Neolithic Sites
Roman Sites
Round Towers

Index by Name
Index by Date




Corra Castle
Clyde Falls
New Lanark Town
Eastsheidl Castle
Kittlehill Castle
Tinnis Castle
Castlehill Castle
Posso Castle
Horseburgh Castle
Roman site?


May 26

Lovely night's sleep and an enormous breakfast -- everything fresh from the farm , including homemade sausage. The eggs were the most violent yellow that I have ever seen. Scrambled eggs are usually pale yellow, or butter yellow…these were day-glo yellow through and through. I know it has something to do with what the chickens it, but it was definitely different today.

There 's a small castle and the Falls of Clyde nearby, just a short walk from the B&B, so we decided to walk down after breakfast and take a look. Fabulous morning - a little cool, but sunny, so we followed little placards to the Falls. This brought us through a really weird section of pathway between two fields called a "ha-ha path". It's sunken, stone-wall-lined pathway between the two fields, just about wide enough for two people to pass. I have no idea why it's sunken down, whether it was designed that way, or simply evolved into a sunken ditch as the fields rose around it. I imagine the latter, especially in light of the fact that the walls are reinforced with stacked stone to keep the path from being filled in. If so - the level of the ground around this common path has risen perhaps five or six feet? Was this originally level with the ground and lines with a stone WALL? I have no idea. In any case, we kept trying to figure out why "ha-ha" was the name.

The castle (Corra Castle) is a tiny thing, tucked into the side wall of the canyon and not really accessible to anyone. The doors are locked, and while you can sneak behind to get a look at the back side of the castle, the warnings are up that this is a bat habitat and it's a criminal offence to bother the bats! Without risking bothering the bats or falling into the river, we really couldn’t get a decent look, so we continued down the path to see the Falls of Clyde. It's a lovely glen with a couple of tiers of falls (cataracts) over the rocks. We didn't go all the way down to the bottom of the falls - which would have taken us on the long walking path all the way around the rest of the park. I just enjoyed the view and the relaxing sound of rushing water from the viewpoint.

An experiment in early Urban Planning

We hiked back to the B&B and packed up. We're going to visit New Lanark today -- several people told us that it was an absolutely phenomenal place to visit, so off we go. We're easily swayed by enthusiastic recommendations, can you tell?

New Lanark is a "planned village" based on the idea that housing, schooling, community for workers will increase productivity and make a society run better. It was designs as a utopian town, carefully laid out, carefully organized so the mills were properly manned and supplied, that everyone got health care (they paid a few pennies from their weekly paycheck for medical care), that all children were educated (in local schools). IT's a good idea, once you take into account the context that the founder of the town (xxx) set himself up as higher than everyone else, as the 'king' of this little enclave. Oh, he talked the talk of equality, but in the end, he was still making money and still making the rules. But it worked, for the most part, until the 1960s. The town has been restored as a sort of living museum (with the addition of a new visitors center and audio-visual thing). Some of the dormitories have been opened as a hotel, and the rest of the water mills and production floors are restored as they were when the town was built. It is fascinating and the town appears surprisingly modern. We met a couple who stayed her for a few nights an they highly recommended the hotel.

Note that there's a huge, steep hill to get down into New Lanark from the approved parking lot. It gives some impressive views over the town, but the walk can be daunting if you have any mobility issues.

Just bits and pieces today

We saw a ton of tiny castles today as we drove our way back up towards Edinburgh. We found East shields (ivy-covered in a barnyard), but couldn't find West shields, which should have been close by. We kept cris crossing the farm roads (which in this part of the country are set up in rectangular grids more often then not) and spied Kittlehill in the middle of a field, and Tinnis on the top of a rocky, bog-covered hillside.

Out on one road alone, we came upon Castlehill Castle -- a tiny square chunk of a much larger tower in the parking lot of a small terrace of houses. Only one wall remains, and the foundations of the rest of the tower. Further on, in another farm, was the scant single stubby wall of Posso Castle in the middle of a field - that one looks partially buried by grass.

One of the stranger things we kept seeing today were circular stone walls in the fields. They look for all the world like brochs or ring forts scattered in the farms, but we're not sure. It's possible that they are just convenient sheep-holding pens (and it would seem easier to build a circular paddock than a square one, for sheep anyway. We saw about four of them -- I say that they probably aren't Neolithic just because they weren't even mentioned on the map or in the guide books. A cluster of them like this would probably be worth noting, right?

We finally made it back to the FIRST castle we saw in Scotland, on our way to Traquair that first night - Horseburgh. We drove past so quickly that night, and never want back down that road. So we parked by the side of the road and jumped a fence and followed the abandoned road that looped around behind the field. Once again, the road is grown over and is obviously abandoned, but we can't figure out why - it would seem to be a useful stretch of road, and it's jut blocked off. As a matter of fact, it's easy to see where the field has started to engulf the road - the yellow lines on the pavement are two feet in under the grass -- we even kicked a bit of it away to see if the edge of the road was still there. Its' being eaten.

The castle is on a huge natural hill (at least I hope it's natural. Woah) and has crumbled away except for a few fingers of stone, but it's a spectacular setting and a rather cute castle. Mark says that there were a couple of hundred sheep in the field, but I honestly never saw them until we got back to the car -- they saw us coming and scattered to the edge of the field. He says he caused a small stampede by coming up the wrong side of the hill. I must be oblivious. There is another Horseburgh castle - West Horseburgh -- but we didn't see it anywhere it should have been, according to the map, and we figure it must be tucked back behind the hill or something. In either case, we needed supplies, so we drove into Peebles to the Tesco for cookies and diet pop and pens before driving to the B&B.

Back at Drochil B&B, actually. It looked like such a nice place when we were there yesterday looking t the castle, that we decided it would be nice place to stay. When I called back and tried to explain that we were the weird Americans who had knocked yesterday to look at the castle, the owner laughed.

Roman ringfort or neolithic broch or...?

On the way to the B&B, we saw what looks like the remains of an enormous ring fort in the hillside - a couple hundred yards across, three or four rings of ditches and hills surrounding a small mound in the center. I have no idea if it's Neolithic or a medieval motte or a roman fort or what, and I can't believe we missed it yesterday (when we drove on the same road!) The sun was just right to highlight the change in the landscape -- if we had come by earlier or in the morning, perhaps, it would have been effectively invisible. We even drove as close as we could to see if there was a way to climb up to se it -- although to be honest, it probably would also be effectively invisible if we were standing on it. There might have been a plaque or something, though. I'll have to do some research when we get home.

We popped into down for dinner and ended up at a local hotel in the bar and had a perfectly lovely meal. Well, a slightly weird meal, but also one of the spiciest we had the entire time we were in Scotland. First off, be wary when ordering "nachos". Based on the description, I expected tortilla chips and cheddar cheese. What I got was hot Doritos and some sort of white cheese. Tasty, but…well, not quite what I would call nachos. But the rest of dinner was lovely (I had chicken and sausage and Mark had a steak pie, both of which were peppery and spicy and quite good!). We were packed into the little bar with about forty other people. Nice!