London and Scotland Day 12
Dunrobin Castle, Falconry, and a wee Scotch tasting
We started our ride early at 8:45 out to the famous ( and intact!) castle of Dunrobin, passing some decommissioned oil rigs on the way along the Moray Firth. Scotland has done pretty well in oil drilling.
Dunrobin Castle is the historic home of the Dukes and Earls of Sutherland. Although the earliest parts of the building date from 1275, most of it is later extensions added between 1835 and 1850. It has been remarkably well preserved and kept up, and contains most of the original furnishings, decoration, and intact paraphernalia used at the time this very wealthy family lived here.
The Earls and Dukes of Sutherland are part of the Highland clan of Sutherland, and as such, have quite a lineage that continues today. You can find prolific examples of portraits on the walls of each and every room. The artists made a good livelihood!
We went through a fair number of it’s 189 rooms including the billiard , dining, music, breakfast and drawing rooms, nursery area and many more too numerous to mention.
Many of them look out on the exquisite gardens below which we saw close up on our way out to the end area where we experienced a falconry exhibition.
The falconer, Alan, planned an adventure with a young lady in the audience. We were lucky enough to get front row seats and got up close and personal with the birds.
First up was a Harris hawk who went through its paces " catching" a rabbit that was pulled by the girl, and flying to eat the chicken meat left on the perches by Alan. All the while he was teaching us about the birds.
Then, we met the Saker falcon, hooded at the start to allow it to get acclimated to the audience and surroundings. It moves three times as fast as the hawk, and can catch larger animals.
Birds of prey were used not only for sport hunting, but to bring meat to the clansman’s homes. It took a bit of luck and skill to capture one and then train it.
This was a unique and wonderful presentation and we got to get up close and personal with the birds.
We returned home with a stop at the distillery Glenmorangie. Although a full tasting is usually included in the tour, because of the totally changed schedule, we got a short one with two tastings. Plenty enough! The giraffe is their logo because it is as tall as their stills!
Dinner was at a local restaurant, good Cullen Skink, fish and chips, and Wendy had a yen for Mac ‘n cheese.
Here is a map of our adventures in the Scottish Highlands.