Category Archives: Cruden Bay

#Scotland 2015 Day 7 – Abbeys, Castles and Vampires?

#Scotland 2015 – Sept 17, 2015

Our first stop on our “abbeys and castles” tour was the nearby railway station at Insch. If I recall correctly, it was mentioned in A Shadow in the Past and if not in it, definitely in the sequel – Shadows from Her Past – in the village of Duninsch. So, rather than need a photo for a book trailer after returning home, we stopped for a few photos.

The railway station at Insch

Historic Scotland has created sat nav maps and driving directions to their properties. We used this to get to the cathedral in Fortrose and Fort George. Now, it was to get us to Deer Abbey (sounds like an advice column).

The entrance to Deer Abbey

The porticoed entrance to the abbey is impressive. Most of the abbey was destroyed in 1854 when the land was owned by Admiral Ferguson. He used the stone to build a mausoleum for himself. But in 1926 the Roman Catholic Diocese came into possession of the property and they destroyed the mausoleum. Can we say karma?

The remains of Deer Abbey
The Man-Trap at Deer Abbey
The Man-Trap explanation

I’d wanted to go to Slains Castle for a long time and this year we finally made it. There is a small car park by the main A975 road and you can either walk or drive the rest of the way from there. We opted to leave the car and walk in.

At first glance, you think the road is gravel but it’s really crushed shells.

The road to Slains Castle

The place is massive! The picture below really doesn’t do the size of it justice.

Slains Castle near Cruden Bay

Even from this angle out on the cliffs, you don’t see all of the castle. It goes on and on through archways and doors. Rooms and still more rooms.

The side of Slains Castle facing the cliffs

You can see why this location inspired Bram Stoker. He penned the story while staying in a hotel in Cruden Bay.

The cliffs at Slains Castle near Cruden Bay
Spiral staircase to nowhere at Slains Castle
Perhaps the hidden entrance to Dracula’s lair?
Were there stairs here at one time leading down into the darkness of Dracula’s lair?

Vampires or no vampires, something bit me on the back of my wrist – not once, but twice. The bites were the perfect distance apart to be from the fangs of a vampire. Missing my neck by that much, I would have to say a very near-sighted vampire. Perhaps it was revenge for getting my wee piece of the castle to bring home?

My piece of Slains Castle

On our way back to the car park, we stopped at an entrance to the field and got some shells that were still 95-99% intact.

We drove to nearby Newburgh for a couple of pictures for book trailers then to Trinity Cemetery in Aberdeen… yup more book trailer photos. Then across the A944 (aka Westburn Road) to get photos of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary then a wee bit of a backtrack to Queens Road for a photo of one of the villas there and I had all my book trailer photos. I wanted to get these last two locations (hospital and villa) when we came in to Aberdeen on the train but we ran out of time.

Then it was back ‘home’ and an evening of convivial company with our friends… and consumed a few bevvies as we talked about our day.

Happy Birthday Bram Stoker!

Yup, today is Bram Stoker’s 165th birthday. While he’s best known for his novel, Dracula, (of which both Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire Scotland and Whitby in Yorkshire, England take credit for inspiring because of their rugged North Sea cliffs) he has also penned Dracula’s Guest, Lair of the White Worm, The Man, The Jewel of Seven Stars, and The Lady of the Shroud.

So, happy birthday to you, Bram Stoker!