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  • Shannon McDonald Tate

Castle hunting in the snow!

Many years ago when my mother and my sister were still alive, we would load up the car and go on an adventure around Scotland. My sister’s three daughters Hayley, Kelsey and Callyn were always in tow and every now and then one or another of my brothers would join us. Our favourite thing to do was to go castle hunting and we did it as often as we could. I had a huge map of all the castles in Scotland, but it never told whether they were ruins, lived in, restored etc. just that there was a castle there! This map led to many adventures!

On one occasion, when we were up by Elgin on the Moray Firth, we saw a sign for Duffus Castle. As it was on the list and we had never been before, we set out to see what was there. It was on a motte which was the original earthen mound that had held a wooden fortress. In the 1300’s a stone castle was built on the motte and it was a Fortress-Residence for 500 years before abandoned and left to fall into ruin. My niece Hayley asked why it was called Duffus Castle and I told her that we were soon to find out. She kept pronouncing it doofus however, no matter how many times I corrected her.

As got closer, we could see there were a few more intrepid travelers up at the castle and I could see a pathway that lead round the mound and then to a walkway up to the ruins. I was never much of a path taker, so I had already decided I was going straight up the side of the motte. I made sure that everyone knew where the path was and then I set off. It had just snowed, but I decided that I was going to storm the castle anyway and made my way up the snow covered motte to the top. I pointed out the walkway once more and said that I would meet them all on top and then I set off.

Just barely into my ascent, I heard a wee shriek and turned to look to behind me and saw that the whole crew were following me up the hill, which as very slippery and quite treacherous. The shriek had come from sister who had went down hard and now was sliding all the way down the hill on her butt in spectacular fashion! Not to be outdone, down went Mario as he too slid to the bottom of the hill. Before I could react to either one of them, my mother gave a shriek as down she went. She had the good fortune of landing just right and she now sat firmly in the ground. There was a bit more slipping and sliding around, but I quickly learned that wherever I was going, there would be three young girls traveling right along behind me!

We were all laughing hysterically and when I looked back up the castle, the people who were up there were looking down on us as if we were mad! And, of course we were! I turned to Hayley and told her she now had her answer as to why the castle was called Duffus. Everybody on top was wondering why these doofuses were climbing up a slippery mound covered in snow when there was a perfectly good path to walk up!

This was only one of our many adventures in castle hunting, but I will never forget the day!


#duffuscastle #castlehunting #scottishcastle #familyouting


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