Today is kid’s choice on where we go. The big map is out on the table. The eldest is most interested in finding a non-castle locale. It is a very cold day with rain and snow expected. With all the road miles we are putting in, we are spending time at the grocery store so the boys have snacks and lunches to pack into their backpacks. There is no way we could afford to buy every meal out. I highly recommend doing this weather you are traveling as a family or a couple. Also we purchased the Explorer’s Pass through Historic Scotland so we can affordably visit the paid sites we want to see. This is how we are going to so many castles and such.
So the eldest decides on an old lead mining village of Wanlockhead in the Lowther hills of Dumfries and Galloway for us to visit today.
This little village of less than 160 people has some interesting claims to fame. It’s the highest village in Scotland at 1,531 feet. Of course, we find this cute as welive at 6,200 feet in Colorado. In it’s heyday of mining, every man, woman, and child were literate because they have the second oldest subscription library in the country (the library contents are priceless today). The first lads (non-married males) curling club in Scotland began in this remote place. The Duke of Buccleuch to this day owns most of the land in the area. The Duke of the past oversaw the mining town. He was said to be very generous with the workers.
A rich and interesting history in an unexpected place.
Our first stop is the library. The guide is very informative and excited to share all the library history she can. Only the head of the household could be a library member, hence men were the subscribing members and their wives had to read the books they brought home for the month. One woman believed to be a teacher, was unmarried and on the library board was the only female member. That was until she married and the subscription passed on to her husband, though she remained on the board.
Then into one of the mines with tour guide Tony. Hard hats and all! Wet, dark, small. When the mine was in use boys as young as 8 carried the mined product out to be washed by boys aged 12. Women were not allowed to work in the mines because the men did not want to pay someone to take care of their kids while their mothers worked. Though well paying, this work was very dangerous.
We view replicas of the living quarters for workers from the 1700’s-1900’s. The workers had to build their own structures then pay rent on them. Very bleak in the early years. Life expectancy was 35 for a miner. By the 1800’s because of improved conditions rose to 55 years of age.
Sheep are also allowed to roam freely to be tick bait so when grouse season comes the grouse will likely be tick free. There is a sheep bathing station to clear the ticks from time to time.
For several hours we tour the town ending with coffee, hot cocoa, and homemade shortbread. This picturesque hidden gem very much a treat for all of us. The eldest did a fine job choosing.
We decide to head to another castle and drive another 40 minutes only to find Drumlanrig is only open for tours daily July 1st to August 31st. It has the most gorgeous grounds and is totally worth the drive even to just see the outside.
The weather changes on us from rain, to heavy rain, to snow. Scotland is like Colorado four seasons in one day.
The landscapes we see day to day keep my heart swooning. This place feels like home away from home. I am not fond of per litre of petrol prices. The Scottish Mile is not going to get me down. I am ever thankful highways and freeways in the USA do not have roundabouts on them.
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