyard", which cost an arm and a leg !
N.B. We were told during the tour that the phrase "an arm and a leg" came from portrait painters, but This Page tells a different story.
We saw wonderful clifftop views from the Round Drawing Room. We were amazed with the kitchen.
I could go on, but I'll leave it to the reader to visit themselves. 

After the tour we had lunch outside on one of the many picnic tables around the ground.

This robin and chaffinch took an interest in our lunch.
After lunch we're heading through the grounds for a good walk.

Here's an interesting little dam, I wonder what it's purpose is ?

A wood carving by Marvin Elliot from the Isle of Arran

This bird was atop a very high tree, I had to zoom in quite a distance for these pictures.
Can someone identify it please ?

The Swan Pond was busy, with quite a few youngsters around today. One or two school parties were visiting.

Here we've reached the beach just north of the village of Maidens.

Ailsa Craig and a Royal Navy Rescue Helicopter.
We'll head north back to the castle.

My walking partner made a comment about horses on the beach. Right on cue they arrived.

Over the water there's a fishing boat off Arran. It's moving quite rapidly.

A long digital zoom in gets a wrinkly image of the Alba Na Mara.
It's a fisheries research vessel.

As I clicked on this Curlew, it decided to take off. I'm quite pleased it did.

There are caves galore along this stretch of coastline.

We were treated to numerous sightings of seabirds.

I'm not sure about the pipe, but the rivets in the metal panels indicate shipwrecks.
There were a few shipwrecks off Culzean, but I've a feeling that this is from the Airdrie, which was classified as an iron schooner. 

I should have had someone alongside this.
If it's giant hogweed, it's the tallest I've ever seen. It was a good ten feet high.

I got a few pictures of this Heron.

The castle comes into view. There's a noisy group below Dolphin House
We spoke to a young man sitting there when we arrived. He was enjoying the view after successfully achieving the required standard for one of the centre's awards.

A little further on and the view changes slightly.

A couple of devil's archways.

We'd done a lot of rock scrambling to get here. I think we were lucky with low tides. I've just spotted a picture with waves crashing onto this round building.

Now we're right under the castle, and the fascinating caves and passageways.

"The Firth of Clyde was a notorious centre for smuggling and the fortified caves beneath Culzean Castle were ideal for hiding contraband from the Revenue Officers. For centuries the Culzean Kennedys and others on the estate were either directly involved in smuggling, or turned a blind eye to it, in exchange for a share of the profits."
An interesting account of two friends exploring the caves can be found at Maybole.Org

They're not normally open to the public, but occasionally have tours for interested people. There are open ways in though. If it hadn't been so late in the day, we could have explored a little. Next time !
Culzean's a great place to visit. We had a very enjoyable day.


  1. the isle of arran looks like it came right out of fantasy novel. so epic!

    and that cave entrance looks like a huge hershey's kiss. cool!

  2. You wee bird is a pipit not certain whether it is a tree, meadow, or rock pipit, was it down by the shore ? Either way it's a pipit.

  3. Pipit - well there you go :) Not one in my bird vocabulary. I hadn't the foggiest.

    I wonder if the otter sculpture is new or I just missed it last year when I was there. What I certainly missed was walking down on the beach and seeing the caves - most impressive and the next time I'm there I certainly will be filling in this large omission.

  4. I am sorry to inform your other correspondants James but I am quite certain your picture is of a "mistle thrush" possibly slightly immature. Certainly not a pipit Paul.Superb photos taken on one of the best days this year for the clarity of the air.

  5. The history in your part of the world Jim is just boggling. Your post photos are pure delight. Why no photos allowed inside Trust Houses? With todays cameras being able to take excellent pics without a flash so as not to 'damage', is there a reason I am unaware of? Gosh you do good birds...
    Take care Mr Dean.

  6. Arran is quite a mystical island Aguilar. Of all the Scottish Islands close to the mainland, it's my favourite.

    I was of the same opinion as you Gordon in thinking this was a Mistle Thrush, but I'm not getting in to any argument. Looking at pictures and videos of both, I'm still not sure. The Tree pipit is more likely to be at the top of a tree apparently.

    Hi Rose, we have some history here in this former kingdom. The National Trust are a funny lot, I think the no photo rule is just to keep people handing over their money. If you could see it all on the internet, maybe you wouldn't bother. Have a nice weekend.

    The caves look brilliant for exploration Sandy, that'll be me next visit.

  7. I'd agree with the Mistle thrush.Culzean is a great place as it packs so much into one small area.Some lovely photos Jim.That helicopter gets around.Have you got a new zoom by any chance:)

  8. Cheers Bob, I guess it's the Mistle Thrush then.
    No new zoom though, it's the one on the camera which is excellent anyway

  9. wow! what photos! oh my gosh..that castle! the caves, the passageways, lucky you!!
    loved looking at them all.

  10. Thanks for visiting Annmarie,glad you enjoyed the pictures, have a nice weekend.


Thanks for all your comments. I may not get to reply to them all, but you may be sure they'll be appreciated.

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