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Crichton Castle © Robin Simpson

June 28 – Maybe I'm A-mazed
Crichton Castle

We've arrived from the wrong direction, meaning the designated entry to the castle is not in sight. After Robin and Dana take pictures from this vantage point we follow the road around, away from the castle.

I didn't realize until this moment how important Crichton Castle was to Robin. Her dismay is apparent, but she soldiers on. The prize is within reach and there's no way we're going to be satisfied with that glimpse, lovely as it was, from across the valley.

The road winds this way and that through heavily forested land. We've lost sight of the castle but like magic, a "Historic Scotland" sign appears and we pull down a narrow road that ends at the empty car park. Completely empty. Is the castle closed? I consult my watch. It's just now 5:00 and closing time isn't until 6:00. Is there no caretaker? Have they, for some reason, closed up early today? If the gate's locked, I decide mentally, we're climbing.

It's not locked. Robin sets off and Dana and I hang back a bit, giving her some privacy. We tramp slowly up the long path as the castle grows larger and larger, finally looming over us.

There is an attendant, a reserved but kind man whose lapel bears the name tag "Alistair." Robin signs the guest register with a shaking hand telling him that she's waited years to see this place. I take off right away, unencumbered by camera (sigh), to explore the impressive ruins of this late-thirteenth century estate.

The stones are damp and slippery as I make my way through chambers and up stairs. Robin is in heaven, and as Dana continues in conversation with Alistair, we leave no stone unturned in our exploration.

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