Stepping Back in Time at House of Dun

Last week, my family and I headed up to St Cyrus, near Montrose for a well earned holiday. It was our first time in this area and I can say, we weren’t disappointed. It’s a very beautiful part of the Scottish coastline with stunning views and a crazy amount of stately homes and castles as well as a huge amount of history going back thousands of years.

St Cyrus beach from the cliff path.

There’s so much to see and do in this area and it’s ideal for a short break away.
Whilst on holiday, we visited House of Dun, near Montrose. This Georgian house is one of magnificence and grandeur and we’ll worth a visit.

View of the stable block and way in.

It was designed by William Adam and it was completed in 1743 to replace the draughty old tower house of the Erskine’s.

Rear view looking over the Montrose Basin.

The Erskine’s had lived on this land from the 1300’s up to 1980 when the house and it’s belongings were bequeathed to the National Trust for Scotland.

Courtyard view to the west of the house. The white building in the middle was a larder.
Entrance into the courtyard.

 I’ll not pretend to know the history of this house or family so I’ll leave it there, you can find plenty of information online if you’re interested.

The walled garden joined to the east of the house.
Rear view looking down to the Montrose Basin.

If you’ve not been here before, I’d highly recommend a visit. A guided tour of the house takes about 45 minutes or so then you’ve got the fantastic grounds to explore, all the way down to the Montrose Basin. If you take your time and wander down the many paths you’ll be sure to come across some really interesting things to see. As well as the house with all of its magnificent artwork, there’s two walled gardens, an ice house, cemetery and more. It’s a really great day out!

One of the falls on the woodland walk.
The family mausoleum.

Below, is a selection of images taken inside the house whilst on the tour. The tour guides were great, especially Louisa who plays the part of the Lady of the House, Violet Jacob. They’re dressed in period costumes and tell you the story of the house and the family, they helped to make it a really great day out. They were knowledgeable too, my kids asked questions as did I and a few other guests also. My only complaint, I wanted to go round again and take my time to admire the amazing furniture and artworks and photograph things at my leisure. Not much of a complaint though is it?

As always, thank you for taking the time to read this. Feel free to share it far and wide and if you’re in the area, stop by for a visit, you won’t be disappointed, it’s well worth the money!

All the best, Paul.

Time poor 

Clyde walkway, Bothwell Castle.

Click the picture to download the Clyde walkway leaflet for Bothwell.

Aside from my family, there are three things in my life that I feel extremely passionate about, photography, walking and history. Any one of the three can cause me to lose hours from my day.

Kype Water, Sandford.

Clyde walkway, Bothwell Castle.

Regardless of the weather there is nothing I enjoy more than to be out wandering around the countryside. Generally before any adventuring, you’ll find me pouring over old maps and looking for historical information about the area that I plan to visit. I love finding relics from the past, old ruins, abandoned buildings, monuments, graveyards, that sort of thing. These all make for fantastic subject matter in my photographs and that allows me to combine all my favourite pastimes into one trip out.

Graves, Lanercost Priory.

However like most people these days I am time poor. I like to think I’m a family person and always put their needs first (my family may disagree!) but then I find that my hobbies take a back seat. Between work, a wife and 3 children I struggle, struggle to find both motivation and the time to squeeze in much else. However since February this year I’ve been making an effort to get out at least one day a week even if it’s only for a couple of hours. When I’m out it’s mainly been for a walk, anything from a few miles to as much as 8 depending on where I go and how much time I have. Believe it or not I don’t normally take my camera with me, mainly due to time constraints, however I always have my phone.

View of Carnwath Church and St Mary’s Aisle.

Inside St Mary’s Aisle, Carnwath.

On most of my jaunts my focus is walking, generally it’s around some old historic estate trying to find any remains. I may not have my camera but I always try to take some photos on my phone. Not only does this provide me with a record for the future, it allows me to share what I have found with others online.

Taken near Culter Fell.

My photography has definitely taken a back seat over this last 6 months. It’s not that I’ve given up on it or lost interest, it’s just I don’t have time to spend on it along with everything else, and exercise has definitely been more of a priority. I am hoping now the mornings and the nights are lighter that I can fit in some proper photography between now and September but only time will tell.

Inside the summer house at Dumfries House Estate.

As I previously mentioned in another post, it amazes me how good mobile phone cameras have become. Some of the photographs I have taken whilst walking have turned out really good and I find now that I am enjoying using my phone more and more for photography.

Waterfall, Kelburn Castle.

My phone is the Huawei P9, it has a dual lens camera co-engineered with Leica with one dedicated lens for monochrome. The results are fantastic, the quality is way above any previous phone I’ve owned or used, it allows manual control and shoots in DNG RAW format. As I said, I’ve had this with me on my travels and I’ve taken pictures on each trip. What your seeing on this page is some of my favourite pictures over the last few months, all taken on my phone and edited from RAW using Snapseed.

Mausoleum, Lowther Castle.

We nearly all have a phone and it’s generally never far from us, I’d encourage you all to think about what you like and start taking some pictures, you don’t need the biggest or best camera to make a good photo. Remember, a photo is recorded by the camera but it’s taken by the person holding it.

