I had a very low key weekend there was a thaw forecast and high winds so on Sunday I went for a wander locally with some pals around Dunphail for a look at Dunphail Castle. This is a local walk near the Dava Way well worth a visit and we had an enjoyable wander.
A little bit about The Dava Way Association.
In Autumn 1996 opening the route of the abandoned railway line between Grantown-on-Spey and Forres as a cycle and walk way was voted one of the top development ideas in a survey of households in Forres and the surrounding areas. The Dava Way Association came into being in June 1997 with the aim of establishing a walking and cycling path along the route. We believe we may be the only volunteer group in Scotland (the UK) to have negotiated the opening of a new trail of this length, and to attempt to continue to upgrade and maintain it.
It was very warm yesterday and more like spring than deep winter but it was still a fun walk around my local area that I am ashamed to say I know so little about. To many years chasing round the mountains. It is amazing that last Sunday I was frozen in the Cairngorms with all my gear on, today it was spring like, such is the vagaries of a Scottish winter. We used the local tracks and kept away from the houses and saw no one all day.
We had two lovely lassies out with us , Babs and Susan and a coffee break before we started this is the way to live. No rush just a fun wander and so many plans for the summer were discussed. A visit to the Islands planned and then all the tales of past adventures in bothies and hills and maybe some more winter fun. It was great to see the Castle at Dunphail, what a hidden gem.
The castle was, according to “The castles of Scotland”, a 14-th century stronghold of the Comrys and this vaulted cellar is most likely part of the original building. The main part of the ruin though, is in a very poor state and be careful if looking around. It is an amazing building and there is no path as such up to it, but what a place to visit. There is a tale of the headless ghosts every castle has its tale and Dunphail is no exception. I will leave the reader to find out about it. This is what I found:
A Complete Guide to the Military Ghosts of Britain” by Richard McKenzie will tell the tale:
“Here Scottish folklore says there was a famous siege. The Earl of Moray was besieging the castle and the situation was desperate for the defenders. With food running low Alastair Cummings and a few brave companions escaped the blockading force and stealing some bags of meal threw them over the wall to feed their starving friends. Unfortunately these brave men were caught in the act and promptly beheaded. The severed heads were then thrown over the walls with the famous cry ‘Here is beef for your bannocks!’ The noise of fighting is said to still be heard both within and without the walls of this castle. The severed heads of Alastair and his companions are also claimed to appear from time to time within the castle.”
Dunphail Castle occupies the S end of Castle Hill. It existed before 1314. No date could be ascribed to the Castle, but the NE tower is of probable 16-17th century date. The S and W portions of the castle have been reduced by the erosion of the steep slopes. The NE tower is fully extant, while the NW tower is in ruins. The SW site is composed of three separate compartments, each measuring 6m by 5m with barrel vaulting. There are two arched entrances on SE side of castle, one at the NE tower and the other immediately S of the barrel vaulted rooms. These buildings occupy a higher elevation than the forecourt, the limits of which are delineated by earthern bank, 0.3m high. The site may have been moated.
The walk finished with some great soup – thanks Mike and more tea and plans for the future, more Islands to visit and hills to climb. It was a fun afternoon and a good walk and wee bit more knowledge on this great area on a sunny day.