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One of the common traits of human behaviour I seem to encounter regularly is that of not visiting tourist attractions if they happen to be on our own doorstep.  From time to time I visit friends around the UK and ask them questions about local cathedrals, museums, galleries or monuments near their home.  Very often the response is along the lines of “Oh, well……we’ve never actually been there ourselves, but we’d be delighted to go with you!”.

The area where I live – Aberdeenshire in Scotland – contains quite a diverse landscape.  There is a huge variety of flora and fauna, geology and agricultural activity.  There are also quite a few castles.

Having been introduced to Scottish castles as a small boy on summer holidays up from England they have never lost their magic for me.  Being made to study Shakespeare’s Macbeth at school didn’t hurt either.  The darkness of that story brought back so many memories of clambering about on desolate ramparts under stormy summer skies, the musty smell of the damp walls and earth floors in the gloomiest recesses that small boys always seek out.

So this year I’m going to try to make a real effort to see some of these ancient monuments.  This isn’t a travel blog, but that’s fine.  The ancient castles and buildings have been part of the landscape for hundreds of years and in many cases have had a major impact upon the rural economy and surrounding countryside.  That, and those moody battlements and damp dungeons, is what interests me.