Friday, June 5, 2015

Bucholie Castle

 After leaving the Orkneys we traveled by ferry to Thurso at the northern most tip of mainland Britain. From there we travelled by bus with professional dry stone waller George Gunn as our guide, to a remote spot on the rocky east coast of Caithness. 

There is ruined castle there called Bucholie which was owned from the time of king Robert the Bruce to 1661 by ancestors of Farley Mowat. Just before he died Farley was writing about his visit back to this unique dry stone structure back in 1961 with his wife Claire. 

My wife Mary, who had been working for Farley over the last few years putting his typewritten material into digital format,  remembered the section of his writing that mentioned where our group would be travelling and thought it would be a wonderful thing to have us visit the castle, and with Claire's permission, actually have some of Farley's last writings read to the group on our trip.

Last Monday, on the continuing tour of 'Old Stones', our group of thirteen hearty adventurers hiked nearly a mile over thick soggy heather brush, much of it along a formidable and beautiful coast, in order to make our way to Farley's castle, which is well hidden and almost impossible to get to.

After I scrambled up the side of the castle (where there had once been a drawbridge) and into the arched opening on the west face, Fred the bravest of the others, joined me. Getting inside into Brocholie involved carefully making a leap across a very narrow gap that with a 100 foot drop both sides into the sea. The others preferred to wait on the other side.

From that vantage point standing in the ruin I had the great privilege of then reading aloud from Farley's unpublished manuscript describing the historic details and layout of the castle. 

The others ( standing well back from the cliff listening to the passage I read ) told me later they were not only able to see and hear, but also imagine, all that Farley would have wanted to share if he had been there himself.