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Scotland

Today we set off to the northwest for a quick visit to Scotland. Our route took us past Gretna Green, where Lydia Bennett and George Wickam did not actually end up going for a quicky Las Vegas style wedding in Pride and Prejudice, and on to the west coast of Scotland.

We stopped at two different castles: Caerlaverock and Culzean. Caerlaverock was our first stop. This castle was begun in 1270, after an earlier construction was located too near to the marshes of the Solway. Because of it’s proximity to England, it’s residents were often in the middle of one conflict or another. This medieval castle is now mostly just a ruin, though there is enough left that one can explore up into the towers and some of the upper floors. There is a reconstruction of a siege engine just outside the moat that surrounds this triangular shaped castle. It is now managed by Historic Scotland.

Our second stop was Culzean Castle. Located on a stunning cliffside, looking out to sea, what was an ordinary fortified tower house was converted into an elegant bachelor residence for the 10th Earl of Cassillis, between 1777 and 1792. A ‘Roman’ viaduct and Ruined Arch were added to give it even more splendor. Restoration on both the interior and exterior have been done by the National Trust for Scotland. In addition to the usual displays of paintings and furniture, there is an astounding display of weapons in the Armoury. The center of the house is home to an amazing oval staircase and the views out the windows of the Firth of Clyde are stunning. Interestingly, in 1945 the top floor was given to General Eisenhower for use during his lifetime as a token of Scotland’s recognition of his role during World War II. There is an Eisenhower Exhibition in the castle that gives a bit of history of Eisenhower and his visits to Culzean.

After touring the two castles we drove on up through the countryside to Glasgow. We arrived too late to take in any of the touristy things there, so we ate at a nice Italian restaurant and then headed back down to our cottage via the quickest route – the motorway – which fortunately did not have any wide loads blocking traffic.

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