“I am longing to be with you, and by the sea, where we can talk together freely and build our castles in the air.”
― Bram Stoker,
Our latest adventure took us to New Slains Castle where Bram Stoker was inspired to write the book, Dracula! Brett read that it was a kind of dangerous place to take kids but we figured that we’d taken Brooks to Dunnotar Castle where he could have easily fallen out the castle windows so how bad could it be?
After Mia’s nap we piled in the car with fully charged iPads and tablets and two sets of headphones. The first 20 minutes of the drive were glorious! Neither of them made a peep and Brett and I were able to have an actual uninterrupted conversation. Then we started coming up upon massive herds of “Baas” and “Moos” (sheep and cows) and the peace that we’d known ceased to exist. I tried to take decent pictures during the drive but they just don’t turn out that well when you’re moving so fast. You can always count on the clouds to make your pictures dramatic though.
We had long talks with Brooks about how important it was going to be to listen to us at the castle because it could be dangerous. He acted very concerned and thoughtful and then wanted to know why we would take him somewhere dangerous. This kid.
We arrived and parked in the car park and started our walk to the castle with Mia in her stroller. People here purposefully park further away than needed – like a mile, no joke – just so that they have a longer walk. Walking is like the national activity here.
On the walk to the castle you have to pass through this cut inland that helped keep unwanted visitors away from the castle.
Then you arrive at the ruined castle that sits precariously close to the edge of a cliff that drops straight down into the North Sea. Ah-ha! Now we see the concern!
We had to abandon the stroller to go down to the next level of rocks so now we have two wild children on the loose in an area where there is certain death with a misstep. There are no signs posted at the castle and no fee to pay. The castle is open 24 hours a day because no one is attending to it. If no one is attending to the castle then no one can be liable when someone falls! But it is stunning and I think worth the risk. If you know Brett, then you know that he was FREAKING OUT the whole time. I went alone at one point to look over a rock that jutted out over the land. I swear Brett was half way to a heart attack.
Naturally this is when Brooks starts in with his terroristic tendencies. Even though we’d just been in the car for an hour with a huge bag of snacks he was “HUNGRY! SO HUNGRY! CAN’T WE JUST GO NOW? I REALLY WANT A SNACK.” The North Sea is pretty loud but it’s got nothing on Brooks.
The castle was once the place of beautiful gardens allegedly but the inside has been completely overrun by years of neglect and nature taking its course. At this point is is difficult to tell which parts were courtyards and which were indoor rooms. The danger continued as there were spiral staircases that led to nowhere and steep drops into former kitchen storage rooms. There was also the danger of Brooks being left at the castle if he didn’t stop complaining! Mia was now joining him in his ridiculous behavior and insisted on walking. Every hole she came to she would yell at until you reiterated that it was in fact a hole. She then stepped inside the hole and said, “BIG JUMP” when she stepped out. It is a ruined castle. There are a lot of holes.
Many visitors to the castle claim that it has a very creepy feel to it. I didn’t really experience that, although I did try to highlight it in some of the pictures. It might have been due to the constant noise coming from my kids and our constant fear that they would fall off the edge of a cliff or window ledge. I can see how it would be quite a bit more creepy if you went at night!
On our way back to Aberdeen we stopped to eat dinner at a restaurant in Newburgh. We sat outside so that no one would have to bear witness to the spectacle that is our children at restaurants. While there we noticed a sign pointing towards Newburgh Beach that was just a mile down the road and decided to check it out before we headed back. (Brooks ate next to nothing at dinner after all of his screeching about being hungry!)
It was the best decision we made. I’ve never seen a place quite like it. From the car park there is a narrow sandy trail that takes you through thick bush type things and around a little house.
You round the corner and all of a sudden you’re on this pretty big beach – which is really a river – with the tide rapidly going out. Hundreds of seals are on the opposite shore barking like crazy!
Once again, we were at a beach with the wrong shoes on. Mia and I tried to get closer to the edge of the water to get a better picture of the seals and sunk in the mud. Brooks ran ahead and wouldn’t listen to us to come back to our family group. Mia wanted to copy everything that Brooks was doing, including pretending that quick sand was eating her and sliding down a sand bank. So, by the time that we left they were both in trouble. I decided to pick up Mia since she was still on her stepping in holes kick and we didn’t have that kind of time. When I bent down to pick her up the camera that was hanging around my neck walloped her right in the face! Poor baby!
All of our shoes are caked in mud and sand. Both kids went down without a fight and we got to see two amazing things in one afternoon. It was a pretty good day!
“Once again…welcome to my house. Come freely. Go safely; and leave something of the happiness you bring.”
― Bram Stoker,