The middle of February seems a good day to revisit the height of Summer and the day I dropped in on Culzean Castle was one of the better days last Summer.
When I'm to write a blog about a castle, you might wonder why I have a picture of my car in a lay by first. This is the Croy Brae which I passed on my way to the castle. It's better known as the Electric Brae and is famous for the fact that things seem to roll uphill there. The car here is pointing uphill, though it doesn't look it and the hill is steep enough that when I took off the handbrake it rolled backwards. I was here as a lad, when there wasn't a lay by. I'm sure there must have been many an accident as people drove round the corner to find somebody stopped in the middle of the road playing. I had a look on Youtube and found a video of somebody else's visit here.
The castle sits in extensive grounds and as you approach, it is first viewed through this ruined (if ruined is the right word when it appears to have been built that way) arch. It offers a contrast against the grandeur of the castle itself.
As castles go, there's nothing particularly old about this one. It doesn't date back far enough to have been the scene of a battle or siege. Although there is mention of a tower here in the 15th century, the current building was built between 1777 and 1792 by Robert Adam (who is responsible for much of Edinburgh's wonderful Georgian building) for the 10th Earl of Cassilis.
You can go on a tour round the inside of the castle, which I did and found it a bit lack lustre to be honest (perhaps I'd been spoilt by Fyvie castle a few weeks earlier), but you can't fault the grounds and gardens, they're beautiful. I did pick the right time of year for these of course.
This battery of cannon was built by the 12th Earl in the time of the Napoleonic wars in case of a French invasion.
Culzean Castle may look good from the side I approached but it is best viewed from the sea side. This is the best I could do I'm afraid. I had to walk round the coast a bit and was dangling rather precariously from a tree when I took this.
The view of the castle from that side is such that it has found it's way onto the Royal Bank of Scotland's £5 note. This specimen, fresh from my wallet, is, rather like the Royal Bank themselves, a bit crumpled.
Looking out to sea at the Isle of Arran.
There's a large walled garden, which when I was there was at it's best.
This pagoda looks at it's best from this distance. Any closer and it gets a bit scruffy. Built in 1860, it is actually an aviary although it was once thought to have housed a monkey so is often known as the monkey house.
A heron, amongst the great variety of feathered friends on the Swan Pond.
A last look at the deer in the deer park before I went home.