We celebrated getting through our first week of school here in Scotland with a trip to the village of Stonehaven to see the famous and very impressive Dunnottar Castle!
As soon as the castle comes into view, you cannot help but be in awe of its perch above The North Sea.
We wondered at those who built it long ago. The surviving buildings date from the 15th and 16th centuries, but there has been a fortress there since the Middle Ages.
Dunnottar was the perfect first castle visit for our family, because you can wander at will throughout the ruins and let your imagination run riot.
It’s lovely to visit a place where you can let the kids explore and not worry if they are disturbing artifacts and such.
However, we did want to be certain they weren’t falling out of windows or off cliffs. The drop below looked treacherous.
The dangerous drops are fairly well marked and there is lots of space on the grounds between the buildings to run and play.
The ruins are marked with explanations of what they once were, such as this chapel.
It was fun to see what the kids discovered on their own and then wanted to show us. Ben took me to see these crests over this old fireplace. I had completely missed this room on my own.
I loved all the different textures of the castle. The shapes of the windows and the stones on the ground.
This walkway was made from the sea stones along the shore. So pretty!
As we left the castle, we heard bagpipes playing, which was super fun. Mama took a video of them.
After exploring the castle, we walked to the seaside town of Stonehaven, which is about 2 miles from Dunnottar Castle.
Along the way we made a stop at the Stonehaven War Memorial, referred to from a distance by our boys as (of course) Weathertop.
The memorial commemorates the lives lost in Stonehaven during the First and Second World Wars. The names of those who died during the First World War are inscribed in the central column, and those in the Second World War around the sides.
These words are carved inside the memorial on the top.
One by one
death challenged them
and one by one
they smiled in his grim visage
and refused to be dismayed
The view of the town of Stonehaven from the War Memorial shows how lovely the whole area is.
We found ourselves sort of wishing we had moved to this little village after a week of navigating the larger city of Aberdeen.
As we got closer to town, we began to smell the fish frying, and we realized how hungry we were.
We got several boxes of fish and chips to share by the sea.
It was a perfect late lunch and ending to our perfectly lovely day in Stonehaven!
There was not a bite left! Though we did share a few chips with the seagulls.
Our verdict on Stonehaven:
Castle + Gorgeous Seaside Village + Fish ‘n Chips = Perfect Scottish Outing!
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the weather was perfect! Blue skies all around.
However, I think a visit to the castle on a dreary day would be lovely as well. Everyone is excited go back.
Next time, we might bring swords and pretend we’re William Wallace. He took the castle back from the English in 1297 and burned them alive in the chapel.
Or we could pretend to be the ladies who hid the Scottish crown jewels and smuggled them to safety when Oliver Cromwell invaded in the 17th century.
Better still, we could imitate the almost 200 men and women who were held in the 18th century in a small vault of the castle for refusing to give up their beliefs. Those who did not die in the castle or jump to their deaths were shipped off to the West Indies, many of them dying on the voyage.
Maybe Castle Times = Hard Living?
Details If You Go:
From Aberdeen, we took the X7 bus, which made the fewest stops along the way and stopped near the castle. We caught the return bus in Stonehaven. Buses leave hourly from both directions.
Fees for Dunnottar Castle: 6 pounds for adults, 2 for children.
Fish and Chips: We bought ours at The Carron, which is takeaway only, so we had a picnic by the sea. Yummers!