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Monday, March 2, 2015

If You've Never Seen a Castle...

Happy day two of March! Seeing Saint Patrick's Day on the calendar brings to mind the color green, four-leaf clovers, fairy folklore and castles. I haven't visited Ireland so have seen none of the castles there, but I came pretty darn close back in 2011 when my husband and I spent two weeks traveling through Scotland and Wales.

From London we traveled by train to Edinburgh and stayed there for three days. 
View of Edinburgh Castle from Prince Street
View over a cannon from Half Moon Battery
The rest of our two weeks we spent driving from eastern to western Scotland and down the length of Wales back to London with no defined route in mind. Our goal was to see the countries, meet people, traipse through as many castles as we could fit into two weeks AND not forget what side of the road we had to drive on! 

A surprising result of all this traipsing is that no story ideas popped into my head. I wasn't thinking like a writer; I just took in the sights, amazed that I was traveling through countries with centuries of history. When we visited a castle my thoughts always went to what it must have been like to live there, trudging up hundreds of stairs, inching across narrow battlements and trying to stay warm!
                      Loch Lomond, Scotland's Midlands 

So today, as a nod to the castles of Ireland and Scotland, I'm going to share pictures and whereabouts of those we visited.

                    Beaumaris Castle, Northwest Wales, on the Isle of Anglesey

Ava Fychon, the female protagonist in Almost Taken, the first book in my historical romance Almost series, hails from Wales, (I had to say that!), specifically, the Isle of Anglesey. So when I saw Beaumaris Castle (beau marais, fair marsh), I felt a connection to it because of the research I'd done about this northern area of Wales. 

The English monarch, Edward I, ordered this castle to be built. Begun in 1295 it was never completed because of dwindling funds and supplies. But even unfinished it is quite remarkable and the only castle we saw that had a moat.

Dumbarton Castle, Scotland, WNW of Glasgow was a stronghold from the 5th century until 1018 and an important refuge for royalty.
It's built on volcanic rock....
 and overlooks the Firth of Clyde

More than 200 steps gets you to its highest vantage point. As I walked those steps I thought about the men who had to do this day in, day out. They must have had some awesome thighs! They were climbing on the original Stairmaster machine.

This is Caenarfron Castle, Northern Wales. A military stronghold, seat of government and a royal palace.

Caenarfron houses the Regimental Museum of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Wales's oldest regiment, and in my husband's opinion, the castle's star attraction

Conwy Castle, Wales, (pronounced Conway) is built on a rock. Its towers are only 8 of the 22 that surround the city of Conwy, known as The City of Walls.

Inner Ward

Harlech Castle, Wales 
Another with 150+ steps to get to the top. Well worth the effort to see this view!

Stirling Castle, Scotland
 famous for its statue of Robert the Bruce...
and view of the William Wallace monument (on the center hill)

Below is a photo en route to Cardiff Castle, southern Wales. The white dots aren't specks on the camera lens - they're sheep

Cardiff Castle

me on the castle's walkway - I have no idea why  I look so goofy!

the Royal quarters

And one more. We almost overlooked the tiny sign for this one as we were leaving Scotland and entering Wales. Muncaster Castle and Gardens is a privately owned castle in Cumbria England. Muncaster boasts the World Owl Centre, one of the largest owl refuges in the world. Of all the castles we visited, I was most surprised by this one. 

Scotland is a country my father always wanted to visit but never did. His birthday is the 19th of this month and will be the first in my life that he's not here to celebrate. I dedicate this post and his love for Scottish bagpipe music to my dad, Walter.

Street musician, Edinburgh

Any castle sightings of your own? Stories inspired by those sightings and visits?

Polly posts on RB4U's blog on the second of every month. You can find out more about her and her books at her website:
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Paris said...


Thanks for all of the great photos!Looks like a wonderful trip, if your photo is any indication:)Some of the castle's are quite lovely but I can't imagine the upkeep!

Cara Marsi said...

Wonderful pictures. Thank you. I've visited London and have always wanted to go to Scotland and Wales. Your pictures make me want to go right now.

Rose Anderson said...

Beautiful scenes. Thanks for sharing, Polly.

Polly McCrillis said...

Paris, Upkeep of the Keep couldn't have been easy!

Polly McCrillis said...

Cara, oh you must go to both. London is marvelous but getting out of the city, traveling north (the train ride to Edinburgh alone was thrilling to me), is an unsurpassed experience. Gorgeous land and lakes. Oh, and castles!

Polly McCrillis said...

Happy to share, Rose. Maybe one of the photos will spark a story idea for someone.

Lynda Bailey said...

Such awesome pics! Thanks so much for sharing them with us. ;)

JoAnne Myers said...

Hello Polly, the photos are beautiful. I sooooo want to visit Scotland, Ireland, and everywhere. All the best to you.

Tina Donahue said...

Great photos, Polly! Wish I could go there.

Polly McCrillis said...

Lynda, glad you like the photos. They don't depict the true enormity of these castles, but with a little imagination....

Polly McCrillis said...

JoAnne, I said the same thing for years...I soooo want to go. The only way I did was to make it happen. Took a few years, but the time it took to save and plan so I could see and walk around in these fantastic structures was so worth it. I'm cheering you on....Do it!!

Polly McCrillis said...

Tina, got to make that wish come true!!

Melissa Keir said...

Wow.. what a lovely trip! The photos are breathtaking! I think this is the closest I will get to visiting Scotland.

Sandy said...

Polly, I've been to Ireland, but not to Scotland and Wales. Beautiful photos, Polly. What a wonderful trip. Something to remember forever.

Gemma Juliana said...

Thanks for the lovely armchair trip to the castles of the UK, Polly. What a fantastic trip you took.

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