Scotland Is Calling: Doune Castle

IMG_5443<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.

IMG_5442Doune 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.

IMG_5399If you’re keeping score on a tally sheet or just doing shots each time I say “castle”, this is Castle #7: Edinburgh, Urquhart, Inverness, Dunrobin, Eileen Donan, Stirling, and now Doune.

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:

IMG_5423We 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.

IMG_5427The great hall is supposed to be one of the best examples of an original great hall still pretty much intact.

IMG_5412I think we all got a kick out of the privvy used by the nobility. Look out below!

IMG_5407There 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.

IMG_5419There 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:

IMG_5434My family taking their tour along the wall–aren’t they cute?

IMG_5437The 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. Monty Python DouneMy 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:

monty-python-flying-cowAnd 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.


One thought on “Scotland Is Calling: Doune Castle

  1. Once again, an excellent listing of our wonderful trip. I am happy to see that after many years have gone by that you can laugh out loud about accidents that happen on our film sets: such as scraping the roof of a rental truck at the hotel entrance; loosing equipment and paying extra for it; and my all time favorite, a Gaffer that breaks his ankle.

    I’m also thrilled with ..doune with Scotland. A Lipetz would never have made such a joke, but a MacAulay, “no problem.” Glad that you are deeply vested with the Clan.


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