Monday, March 27, 2017

Morton Castle

This is a beautiful spot - Morton Loch, a little ways off the A702 between Carronbridge and Durisdeer.

And it's made even more picturesque with the ruins of Morton Castle.

I had the place to myself when I stopped off here on Saturday, returning cross-country from Ayr. There could have been no better picnic spot on a perfect spring day.

There's probably been a fortification on this spot since the 12th century, with the earliest features of what is standing today dating to c1300. The round gatehouse tower (above) is impressive. The matching tower was apparently destroyed in the 14th century. According to the Historic Scotland information board on site, "... a treaty with England in 1357 to release David II from captivity took its toll on Morton. Part of this treaty called for the destruction of several castles in the SW of Scotland, and Morton was one. The demolition was not total but it may explain the loss of one half of the gatehouse."

More on the history of the castle can be found here.

Inside what would have been the Great Hall.

 
From the loch side.

My lunchtime companions were these Greylag geese. There were several 'courting couples'. It was interesting to observe all the interactions! I rather liked the reflections made by these two as they swam close by.

Pix © Skip Cottage

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring Yellow

It is back to winter today, but just a few days ago there was spring in the air at Skip.

 
I just love the yellow of the daffodils at this time of year.

 
Even the name brings a smile - 'Jetfire'!

 
More yellow. Forsythia is a favourite shrub.

 Aside from the daffodils, the little Chionodoxa is my favourite spring bulb.

On the road near Skip, these double daffodils are out, with the standing stone in the background.

Hopefully some real spring weather will be on the way soon!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Thursday, March 16, 2017

On the platform

Last Saturday I spent an enjoyable few hours at Carlisle, with the prospect of meeting up with a couple of steam locomotives. First to arrive was LMS Royal Scot Class 7P 4-6-0 no 46115 Scots Guardsman pulling the Railway Touring Company's 'The Midday Scot' from Manchester to Edinburgh.

 
The locomotive was uncoupled from the coaches and reversed into a siding to take on water from a tanker. Here it is being passed by a TransPennine Express EMU from Manchester.

 
Lots of interest as it runs up platform 1 to rejoin its rake of carriages.

Sing along with Wayne Fontana here.

Here we go, "Pamela, Pamela, remember the days ..."

Off we go! Note all the scaffolding in the background. Carlisle's Citadel Station is undergoing a huge refurbishment at the moment. Read about that and the history of the station here. By sometime next year, after a £14.7 million spend, the station will have a new roof and platform upgrades.

To see Scots Guardsman working up from Beattock, unassisted, check out this video. Wonderful!

Built in 2008, this class 66 diesel locomotive carries the name Stephenson Locomotive Society 1909-2009.

Some of the Cumbrian Coast passenger services are currently DRS loco hauled, or pushed, trains. It's like a heritage line! No 37409 Lord Hinton dates from 1965, and was once called Loch Awe.

There was time for a walk downtown, have some lunch and pick up some shopping, to get back to the station to see LMS Jubilee Class 6P 4-6-0 no 45690 Leander slide into the station with a West Coast Railways charter from Scarborough. Leander pulled the Preston-Carlisle leg.

This class 47/7 no 47746 was on the rear, and would haul the tour on its return. The locomotive dates from 1964 and was named Chris Fudge 29.7.70 - 22.6.10. Who was he? Story is here.

Back at the front end, I found myself in position to hear one side of the conversation between train crew and the signallers. Fascinating.

Now you see it, now you don't!

Leander and its support coach pulls away.

Backing back under the bridge and onto the middle road through the station.

Passing a southbound Pendolino standing at platform 4.
Pix © Skip Cottage

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

The castle I see from the train

This is the River Clyde at Crawford. In the distance are some of the many turbines of the Clyde wind farm, and you can see a Virgin train running alongside the river on the West Coast Main Line. I use the line often, and, from the window, I've noticed some ruins as we pass Crawford. "One day I must investigate these further," I've said to myself on more than one occasion.

 
That 'one day' turned out to be last Sunday. I was driving back from Edinburgh in the afternoon, it wasn't raining, and I did have my camera with me. The ruins can be accessed from the little road that runs up to Camps Reservoir from Crawford.

There's not much left of Castle Crawford. You can read its history here and here. The castle ruins stand on a large artificial mound, probably the remains of a twelfth century motte. The visible ruins are of a structure built in the early 1600s, but abandoned at the end of the eighteenth century. Apparently much of the stone was used to build the nearby Crawford Castle farmhouse, which explains why so little remains.

This doorway suggests past grandeur.

Looking south, one can appreciate the importance of the site, defending the route north from England.

Ruins do hold a fascination! Not to be explored closely on a stormy day, I advise.

On walking up the road towards the castle I noticed this little gate. I could so easily have walked past, but something made me stop and look closer.

A fairy gate, complete with fairies. Made my day!

Photos © Skip Cottage