Day 6 – A free day?

Day 6 – A free day? – August 16, 2013

It wasn’t actually a “free” day but more a “what shall we do today?”. Better still – an “open” day. Earlier in the week, we had taken advantage of the gorgeous weather and visited the churchyards in Gartly and Insch that we wanted to visit.

We decided that after breakfast, we would walk down to the village and the Old Kirkyard where my grandparents were buried.

Tap O Noth from Earlsfield Farm
Tap O Noth from Earlsfield Farm
Ruins at Earlsfield Farm
Ruins at Earlsfield Farm

Before we reached the junction of the road our B&B was on and the B9002, this sign begged for a picture. I’d seen it when I drove past it but never had the opportunity to get a good look, until this morning.

pheasant crossing sign
Pheasant Crossing Sign

In order to get to the footpath to the Old Kirkyard, we had to walk past the Rannes Hall where I would be launching my book the next day. I did take a couple of photos but as it was trash day, there was a huge wheelie bin out front. I decided then, I would try the next day or Sunday (depending on the weather) to get another photo.

Look who is in the Rannes Hall’s outside announcements board. You’ll likely have to click on the picture to get the full-sized image to be able to see, but my event is in there.

Rannes Hall bulletin board
Rannes Hall bulletin board

We continued on up the road to the footpath. It starts out as a lane up to a couple of houses, then becomes the footpath to the Old Kirkyard and on to Leith Hall.

Scenery from the footpath to the Old Kirkyard
Scenery from the footpath to the Old Kirkyard
Approaching the Old Kirkyard
Approaching the Old Kirkyard
Robertson stone in the Old Kirkyard
Robertson stone in the Old Kirkyard

From what I’ve read, this used to be the Old Kirk at Kennethmont. The door was padlocked shut but I was able to peek in the windows.

The Leith-Hay vault in the Old Kirkyard
The Leith-Hay vault in the Old Kirkyard

We continued making the most of our day and carried on along the footpath.

Aberdeen-Inverness railway line from the footpath
Aberdeen-Inverness railway line from the footpath

Despite being near the railway line close to train time, I missed being able to stand on the bridge and photograph the train as it approached. And there were two trains! One to Aberdeen and one to Inverness and I missed both of them.

Leith Hall from the footpath
Leith Hall from the footpath

As we still had other things we wanted/needed to do, we didn’t walk any further but turned and made our way back along the footpath, this time taking a different route and coming out at the B9002 at the opposite end of Kennethmont.

One of the things we needed to do was laundry, and even though the wash machine at Earlsfield was offered, with it being so close to when we’d be leaving, I needed a tumble dryer to ensure everything washed was dry by the time we packed up to leave. My luck, had I hung them on the line, it would have poured rain and there I’d be with a load of soggy clothes.

Laundry in the car, we drove up into Huntly to the launderette which had since moved from its location known to us (Bogie Street) right onto the main street going into the town (Gordon Street). This location was far more convenient. After our laundry was washed, dried and folded, we walked up to the square and the Brander Library. They were the only one I sent a book launch poster to that acknowledged receiving it. I asked if they would like to purchase a copy of my book for their branch and was told that all acquisitions had to go through the branch in Old Meldrum. She did take some of my postcards and bookmarks. I thanked her for her time and we went back to the car.

The rain that had fallen earlier had stopped. No bright sunshine yet but at least no rain. Since I had wanted to see Auchindoun Castle for years and it wasn’t too far from Huntly, that was the direction I pointed the car in.

Sign post for Auchindoun Castle
Sign post for Auchindoun Castle

When we arrived at the small car park (essentially just a wee lay-by) along the A941, it was spitting rain again. We grabbed our outerwear and started up the footpath which is actually a road up to two farms. If you look closely at the picture, you can see the steel beams running across the road at regular intervals to keep it from washing out in heavy rains. The photo doesn’t really show how steep the incline was but trust me, it was.

Footpath to Auchindoun Castle
Footpath to Auchindoun Castle

I think the fact there were some ominous, black cloud looming when we got to a vantage point where we could see the castle added to the atmosphere of the place.

Auchindoun Castle
Auchindoun Castle

Now that we finally reached the last of our journey up the hill, we still had some climbing to do. We didn’t realize it until we were leaving but if you walked along the fence line, there was a far less steep approach to the castle. Oh well, this was all part of the experience.

Auchindoun Castle
Auchindoun Castle
Auchindoun Castle
Auchindoun Castle
Me at Auchindoun Castle
Me at Auchindoun Castle
Scenery from Auchindoun Castle
Scenery from Auchindoun Castle
Scenery from Auchindoun Castle
Scenery from Auchindoun Castle
Farm at the end of the road to Auchindoun Castle
Farm at the end of the road to Auchindoun Castle
Guard ram
Keeping a watchful eye on the two-legged intruders

By now we had seen and done everything we wanted to at the castle, so we picked our way back down the hill to the road and our car. Our next stop was the Walker Shortbread Company where we picked up some shorties to bring home and some to have whilst we were away.

