Sunday, 6 August 2017

Tantallon Castle and Dirleton Castle and Gardens

It's been a weekend for castles!

Missy loves looking out of windows
The hubby decided he wanted to see a real 'proper' castle and, thanks to our Historic Scotland passes, I found Tantallon. It had a (dry) moat, check, had seen actual battles, check, held a defensive position, check, and wasn't originally built as a palace, check. And as a bonus, there was another castle and gardens (Dirleton) just around the corner to justify the hour drive to get out to North Berwick.

Tantallon Castle
Tantallon is an imposing castle. It grips onto the edge of the cliff like a broken gargoyle, its ruined state mostly due to Cromwells efforts to invade Scotland and the fact that a Royalist band had set up in Tantallon and were disrupting his communication lines. It was mostly held by the notorious Douglas' and its ownership history makes interesting reading. It was refreshingly free of references to Mary Queen of Scots, which makes a nice change!

Bass Rock visible to the left
This was a great site for Missy. There was a quarter mile walk from the car park where we let her off the lead, and the grounds itself is obviously home to fleets of bunnies and voles - her nose didn't stop twitching for the whole visit. There was a multitude of narrow winging stairs, and the other dog owners complimented Missy's mastery of them - I was bemused to meet a German Shepherd that apparently couldn't manage them at all, I had always assumed the smaller breeds would have struggled more!

The winding stairs are worth it. The views from atop the castle are stunning. Bass Rock (home to millions of gannets) can be easily seen out at sea and Berwick Law dominates the inland landscape. I could have spent longer getting pictures, but after stopping for lunch, we decided to move onto Dirleton before the weather turned.

Direlton Castle and Grounds is exactly the kind of castle the hubby had been meaning when he said we hadn't done a proper castle. Built in peaceful times in the 1200s, it was to a show of wealth. Saying that, it has seen its fair share of battle, surviving two wars of independence before Cromwell came along and finished the job, leaving it a ruin. Like most castles, it has been added to over time and is a rabbit warren or old and new parts (or slightly less old, really).

The huge dovecot
 It does have a drawbridge though and perhaps one of the most beautiful dovecots I've ever seen that would have housed 2000 birds in its day. The grounds are beautifully kept as well and Missy was incredibly perplexed at the bowling match we saw taking place. I tried explaining to her that the balls were not bunnies, but I don't think she quite believed me and just stood completely on point and alert.


Whilst the stairs are not quite as tight or winding as Tantallon, they are quite uneven and had become rather slippery in the light drizzle. As a result, we decided to let Missy off the lead on the stairs, one of us going ahead to catch her at the other end and clip her back on. The steps leading to the pit (or dungeon) were particularly uneven and the only one she struggled on, but I suspect that was intended in the original design of them!


All in all a great day. We called it quits at just the right time as the drive home was in torrential rain and now we're all enjoying some nice hot tea whilst Missy is snoring away on the sofa beside me.

It has made me want to do some more of North Berwick, I did a boat ride out to Bass Rock when I was a kid and fancy doing it again, and Yellowcraigs, the local beach, is perhaps one of the nicest in Edinburgh. If the summer decides to get its act in gear and be nice for more than a morning, we might manage another day trip!

Until next time!

1 comment:

  1. This post made me strangely homesick...

    Glad you had a good time and saw some 'proper' castles! And bowls can be very confusing, Felix still struggles to see the point of it all, and the complete lack of jumping up and cheering when one hits another...