Scottish Ramble #4

Whereas I make an effort to stick to my stated themes at Rivertop Rambles when considerating a new post, I like to keep an edge on the subject matter, too, remaining flexible when it comes to defining “rivertop” country. Yes, the tops of river systems tend to be places of cold water springs and beauty, places inhabited by the likes of wild trout. Riverbottoms, on the other hand, are often associated with warm, muddy water, and the habitat of our human masses. But if we look closely around the globe, we notice more than the stereotypes. There are plenty of riverbottoms around the planet where the waters empty out in a wild and “uninhabited” seascape. And very often these are places where our notions of wildness, natural beauty, and romance would feel right at home.

Please welcome the northeastern coastline of an “old country” known as Scotland.

Viewers of the recentScottish Ramble #3” may have noted that my daughter Alyssa, studying for her graduate degree at Glasgow University, has an opportunity to ramble a bit through Scotland while on break.  Selections from her photo essay, “Dunnottar Castle,” reflect a February class visit to the headlands south of Stonehaven. Hopefully these photos of the site will give you a sense of “riverbottom beauty,” of a place where streams drop to the sea. Here the headlands capture the spirit of distant sources. Here the coastline beckons the imagination. And here the wild earth walks with human history in all its tragic glory.headwaters

An interface of stream and sea, of present time and human history.headlands

During the 17th century War of Independence, the Scottish Crown Jewels were hidden at Castle Dunnottar.approach to castle

The approach to Castle Dunnottar near Stonehaven on the northeastern coast of Scotland. The castle played a part in the movie Hamlet, 1990, starring Mel Gibson.seascape.horizon

Seascape, looking out from Castle Dunnottar.castle ridge

Here the cliff top with its ruined fortress is displayed with stunning effect. During the first battle of the Civil War in 1639, a Coventry army of 9000 was imprisoned at Dunnottar, where many of the soldiers died.castle.seascape

In 1296, Edward I of England took the castle. William Wallace took it back a year later, burning the church with the English garrison still inside. In 1650, Oliver Cromwell sacked the castle to find the Crown Jewels following an eight-month siege. The jewels were smuggled out by women in a boat.Alyssa

Alyssa, trekking back carefully from the point. She reported that the walk out there was “scary,” and battered by the wind.Alyssa on headland

Out on the edge of it all, Alyssa suddenly found the scene to be “surreal and extremely peaceful.”

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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6 Responses to Scottish Ramble #4

  1. The Castle reminds me a bit of Dunluce Castle on the North Coast of Northern Ireland, looking across the Irish Sea toward Scotland. Of course, Dunluce is a lot easier to approach. I hope on my next trip to make it over there. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. David,
    You’re very welcome! Thanks for the comment. I’d love to visit the place, too, some day.

  3. Ken G says:

    The scale is hard to imagine till you see those little people walking around in the images. What a place to build a castle.

    • Ken, The scale at the castle scene is really hard to gauge. Alyssa has a lot of photos of the castle interior that really put it all in perspective, with people in the courtyard, passing through the halls and dungeon, etc., but those are a bit beyond the scope of this blog.


  4. plaidcamper says:

    What an amazing location! Beautiful!

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