Having spent two days driving we left the car where it was this morning and explored our surroundings on foot. The obvious thing to do was to walk down to the shore, go along the coast to Dunscaith Castle and back along the road. After a few hundred yards we found the first of many little flag/indicators from an archeological survey that was carried out in 2010. It found remains of many houses and other structures dating from the Neolithic Period through to the Post-Medieval Period.
Our first goal was to get to the bay that we could see from the house, and in particular to the interesting looking tree that was visible from there. How to get there was not so straightforward because, even though the weather was dry and sunny, the rain of the preceding weeks had turned large parts of the fields in between us and our goal into a bog. We never sank more than ankle deep and our walking boots proved up to the task.
When we got to the bay we found the tree and the remains of a fisherman’s cottage. In weather like today’s it may seem an idyllic spot to live the simple life, but it must have been tough in the winter. The fishermen who built the house must have been a foot shorter than me: I could not get through the door opening without bending down. The bay seems an ideal habitat for otters and some sightings have been made here. We were not lucky this time, but I have a feeling that I will come back here often. It is a beautiful place to sit on a rock and just observe what’s going on. The otter may well appear in my field of vision when the telelens is mounted.
After some beachcombing we headed southeast along the rocky and pebbly coast line for a mile or so. A shag, some oystercatchers, crows, robins and seagulls provided some interest while we carefully negotiated our way on sometimes slippery rocks.
After a bit longer than anticipated we turned the corner and saw the bridge that connected Dunscaith Castle to the mainland. It’s only a gap of 20 feet or so, but for the defense of the castle that little gap was very important. Originally the castle belonged to the Clan MacDonald of Sleat. At some time in the 14th century it was taken from them by the Clan MacLeod. In the 15th century the castle was captured by King James I of Scotland. The MacDonalds were allowed to keep possession of the castle, but they abandoned the castle in the early 17th century. Now there are only some remains of the walls and the well inside the enclosure.
Getting into the castle was a bit tricky and required some careful balancing on a small ledge, while holding on to the wall. If Di had observed this manoeuvre it would no doubt have elicited anxious cries of “Ruudje, niet doen.” As it was I safely negotiated the gap and was rewarded with the vie above.
The entrance to the castle was once guarded by a wooden drawbridge, which covedred the big hole led to tvisible in the image below and led to the set of stairs that went into the castle. I think I would have felt pretty safe in my castle.