Invergarry Castle-An Atmospheric Ruin

I am so glad it’s finally fall. My favorite season! Although we are still in the throes of what has been a long, hot, dry summer here in Virginia, there is promise on the horizon. There is a perceptible change in the light as the days begin to shorten. Mornings are cooler, and the trees are beginning to show a little color. I have to remind myself that it won’t be long before the heat finally yields, giving way to those beautiful, crisp, sweater-wearing days of autumn.

Anyway, I have been on a short two-week break from blogging, but today I am back and excited to share with you a very cool castle ruin.

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Old Packhorse Bridge in the Scottish Highlands

It’s Friday again! I can’t believe it. I also can’t believe it’s nearly September. And fall. Bring it on. Anyway, hope ya’ll have had a nice week. Oops-sorry, my Oklahoma roots just popped out for a sec. Well, better that than my gray roots, I suppose. 🙂

Today I want to show you Old Packhorse Bridge. This pretty bridge is located in the village of Carrbridge, just off of the A938 in the Cairngorms National Park.

The hump shaped Old Packhorse Bridge over the River Dulnain.

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Mandarin Ducks in Scotland? Why Yes There Are!

The last thing one would expect to see in Scotland (outside of a zoo) are Mandarin ducks. But Mandarin ducks we did see!

A couple of months ago, we were walking through Milton Woods (near Farr), along the grassy bank above the River Nairn, when Mr. C spotted some unusual waterfowl swimming below. Not sure what type of birds they were, he attempted to snap some photos. Unfortunately, they caught sight of him and were frightened and flew away. This photo was the best one he got.

It wasn’t until a bit later when I was looking through our photos that I realized what we had seen. How fantastic! Mandarin ducks! In Scotland!

According to BBC Scotland, the birds were introduced to the UK from the Far East in the mid-eighteenth century. Over time, some have managed to escape captivity and have bred and established colonies. There are over 7,000 of these native East Asian species in Britain. Very few have made it all the way to Scotland, which makes what we saw even more special.

Mandarin ducks. In Scotland. Who knew?

Two male Mandarin ducks and one female Mandarin duck swimming in a river.
Two male Mandarin ducks swimming in a river.

A Silent Eloquence-“The Bluebell” by Anne Bronte

One of my heart’s desires on our recent trip to Scotland was to find a bluebell wood. I worried that we might have been too late, but was absolutely delighted to see them still in bloom. These photos were taken in a wood next to Boleskine Burial Ground on Loch Ness.

It’s the little things.

A field of bluebells in Scotland.

A fine and subtle spirit dwells
In every little flower,
Each one its own sweet feeling breathes
With more or less of power.
There is a silent eloquence
In every wild bluebell,
That fills my softened heart with bliss
That words could never tell.

∼from “The Bluebell” by Anne Bronte

A field of bluebells in Scotland.

Finlarig Castle-An Intriguing Ruin near Loch Tay

At the western end of Loch Tay, roughly a half-mile northeast of the village of Killin, Scotland, lies the precarious, overgrown, atmospheric, and seriously cool ruins of Finlarig Castle.

Finlarig Castle ruins.

It is unlikely that you will find this one in your guide books, as Finlarig sits on private property. However, it’s worth a stop if you happen to be in that neck of the woods. If you are a serious castle seeker, then I think Finlarig is worth going out of your way to see.

Parking is available across from the cemetery, about a minute’s walk to the castle. When Mr. C and I were there a few years ago, we were approached by a local who requested we move our car to the lot rather than park directly at the site. I don’t think we were hurting anything, but alas, it is private property, so it’s best to respect the property owner’s wishes.

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Laggan Free Church-A Ruin in Scotland’s Cairngorms

Like The White Bridge that I wrote about last week, today’s post features another amazing, serendipitous find.  Scotland certainly does seem to be full of those.

One afternoon a few weeks ago, Mr. C and I were driving through the southwest portion of the Cairngorms National Park near the village of Laggan. 

A stormy sky over a green field and a tree stump.
A stormy sky moving in over the Scottish Highlands.

We had just turned onto General Wade’s Military Road from the A86 when we spotted the fantastic ruins of a church to our left.  Naturally, we pulled over to check it out.

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The White Bridge and General Wade’s Military Road

I never thought I’d be the type to geek out over a bridge. Or old military transit roads. Good gracious. Who AM I?! Someone, please send help.

While heading southwest one morning on the B862, Mr. C and I came upon this interesting bridge over the River Fechlin in the tiny community of Whitebridge, Scotland.

The White Bridge over the River Fechlin in Scotland.

Intrigued, we parked our car and, with cameras in hand, crossed the road to get a better look.

