Today was the last day of my girlfriend’s dad’s visit to Scotland, and since it was gloriously sunny we decided to make the most of it.
The first stop was at the Royal Botanic Gardens, where the late summer sun was in full effect, with flowers blooming all over. I’m not a gardener, so I don’t know what most of them are!
From the Botanics we made our way to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
We didn’t actually go inside as we had plenty of other places we wanted to get to, and it was more about seeing Charles Jencks’ Landform in the grounds really.
Next up was Edinburgh’s lesser known castle, Craigmillar Castle. It seems to be rather overlooked compared to Edinburgh Castle, partly because it’s not in such a tourist-friendly location, being outside the city centre.
It is however a fantastic example of a courtyard castle, with the surrounding wall intact and encircling the castle buildings within.
Aberdour Castle was probably started in the late 12th century, and the earliest surviving parts of it date from around 1200, making it one of the oldest castles still standing in Scotland. It was extended several times from the 13th to the 17th centuries, the last part being added in 1635.
At the north-west end of the castle are the remains of a 15th century tower house, built on top of the older castle so that the first two storeys date back to around 1200. Major collapses in the 19th and 20th centuries mean that a massive section of the tower house wall now lies on the ground in front of it.
In the 16th century a new range was built, extending from the south-east corner of the tower house. It is now roofless and forms a substantial ruin.
Beyond the 16th century range is the East Range, added around 1635 and offering the very best in Renaissance-influenced accommodation. On one corner of this building is a sundial.
Immediately to the south of the castle are the visually-stunning terraced gardens. Dating back to 1548, they are one of the oldest formal gardens still in existence in Scotland. Arranged in an L-shape, the terraces run down to a large beehive doocot, and would have offered stunning vistas over the Forth, although trees now obscure the view.
To get a better view, we made our way down from Aberdour Castle to Aberdour harbour, and the Black Sands.
The views from here out across the river are fantastic, and with it being so sunny there was plenty to see.
Leith and Newhaven beyond the boats.
We’d managed to cram in a lot for one day, but we made one last stop at the iconic Forth Bridge, and with the sun just starting to drop in the sky it enhanced the famous red steel just that wee bit further.