Discussing our poor luck with castles over a home cooked full Scottish breakfast, Jan, our diminutive Irish landlady, at least I think she said her name was Jan, said, in her heavy Irish brogue, “Well you needn’t go far. We’ve our own just over in the village, don’t ye know.” I’m pretty sure that’s what she said. It was something like Closeburn.
We punched our best guess into Google maps and sure enough a pin appeared on the screen. What could go wrong? We cranked up our trusty Vauxhall and plotted a course to our very own castle. Basic rule of thumb should you find yourself driving in Scotland is when you do find yourself on a path that is too narrow to fit your car between the weeds you are lost and it’s time to consider extricating yourself. Well, that’s our newly revised rule. It started out fine.
I missed the first turn. I mean it was so improbable and narrow that I was sure it couldn’t lead to a castle. Marce said they hold events at this place. Not to worry, Google plotted a new workaround that completely circumnavigated the village. The closer we got to the pin the more narrow the road became, following the familiar pattern. (We have no photos of this.) Now we’re down to muddy narrow two track heading down towards a dip at a turn where, if I’m any judge, some other idiot became mired in mud.
I could see a fancy wrought iron gate just beyond. That’s got to be it. You see how this works? We judged the mud wrestling pool as passable and didn’t slow down until we found ourselves in somebody’s courtyard. I did take note as we passed that the gate was chained and padlocked. Closed. Waving politely we motored on through, eventually finding the narrow road that I missed in the first place.
We decided this afternoon’s adventure had to be a sure thing. Caerlaverock Castle, that’s the ticket. Famous, moated, triangular, medieval stronghold walls with a gorgeous renaissance palace within those walls. In short, a “please exit by the gift shop” kinda place. And we even heard rumors of overnight campervan parking! Worth the hour drive while the authorities make life difficult with regulations to buying the camper van.
Never ones to follow directions, first we entered via the gift shop which featured actual stone carvings from the castle.
As we made our way towards this amazing castle pleasantly nestled down in the valley below us, we noticed an uncomfortable amount of fencing around the structure.
We reached the drawbridge and were crestfallen to read the sad news. Closed. It seems the structure is unstable. We could walk the perimeter though.
At various points along the path Marce found the augmented reality plaques. She dutifully downloaded the app and watched every one of the animated characters who told what life was like in the castle.
You can visit the foundation of the original castle which had man made canals to the sea back when sea levels were much higher.
Nice idea, but apparently the castle flooded and the sea was destroying it. It had to be abandoned and rebuilt on higher ground.
So let’s see, I think that leaves our castle record at 0-4 attempts. We will press on regardless! We are Escape Velocity.