Friday, December 3, 2010

ISLE of ARRAN / Brodick Castle...

On a fine day, the sail over to Arran is quite spectacular, with the approaching mountains of north Arran rising straight up from the waters edge. Sailing into Brodick Bay, Brodick Castle can be seen on the right, set amidst it's woodland park, at the base of Arran's highest mountain, Goatfell. It is located about 1.5 miles out of Brodick, the main village port on the Isle of Arran off the west coast of Scotland. The name Brodick comes from the Norse words, meaning 'broad bay'. Arran means 'peaked island' in Gaelic. Those without transport can either take the north circular bus from Brodick which runs past the entrance or walk (part road and part footpath) along the shore front.
The castle is open daily from April to October 11am - 4.30pm. The Country Park is open all year round every day from 9.30am until sunset. Telephone: +44 1770 302202 / Fax: +44 1770 302312. There's a licensed restaurant and souvenir shop. Weddings available. The National Trust for Scotland has more details. The site has been occupied by a stronghold of some kind since the fifth century, when an ancient Irish tribe came over and founded the kingdom of Dalriada. It was probably destroyed and rebuilt many times during its turbulent history. In 1503 the castle and the Earldom of Arran were granted by James IV to his cousin, Lord Hamilton. That structure was demolished in 1544. Parts of the present castle date from the 1588 during the ownership of the 2nd Earl of Arran who was the guardian and regent of Mary, Queen of Scots.
As the home of the Dukes of Hamilton, the castle was occupied by Cromwellian troops after the first Duke was executed during the Civil War in 1648 and the second died in battle just three years later.

The colourful gardens which feature lots of rhododendrons, include the walled garden and the 'Ice House', where they used to pack winter ice  into a hole in the ground and store it there for the summer months.

Once you are inside the castle grounds, you can also take advantage of several walking trails, including one leading up Goatfell mountain, at 874 metres / 2867 feet, the highest mountain on Arran. Another trail leads to the intriguingly named 'Duchesses Bathing Pool'.

Carol and her 'pet cannon' guard the castle doors.

Inside the castle are hunting trophies, paintings, porcelain and furniture from the various owners.  It is also home to the art collection of 18th century author William Beckford of Fonthill whose daughter married the 10th Duke of Hamilton.

Brodick Castle eventually passed into the hands of Mary, Duchess of Montrose daughter of the 12th Duke of Hamilton) who revitalised the gardens. Since her death in 1957 it has been owned by the National Trust for Scotland. There is a nominal admission charge to the Country Park with an extra charge to tour the Castle's magnificent interior.

ye olde original tower of the castle dates back to the 12th. century and is where...

you end up if you don't pay the admission charge...
this guy has been here since 1634...

                                                What a great photo op! The ornamental wrought iron entrance gates to the castle!



PALM TREES??? PALM TREES?!?! In Scotland?! At a more northerly latitude than Edmonton, Canada?!

YES! Thanks to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream off the  west coast.

         Mind you, this was late May...and we are dressed kinda warm...

                        it was sunny that day...but kinda cool...

                                        Florida? NO! 

                                       Costa Rica? NO!


                                 Amazon jungle? NO!

                            It's Brodick Castle Country Park!

The Bavarian hexaganol wooden retreat...

decorated with elaborate of pine cones.

built in 1845...

many amazing mangled mazes of massive, myterious  rhododendron explore for...

 *BURIED TREASURE! But remember, you heard it here first, so if you find any, send me my  50% commision!

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