Well, I now have the song The Bonnie Banks O’ Loch Lomond streaming constantly in my head. Can’t shake it. “You tyke the high road, and I’ll tyke the low road…” I like the version by Peter Hollens.
We rented a Mercedes C220 and left Edinburgh this morning. Quite a traffic snarl, and difficult because of the novelty of driving on the left side of the road. It was overcast most of the day. We crossed over the Forth Bridge, which was spooky, its higher arches disappearing into the cloud. The rental car was weird, diesel-powered, but turning off at every intersection, which was a bit unnerving at first.
Our first stop was Glamis Castle. Huge place. This is the native home for some of Pat’s distant ancestors, the Lyon family. He shares the first Lord of Glamis, Sir John Lyon, with Queen Elizabeth as a direct ancestor, and Sir John can be traced directly back to Robert the Bruce. The castle has been through 19 earls over the centuries.
The castle tour was awesome. (Couldn’t take photos of the interior.) Since this was where the Queen Mother came from, Queen Elizabeth and her sister Margaret spent a lot of time there as youngsters visiting their grandparents. There were many artifacts from those days, like the little chairs they used by the fireplace as young girls. There was a “7-day” chest, which had drawers stacked vertically. You put Monday’s clothing in the bottom, and so forth on up to the top drawer, which was your Sunday best. Hence the term “top drawer” to describe something excellent.
We also learned why we, even in America, to this day, stack our beds with a variety of decorative pillows. These days it’s kind of an indicator of opulence or wealth, but originally it was because people long ago used to think that if you slept flat on your back and snored or had your mouth open, the devil could enter and steal your soul. So everyone “sat” rather than lay down in bed, propped up on a mountain of pillows. It also explains why most medieval and renaissance beds weren’t what we’d call full-length.
The castle has two alleged ghosts — one was supposedly a young man bricked into a window bay as punishment because he wouldn’t stop gambling at cards on the Sabbath, and one was “the Lady in Grey,” the ghost of family member Janet Douglas, who had been burned at the stake for witchcraft (trumped up charges) and now hangs out in the castle chapel always dressed in gray. The castle is still owned by the Bowes-Lyon family.
Next stop was Dunnottar Castle, a medieval ruin near Stonehaven, a really dramatic and romantic fortress built on a rocky headland above the North Sea. What a spectacular view. It’s a place with a lot of history, including belonging to the English at one point and being besieged and burned by William Wallace. We didn’t have time to hike all the way down the cliffs and back up the headland to see the ruin up close, but we got some great shots from onshore.
We then drove westward, closing in on the Highlands and Douneside House, our hotel for the night. Ate a delicious dinner there.