Saturday, September 24th Sunny
After our visit to Urquhart Castle, we drove to Cromarty on the Black Isle. We did not see the Castle Craig so we started to drive along the Cromarty Firth. Stopped at an old graveyard and found some Urquharts buried there, Donald and a James. Called Chuck for directions, he gave us some clues, so we headed off again. We came to a sign for Craigston and decided to try it. We thought we saw it, so we asked a farmer who was working at the side of the road and we asked him if that was Castle Craig and he said it was. We told him we were Urquharts from Canada and he said “So you’ve come home, have ya?” Brian got all choked up. The farmer told us where to park and where the path was to the castle. We found the sign marking the path to Castle Craig saying the Shore Path was 3/4 of a mile away.
We had to walk through a farmer’s field but it had recently been plowed and was dry so it was an easy walk down. Then we realized that there was a barbed wire fence stopping us from going into the ruins. At first we found some man-made stairs over the fence and tried to reach the castle from both the shore and through the brush but could not get to it. Then we found a fence post closer to the castle that had been broken into so that we could push the barbed wire down far enough to step over it. I could barely get my leg over but with Brian’s help (unattaching me from the barbs) I finally did. Then we were free to look inside and walk all around the ruins. We looked for Chuck and Andy’s names in the walls but couldn’t find them.
We finally walked back to the car and on the way we picked burrs off my sweater and our pants (from the weeds on the path). Got back to the car and went back to Cromarty with the intention of touring thru some of its buildings. That was when I realized that I was missing my glasses. We looked everywhere and then realized that the last time I has them on was reading the map to get to Castle Craig. I was pretty sure that I would have put them in my sweater pocket and thought that I must have lost them when I was picking off the burrs in the farmers field. So we decided to get gas and return to Castle Craig to get my glasses. Well we retraced our steps but could not find them, so I am now down to 1 pair of glasses. By the time we had done this, it was too late to visit Cromarty so we decided we would do it tomorrow. So we returned to Inverness.
Sunday, September 25th sunny
Happy Anniversary Patty and Chuck. This morning we were off again to Cromarty. Spent 2 hours at the Cromarty Museum with the Urquhart Room. William Urquhart was the first Sheriff of Cromarty - a very prestigious position and it passed to his heir for may years. There was a bit of history of the Urquharts but most was centered on Sir Thomas Urquhart who was Laird of Cromarty in the mid-17th century. He was a noted eccentric who claimed to trace his ancestry back to Adam and Eve, invented a universal language and wrote incomprehensible works on mathematics. He was the first person to translate the works of Rabelais from French to English. Rabelais was a controversial French Renaissance writer whose books were banned by the Catholic Church.
The East Church was most impressive in its ancientness its simplicity and its condition. This would be the church where possibly Brian’s ancestors may have worshiped, it is old enough. It was created in the late 16th century with the T-plan created in 1739. George Ross constructed a Laird's Loft in the 1770s. On the wall there was a pedigree chart of the Urquharts that was very interesting. There were a number of James Urquharts on this chart and I wrote a number of things down but we are going to write for a copy of the chart.
We then walked around Cromarty, near the castle there but it is inhabited so could not tour it, and through an old graveyard, till we were too tired to walk any further.
View from Cromarty of the Firth of Cromarty.
View of Castle Craig from other side of the Firth.
Then we drove up the east coast, stopped at Dunrobin Castle, a very beautiful castle where the Earl of Sutherland still lives. It has gardens like at Versailles and had a falconry.
Then drove further north to Thurso right on the North sea. I was surprised that the terrain is rather flat. The coastline is very pretty from what we’ve seen. Getting cold and windy though.
Went to the shore after dinner to take a walk by the water but it was too cold and windy so we cut it short.