The real Bew castle

Today’s picture is another from the camera of Langholm exile Tom Elliot.  It is an eye catching bougainvillea.

Red flowers

It was another grey day when we woke up and as we had planned an outing with Jean, we were a bit worried about a forecast of rain to come.  I stared out of the window….

blue tit
A blue tit with a mouthful.

…while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help with costumes for the forthcoming Operatic Society concert.  When she returned, it was still dry so we picked Jean up and motored over the hill to Newcastleton where we planned to have lunch.

I was hoping to be able to take a picture of the bonnie purple heather as we went across the moor but in spite of all the work that has been done, the heather is still in very short supply and the most prominent vegetation on the whole ten mile trip was grass.

We enjoyed a light lunch in the Olive Tree café in Newcastleton.

Olive Tree

You might think it delightful that continental street cafe style has come to this quiet borders village but of course it is not the weather that puts the tables in the street but the necessity for smokers to pursue their habit outdoors now that it is banned indoors.

After lunch, we drove along very quiet and pretty back roads until we arrived at Bewcastle.  I had visited the church there with Sandy a few days ago and we had enjoyed the drive so much that we thought that it would make a good outing for Jean and Mrs Tootlepedal.  As we drove along, contrary to the forecast, the weather got better and better and it was warm and almost sunny by the time we got to Bewcastle.

I have looked at the castle from the church yard before but this time we went to see of it was open to visitors.  We found a welcoming notice at the corner of a farm building and went to visit the castle.

Bew Castle
There is not great deal left to see.

It is of uncertain date and was built on the site of a previous wooden structure which in turn was built on the site of a Roman fort.  There is not much of it left but it was obviously a substantial building at one time.  We walked right round the mound.

Bew castle
I was on top of the mound. You can see the Roman ditch behind the ladies.

The going was rough and when we reached the entrance to the castle, Jean took a well earned rest.

Bew castle

There was a helpful notice telling us of all the wonderful things we would have been able to see if only we had timed our visit for 600 years earlier.  There was not much left to admire in our present visit.

Bew castle

This section of one of the walls shows one of the reasons why the castle is in such a poor state.  All the easily accessible dressed stone from the bottom of the wall has been removed and doubtless forms the bulk of the farmhouse and other buildings nearby.  The end of of several hundred years of running battles between the Scots and English also removed the need for such castles and it fell into disrepair after the Civil War.

We were watched by curious spectators as we walked around.

farm animals

I enjoyed this economical trough let into a wall so that one trough could serve two fields.


We paid a visit to the church next door but as I had several pictures of it on a recent post, I will just put a detail from the Celtic cross in the churchyard here today.

Bewcastle Cross

It is interesting to realise that people have been looking at these carvings for 1300 years.

After sating our antiquarian interest, we got back in the car and drove south.  The views over the Solway plain were wide and wonderful and my camera can’t do justice to them.

A fraction of the panoramic view.

We drove on down the hill until we arrived at Lanercost priory which not only has some romantic ruins but an excellent tea room.

While the ladies headed for the tea room, I took my camera for a quick sprint round the priory.  There is an active place of worship in the original nave of the priory….

Lanercost Priory

…and the rest of  the old priory in ruins round the back.  This may be visited for a small fee.

Lanercost Priory
The restored nave on the left and the ruins on the right.

I took too many pictures to show here but this composite may give you an impression.

Lanercost Priory

The ruins are impressive in their size.

Lanercost Priory

I would have liked to have stayed longer but the call of the tea room was loud in the land so I joined Jean and Mrs Tootlepedal who had politely waited for me and we had a tasty afternoon tea (a pot of Darjeeling and a slice of lemon drizzle cake for me) in the fine new premises that have been built to cater for the many visitors to the priory.

Our journey to this point had been along narrow, mostly single track roads and we had not often exceeded 30mph but the road home was along the main roads to Longtown and Langholm and it wasn’t long before we were home again after an excellent tour.

I enjoyed the busy birds when I had filled up the feeder….

bird feeder

You can see that there is a perch missing on the right of the feeder but the chaffinches are quite able to hover at the aperture, take a seed and fly off to nibble it on the plum tree.  One is just eyeing up the chance.

I was impressed by their industry so I got the mower out and mowed the middle lawn.

In the grey morning, I had seen a peacock butterfly resting on some soil before we went on our tour….

peacock butterfly

…so when I had finished the lawn in the sunny evening, I got the camera out and went on a butterfly hunt.

I saw a rose…


…which was welcome and two white butterflies….

white butterflies

white butterflies

…proving that not all white butterflies are the same white butterfly  but there were no coloured butterflies.  Our sedums were hotching with bees….

sedum with bees

….but not with butterflies so I went across the road to look at my neighbour’s buddleia.  They were there.

peacock butterlfy
Not the usual peacock butterfly shot.
peacock butterlfy
That’s more like it.
Red admiral butterfly
This is a red admiral
Red admiral butterfly
It made sure that I could recognise its markings.

I love the antennae which look much like the torches children buy to wave about on fireworks night.

After tea, Sandy arrived and we went round to pick up Jean who still had enough strength left after our busy day  to help me out in an hour of hard work at the Archive Centre before we retired for a drink in the Douglas.

Altogether it was a most enjoyable day and my back might even be getting a little better.

Guess what the flying bird of the day is.











Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

22 thoughts on “The real Bew castle

  1. Fabulous photos, I enjoyed every single one. You got my archaeological juices flowing with those Bewcastle photos – now I’m anxious for my next dig! (Though we here in the US don’t have any fascinating 1300 year old structures to enjoy….)

  2. Loved all the photographs from your tour with Jean. I have been to both those places myself not too long ago so was delighted to be reminded of their interest. Butterflies were good too and it is nice to know that your back might be starting to improve at last.

    1. The older ones were subject to a fair amount of vandalism from both invading armies and other religious beliefs as time went on. Although it is peaceful now, this was a violent place in times gone by. And of course, big churches are expensive to maintain.

  3. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you go on an excursion somewhere, or never leave your yard, you always manage to come up with a collection of interesting photos that leave us wanting more.

  4. Looks like a very interesting and pleasant day – good to follow you around and see the sights with you.
    Splendid bougainvillea at the top.
    Hope your back continues to improve.

  5. We had lunch in the Olive Tree café in Newcastleton too when we visited our daughter Ayla (Langholm moorland project) and stayed in your great B&B. It’s so much fun to see familiar pictures 🙂

  6. It seems the Scot’s have the English to thank so some of their lovely castles (even if they are now ruins) while here on the South Coast of England, we have the French to thank. Beautiful butterfly photos 🙂

    1. I think most of the oldest castles were started by the Normans to keep the natives under the thumb. The wars in the north tended to be between one set of Norman barons and another.

  7. I can tell that you have a surfeit of stonework to view when you write that there was not much left to admire at Bewcastle . Of course, the priory is actually much more impressive.

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