So today we decided to “take it easy” which meant not leaving the hotel until 10am. Everyone would really like a day to rest and relax but there’s so much to see and so little time.
Greeted by a bright, sunny morning, we drove about 30 minutes to Pitmedden Garden, an estate that dates back hundreds of years. One of the first things Jacquelyn said when we arrived: “Anyone else feel like they’re on Downton Abbey?”
Designed and maintained in a style reminiscent of the Victorian era, the gardens both soothe and inspire. Sunshine and temperatures in the low 60’s made this a perfect day for strolling through the various gardens, sitting on benches, taking photographs.
Before leaving, we ate lunch at the Pitmedden Gardens Tea Room.
Jacquelyn and I ordered herbal tea made with fresh mint leaves from the garden,
plus parsnip and apple soup. (We both loved the tea. Only I loved the soup.) It was sandwiches on fresh bread for everyone else, plus special drinks and dessert. Wouldn’t you like a sip of Christina’s cocoa with its towering mountain of whipped cream and marshmallows?
My chocolate mousse came topped with fresh berries and the mousse was both creamy and semi-sweet – just how I like it!
St. Machar’s Cathedral
In the heart of Old Aberdeen, lies St. Machar’s Cathedral. Founded in 580 AD by Machar, a companion of St. Columba of Iona, this site of worship became a cathedral in 1131 AD. The current building dates from around 1350 – 1520.
Every church here in Scotland seems to have one story or another about how years of passionate, sometimes violent, religious conflict affected their parish, building or property. St. Machar’s is no exception, though only parts of the church (the ecclesiastical properties, Bishop’s residence, etc.) were abandoned or destroyed.
Trivia for the day: Do you know the official religion of the Church of Scotland? I didn’t! And the answer is….Presbyterian.
Today, St. Machar’s appears to be an active parish with regular services, prayer ministry and a commitment to serving the community.
Legend of the Day: One of William Wallace’s arms (after he was tortured, murdered and cut to pieces by the English monarchy) was sent to St. Machar’s and buried there.
While I loved our time at St. Machar’s, as a church communications director, I couldn’t leave without snapping a photo of this heartwarming welcome sign.
What’s that? Why the Brig o’Balgownie is the oldest bridge (brig=bridge) in Scotland! I failed to anticipate the difficulty level of locating a nation’s oldest bridge. After all, I had no trouble finding said bridge on the internet…in fact, on the internet, the old stone brig found me all on it’s own when I googled attractions near Aberdeen. Yet, nothing could help us find this baby. Not a GPS. Not street signs. Not even this guy:
He was really, really, really eager to talk to us. Nice guy. His dog’s named Jack. And he knew right where to send us. Buuuuuuuut he actually sent us to the wrong bridge.
So then we talked to these people:
Friendly and helpful, they at least got us started in the right direction, but told us that once we got near the bridge to keep driving around because “there’s an awful lot of turns” to get there.
Well, praise God, after lots of u-turns, and k-turns and omg-turns and wtf-turns (just let the “f” stand for “freak” and it’s all good) in our giant, candy-apple-red dragon of a mini-bus, we got there. Capturing a great view took a bit of exploring…through the woods, and/or people’s yards.
I don’t know, but sometimes I think people in the UK are just familiar with tourists in a way Americans aren’t. Here, people give tours of their homes…the homes they live in…like you can go up to their door and ask to tour their house…so I guess walking through their yards to get to the woods to see a 1700 year-old bridge isn’t without precedent.
She’s a beauty. And so old.
And now we can all say we’ve seen the oldest bridge in Scotland.
William Wallace’s Statue
On our way back to the hotel, we drove by a statue of William Wallace. Twice. That photo is still on Doug’s camera. But guys, a statue of a man who fought in a war? Like you haven’t seen that before. If you really must set your eyes on the legendary William Wallace in all his bronze glory, there’s always Google. But you really have to want it, because I’m not even giving you a link. (No disrespect to mighty William Wallace, of course.)
We wrapped up the night with dinner back at the hotel and a short swim before packing for our drive to Inverness the next day!
Elgin Cathedral, Cawdor Castle, a family find, Passing Places and more!