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'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 ?
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.