Hermitage Castle, Newcastleton.

Photo Opportunities & Walks, in and Around Lanarkshire

Updated on the 10th of May 2021

Anyone who knows me will know that I love the outdoors, I love exploring and finding places to walk and to take photographs. I’m always on the lookout for new places to explore and capture and I am happy to share my knowledge with others in the hope they can benefit from it too. So, that’s what this post is all about, I’ve put together a list of some places that I’ve enjoyed going to for my photography however there are a few places that I have not yet visited. I have researched these sites and they’ve been added to my list of locations to visit as I’m confident they offer great local opportunities. I have listed all of the locations on the Google map below, clicking on the location will give you some information about the site. I have split the map into photo locations and walks so it’s easier to select which one you want, you can filter the options by clicking the square symbol with the arrow on the top left of the map.

If anyone reading this wishes to contribute to the list please feel free to drop a comment. However please leave a description and Google Maps coordinates so it’s easy for others to find.

Lastly I would like to ask anyone who visits any of these sites that you show respect and please do not enter the buildings as some are in a bad way and can be dangerous. Also some are privately owned like Cambusnethan and Eastend and their owners do not want anyone entering the buildings.
If you wish to get in contact regarding anything within this post on please feel free to email me at questions@viewthroughthelens.co.uk

Well I hope after reading this you find somewhere worth exploring and photographing. If you do please feel free to let me know how it went, would you recommend the sites I’ve chosen? If you want to link any pictures you’ve taken into the comments then please do.

Thanks very much for reading, hope you find something of interest.
Paul

Below you will find some websites that I find are a great help when I’m looking for places to visit. I’ve mentioned a few times about looking at old maps before heading to some of these sites so you can get an idea of what once was there and what may still be. I would normally look up pictures on Instagram and Flickr as well as a Google search. It helps you give you an idea of what you may want to capture.

For old maps I use the National Library of Scotland, it’s free and has extensive coverage and the maps can be overlaid. http://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=5&lat=56.0000&lon=-4.0000&layers=1

I also get a lot of ideas from a Facebook groups I am part of. The main ones are “Lost Houses of Clyde Valley”. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1475717922681828/ and “Castles, Mansions and Historic Houses of Scotland”. https://www.facebook.com/groups/642086055910658/permalink/803741759745086/

There is also the excellent “Blantyre Project”. http://www.blantyreproject.com/

A Walk Through History

First of all let me apologise as its been weeks between posts, I just can’t seem to find the time to keep this site going, however I am determined I’m not giving up. Most weekends I have been out somewhere and I do have photos to post. I think though I am going to have to start taking pictures in JPEG instead of RAW as this is mainly what holds me up, I never seem to get time to process them!

Anyway enough of my apologetic whining!

So, a few months back I stumbled upon a reference online to a castle I had never heard of, Torwood. After some reading up I found that it’s not to far a drive and that there was not only the ruin of a castle but the ruin of broch also, known as Tappoch broch. For those who do not know of brochs they area very old fortified dwellings once common in Scotland and Ireland, around 2000 – 3000 years old. Needless to say the 1st chance I had I took a trip over.

It did start as a rather dreary morning however it brightened quickly and turned out to be a splendid day albeit a little to bright for pictures as you’ll see, a few burnt out skies! We found a small layby just after the village of Torwood and parked up. There is a rather nice walk up the hill through some forest by a disused mine and quarry. Had it not been raining I would have a great 1st picture to show. The quarry is flooded and there has to be hundreds of old tyres floating in it. However there was a few ducks all swimming around between the tyres not seeming to mind the horrible looking water. It would have been an interesting shot. Now it’s not to long a walk from the car to the broch, maybe a mile, mile and half although it’s all uphill however it doesn’t take to long. It’s a nice enough walk through the forest however it’s not any different from any other, nothing special to see, although I’ll mention that this was once a royal forest used for hunting and for timber.

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Once you reach the broch its a little underwhelming as it’s just an overgrown hill, until you get near to the crown of the hill that is. As you get closer you see the stonework, the ditch surrounding it and the stairs going into it.

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Its walls can’t be more than maybe 7 feet at their highest but there is enough left to see that this was once quite large with thick defensible walls.

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Standing on the hill with the trees cleared away it would have looked quite imposing I would imagine. At this point it was about 7am and the sun was getting higher and the clouds were clearing away although it was a little chilly. We stayed there for about an hour or so, got some pictures, went exploring then moved on further up the hill towards the castle. The walk from there to the castle again could be no more than a mile and its a fairly easy walk, a slight incline then a slight decline and it levels out.

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You come onto a gravel road that leads to the castle and some house near by, you get a great view from here across rolling fields. In the distance you can see the Falkirk Wheel.

Forest path

Just of to the side of the road thee is a path and you get a nice side view of the castle from there.

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A view from the road

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Falkirk Wheel in the distance

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The castle is now only a shadow of its former self with only one building still standing, however any castle enthusiast can see that this castle was once much larger with a central courtyard and high walls on all sides, it’s a real shame only this small part now exists. The castle is a ruin and is not accessible, I believe it’s privately owned.