After getting stocked up, we headed to the Aberlour Distillery. Hubby had enjoyed the sampling the night before so we thought we would take their tour. It was a bit disappointing to find out they only do two tours a day and they had just filled the final two places for the 2:00 pm tour fifteen minutes before we arrived. Still, we were told we could walk about the property and take pictures… so I did.

Aberlour Distillery
Aberlour Distillery
Aberlour Distillery
Aberlour Distillery

The cemetery at Rhynie was one of the stops we wanted to make today since we hadn’t got there yet. We could have taken the main roads into Huntly and down the A97 to get there but what fun is there in that? Instead, we went down the A941, waving as we went past Auchindoun Castle.

I had an ulterior motive for taking this route even though the road in the middle section isn’t the widest or affords the best places to pull over when meeting traffic. The small Essie Cemetery is on this road and Essie is mentioned as places my ancestors came from. So I had to investigate, now didn’t I?

All along the road the heather was blooming on the hills and until this point never in a location where a body could pull over. Then, the opportunity presented itself and I didn’t let it pass.

Heather along the A941
Heather along the A941

When we arrived at the small Essie cemetery, we tromped around but found no one related. Or if they were, I’ve not come across their names in my genealogy – yet.

The Essie cemetery
The Essie cemetery

After our short prowl here, we carried on to the village of Rhynie and the cemetery (where I do have relatives).

The Rhynie cemetery
The Rhynie cemetery

This is my great-grandparents’ (on my dad’s mother’s side) grave and one of their children, although we’ve never been able to find a birth or death registration for him. Things that make you go hmm…

The Macdonald stone in the Rhynie cemetery
The Macdonald stone in the Rhynie cemetery

Probably the most interesting thing here at Rhynie is the Gordon vault built into the back wall.

Gordon vault in the Rhynie Cemetery
Gordon vault in the Rhynie Cemetery

Oh yeah, and a lean-to at the far end of the car park where three Pictish, sculptured stones are on display protected from the elements.

From here we went on a bit of a cross-country adventure where we drove past the restaurant in Auchleven (The Hunters Moon) where we would be having supper the next night and before we knew it, we were in Alford. Unfortunately, we were too late to tour the Grampian Transport Museum properly as they were closing in fifteen minutes at 5:00 pm, we did get to see a Dalek in the Tourist Information and museum gift shop.

Dalek
Dalek

Right after I took this photo, it came towards me shouting in its Dalek voice, “Exterminate!”. Not every nice…

Dr Who's Tardis

For a day that was free, we managed to do a great deal – and we weren’t done yet! We went back to Huntly, this time by way of the two main roads – the A944 and the A97 where we stopped in at the Tesco for an Indian takeaway, bottle of wine, another poncho and a long-sleeved sweater for me. When the sun was out, it was lovely and warm but when it wasn’t it got cool and long sleeves were nice, especially in the evenings.

After eating our supper, we decided to take advantage of the fact that the sun came out and we walked up to the stone circle on the farm. Our hosts gave us each a pair of wellies and off we went up the road to the top of the hill and through the five-bar gate at the top.

The cows were at hoot on our way up. When we got what they thought was too close they ran off, but it wasn’t long before they were hanging around and following us – the nosy parkers.

The Welcoming Committee
The Welcoming Committee

They scattered shortly after this picture was taken.

See what I mean about being nosy? Had to see exactly what we were doing up there.

One of the ladies
One of the “ladies”
Earlsfield farm from the stone circle
Earlsfield farm from the stone circle
Me at the stone circle
Me at the stone circle
the stone circle with outer rubble pile
The stone circle with outer rubble pile
The stone circle
The stone circle
The stone circle from behind
The stone circle from behind

See, it really is visible from the stone circle if you know where to look.

Wardhouse mansion from the stone circle
Wardhouse mansion from the stone circle

We started back towards the gate and the cows closed ranks between us and it. As we moved closer they parted – slowly – and allowed us passage. Even the bull didn’t move any faster than need be and we didn’t see him at all on the way to the stone circle. I think before he got bored with us, I was only about four feet from him. When he sauntered off, the rest of the herd took their cue from him and off they went.

The gate might not have been chained quite the same way, but I made sure it was secure and we started down the road, this time to be greeted by the “ladies” in the field across the road from the stone circle.

The "ladies" across the road from the stone circle
The “ladies” across the road from the stone circle

Now it’s time to play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!

Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand

Tomorrow is a big day for me, not because we’re travelling but because it’s launch day for A Shadow in the Past at the Rannes Hall! Wish me luck!

One thought on “Day 6 – A free day?”

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