There is also THIS:
One does not simply drive into Cawdor.
I thank you.
So, hold on to your pot helms, because there's a heck of a lot of castles coming your way! I'll start with the sunniest day of the holiday (there were two out of a total of fourteen, lol) when we visited Duffus Castle, which was built in around 1140.
Here are my feet in front of the castle.
Merlin and I inside the castle. Lannister shirt, oh yeah! HEAR ME ROAR!
So, part of the castle had fallen down the hill, but stayed completely intact! The Lord's privy was still in one piece, just this huge bricked chute that you could look down. Uh oh, watch out Lord Tywin, I'm lookin' at you!
The grounds were so well maintained and it was totally free to get in. Amazing.
And here's Merlin looking very regal in front of the castle. We sat there for ages eating Mars Bars and drinking coffee. The castle was so close to the runway of an airbase, so we sat and watched the planes coming into land. It was amazing.
I took this photo as we were heading back to the car! So cool! Tornado?
So, we were staying in a converted barn on a working farm that had ponies, chickens and highland cattle. The owner of the farm, and I'm sure this will only be amusing to my fellow ASOIAF fans, was called Gregor. See below for proof. G R E G O R. See how huge he writes! Witness his missing of the 'e' in his name! Marvel at his mixing of uppercase and lowercase letters!
I jest. This guy was super cool and super nice. But we were very amused to receive this note regarding firewood. OMG! And it's in first person
One day we went to visit a fossil beach! I've only ever found plant fossils before, so I was super excited. We had no idea how much of a trek it would be, a really steep drop that just kept on going and going! I honestly thought I'd need an air ambulance to ferry me back up! But I made it in the end! WITH A BAG FULL OF ROCKS! ROCKS WITH FOSSILS IN THEMMM!
Seriously, every single view in Scotland was just breathtaking! Check out these hills! 36DD, yes?
This was a gorgeous coastal walk we went on! The rocks on the beach were just out of this world. I wish photographs could do them justice, they were like nothing I've ever seen before. Like a Star Trek set. Really odd! They'd found dinosaur footprints on the beach and they had (what I assume were casts) on display, just sitting in the grass for people to touch!
A little further down the coast, as the tide was coming in we spotted this heron(?). He perched there for a good twenty minutes whilst we sat and watched him, just waiting for the fish to roll in! He was still there when we left. I hope he managed to find a good meal.
So, it wasn't sunny every day. The weather was absolutely crazy, sunshine one minute and torrential rain and thunder the next! Here is an example of the latter! We'd actually gone geocaching and had to sit in the car for ages, hoping for the rain to stop! Luckily there was a puzzle to solve in order to get the co-ordinates of the cache, so we were occupied at least! The rain didn't stop, however, and after spending so much time working out the puzzle, there was no way we were leaving the cache! So we dashed out of the car, into the rain and thunder. Here's Merlin and I absolutely soaked through!
Now, Merlin really doesn't mind the rain when he's out in it, he had a grand old time! But he HATES to be wet. This is him in the car afterwards. CALL THE RSPCA, SOMEONE IS MISTREATING THIS ANIMAL. "Y U DO DIS?"
Loch Ness! This thing is freaking huge. Honestly. All the time we were driving around it I was looking for the Monster. Didn't spot him though, but the loch was beautiful.
Another geocaching adventure took us into this clearing. There were ruins there, but we had no idea what they were!
Merlin looking every inch the direwolf that he is.
OMG what is this coat? I am never wearing it again! I swear I have a waist! It's two sizes too big, but I thought it was hip. IT IS NOT HIP.
The area we were in was noted for its Clava Cairns, a specific type of burial cairn, only found in the Inverness area. In fact, there was a huge one in the grounds of the farm we were staying in (The Gask Cairn)! The largest of it's type, in fact! But every time I had my camera the field was full of Highland Cattle. And they have big-ass horns, so... :-|. Here are some that we drove to visit though!
The weird thing is that these cairns are HUGE, but apparently only contained one or two bodies. They're dated at about 3000 - 4000 years old!
This one was slightly more recent, only 1000 - 2000 years old. Practically modern! ;-D
Here's Merlin and I inside one of the cairns. Papped unawares! Dude, your camera isn't as cool as mine, deal with it. The evidence don't lie!
Cairns, cairns, cairns.
There were so many beautiful pine forests, and here's a bedraggled Merlin posing by one. This is actually on General Wade’s Military Road! So we were both imagining red coated British soldiers tramping up and down here in the 1700s.
And I just found this contemporary version of the National Anthem!
"Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
May by thy mighty aid,
May he sedition hush and like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the King."
More geocaching. Merlin HATES geocaching.
But without geocaching we would ever have spotted this awesome holy well by the side of the road! We had no idea it was there until we parked at the co-ordinates!
Check out this inscription!
This was a castle by Loch Ness that we weren't allowed into with a dog in tow. :-/ So we spied it through the bushes instead.
Here's a ruined abbey we visited. It's not a holiday unless we visit a ruined abbey!
Seeing as I started with a castle, I thought I should end with one. This was was amazing, although more modern than the one I posted earlier. There was a creepy-ass story about this dude who used to live there, who sounded exactly like Gregor Clegane, who burned down this other castle, with everyone in it, because the guy he was looking for was out. Extreme frustration.
It looked so cool up on the horizon like that.
The view up there was gorgeous. Here's merlin looking very Romantic. He's like Wordsworth in canine form.
And here's some arty crap I took with Hipstamatic. Clovers!
The sea! I only took this so @Theon_Greyjoy could make a joke about having a wet dream. XD
And I only took this so @Lady_Sansa could mention Stranger. This was one of the ponies on the farm! They were so friendly!
Thanks for sticking with me! There are some picspams of previous holidays over here if you'd like to see more castles and ruined things! :-)