My trip to Scotland

Day one took me through Northumberland, with a couple of stops to see Roman sites, and then up into Scotland. On the road heading towards Jedburgh, this is the sight you’re waiting for.

Scotland sign
It’s in a lay-by and viewpoint, so you can park there and admire the undulations of border country.

Then it was off to Jedburgh, where there’s an abbey next to the river.

Jedburgh
In the car park I met Donald, a dale pony cross having a bit of break during a journey in a horsebox.

The next day I spent in Edinburgh at the records centre, trawling through the Longside kirk session minutes. This took all day, by the end of which my eyes felt as if they were on stalks. But the Longside minutes proved very useful as it was obviously a parish that took chasing up couples who’d “sinned” before marriage very seriously indeed. Made notes of lots of names that might belong on my tree, then struck gold: my gggg grandparents, who married in 1800, were fined 10 shillings each for indulging in pre-marital fornication. More about this is another post.

After Edinburgh it was up into the Cairngorms, through Braemar. Absolutely stunning scenery and the weather was glorious – warm and sunny. It is magnificent up there, though odd to drive past ski lifts when there’s no snow around. Difficult to take photos of distant views as they never come out as it looks in real life. But it is jaw-droppingly beautiful.

Highland view
Typical Highland view

Next day went to Balmoral, which was better than I was expecting. They’ve made it into a very good visitor attraction, and I’m not surprised the Royals love it there.

Balmoral
The castle itself is not huge, for a castle, and the grounds are mainly natural, but with a very interesting kitchen garden.

Queen's kitchen garden
This is the Queen’s veggie plot!

A walk along the River Dee was blissful.

River Dee
Beautiful scenery, lots of bird life and incredibly peaceful.

Then it was a drive towards the coast the next day, stopping to see castles, scenery and visit the Museum of Farming Life at Aden Country Park. There’s an excellent exhibition there, with a very good booklet that I bought telling the story of the transition from the early farmtouns to modern day farming. My ancestors were very much part of this transition so I found it fascinating.

Horseman's cottage
A reconstruction of a farm worker’s living room in the 1930s.

I made friends while there with two very nosy young cattle.
Friendly cattle
There’s also a rebuilt farmer’s cottage on the site, moved stone by stone and decorated as it was in the 1950s.

It was then time to visit ancestral haunts: first on the list was Collieston, where my gg grandfather Alexander Fraser lived and worked at least twice before he took over the family croft.

Collieston
Although not fisherfolk, my Fraser ancestors were familiar with the sea and the little fishing villages dotted along the Aberdeenshire coast.

Next stop was Cruden old Kirk. Last time I was there I took photos of the Fraser gravestone, giving details of my great grandfather, his second wife and two of their children. It was lying on its side then, as it had broken. So huge disappointment this time as it was no longer there – gone due to Health and Safety regulations I expect.

Cruden Old Kirk
There was no-one at the Kirk to ask, but I wonder what happens to stones that are removed for safety reasons.

Off to Mosside Croft next, north-east of Hatton. It was a ruin last time I saw it and it clearly hadn’t been touched since. Sad to think that over 100 years of blood, sweat and toil is now going to waste, but at least it’s still there.

Mosside Croft
I’d love to know when this cottage was built, as it isn’t the one that would have been there in 1841.

A wider view of the croft shows the steadings alongside, where the farm animals lived and machinery was stored. There are two here and the one nearest the cottage is clearly a lot older than the second one.
Mossude and steadings
My mother remembers holidaying here in the 1920s, and the field in front of the cottage was sown to crops, with grazing for the cows behind. My half great grandmother made cheese, they had hens for eggs and meat, and kept a pig for fattening up.

It seems very isolated now, but it wasn’t really: nearby crofts were only a very short walk away and a lot of farming tasks would be co-operative, crofters helping each other with ploughing and harvesting.
Nearby crofts to Mosside
That’s Hardslacks to the right and behind of Mosside croft.

Up towards Peterhead next, as many of my ancestors were quarry workers at Stirlinghill – a quarry that’s still in operation. Next to it is Lendrum Terrace, an address that turns up on the census as my gg aunt Mary Ann Fraser married David Ewan Michael, and they lived at Lendrum Terrace.

Lendrum Terrace and Quarry
In those days the view out to sea, taking in Boddam and Peterhead must have been spectacular. Today it’s somewhat marred by a rather large blot on the landscape.

View from Lendrum Terrace
Yes, it’s a power station!

Power is something Aberdeenshire produces plenty of: there are wind turbines everywhere. I know not everyone is a fan, but personally I think they look much nicer than a power station.

I had thought of perhaps spending a day in Aberdeen in the Local Studies Library but didn’t in the end: the weather was far too good to spend a day inside. So much of the time was spent soaking up the sun and fresh air.

Then it was a long drive back home, and farewell to Scotland – until next time.

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9 responses to “My trip to Scotland

  1. Loving the look of those little fishing villages, Judy. You’ve certainly packed a lot into your holiday, and what great photos!

  2. Thanks Judy – great to see all the photos and looks like you had a lovely, productive holiday.

  3. Great pictures. It is a trip I hope to make one day.

  4. You certainly packed a lot in to your trip and David enjoyed seeing the family pile. Shame about the gravestone . Look forward to hearing what gems you have from Edinburgh !!

    • Yes, a shame about the gravestone. The family pile is in rather a mess, sadly. What I didn’t show in the pics was all the old farm machinery dumped to one side of it. I wonder who owns it these days? The Frasers were tenants, but someone must still own the land.

  5. Judy, what an excellent blog. Reminds me so much of our drive through Scotland many years ago. Not much has changed. Look forward to more.
    By the way, considering the posting time do you ever sleep? Colin.

  6. What an interesting way to tour Scotland, Judy. It is a truly beautiful country, but seeing the crofts, even on a sunny day, are a reminder of the hand to mouth existence of many of your ancestors. A country whose history seeps through the landscape.

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