A beautiful trail through Cambo Estate in Kingsbarns, Scotland in early March. Cambo Estate, just a few minutes’ drive from St Andrews, is famous in this eastern coast of the Kingdom of Fife for its national collection of snowdrop flowers. I took my children there on a rather dreary and chilly day but our walk was worth it for the view. This path leads onto a beach, which is part of the well-known Kingsbarns golf course.
Here on the east coast of Scotland, in the town of St Andrews in particular, we don’t get much snow at all. If it does snow, it is just a dusting that seems to melt instantaneously. I love snow and miss it very much, being from the Boston area in New England, USA. A couple weekends ago, I took my kids to a nearby mansion & 70 acre estate called Cambo Estate. It has a national collection of snow drop flowers. I was curious to see what the fuss was about. On this raw February day, we strolled down the wooded path and enjoyed these delicate beauties, snow or no snow. I’m not sure how this year’s blooms compared to other years but it was certainly beautiful.
This is the St Andrews Castle and Castle Sands on a tranquil late autumn day. The castle must have been pretty nice in its day but now is sadly badly ruined. There is a siege mine underneath that has a cool history.
The story is that in 1546, the cruel Cardinal David Beaton, whose residence was the castle, burnt the Protestant preacher George Wishart at the stake out in front of the castle. This very public execution was a spark to intensify the wars of the Reformation in Scotland.
The Protestant friends of Wishart (including several lairds of the area), snuck inside the castle dressed as masons since there was construction going on at the time there. The Cardinal was stabbed and his naked body hung from a high tower window facing the front of the street. These Protestants began to occupy the castle and then were attacked by supporters of the Cardinal, primarily the Regent, the Earl of Arran.
The famous Protestant preacher John Knox, who was primarily responsible for the Scottish Reformation, was smuggled into the castle to be the minister for the defenders. The besiegers could not breach the walls after a long struggle and so began to dig a tunnel under the gatehouse to get in from below. When that was discovered, the defenders began to dig a counter-mine to meet it. Both mines were cut through solid rock. The defenders tried three times to reach directly to the mine since they were guided only by the sound of the pickaxes. Finally the fight was joined as the tunnels met yet the defenders were able to keep the invaders out. It took a French force to bombard the castle with powerful canons for the castle to surrender. The defenders were either imprisoned in France or sent to the galleys, as John Knox was.
The tunnels were only rediscovered in 1879 and you can go there today, and as I did last year, to creep down the clammy, cramped tunnels and imagine the hard labour it took to carve them. The attackers’ side is smooth, decently large (for a hand carved tunnel) and the defenders’ side is very narrow and jagged. Rank moss grows inside the tunnel and there is a constant drip of water from the walls. Not for those who are claustrophobic! You can see in the paving stones in front of the castle the initials of George Wishart made of cobble stones.
On my recent trip to the Scottish Highlands, I took this shot of the Glencoe area. The tops of the mountains were hidden in mist and there was a chilly drizzle, as you may expect. The stream was as clear as glass. The glens and hills of the Highlands are mysterious and awe-inspiring. Will definitely visit the area again.
The view from the walls of Stirling Castle, Stirling, Scotland, overlooking the plains. On a grey dreary day, the sudden rays of sun cutting through the clouds bring a sudden feeling of lightness. Continue reading “View from Stirling Castle”