Thursday, April 17, 2014

Falkland

Feeling so inspired from our previous week's adventure to Culross, I did a little research and found another former royal burgh and medieval town, Falkland, also located in Fife. We packed our picnic basket and jumped in the car for our weekend adventure.

Falkland Palace Gatehouse

Falkland Palace is the centerpiece of the small town. As you drive through town, the gatehouse house greets you, built during the reign of James V and restored in the early 20th century. The Palace is built on the grounds of the original early medieval castle, with many subsequent additions being built on to the south side of the Palace over a 200 year period.

I would have loved to go in to the Palace and explore, but as dogs are not allowed, we just decided to save it for another day. The Palace is home to a large garden and the oldest tennis court in Britain, built in the 1530s, among many other historical rooms in this medieval royal residence.

Parish Church

We decided to walk through town just to explore the old buildings. I dream of one day buying an old derelict, listed building and doing it up in a historically accurate style. I'm obsessed with the TV program, Restoration Man, so whenever I see an old place that I like, I think about what I can do to fix it up. Right now, since we can't afford to do that :( I'll just stick to taking pictures of buildings I like for future inspiration.

Mercat Cross



One element of Falkland that I fell in love with was the marriage lintels dotted around town. These lintels, located above a number of doors and windows, mark the year of marriage and the initials of the buildings first owners. It's quite romantic to think of these carved stones lasting in their original homes for several centuries. The earliest one we were able to find was dated 1610.






It didn't take long to walk around town, there were a few cute cafes and antique shops, but we eventually found a short walking trail for the dog to enjoy. Falkland was a beautiful little town and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a nice day out in Fife.










Dog-friendly- the Palace does not welcome dogs, but there was a very lovely little walk along the river that Violet enjoyed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Culross and Culross Abbey

Culross Abbey- Historic Scotland
Palace and Town- National Trust of Scotland

Culross Palace

On a brisk Saturday morning this February, Ian and I decided to pack a picnic and drive over the bridge for a day in Fife. Having the guide book for Historic Scotland in the car, we decided that Culross Abbey would be our destination.


As we followed the road signs for Culross we were eventually greeted with a beautiful little village along the Firth of Forth. Driving through town you cannot help but notice the striking yellow Palace that provides the focal point for this 16th century town. The Palace is run by the National Trust and was sadly closed for the winter months, but we definitely plan on visiting again during the summer. I believe it was a few years ago that they restored the palace to its original 16th century yellow color.
Just walking through this small village you cannot help but think that you have found yourself on the set of some historical drama. It's almost to good to be true.


We walked up to the gates of the Palace we noticed that the garden was still open to visitors. Gardens like these, owned by historic trusts, tend to be very well cared for and often they sell their produce for a very small cost to the visitors. The first thing we noticed as we walked through the gates of the garden was the large amount of potatoes, broccoli, swede and apples for sale. Not one to pass up a great opportunity like this, we loaded up on a several varieties of potatoes and the most beautiful purple sprouting broccoli I have ever seen, all for the small sum of about £2.50. It was so much to carry that Ian had to make a quick trip back to the car to drop it all off.









We enjoyed the beautiful sunshine and wandered around the terraced garden for a good thirty minutes. Violet, the little terror that she is, loved to take a bite out of any plant that she passed by.





After we had finished exploring the garden we left to go find our way to the abbey. As we walked around the few little cobbled streets, I still couldn't believe how amazing Culross was. Many of the houses in town have been restored and preserved with the help of the National Trust, really helping to give you the impression that you are in a 17th century village. The mercat cross stands in the town square and as you walk up the hill to the abbey, many of the houses still have their foundation stones.



Culross Abbey is accessed by a short walk up to the top of the hill, overlooking the little village below. Owned by Historic Scotland, it is free for everyone to walk around. Not much remains of the original Cistercian monastery, founded in 1217, but some parts have been incorporated into the church that is still in use today.



The three of us had a wander around the old ruins and then made our way around to the other side of the church to have a look through the graveyard.  I've always been fascinated by old graveyards- I love looking for the oldest grave markers in the cemetery. The doors of the church were open when when went to have a look, but we noticed a group of quite loud and obnoxious tourists having a look around in there that we thought it was probably better to just head back down the hill and back to the car for our drive home.




Dog-friendly?- The Palace does not allow dogs, but as the Abbey is not a roofed building, dogs are welcome on a lead. Violet loved running around the ruins and posing for pictures!