Since I’ve arrived in Scotland I’ve had the opportunity to visit places several hours from Aberdeen. I’ve been to Edinburgh, the Highlands, even the evil Megabus station in Perth (read about it in a previous post: Travel, Trepidation, and Theatre), but recently I decided to have an adventure a little bit closer to home. Even before coming to Scotland I wanted to go to Stonehaven, which is about a 45 minute drive from Aberdeen, and see the ruins of Dunnottar Castle. Two of my flat mates went the weekend before and had a great trip (I was busy working on Latin at the time, darn you Plautus!). I don’t mind traveling alone, but I also enjoy sharing the journey with friends, especially if I’ve never been to the place before. Being lost with someone else is greatly preferred over being lost on your lonesome! Luckily, I’ve become friends with a girl from British Columbia, Canada who has the exact same schedule as me (we also share the same struggle when translating Latin and love of hot chocolate). She also wanted to see Dunnottar Castle, so I didn’t have to make the trip alone.
We took the bus through the center of Stonehaven up to the castle (It is possible to walk from town if you want a scenic hike along the ocean). The landscape around Dunnottar is absolutely stunning. I thoroughly enjoy the Aberdeen beach, but by the castle, dark teal waves crash white against the black rocks and you feel like you could stand there and watch the movement of the sea for hours. We went down to the shore, looking at the tidal pools (which I had never seen before) and even found a small cave to explore. The journey back up to the piece of land where the castle sits was a bit of a steep climb, but you can always use the excuse of pausing to take a picture to catch your breath.
Exploring Dunnottar Castle itself was really enjoyable; it turned out to be much larger than I expected. Even after seeing the ruins from the outside I didn’t fully appreciate how far they, and the landmass they are on for that matter, projects into the sea. It was definitely worth the admission fee of six pounds because we spent several hours walking around and taking pictures (I am obsessed with taking photographs of landscapes through windows and the castle is a great place to do so). Dunnottar Castle has a rich history with the surviving structures dating back to the 15th and 16th century although the site has been in use since the early medieval era. In the 17th century Dunnottar was used to hide the Honours of Scotland (the Scottish crown jewels) from Oliver Cromwell’s army as well as imprison 167 men and women who refused to swear allegiance to James VII (they were member of an anti-royalist party known as Whigs.)
After visiting Dunnottar we headed back into Stonehaven for a late lunch. We had both heard about a really good fish and chip take-away shop but we weren’t quite sure how to find it. Thankfully, a local woman pointed us in the right direction. We walked along the harbor and were able to eat our delicious fish and chips on a bench right by the sea. I don’t eat seafood that often in the U.S., but Scotland has me sold on their fish and chips. On the way back to the bus stop we popped in a cute little boutique (I love crafty, independently owned shops), and then had the luck to arrive at the stop just as the bus did. Going to Dunnottar Castle and Stonehaven was a great way to spend the Sunday, showing that you don’t have to go far to have a new and fun adventure.