The grey skies and rain continued as we gradually made our way back to London from Edinburgh. Lonely Planet listed a few ruins in the eastern border region between Scotland and England, so we thought we’d go have a look.
Despite the weather, it was a fun drive along some roads that twisted alongside the ample streams. We passed through many a small town/settlement, but nothing particularly caught our eye. We were bound for The Hermitage Castle.
It was a bit of a detour, but the second we laid our eyes on this monolith, we knew that it was worth it. Unfortunately the gates were closed, as it is not ‘open’ during the winter months. Fortunately they were only small and easy to climb over. I had pangs of guilt about doing this, but there was no way that I was going to leave after taking a detour to see it, and not actually ‘see’ it.
We’ve seen a few castles now in our time in Scotland, and I can honestly say that this is the darkest, and most sinister looking castle of them all. If the rumours were true, then the outward appearance was matched by the personality of the rulers.
There was nothing remotely romantic about the appearance. This thing was a strictly business fortress, jutting hard out of a rolling plains that surrounded it. I was both impressed and enamoured with this monument and the surrounding hills.
There was a little more driving, and some more historic ruins that we wanted to see before spending the night in Manchester, and that was to Roman ruins of Hadrian’s Wall. There are those who suggest that George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (A Game of Thrones) is based on the history of UK, with this wall representing The Wall, and the Scots being The Wildlings. Having now seen Hadrian’s Wall, which was built to stop/slow invaders from Scotland, it’s much less impressive than the 700ft high wall of ice in the fantasy novel. But, I guess tales of a 6ft wall wouldn’t really sell many books/TV shows – nor stop giants.
We arrived just as it was closing, again. We managed to quickly sneak in and have a quick wander around the remnants of the barracks and other buildings that were built at the outpost here. There was little more than the remains of some foundations, and a wall that stretched in both directions towards the horizon. This is when Augmented Reality would be an absolutely killer application – imagine being able to see a superposition of CGI of what it used to look like, on top of what is currently remaining.
Eventually we were found (my fluorescent orange jacket didn’t help), and escorted out of the grounds. We didn’t quite get to see all of the ruins, and read all of their descriptions (which do a great job of bringing it to life), however the rain was picking up, and we were well into twilight.