Aberdeenshire and the Northeast

Aberdeen, Elgin, Fraserburgh, Stonehaven, Moray, the Cairngorms

Aberdeen Harbour Control tower from the Orkney ferry MV Hrossey

Oil rig support ship in Aberdeen harbour

From the MV Hrossey pulling into dock at Aberdeen

City of Aberdeen from the harbour

The stills at Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown, Speyside.

Glenfiddich is one of the most beautiful and well-kept industrial sites I've ever seen.

The village of Keith

The ruins of Elgin Cathedral, which dates back to the thirteenth century. It was burned by the "Wolf of Badenoch" (remember him?) in the fourteenth century, rebuilt, and used until Henry VIII took it from the Church in 1567. The deterioration of the Cathedral began when the lead roofing was stripped away. In 1711 the central tower collapsed, taking most of the structure with it. What remains is still beautiful, a mere hint of what once was.  

St. Giles Church and square, Elgin

Kirriemuir - home of J.S. Barrie
The statue is Barrie's best known creation, Peter Pan

MacDuff Aquarium is located on the coast at Moray Firth, leading to the North Sea,
and specializes in fish from that area. 

Sea Anemones

A Cod

Hake - a sort of flatfish

A baby skate

he giant Fresnel lens weighs a ton or more, but the turntable is so finely balanced you can turn it with one finger.

Fraserburgh Lighthouse was built into the ruins of an old castle in 1787.
It's now the centerpiece of the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses

The view from the Lighthouse

The village of Penan - the film Local Hero was filmed here.

Balmoral Castle, built by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as their private retreat in the Highlands. It remains a Royal Residence, but parts are accessible to the public when the Royals are not there.

Shore near Penan

Slain's Castle, at right, was a surprise find - there's no sign, just a parking lot and a worn trail leading to the ruins of the castle. Sitting on spectacular bluffs overlooking the North Sea, Slain's Castle is where Bram Stoker was inspired to write Dracula.  

The Earl of Erroll set up an artists' and writers' colony in the castle, spending his fortune in the process, so that the castle had to be sold. 

The new owners let it fall into disrepair, and in the 1920's the roof and floors were stripped out, leaving only the ruin we see today. 

Cliffs near Slain's Castle

Glen Shee

Sheep in Glen Shee

British sports cars at the Grampian Transport Museum in Alford.

The museum had a very expansive view of "Transport" - although I suppose the Doctor does use his TARDIS for transport through time and space...

Woodston Fishing Station, a B&B in St. Cyrus, south of Aberdeen.
Our room was in a garret overlooking the sea, complete with
brass telescope in the window. It was straight out of the "Ghost & Mrs. Muir" - I kept waiting for the ghost to walk through the wall.

This is St. Cyrus Beach, now a nature preserve. It was used for many years for netting salmon to be iced and sent to London by train - our B&B was originally a fishing station with underground icehouse. The big rock in this picture supports what little remains of the castle in which the Cannibal Laird of St. Cyrus spent his years of exile. It seems that the Laird had an argument with the local Sherriff, about which he complained to the King, who told him that for all he cared, the Laird could make soup of the Sherriff -which the Laird did. Unfortunately, the King didn't remember his suggestion (moral: always get it in writing), and the Laird had to go into exile in the castle on the rock. 

Templars' Park Scout Camp in Maryculter, Aberdeenshire 
The White House is a former manse (clergyman's house) dating back to the sixteenth century.

The Great Hall in the White House

There were lots of rabbits at Templars Park enjoying their dinner in the fine evening weather

This bunny seems particularly satisfied. 

Duffus Castle is north of Elgin, near Lossiemouth on the Moray Firth. How could we pass up a castle named "duffus"? In any case, it's a good example of a "motte and bailey" castle - an enclosure built on a steep man-made hill, surrounded by a wall. Unfortunately, while the hill was sufficient for the original wooden castle, it wouldn't support the stone replacement, and subsided, bringing down the castle walls.

Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven

On our 2014 visit, the fog rolled in as we drove through rural Aberdeenshire, and by the time we reached Dunnottar it was real pea soup. The castle was completely invisible as we walked down the path from the car park. Just as the path began to descend into the vale below the castle, Dunnottar appeared, looming spookily out of the fog - incredibly atmospheric.

The Whig's Vault, below the Marischal's Suite. In 1685, 167 Covenanters who refused to sign an oath of fealty to the new King James VII/II were imprisoned here for several months with little food, water or sanitation. Some capitulated, some died - and the remaining 120 were eventually transported to the West Indies. 

The Earl Marischal's Chamber in the East Range. The small room to the left of the fireplace is the garderobe (latrine), with a hole in the seat discharging directly onto the sea-washed rocks below. All the modern conveniences, 15th century style

The Drawing Room, renovated in the 20th century. 

Vaults containing the Bakery and Brewery

Yes, that's a fireplace. It's in the Marischal's Suite - the arms are those of William, 7th Earl Marischal and his wife, Countess Elizabeth Seton, dated 1645.

Staircase in the Keep

View from the tower

The Smithy

A baby gull, still with its down. What perfect camouflage!
I didn't notice the chick until I'd nearly stumbled over it. 

It's a long walk out to Dunnottar, down into a valley and back up to the Castle gate. Certainly makes you appreciate what it might have been like for an attacking force. 

The Quadrangle forms the inner ward of the castle.

Stonehaven Highland Games

Here, a participant tries the Long Jump. 

Throwing a 28-pound weight for distance. Incredibly, there's also a 56-pound weight throw.

Highland dancing is one of the most popular events. The competitors can be as young as four years old...

...boys and girls.

Hammer Throw for distance.

The Caber Toss involves throwing a pole or log which is typically about 20 feet long and weighs about 180 pounds. Distance doesn't matter - the competitors must throw the caber such that it rotates end-for-end and comes to rest pointing as closely as possible to directly away from the thrower.  

Throwing a 26 pound weight over a bar 16 feet up takes lots of strength and coordination. This competitor just missed on this attempt, but he did make sixteen feet on his next try. Incredible!

Everyone gets to compete - all you have to do is buy an admission, and dress appropriately for Highland events. Even the local kids competed in some of the track and field events. 

I never realized tug of war could be so exciting, when towns
competed for the cup. They'd just stay very still for minutes on
end, and then suddenly one side would pull... 

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