Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I went to Slain's Castle

The title says it all. I went to Slain’s Castle, and it was without a doubt one of the most stunning things I’ve ever seen. I’ve been meaning to go see it ever since I got here, and now in my last two weeks abroad, I’ve finally gotten around to it.

Basically, Slain’s Castle is a deteriorated old castle in the middle of nowhere on the Scottish coast. Apparently, it’s not technically owned by anyone, so it just sits there at the mercy of nature and time -- no restorations, no entrance fee, and best of all, NO PEOPLE. It just blows my mind that something so amazing is just sitting there with no one in charge of it, but this is one of those times when I feel really fortunate to have studied in Aberdeen because if I didn’t live a mere 45-minute bus ride away, I doubt I would have gotten around to seeing it, and I can definitely see why most people don’t.

Because the castle is not owned by anyone, there are no signs pointing the way to Slain’s Castle, because nobody wants to take responsibility for any pieces of it that may fall on your head since, well, it’s an old castle with no safety measures. So it was an adventure in itself just getting there. From Aberdeen, Laura and Jen and I took the bus to a small town called Cruden Bay and basically walked out of town until we could see the castle in the distance. Even from far away, it looked great. It sounds silly, but it was a kind of adventure that reminded me of being a kid: there we were surrounded by unexplored territory (well, unexplored by us), totally alone in the Scottish countryside, searching for a castle on a cliff, crossing ravines. Who has to figure out how to get across a ravine anymore? There’s always a bridge. I love that there wasn’t.

This is me apprehensively making my way through the trees. In the adventure story we were living, this is Jen being attacked by an evil tree. You will note that she is appropriately turned on.

Here we are taking a breather. Being in an adventure story is exhausting. (I would discover later that it also makes me hungry.)

Finally, we approached this side of the castle. We couldn’t believe how intact it was -- it’s definitely falling apart, but we weren’t expecting anything that strongly resembled a castle. Most of the castles I’ve visited that didn’t require an entrance fee were basically the bottom three feet of the walls. Everything else is usually gone.

I never got over how beautiful it was to look out castle windows and doors and see the open sea. Especially right on the edge of the cliff, such epic openness framed by the remains of this castle was such a beautiful image.

Everyone tells you not to climb all over the castle because it’s dangerous, but I didn’t see that we had much of a choice. There was too much to see just standing on the ground. Apart from tiny Cruden Bay, there was absolutely no sign of civilization as far as the eye could see.

Of course, in addition to being blown away by the raw beauty of the castle and the surrounding area, the three of us also had the good sense to realize that this was a phenomenal location for a photo shoot. There are hundreds more where this came from, but I’ll spare you. I kind of want to post this one just for fun, though.


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