Helen Rose Outdoor Diary, Culzean. July 2018.
Culzean Country Estate
The walking club recently went on a day walking trip to Culzean Castle and Country Park from Maidens in Ayrshire. It is many years since I last visited Culzean and was I happy to explore further in the Country Park.
We drove to Maidens, a fishing village at the southern end of Maidenhead Bay two miles north of Turnberry and five miles west of Maybole. The village retains an old world air of peace and tranquillity and is a favourite spot for artists and camera enthusiasts. It was at Maidens that Robert the Bruce landed when he sailed from Rathlin Island. Rathlin Island is situated off the north east coast of Ireland and is the only inhabited offshore island in Northern Ireland. Robert the Bruce was a 13th century Scottish king. You may have spotted a version of his persona in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart movie in 1995. We walked along the beach at Maidens on a beautiful hot sunny day and entered the Estate of Culzean. Although the temperature was 30c., the seawater was still cold but a few brave souls went paddling anyway.
Culzean Country Park is a glorious 260 hectare estate and was once the playground of David Kennedy, 10th Earl of Cassillis, a man who was keen to impress with his wealth and status. Opulent to the extreme, the park is planted with conifers and beech, sculpted around miles of sandy coastline dotted with caves, and finished off with a Swan Pond, an ice house, flamboyant formal gardens and fruit-filled glasshouses.
The Castle and Grounds are now run by the National Trust for Scotland, a charity whose aim is to protect the heritage of Scotland.
The castle itself is perched on the Ayrshire cliffs looking out to the Irish Sea, incorporating everything the earl could wish for in his country home. It was designed by Robert Adam in the late 18th century and is filled to the turrets with treasures that tell the stories of the people who lived here. We did not go in to the castle on this visit but had lunch at the Visitors Centre, originally the Old Stables. From the lunch stop we had wonderful views over to the island of Arran and its mountains which I have climbed many times. Within the Castle there is the apartment at the top where US President Dwight D. Eisenhower used to come to relax.
After lunch we continued to walk round the many paths in the Castle grounds and saw a mixture of llamas and deer in the Deer Park where they seemed to be happy living alongside each other. The Deer Park has been there since the 1750’s. We walked over to the area in the south west of the grounds to see the Cat Gates, sculptures on the top of an entrance arch pillars which really looked more like lions heads but I suppose they are regarded as ‘Big Cats’!
The gardens close to the castle are well manicured and include an Orangery and a Fountain Court. The Earl of Cassillis certainly knew how to live in style. There is also a garden specially created for children and as we are all ‘Big Kids at heart, we had a walk around it and saw the wood carvings including the Gruffalo which was based on the well-loved books for children.
It’s around 50 miles drive from Glasgow to Culzean and we were very thankful to the members who volunteered to drive. It was a great day out. I really enjoy walking by the sea on a glorious day with the views over to Arran. It can sometimes be very grey and wet in Scotland which makes it atmospheric. Come rain, hail or shine we are out walking in Scotland in its many moods. It is thanks to the Bearsden and Milngavie Ramblers that I have the opportunity to see the many and varied landscapes of the central belt of Scotland.
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This section: Helen Rose Hillwalking Diary
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