Thursday, June 9, 2011

Alnwick Castle & the Scottish Borders

This tour is one that I was looking forward to for quite some time, mostly because we were going to get to see “the Harry Potter” castle. I haven’t even read all of the books or even come close to seeing all of the movies, but I had seen pictures of the Alnwick (pronounced An-ick) Castle and thought that it was beautiful. Before that stop happened on our tour we made a few more.
First, the lovely and historically captivating Rosslyn Chapel (recently made more famous from The DaVinci Code). While the outside of the chapel was beautiful, it was the inside that was worth seeing (and, of course, a area where cameras weren’t allowed). The chapel itself was quite a bit smaller than I had imagined but it didn’t disappoint; the detail on interior was incredible. Rosslyn Chapel had been locked up for some 200 years and fell into a state of disrepair. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that it had began on its way of being repaired. In the 1900’s someone thought it would be a good idea to put a sort of concrete molding over the original sandstone carvings creating some sort of shell/shield. When that happened the wonderful colors of the sandstone were covered and some of the carvings ruined. Someone like myself would have never noticed that the building had been through so much. I can’t even begin to imagine what it looked like in its prime.

Second stop was Melrose Abbey, the remains of a 15th century church. This too, even in it’s broken down state, was remarkably beautiful. There were stairs to climb to look out over the whole abbey. 

Third was an unplanned detour to Scott’s View (some 300ft up overlooking the Scottish countryside).

Alnwick Castle was the next stop. Being given 2 hours seemed like enough time, but we used every second of it and skipped the gardens. Because this is still a working/lived in castle, it remained in great condition. We were allowed to see the inside, where the Duke of Northumberland lives (only a few months out of the year), and it was so odd because it was if they literally had just pushed the furniture aside, put up ropes, and opened up the living room, dining room, library and hallway to the public. There were even family pictures everywhere! Of course, this too was a “no photography” zone. The rooms were even more immaculate than those of the Dublin Castle. After we closed our gaping mouths and headed back outside we walked over to where the tail end of a Harry Potter themed flying lesson was taking place. We didn’t do the lesson, but managed to get our hands on some brooms and jump around like idiots. Alnwick Castle even had a haunted dungeon and so many more activities. Definitely an “all day” place.

On our way home we made a few random stops…
A tidal island, where I was more focused on how beautiful the sky was.
The border of Scotland & England.
And the coast of Scotland, along the North Sea.

This rock was put here from a volcano in Edinburgh (25 miles away). Although you can't totally tell, this rock is HUGE.

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