Scotland, Day Two – Doune Castle! and Inverness

Sunday, May 26

We got on the road at a decent hour and headed north. We meandered along, saw the Kencardine in Menteith Parish Church of Scotland and decided on a pit stop.

Kencardine in Menteith Parish Church of Scotland

It was sunny with some clouds in the sky and it seemed like a good time to try my infrared filter again.

Kencardine in Menteith Parish Church of Scotland

Originally, we had planned to visit Stirling today and Doune Castle on our way back south to Edinburgh. We saw the road sign for Doune and decided to change our itinerary. Doune Castle is better known as Castle Anthrax, Swamp Castle, Castle Lombard and Camelot of Monty Python fame. More recently, it was known as Winterfell, for any Game of Thrones fans out there. (And I’ve just learned that it is also being used in cable television version of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.)

We timed it perfectly and were among the first people on the grounds.

Doune Castle

An infrared version,

Doune Castle Infrared

Terry Jones recorded the audio guide and mixed in filming tidbits in with the actual history of the castle. It was built c. 1400 by Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany and Earl of Menteith and Fife. Unusually, the castle was started and completed by Robert (rather than the normal path of evolving as others took possession and altered it to suit their tastes). After Robert’s death, the castle served as a summer residence and hunting lodge for the royals until James IV moved to London in 1603.

In 1745, government soldiers were imprisoned by the Jacobites after the battle of Falkirk. Six escaped by knotting bedsheets and lowering themselves down the walls above the kitchen. By 1800, the castle was a ruin. In 1883, Lord Moray had extensive restoration performed. In 1970 it was leased to the state.

We wandered through the castle for a couple of hours. It was great to get a behind the scenes view of one of my favorite movies. I learned that the kitchen served as Castle Anthrax:

Doune Castle Kitchen & Castle Anthrax

Bodiam Castle was used for the exterior of Swamp Castle (no singing!) but the interior scenes were shot here at Doune. Herbert’s chamber:

Doune Castle & Swamp Castle Herbert's Chamber

Princess Lucky dressed for her wedding here:

Doune Castle Swamp Castle Princess Lucky's Chamber

The wedding festivities were filmed in the courtyard:

Doune Castle & Swamp Castle Wedding Festivities

And one of the best parts of the whole movie, Arthur’s knights singing “Knights of the Round Table” was filmed here in the Great Hall. I still laugh every time I watch that part.

Great Hall, "We're Knights of the Round Table!"

We did learn some non-film factoids as well. For instance, as if personal sanitation wasn’t bad enough in the middle ages, since no one had gotten around to inventing toilet paper, they sometimes used strips of linen and broken shards of pottery(!). But the privies weren’t very refined (at least by modern standards) so I suppose bits of jagged crockery doesn’t seem that farfetched.

Doune Castle Privy

This was a private chapel in the Duke of Albany’s chambers:

Doune Castle Private Chapel

If I recall correctly from the audioguide, women were segregated during services and communicated with the priest through a hole in the wall. (I may be making this up. I can’t find a reference to it in my notes.)

Doune Castle Private Chapel Hole

Doune was my number one must see site in Scotland so as much as I dislike heights, I walked up the tiny spiral staircase trying to ignore the way the risers had shifted and eroded over the years.

Eroded and shifted stair risers

I made it to the top.

Atop Doune Castle

and at least got a nice view of the town for my trouble.

Doune Castle Rooftop View

And it was interesting to see how substantial and durable the slate (?) roof tiles were.

Doune Castle Roof Tiles

Since it was a special occasion (my elevation>sea level), Jim ran down, took my photo and then gallantly climbed back up to make sure I got down okay.

Doune Castle Kate

We finished our tour and made a stop at the gift shop for a souvenir,

Holy Ail Ale

Then drove north towards the Highlands. We took a break near Aberfeldy and saw a local farmer with his able assistants. (Our Henry won’t go anywhere near our ATV.)

Glenlyon Farmer Just before the Pass of Drumochter, we saw a sign welcoming us to the Highlands. The change in scenery was remarkable. Highlands  The Balsporran Cottage B&B looked like a peaceful, if remote, place to spend a few days.

Highlands House

We continued up the A9 to Inverness and checked into the Moyness Guest House. We took a stroll into town and had supper at a tapas restaurant called La Tortilla Asesina. It was noisy but I was happy to find a vegetarian paella on the menu. We finished up at McNab’s Bar and Bistro and did a little whisky tasting. (I can never remember if it is spelled whisky or whiskey in Scotland.)

We tried Glenmorangie Original which was very good. Jim tried Jura which I found only okay. The Lagavulin 16 year old Jim thought was ultra-smokey (peaty?). As soon as I tasted it I thought of Dad. He hasn’t smoked a pipe since I was young but I think that must have been the association. It’s interesting that that would have stuck in my memory all this time.

It was nearly 11 p.m. and still quite light out. Inverness is about 57 N latitude so the days were getting quite long at this time of year. And it was a Sunday night so hardly anyone was out on the street. It was a treat to sit on the bank of the River Ness and have a few drinks. This was one of my favorite parts of our whole trip.

Perfect End to a Perfect Day


5 thoughts on “Scotland, Day Two – Doune Castle! and Inverness

  1. Barbara

    I am amazed at the difference in infrared and regular pictures. The trees looked like they were blooming in the first one and it made the second one look quite gloomy and even more medieval. I loved seeing the picture of tiny you on top of the castle and bless Jim for taking your picture from the ground, then going all the way back to fetch you down!

    1. Kate Post author

      The IR filter is fun to work with. The downside is that I have to carry along a tripod since it requires really long exposures. We bought a small one in York and I think it’s worth the trouble – I’m pretty pleased with the church and the castle photos.

  2. Anonymous

    So nice to hear from you again, and almost exactly a year later than the day of the trip. I had to print the photo of you 95 feet up! Nice contrasts in the images – farmer with his helpers, and drinks by the river in Inverness. Thanks for sending.


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