This is it—the day we go to see the castle that inspired Caisteal Aingeal an Bhais from In the Company of the Dead. It was almost like stepping into the book.
Dad was with me, so I had someone to haul around, pointing at things saying “this is where Lyram’s suite would have been, but the floor has long since rotted out” and “this is the stairwell that led to Ellaeva’s room” and “look, I think I can see the murder holes in the barbican!”
It was definitely a highlight of the trip, though I hesitate to say it was the highlight because it happened so early. But maybe it was.
Driving to Caerlaverock is interesting because it’s basically a castle in the middle of nowhere. You’re driving through all these fields, down narrow, windy roads with not much to see on either side because of high walls, high fences, high hedges, or any combination thereof, and then suddenly this castle appears in the distance. That in itself is kind of incredible.
Secondly, it’s triangular. If you missed my earlier post on this castle when I was in planning phase, this castle is unique in the United Kingdom (possibly all of Europe) as it only has three walls forming a triangle shape fronted by a double gatetower at the top point where the entrance is located. The shape itself is fascinating. It’s also a moated castle,with some evidence that there was at one stage a second wall and/or moat, making this a concentric-ringed castle as well. You can still see the mounds of the moats/walls outside the castle.
Caerlaverock is a really good castle for kids, although mine made me climb up this ruined turnpike stairway that is so narrow you literally cannot do it without the help of the rope strung up the central pillar. Consider yourself warned. Also, there is a great playground for kids, and a decent café.
While I was there, I signed five copies of In the Company of the Dead, so there are now five limited editions in existence signed at the castle. One of them I have already given away to one of my biggest fans, but there is another up for grabs in my Christmas Giveaway.
Because I started in the middle, I kind of forgot to say this was the day we drove from York to Scotland. The English countryside, which I’d not driven before, isn’t really much like Scotland at all, and I was a little disappointed because I wasn’t getting that “homecoming” feeling I had last time, and then the countryside started to get steeper and rockier and then bam! There it was.
We also drove through Penrith, England. This is interesting because I was born in Penrith, Australia, and my parents still live there. In fact, Mum one day had a guy come in the shop where she works and ask her where the castle was. She gave him a funny look and told him she thought he had the wrong Penrith. We missed the castle, but Mum and Dad saw it in passing and assured me there is, actually, a castle in Penrith. Just not our Penrith.
I hung out with the camera trying to get a shot as we crossed the border, with some success.After we saw Caerlaverock Castle we drove to Fife and spent the night at a nice little cottage at Kilconquhar Castle not far from St Andrews.