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An Electric… What?

Posted by Heliocentrism on February 15, 2018

Monday, September 18th, 2017

We flew from Reykjavik back to Edinburgh, where we picked up another rental car. Mark drove from Edinburgh to Glasgow. Mark hates driving a stick-shift in cities. He cursed all through Liverpool. He loathed the streets of Edinburgh. Even some parts of Reykjavik, the ones with roundabouts, would have caused him to roll down the window and shake his fist at Iceland, but he needed both hands to drive.

This day we were supposed to drive around Glasgow but the roads put Mark into a mood. He asked that we leave the city and did our sightseeing where there was significantly less traffic. It didn’t really matter to me, so I pulled out my trusty Scottish Heritage Membership Handbook and found some places for us to visit.

I just have to mention how the Historic Environment Scotland society helped us so much. As I’ve stated many times in the past, the hardest part about traveling the world is all the constant planning that needs to be done. A good portion of our evenings are taken up with figuring out what our next steps will be.

But once we got Scottish Heritage membership we were given a handbook. With the handbook we spent almost no time planning. We had our cities picked out already. We just opened the handbook and drove from sight to sight. I wish more countries had something similar.

We spent the day looking at castles and one church. At the church, Crossragual Abbey, we learned that an abbot who worked there had been roasted by a nobleman. I thought that the notion of a nobleman roasting an abbot was amazing. I imagined there was a feast of duck and pork with lots of wine. All the towns people sat around listening to insulting jokes at the abbot’s expense, which he took in stride. It was all in good fun, as roasts usually are.

Then I read somewhere that the abbot was kidnapped for a few days before the event. The nobleman wanted some land that the abbot had control of. The story went on to tell that the nobleman got his butcher to help him. It ended, telling the reader that the abbot was never able to walk again. “Damn, it was the other type of roasting.”

I asked the caretaker of the abbey about the kidnapping and the aftermath. “Oh, that didn’t happen here. This is just were the man worked. He was tortured at Dunure Castle, just up the road.” The trip had turned macabre and we were going to just let it happen.

We got general directions from the caretaker and he added another thing we should see. “You must look for the Electric Brae,” he advised. I can spell it now because I’ve looked it up online, but at the time I had no idea what he was talking about.

“An electric… what?”

“The Electric Brae,” he repeated. “You know, an electric brae… Oh, what do the kids call it these days?”

I stood there not knowing what to say. In Britain I had been confronted with compound words where I knew the meanings of the individual words just fine. It was when the two were placed next to each other that I got confused. But in Scotland, I was fairly sure that people just made up words to mess with me.

“An electric bray…” I said, rolling the words around and looking up to seem like I was trying to think of the more modern version of the phrase. In my head I was thinking, “An ice box was a refrigerator, but didn’t use electricity…” I didn’t have to pretend for too long because the man explained what an electric brae was.

“You stop your car on the hill. Then you put the car in neutral. The car rolls up hill. Some say it’s magic or ghosts. But, it’s just an optical illusion.”

“Oh, a ‘mysterious road’. I’ve seen a few of those,” I said. They always sound more exciting in their descriptions than in real life. Of the one’s I’ve seen, they have all been huge let downs.

We did not find the electric brae though we did look for it.

We found this labyrinth instead.


The United Kingdom

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land via an underwater tunnel, air, or sea.

Check with your local UK embassy for visa information.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance

Website:

Data:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • If you’re going to do a lot of travel by train or bus, looking for a Rail card or bus pass before you buy your first ticket.
    • Railway Cards
    • Oyster Card
    • Even getting a day pass on a bus could be cheaper than getting 3 single passes, or a return ticket and a single pass.
  • If you’re going to travel around the United Kingdom, you might want to get membership at one of the following:
    •  English Heritage – £54 / year for 1 person
    • National Trust England – £64.80 / year for 1 person
    • Scottish Heritage –  £49 / year for 1 person
      • All of these are a little cheaper when getting a group or family membership.
      • Many come with discounts for other things, like:
        • The Scottish Heritage gives you 20% off at all of their gift shops and cafes.
        • English Heritage gives you free parking at many of their sights.
      • As a bonus, it helps you when planning what to do and see in the country.
  • If you are going to stay in hostels, join Hosteling International, or any of its subsidiaries.
    • YHA – England & Wales
    • SYHA – Scotland
      • Membership at any of these will get you the discounted rate at any of the other hosteling organizations.
      • These hostels tend to be better than most hostels.

Bothwell Castle

Basic Information

Website

Downloads:

Cost:

  • £4.50
  • Free for Scottish Heritage Members

Hours:

  • 1 April to 30 September:  Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 5.30pm
  • 1 October to 31 March: Daily except Thursday and Friday, 10am to 4pm

Crossraguel Abbey

Basic Information

Website

Downloads:

Cost:

  • £4.50
  • Free for Scottish Heritage Members

Hours:

  • 1 April to 30 September: Monday to Saturday, 9.30am to 5.30pm
  • 1 to 31 October: Monday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm
  • 1 November to 31 March: Closed

Notes:

  • A gruesome thing happened to an abbot who worked here.

Dunure Castle

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • daylight hours

Notes:

  • On one side of the castles is a conical stone doocot.
  • On the other is a labyrinth.
  • Don’t Miss:

Dundonald Castle

Basic Information

Website

Downloads:

Cost:

  • £4.50
  • Free for Scottish Heritage Members

Hours:

  • 1 April to 30 September: Monday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm
  • 1 October to 31 March: Closed

Video

Books:

Map:

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