Friday, May 02, 2008

Daytrips in Moray

My days off this week were Wednesday and Thursday. I took a daytrip each day; here's a map to show you where I went (described below) relative to Inverness. I haven't gotten my own photos uploaded yet because the library has been closed due to the Bank Holiday weekend and I've been busy other days. I'll add the photos when I get the chance, until then there's some to see if you follow the links I've posted.

I went to Nairn on Wednesday, hoping the predicted rain would hold off (as it looked nice and sunny when I left Inverness). It was a 30 minute trip on the bus, and getting there I wandered down the High Street before taking a stroll on the sandy beach. Around then it started getting rainy, so I sat in a shelter on the beach for a while, watching the waves, before heading back into town to get some lunch. The rain was keeping staying pretty heavy, so I headed back to Inverness at that point.

Nairn's not a bad looking little town, although it unfortunately has some not-so-nice looking abandonned buildings on the main road that you see driving past (the High Street being one street over). At the cafe where I had lunch, they had three clocks on the wall, labelled Nairn, Auldearn, and Cawdor. The first two clocks had the correct time, and the Cawdor clock was 20 minutes behind. I'm not sure if that's a local joke about Cawdor folk being late all the time or what.

Most interesting street name I spied in Nairn: Society Street. Sounds rather la-di-da.

Back in Inverness that afternoon, I went to the local musuem, which is free, and learned a bit about Scottish geology and early.

Thursday the weather predictions were for better weather, so I had saved a trip to Elgin for that day, primarily to visit the ruined cathedral. Elgin town itself, once I found it, was nice (I was navigating from the train station to the town centre by looking for small, old buildings and more people on the streets, and ended up in New Elgin (a relative term) first). Although the High Street has all the chain shops you expect in any UK town nowadays, the layout is still the medieval streets that open up on a marketplace around St. Gile's Church (you can see this on the page I linked to).

I picked up some lunch and ate it at the base of the Lady Hill Monument, a pillar to the last Duke of Gordon (and called the Gordon monument on the Elgin page I linked to). There's a small ruins of a castle at that site as well, although sadly it's become a local drinking spot judging by the empty cans and broken glass.

Interesting street names in Elgin: Seceder's Close (it was closed off by a door) and Lazarus Lane.

Despite the guidebook saying that the cathedral was "clearly signposted", I found no sign for it in the town centre, although there was directions to just about everything else a tourist could want, and beyond - a shop for mobility scooters was signposted everywhere as well. I eventually found it by following my books directions to go north-east of the tourist office, once I found the tourist office.

The cathedral lies in ruins primarily because it fell into disuse after the Reformation and people looted bits and time took its toll on the others. From what I read, back in the day when the central tower was still standing and the rest of it, it was a pretty big player as far as cathedral stature goes.

One of the in-floor tombstones in the cathedral that I could read was for one Colin Innes Glover, a former official of some sort in Elgin. No idea what year he died, but it was in February and in a time when "life" was spelled as "lyf". The stone had a skull and crossbones on it, and that motif appeared elsewhere in the cathedral carvings, more than I've seen in any other I've been in.

The two towers around the main cathedral entrance are still standing for so many stories, so I was able to climb up the winding narrow staircase to get an overhead view of the ruins after I'd wandered around in them. As I was coming down, a coach tour group was arriving, so I figured by then it was a good time to leave to avoid the crowds, and high-tailed it back to the train station to catch the next train back to Inverness.

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