Today we drive to the northeast coast of Scotland. Our first stop on this damp and chilly day was Dunnottar Castle. The dramatic and evocative ruined cliff top fortress was the home of the Earls Marischal, once one of the most powerful families in Scotland.
William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II have graced the castle with their presence. Most famously though, it was at Dunnottar Castle that a small garrison held out against the might of Cromwell’s army for eight months and saved the Scottish Crown Jewels from destruction.
Terrified by the progress of Wallace’s troops, as many as 4,000 English soldiers holed themselves within the stone chapel inside Dunnottar Castle – naively believing that hiding out in a church would spare them from death. They were, unfortunately, to meet a grisly end. Wallace’s army ransacked the castle and torched the church, burning those within. Some, of course, managed to flee – but their only choice was to leap off the steep cliffs into the thrashing sea.
And it is the views of the cliffs and the North Sea that are almost more awe inspiring than the castle itself. On this damp and misty day one can almost feel the history and conjure up the ghosts of centuries past.
From Donnottar we drove on to Stonehaven and the beach, where we had “the best fish and chips in Scotland.” The Bay, a tiny little beachfront restaurant was recommended to us and didn’t disappoint.
We finished the day with a stop in the village of Banchory, then home to Kincardine for a good nights sleep.
*Dunnottar historical information courtesy of exploring-castles.com and the BBC