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Entrance road to the castle

There is not much shade around the castle and the sun was bright at this point so as you can see I managed to get the sky blown out a little in a couple of shots. Now had I not plans for later that day I would have liked to explore around the area some more as it looks as though there was more places for a wonder and I am sure more photos to be had however it just means another trip some point later in the year, hopefully!

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We didn’t head back the same way, we followed the road down by the houses presuming it would bring us out in Torwood village, which it did.It was a pleasant tree-lined avenue with lots of daffodils lining the way.

tree lined path

The walk back was all downhill and in a straight line, it took about 20 minutes and that was with me stopping to take a couple of pictures.

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Now as luck would have it, we made it back to the car, packed our gear in the boot and as it closed it began to rain, then pour. I love those days when the weather is on your side!

Now I have purposely not written about the history of the two sites, I would have been here all day! I would encourage anyone who may be interested in either site to a take a trip over and explore and there is info online for both sites too should you wish read up. I will say though, One thing I found interesting was, the day started with the walk up to the broch which is around 2500 years old, then we came to the castle that is around 450 years old and then the last part of the walk took us to the modern-day village, which is very modern in places with a lot of houses built this century. Hence the title of my post as it was a walk through the ages.

As always, let me thank you for reading through and again I apologise for the length of time it takes me to get things updated.

Paul

A Change in the Weather

Well this last few weeks the weather seems to have been all over the place. It wasn’t to long ago we managed 3 seasons in one day! All of a sudden though we have some sunshine and warmth, good old Scottish shorts and t-shirt weather (10°+!).

So, it was only the 2nd day of the easter holidays and I was already getting moans and groans of “I’m bored”, “I’ve nothing to do”. So I packed a picnic, myself and the 3 tiny terrors into the car and went to Barons Haugh Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Motherwell. It’s a lovely place for a walk, situated in a large estate with lots of hidden corners to explore.

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The weather held up, there was a bit of a chill wind at times however in general it was a very pleasant walk.

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We found a nice corner that gave a good view of the River Clyde and set out our lunch.

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My picnic packing skills must be fairly decent as a few swans appeared and decided to join us for some sandwiches.

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We were out for a good 5 hours and only made it half way round (children are so slow!) however we did manage a not too shabby 5 mile walk, not bad for 3 kids under 10. I will say though, trying to watch a one year old and also take photos is not as easy as it sounds. Every time I pulled the camera out he was off! His brothers were not much better!

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Seen as I am supposed to be improving on my very limited photography skills I decided to only use my Pentax 50mm lens, no zoom except my feet. Most of our walk was trees and riverside with little to look at other that swans, ducks and birds and reeds. However on the way back up to the car we did manage a short stop at the old cemetery.

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It’s in a poor state, very overgrown and a lot of damage to the grave stones.

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It’s a real shame however it also grants it some character. I’d love to have seen this place in its hay day as there was once a church also that sadly nothing remains of.

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Well as always, thank you for taking the time to read through and I hope you liked the photos. If your in the area and have never been I would recommend Barons Haugh.
I’ve been a little behind with my editing however I will aim to get my next post on soon as possible. I’ve been out a bit recently and have more to share.

Thanks again,
Paul

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Forth and Clyde Canal – Auchinstarry Marina

Recently I found myself in Cumbernauld with a couple of hours to kill and little to do. Fortunately I had my camera in the boot of my car. This was not a planned outing and I had no idea where to go locally so I went a short drive. Only 5 minutes away I found this little marina with a couple dozen boats and barges. I parked up and took a walk and managed after some trial and error to get a few decent pictures.

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The light was a real variable, it just would not sit still and kept changing. One minute I had bright sunlight and it reflected off everything then the next dark cloud, it really could not make up its mind. Fortunately I only had the smallest amount of rain to contend with.

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In the above picture you can see the cloud coming in off the Campsie Fells.

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I think regardless of how the weather may be this is a lovely little place to stop as there is so much colour to be had from the boats and barges and on a clear day the view in the distance is nice, well from certain angles.

There is a car park and some nice walks into the forest and up onto a nearby hill. It’s quite a busy little place but not to busy that your photos will be spoiled.

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Below I have attached a couple of shots I liked, mainly due to the bright colours.

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After my colourful barges I took a short walk into the trees behind the canal and took a few different pictures. I quite liked the silhouetted ones with the sun poking through the trees.

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I can see me making another trip out here in the future, as there is so many other photos waiting to be taken. I think though I will be needing a lot longer than a couple of hours to get the most from it.

Well, there we go, my first proper post, the first of many I hope. I have enjoyed photographing the boats and barges so I think this will be added to my list of themes / projects. As I manage more outings I will endeavour to keep this page going and get a sample of each trip uploaded.

I have added my album from the day to Flickr. There is a few more photos on there, some of the barges, some not. So if anyone wishes they can.

http://flic.kr/s/aHsk91gAfy

Thanks,

Paul