24th November – Dunfermline Abbey

Dunfermline Abbey and Palace (5)After a week of greyness, yesterday morning was bright and dry.    Sunshine!    In November you know it’s not going to last long, partly because sunset is around 3 o’clock in the afternoon (exaggerating only slightly!) – if you plan a day out it’s best not to go far, or else darkness will fall before you get there.   With this in mind, we took ourselves across the Forth Bridge, to have a look at Dunfermline Abbey and Palace.

Dunfermline Palace (4)

The Abbey – wall of refectory

Part of the Abbey

Undercroft (beneath the Abbey kitchens)

Undercroft (beneath the Abbey kitchens)

As far as Scotland’s royalty goes, Dunfermline has a long and sparkling pedigree.   I will tell you more on The Hazel Tree as soon as I can.   A priory was founded here by Queen Margaret (wife of Malcolm III) in 1070;  and their son, David I, raised its status to that of an Abbey.    The Reformation had a pretty disastrous effect on its fortunes, but James VI had a luxurious new palace built here in the late 16th century.

The Abbey Church is one of the few places that can perhaps rival Iona in terms of the number of Scottish kings and queens who are buried here.  Among them is Robert the Bruce.   Unfortunately, the Bruce was not receiving guests, as the eastern half of the church, which is still used as a place of worship, was closed for the winter.

A church in two halves, one apparently much older than the other?   Sounds complicated!  I can foresee some similarities with Dunkeld here!

See where the two halves meet?   The older part is on the left, with that squadron of flying buttresses

See where the two halves meet? The older part is on the left, with that squadron of flying buttresses

View from the graveyard

Some pretty townhouses by the graveyard

Meanwhile, Colin and I threaded our way around the cold stone ruins, down an exceptionally tight spiral staircase (be warned if you have a large handbag – you’ll have to hold it in front of you and walk sideways!) and gazed up at the stark but still impressive facade of the royal palace.

Palace

The ruins of the Palace

Dunfermline PalaceDunfermline Palace (2)

One thing I remember from my history lessons is that the Normans loved their fancy stonework, and there’s plenty on show in the Abbey Church.   Windows and doorways were groaning under layer upon layer of pie-crust style adornment.   The trouble was that the slanting sunlight, by that time coming at a low angle from the south, was casting some of the building into deep shadow while highlighting the rest.   My camera threw up its hands in despair.   I ended up ignoring the exposure meter and working by trial and error.   When we got back, I found that some creative cropping of images sometimes makes all the difference!

Doorway into the Abbey Church

Doorway into the Abbey Church

Inside the Abbey Church - look at those columns!

Inside the Abbey Church – look at those columns!

Columns in Dunfermline (2)Window in the Abbey Church (2)Window in the old Abbey church

Painted ceiling

Painted ceiling

Abbey Church - west entrance to the old part.  How on earth do you make sense of all these styles?!

Abbey Church – west entrance to the old part. How on earth do you make sense of all these styles?!

Dunfermline Abbey Church - doorway (2)

Dunfermline Abbey Church - the east gable of the more recent (eastern) side.  Set in stone around the tower are the words 'King Robert The Bruce'

Dunfermline Abbey Church – the east gable of the more recent (eastern) side. Set in stone around the tower are the words ‘King Robert The Bruce’

Shrine of St Margaret

Shrine of St Margaret, at the easternmost end of the ‘recent’ church

Holly

Abbey window

Dunfermline Abbey Church (5)I’ll be writing about Dunfermline Abbey soon on my other blog, The Hazel Tree.   Meanwhile, you can find out more about it by visiting Historic Scotland’s website.

Photos copyright © Colin & Jo Woolf

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18th November – Glenshee and Braemar

The road up into GlensheeWe took a drive up into the hills today, to visit a friend who lives near Braemar.

Not the best weather, but gloomy clouds and mist have their own special beauty!   We stopped a few times, first to photograph a hillside on the northern slopes of Glen Clunie that was just teeming with red deer;  and then to have a brief conversation with a red grouse who happened to be ambling along the side of the road to Tomintoul.   He had plenty to say for himself!

(Click to enlarge any of the photos)

Spittal of Glenshee

Spittal of Glenshee

Bridge at Spittal of Glenshee

Bridge at Spittal of Glenshee

Clouds in Glenshee

Glenshee (2)

Coming up into Glenshee

The Clunie Water, north of Glenshee

The Clunie Water, north of Glenshee

Glenshee hillside

Glenshee hillside

Spot the deer!

Spot the deer!

Looking south

Looking south

The road down Glen Clunie

The road down Glen Clunie

Fraser's Bridge

Fraser’s Bridge

River in Braemar

River in Braemar

River in Braemar (2)Red grouse

"Well, I must be getting on…"

“Well, I must be getting on…”

The drive home!

The drive home! (That’s the road, bottom right!)

Photos copyright © Jo Woolf

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9th November – Bracklinn Falls

Bracklinn Falls (1)We went to the Bracklinn Falls yesterday, for a walk with Leonie and Andrew.

Once admired by Queen Victoria, the Bracklinn Falls lie just above Callander, and are signposted from the town.   You have to walk about half a mile or so through lovely woodland, and you can hear them roaring long before you get there.

Bracklinn Falls (4)When we went there with Verity in early September, the falls were in full spate after heavy rain.   This time, although we’d had rain overnight, they were not quite at the same level.  However, they were easier to photograph, as the trees had shed most of their leaves and the lighting was better.

While we were waiting to meet Leonie and Andrew, we drove on a short distance to Loch Lubnaig (below), which was looking really lovely.

Loch Lubnaig

Andrew, Leonie & Colin

DS1_7130In Callander, the river was overflowing and we shared some of our lunch with the wildfowl.  These were mostly mallards and mute swans, but a couple of mergansers also came very close, and a small group of goldeneye were on the water.

Flooded car park

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