<Sigh> This is it: Doune Castle. It turned out to be our last destination in Scotland and, although I still had a bunch of fun things up my sleeve and we were looking forward to seeing our English friends, it was hard to leave what is very likely our favorite country. I feel like I can breathe again in Scotland, with less people than in the States and most of them friendly; majestic scenery; and also, of course, no deadlines looming over my head. One year later and I still miss Scotland just as much as I did the second we drove over the border and into England.
Doune Castle. Now famous as Castle Leoch, the seat of Clan MacKenzie in the Starz version of Outlander, but known before that as the site of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Quite fitting, really, when you consider that this ancient castle is now the Holy Grail of Outlander TV fans all over the world. (It’s not the same castle in the book–totally the wrong place in Scotland. Clan MacKenzie was further north, but also the castle is fictional, so there’s that.) We came through after production on the mega-hit television series had wrapped, which I didn’t mind as it meant no crowds and less mud.
Doune is unlike the rest of the castles we visited in that it wasn’t exactly ruins, like Urquhart Castle, but neither was it overly renovated. It’s just the right size for exploration too, which means you’re done before boredom sets in. The thing that sets it above all the others–at least in the eyes of three out of four of us–was that the audio tour, which was included in the price, featured Terry Jones from Monty Python. He gave humorous and succinct descriptions of every place within the castle and then there was an option to hear something extra, including Monty Python sketches. It was highly entertaining. You can see the kids enjoying it:
We had (yet another) gorgeous sunny day–I’m sure the experience would have been a lot less fun in the mud–and there were only a handful of other people. We visited before Outlander aired in the States so when we finally did see the Castle Leoch scenes, I laughed a little. That’s the courtyard two photos above. It’s not nearly as large as it looks in the show. Here’s another angle of it from the castle walls.
There were many moments when we wouldn’t have known what exactly we were looking at if not for the handy audio tour, which was so much better than listening to a live person drone on and on. Plus, you could stop it and rewind if you missed something. Plus, Terry Jones–need I say more? Below is the Lord’s Hall, which was restored in the 1880s. It’s a little jarring to come upon this after all of the medieval stonework.
There was some scaffolding work being done outside when we were there. (No doubt the result of filming there–hey, I’ve been on film sets. Accidents happen. LOL). We were still able to walk up and along the wall, as Claire had done. The view from the wall:
The castle had a tiny gift shop. I usually don’t even let my kids linger too long in them, but we needed to give back the headsets so everybody started window shopping. It was actually one of the best gift shops we visited, especially for its size. If you’re a Monty Python fan, you’ll love the flying cows. My son bought himself a Monty Python book. While I love British and over-the-top (and British over-the-top) humor, to me Monty Python is a guy thing, along with Star Wars and fart jokes, and so much more in this world. Yet, however sick it is, hurled cows are funny:
And so, we are doune with Scotland (I know, I know–it’s my blog so I get to make bad jokes). At this point, our calm meandering took on a little more urgency, as we had the most driving with no stops ahead of us. We had places to be and people to see. I was very sad to say goodbye to Scotland, but I know we’ll be back. I just hope it doesn’t take another 17 years until the next time.
Mar sin leat Alba!
Next: An English Castle of our own.