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Farr Farr Away-Two Weeks in Farr, Scotland

Well, friends, another Scottish adventure has come to a close. I’m home.

It’s 4:45 in the morning as I begin to write this. My body, however, thinks it’s 9:45 and that Mr. C and I should be loading up the car for a day of exploration. With our tummy’s full of Scottish bacon, eggs, and coffee, we would have been all fueled up for a long day of hikes, history, and miles upon miles of some of the most breathtaking scenery on God’s earth.

Scottish Highlands.

Being home is bittersweet. I missed my dogs terribly and there is something to be said for getting back into the “regular” routine of things, I guess. But oh how my heart hurt when those airplane wheels began to roll.

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Croft Moraig Stone Circle-A Prehistoric Mystery

Greetings to you this beautiful day. Today I would like to take you guys into the beautiful Scottish Highlands to Croft Moraig Stone Circle. Our destination is located about four miles southwest of Aberfeldy, right off of A827. It occupies a portion of a farmer’s field, so you may want to grab your wellies just in case it’s muddy. Ready? Great, then let’s be off!

Don’t fret that the site sits on private property. Scotland’s laws allow individuals “freedom to roam.” Just be respectful and be sure to close the farmer’s gate.

A woman wearing yellow rain boots.

Most people probably think of Stonehenge when they think of a stone circle. It is one of Britain’s most iconic sites – and of course, the location of one of the Griswold Family’s hilarious misadventures.

A silver and yellow car parked in front of Stonehenge.

If you are a fan of the “Outlander” series, then you might imagine Craigh na Dun, the fictional standing stones that transported Claire from the Scottish Highlands in 1946 to the year 1743…and ultimately led her to the man who would become the great love of her life.

Oh Jamie, you beautiful, beautiful man…

Oops, sorry, lost myself there for a second.

Outlander DVD jacket.

While Croft Moraig Stone Circle isn’t quite as impressive as Stonehenge or as captivating as the fictional Craigh na Dun, but it is still pretty amazing. Especially when you take the time to consider the mysterious purposes for which this circular rock structure was built.

Croft Moraig Stone Circle.
Croft Moraig Stone Circle.

Alternately spelled ‘Croftmoraig,’ this recumbent, horseshoe-shaped stone circle dates from the Neolithic through the Bronze Ages. Shards of Neolithic pottery were discovered on the site and dated to around 3,000 B.C. Guys, that’s a few thousand years ago! I can hardly comprehend it. Croft Moraig is one of several ancient sites in the Tay River Valley. Historians point to this as an indication of how important the area was as a home and transport route for ancient peoples.

“They [recumbent stone circles] get their name because one large stone in the circle is laid on its side, or is ‘recumbent’. We think ancient peoples might have used these circles to record the seasons or the passage of the sun and moon. They may have hosted funerary pyres or ceremonial bonfires. Whatever their purpose, they have fascinated people for generations.”  –Forestry Commission Scotland

Croft Moraig Stone Circle.

Croft Moraig was excavated in 1965 by Stuart Piggott and Derek Simpson. It is a complex double-stone circle, and it was determined that it had been built in three separate phases of construction. A thousand years or more may have separated each stage of its development.

A standing stone at Croft Moraig Stone Circle.

Archaeologists and historians may never truly understand the purposes for which stone circles were constructed, but some probable theories include:

*a place for worship and/or sacrifice

*burial grounds (human bone has been found at Stonehenge, for example)

*a place for healing

*a calendar

*a cosmic observatory of sorts – stones aligned to astronomical events

Or, as Mr. C suggested, maybe the ancient peoples just needed a place to sit around the campfire while they ate their hotdogs and s’mores! Silly Mr. C.

Croft Moraig Stone Circle.

Whatever the reasons, stone circles are mysterious, fascinating, and definitely stir the imagination.  I hope you enjoyed our little adventure.

Thanks so much for coming along with me today.  I’ll see you next time when I attempt to make Scotch eggs!  Yikes!  Have a great rest of the week, friends.



*Photo of rain boots courtesy of Pexels

The Falls of Dochart in Killin, Scotland

Hello, friends. What’s shakin’? Not much around here this weekend. I attempted to write this blog outside but good grief – the humidity! I see it’s a balmy 65 degrees in Edinburgh right now. What I wouldn’t give!

Today I’d like to show you a beautiful area in the Scottish Highlands that I visited on my last trip. Located on the River Dochart in the pretty village of Killin in Stirlingshire, are the spectacular Falls of Dochart.

View of the rocks and bridge at the Falls of Dochart with snow capped mountains behind.
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