Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Thursday, 11 February 2016

Valentine's not just for February


After my introductory blog my head was swimming with ideas and photos I wanted to share. When I realised I would be blogging close to Valentine's Day, I knew exactly where I wanted to take you all.

One October weekend I found myself free, so with my OH, Audrey, in the driving seat we took to the road. Destination - the most romantic and recognisable castle in Scotland, Eilean Donan, near Dornie.

 It was beautiful weather for a drive and once past Inverness the scenery really comes into it's own,  calling for the odd stop off by the roadside to take photos.

Loch Garve
I've past Loch Garve on several occasions but never been able to stop - until today, when I'd all the time in the world. It was a bit of a scramble to get to the shoreline but worth it, as there wasn't  a breath of wind and the loch surface was like a mirror.

Back on the road we'd a decision to make, left to the castle or right to the hotel, of course we headed to the castle- neither of us willing to wait to see the beautiful former stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie. Around the corner and there it was, standing magnificent in a loch.... of seaweed and rocks. To say I was disappointed was an understatement. I looked at Audrey and laughed - "why did we bother".  Always one to see the bright side of a situation she consulted her phone, assuring me the tide will be in later in the afternoon. Also, the best time for photography would be just after high tide, when the water would be at a stand still, waiting to turn. She's a fount of random facts. So I took some photos and as we'd time to spare, we enjoyed a tour of the 13th century castle.

It's well worth a visit, as we learned of an Irish Saint-Bishop Donan, of the Celts, of Viking raids, of battles won and lost, of the 46 Spanish soldiers who were garrisoned there-planning an attack, in support of a Jacobite uprising, which ultimately led to the castle being blown apart by English troops. For me, hearing these dramatic stories simply added to the charm and character of the place - what's not to like?

 
Eilean Donan at low tide
Afterwards, we headed to the hotel, only to be told that they are in the process of closing for the winter, so running a limited menu - not a major issue. However, it also appeared that the heating had been switched off. I know how to treat Audrey! Who said romance is dead!  After a warming coffee, it was time to return to Eilean Donan Castle and this time it didn't disappoint.
 

The autumn colours of the trees, the crisp clean air and the still reflections in the water -  I was in my element. 
Eilean Donan at high tide
I stayed until the light began to fade, which was relatively early in October, but decided we would come back once it was dark - to see it lit up. 
 
Now I am not much of a romantic but when we saw the lights and the ancient stonewalls of the fortress reflected in the loch - it was magical. To top everything off, a wedding was being held at the castle and we could hear the piper playing. The sound of the bagpipes floating across the water on that still night couldn't have been more Scottish or more wonderful.
 Unfortunately night photography is still a work in progress and don't feel that my attempts do the castle any justice. Also it's the perfect excuse to go back.

So like any good love story, it wasn't love at first. Instead a growing attraction which with time and the right circumstances, led to me falling in love with - Eilean Donan castle. The perfect place to take my Valentine at any time of year - even in October.

 





 
 
 
 
 




13 comments:

  1. Stunning views, Neil and an interesting taster of the history of Eilean Donan castle. Enjoy Valentine's weekend. :-)

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  2. Thank you Rae, glad you like it. Hopefully with this lovely sunshine I will manage to get outwith the camera.

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  3. What a great post. If I remember I had the same experience the first time I went to Eilean Don. But it is beautiful when the tide's in and the light is right.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer, the tide being makes the difference. I am now more prepared and do some more research on the places I visit now.

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  4. Completely lovely. Makes me want to visit there again, soon!

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    1. I would love to go back but finding the time is difficult. Hopefully get back sooner rather than later.

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  5. Brilliant post and wonderful photos, thank you. This is one place I still haven't visited and long to see in the flesh.

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    1. Thank you Rosemary, it is always somewhere I wanted to visit and it was well worth it in the end. That whole area is beautiful.

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  6. Beautiful pictures – love the reflections.

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    1. Thank you Kate. Feel free to pop over to my Facebook page.

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