Sunday, 3 June 2012

2nd June Hailes Castle cycle

Saturday was mostly lazy. In the evening I got my act together and went for a cycle to Hailes Castle and Haddington. This is the falcon outside the curtain wall.

The castle dates back to the 13th Centuary when the Northumbrian family Gourlay built most of what's seen in the next pic.

Soon after the Gourlays ended up on the wrong side during the wars of independence (easy mistake to make) and at the same time Adam Hepburn saved the Earl of Dunbar from a "savage horse" and so the Hepburns had a new home.  By the 15th Centuary the Hepburns had added to the castle and repelled two attacks by Henry "Hotspur" Percy. See Henry IV part one ( W. Shakespeare). In 1446 Archiebald Dunbar took the castle and, as was done in those times, killed everyone inside. This was the beginning of the end as weapons and siege tactics advanced. Hailes was in a valley and was vulnerable.

In 1548 the English took the castle and tried to force Mary Queen of Scots to marry Henry VIII's son. No chance! 20 years later Mary was staying here before marrying the 'purple ape' James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell - the Dauphin was dead, Rizzio was stabbed by Darnley, and Darnley was blown up by Bothwell- who was born at Hailes.

1650 and like in much of Ireland, the English hero Cromwell invaded, slaughtered, destroyed and generally upset the locals. By the 1700s the castle was used as farm buildings.

Now its silent, gently cared for, and the history is open for everyone.

After Hailes I carried on past Stevenson to Abbey Mill at Haddington. Lovely woodland canopy with all the song birds in full voice.

At Abbey Mill there were swans and swallows on the river. There must have been lots of insects for the swallows to be feeding but there were no trout rising.

After Abbey Mill I climbed back up to the old A1 and started the slog back up Pencraig. There was a slight easterly on the nose so it was work all the way. The next pic is from the top with Dunbar 6.5 miles in the distance.

An unexpected couple of hours and 22 miles added to the weeks total.  A fine way to spend the evening.


  1. Hailes Castle is a cracking wee ruin and well looked after too. I especially like the views of the huge Castle Wall on the river side. And who can argue with the entry price of nowt? Good post Peter and some nice pictures, the white bike looks great. :)

    1. Thanks for the comments Gavin. I'll have to do a follow up piece with pics from the new trail on the other side of the river. Maybe a winter outing on the Kona. Yeah I'm happy with the way the old Falcon is coming together.

  2. Yeah, definitely do the River Tyne Path, I did it back in April and really enjoyed it. Amisfield Park was quite nice too with it's unusual wee buildings...