Holiday: Day 4: Scotland (2022) – Culzean Castle

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Morning All! 😉

Day 4 – Sunday, 22nd May

It’s our last FULL day here in Troon before we head north for ‘Leg 2’ in Gartocharn (for Loch Lomond) on Monday.

On today’s list is just a single attraction: National Trust for Scotland’s Culzean Castle.

Culzean Castle

Yuk! But at least we’re mostly inside

It would be appropriate at this stage to address the “elephantz in the roomz” – We learned that ‘Culzean’ is NOT pronounced ‘Cul-Zeen‘, but ‘Culeen‘. Who knew? We didn’t – spot the tourist!

The Castle was commissioned by the 10th Earl of Cassilis, instructing Architect, Robert Adam to rebuild the existing, more basic structure. It was built in stages between 1777 and 1792 and the estate includes sizeable grounds. It’s one of National Trust for Scotland’s more popular destinations, attracting over 300,000 visitors in a typical year.

If you think you might have seen it somewhere before, from 1972 until 2015 it was featured on the reverse of a Scottish fiver!

Maybe even on the TV or at the cinema too? Correct! It was actually used in the cult movie: The Wicker Man, where Christopher Lee (who played the sinister Lord Summerisle) owned the pile. It’s also been the home on a couple of occasions to the Sunday TV staple: The Antiques Roadshow.

10.34am: We arrived quicker than we expected – it was just 13 miles away – computer said No! 23!

11kW for free! (about 40 miles’ worth)

The additional bonus was that after they checked our tickets, the very helpful man on the gate pointed us in the direction of the FREE charging area for electric cars! We were soon parked, and charging, literally a 100 metres from the Courtyard entrance! Thank-you St Nicola of Sturgeon!

The Courtyard

Other notable features? There’s an Armoury and the Gas House (that up until 1940, provided town gas for the property). More about those later! There are also caves underneath the Castle but they’re only open during the Summer.

It was handed over to the National Trust for Scotland in 1945 with one stipulation – the apartment at the top would be for one person only – Dwight D. Eisenhower – in thanks for his role as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in WW2. Apparently, he stayed there four times in his life, where one of the stays WAS when he was the US President!

The Castle was reopened in 2011 after significant refurbishment, funded by a ‘significant gift’ from the $4m estate of the late American millionaire William Lindsay – nice ‘gift’!!!

Time to step inside…

The Armoury

Right inside the door, was the Armoury, featuring an impressive number of weapons (more than 700 pistols!) – even more impressively arranged!

The family certainly liked their weaponry!! And I sense just a touch of OCD with the displays!

The Rooms…

We then wandered through the rooms. They were all in fine shape especially the ceilings – but the most stunning of all was the staircase!

The Kitchen

For the size of the Castle, the Kitchen seemed quite small, but in spite of the lack of room, we spotted an enormous number of saucepans and frying pans.

Time to step outside. We took a walk down to the beach and passed the Boathouse. In theory, it was possible to walk along a thin strip of beach – but the advice was that it was ‘uneven and rugged’ – so we didn’t!

Walled Garden

Next, much less rugged and VERY even, we took a short walk around the Walled Garden.

And finally, the “look-at-me-I’m-rich room, AKA The Orangery. Back in the day, if you had the money and the right conditions, you grew an orange tree – Culzean Castle acquired three!

The Gas House

This was novel! How about your very own power station! Just out of shot, to the right, is the Gas House Manager’s dwelling – at the time, a very nice perk of the job! The latter was fully renovated in the 90s to house an exhibition explaining how the Gas House functioned. This small Gas House provided coal gas (and subsequently acetylene too!!! ) for the Castle – replaced in the late 40s by electricity.

A pretty steep set of stairs down, so we admired the Gas House from a distance! We did spot a bright young thing skip down them at about 100mph – and that just made us feel old(er)! 🤔

12.48pm: We both agreed this had been a very worthwhile trip. The Castle looked great inside AND out – and from every angle.

We took a final look in the shop before heading back to the car.

The day was warming up (so much for the forecast,) so we decided to drive to Ayr and enjoy our packed lunch there!

Fresh Ayr, sea air!

1.15pm: Twenty(ish) minutes later, we were parked near the seafront where we soon scoffed lunch, so we could take in the sea air!

In spite of the gorgeous weather, it wasn’t heaving along the Esplanade and the beach was even emptier. Definitely one of our better decisions to feel the sun on our faces!

We walked a little further along where we learned the beach a was called the Lang Scots Mile. Apparently, its slightly longer than an English Mile (explanation HERE).

The day seemed to be getting warmer! And that suited us perfectly. We took a left turn headed inland, doubling-back on ourselves, inwards, towards the town.

Definitely worth spending more time in Ayr, next time we’re this way!

3.03pm: After a quick visit to the local Morrison’s, we were soon back at Lodge 7 enjoying a cuppa! Another great day where both Culzean Castle and our brief visit to Ayr seafront had been the perfect way to end ‘Leg 1’ of this Scottish adventure!

So, that’s it for this part of Scotland. We just need to repack, ready for our journey after breakfast tomorrow ‘(Leg 2) to Loch Lomond.

We’ll miss Troon – and the Yacht Haven Lodge. It’s a beautiful location and our accommodation has been excellent (well, apart from the ‘varied’ internet speed!)

Tomorrow, it’s the village of Gartocharn (pop. c650) located very near to Loch Lomond, our home for the next six nights.

See you then… 😀

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