Scotland Road Trip - July 2018 - Day 2
I woke up on the Sunday after the wedding, eager with anticipation to be on the road. Checking our list of castles against the map we decided to head for Elcho Castle first. The sky was majestically overcast, a refreshing change from the intense heat of the day before, and also somewhat the perfect weather for exploring castles.
Elcho Castle is a little off the beaten track, along a long, narrow road, which passes straight through the middle of a farm. We didn’t see another car or person on the road, and so it’s almost always surprising when you arrive at the carpark of the castle to find there are other people around! The castle itself is on the waterfront and surrounded by trees and an orchard. It’s a very peaceful spot. One of my favourite things about exploring castles, other than passing through every nook and cranny and peering round every corner, is when you are able to climb right to the top of a tower. At Elcho castle you can, and as we reached the roof, the sun had just come out - it felt so wonderful to stand so high, and feel the sun on our faces.
The second castle we planned on visiting was Broughty Castle, just beyond Dundee. Situated on the waterfront it was very windy. And unbeknownst to us before we arrived, there is a very enticing beach right next to the castle. We decided instead to go paddling! The water was cold, but beautifully clear. It felt so refreshing to feel the waves crash over and the sand between our toes.
Back in the car, our next adventure was to Arbroath Abbey. We largely had the grounds to ourselves whilst we explored, and the weather at this point was wonderful, the air still and the sun warm. The Abbey has a fascinating history and one I was unfamiliar with. William I, also known as William the Lion, founded the Abbey in 1178. It was here that the Declaration of Arbroath was signed by 39 Scottish nobles in April 1320 and sent to Pope John XXII declaring Scotland’s independence after the excommunication of Robert the Bruce.
It is believed that the US Declaration of Independence was modelled of the Declaration of Arbroath, Scotland’s most famous document.
The Abbey is famous and holds much merit for many other reasons, one of the most recent being the location of where the Stone of Destiny was returned to. The stone has been used for hundreds of years in the coronations of first Scottish monarchs and later English/British monarchs. The stone was last used in 1952 for the coronation of Elizabeth II. On Christmas day in 1950, 4 Scottish students removed the stone from Westminster Abbey and returned it to Scotland. The stone was left on the altar of Arbroath Abbey on 11th April 1951 after a perilous journey north. London police were informed and the stone was returned to Westminster. It now resides alongside the crown jewels of Scotland at Edinburgh castle, after being handed over on St Andrews day in 1996.
After Arbroath we drove a little over an hour to our hotel just outside Aberdeen where we spent the evening with maps, notebooks and tea, planning our adventure for day 3!
Read about Day 1