Saturday, August 22, 2015

Dunnottar Castle (Another Castle Adventure)

Dunnottar Castle, sits on top of a hill at Stonehaven, Scotland, UK.
It was Sunday and the weather was looking good.  There were only clouds and rain in the previous days but the sun was generous that day, giving away all its rays, perfect for an adventure.  As suggested by Dr. Allison, our teacher and examiner, I should go to Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven, located south of Aberdeen.  I just simply told her in our earlier conversation that before I came to Scotland, I was bragging back home that I would visit castles.  I don’t have an inkling how to get to that location but I was very determined.  Luckily, there is a tourist information center in the heart of Union Street (Aberdeen’s main street) and there I got all the information I needed.

Rocky road towards the beach.
The bus station was located in Union Square and the ticket price was around 8 British Pounds (585 Philippine pesos).  It was a double-decker bus, awesome!  The country side scenery was marvelous, the sea and meadows all together forming a perfect harmony.  Tranquility at its best.  After 35 minutes, we arrived at the bus stop and it would take another 15 minute walk towards Dunnottar Castle. Fortunately, with my superb English speaking skills (wink), I was able to ask for directions and mingled with the other tourists towards the castle.  There was a group of youngsters (like myself) who were in the bus with me, so I tagged along with them.

One thing about traveling is that you meet a lot of different nationalities with different English accent.  I retained my Filipino English accent, so that they will know that I come from the Philippines.  The Croatians, Romanians, Lithuanians and other non-English speaking individuals maintain their accent while speaking English.  It makes them who they are.  That being said, we should never laugh or make fun of other Kababayans (Filipinos) who speak English in Filipino accent.  Our identity is more important.  Just what my cousin (who is a former seaman, now a law student) said, what is vital is that you get the message across.

Going back to my journey, there were vast grasslands on each side of the road.  After walking for about 7 minutes, we had to make a right turn to walk to the direction of the beach.  This time it was rocky, I was glad I wore rubber shoes.  I saw many different kinds of people there (white, brown and yellow), the atmosphere was not so cold and it was a good day to be exposed to sunlight.  The temperature was 14 degrees Celsius.  Before reaching the castle, we had to go down the hill and climb up again another hill.  There was an entrance fee, 6 British Pounds (439 Philippine Pesos) for adults.  The trek was quite an exercise, I was catching my breath upon reaching the top, inhaling the cool sea breeze.

Dunnottar Castle sits on top on a hill by the beach.  It is a ruined fortress which for sometime in the past, housed and protected the Scottish crown jewels from its enemies.  Eventually, they had to transfer the crown jewels to a safer location.  They brought down the jewels on the far side of the castle by the cliff and was hidden inside a basket full of weeds.  The enemy never took possession of the jewels.

Whig's Vault

Worth mentioning is the Whig’s vault.  This huge prison, back in 1685, contained 167 men and women who were tortured and starved because they did not recognize the king as the head of the church.  This happened during the Reformation, when the Church of England separated itself from the Catholic Church.

My friend, Johnny who lives in Torphins, west of Aberdeen, described Dunnottar Castle ruins as the holiday home of Dracula, hehehe.  I think every old castle has its share of horror stories and this castle is not an exemption.  Some visitors claimed to have seen a woman wearing a green dress roaming around looking for her lost children.  I’m just glad I reached the castle around 1 pm, at least there were still a lot of people there and there was still sun.  Who knows how many souls are staying there.  God, give them rest. The latest movie done there was Frakenstein, starring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter).
Click me to read more ghost stories!

One should be careful not to go on the edge of the hill because it’s a very long way down with sturdy rocks at the bottom.

After seeing all rooms and all the corners, I then went down to the beach to take some more pictures, it was lovely.  Then I climbed again another hill to take a good view of the castle ruins.  Such magnificent view.  I thanked God for creating such wonders.  A Chinese family asked me to take their picture, and in return, they took my picture, perfect!

After I had my fill of the scenery, I decided to head back to Aberdeen.  I tried to go to the town in Stonehaven but I was all alone this time, no one to guide me.  So, I just decided to go back to the bus stop and wait.  I waited for one hour in the bus station, I was getting a little scared that the bus will not come.  I am practically in the middle of nowhere in a foreign land (waaahhhh).  My friend, Johnny, said I’ve got some balls for going their alone, hahaha.  The bus finally came and on schedule.  I was relieved.

Thank you, Chinese family.  :) 

When I reached Aberdeen, I was really hungry because of all the walking I’ve done, I immediately searched for a restaurant that serves rice.  On the far end of the street, my eye caught the sign – KFC, yum!

Waiting for the bus in the middle of nowhere.  Alone and hungry.

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