If you like your heritage small but perfectly formed, Ardclach Bell Tower is definitely one for you.
But be warned – it’s not easy to find. You need a good map and the courage of your convictions when you find yourself on a tiny narrow lane, going steeply downhill – and with a couple of hair-pin bends to add to the excitement.
Don’t even think of taking anything long or tricky down the lane – you’ll regret it!
Supposing you make it, ignore other instructions and park by the derelict church and walk back up the hill (oh yes, it’s a steep one).
The first glimpse you get of the tiny Bell Tower is the one above – it’s practically hidden amongst the bracken.
Trot up the steps and you find yourself in one of Scotland’s mysterious and delightful places.
This is what the information sign tells you about it.
It is a one up, one down building, apparently built in 1655 – perhaps as a prison, perhaps as a watch-tower – I’m not convinced, but that just adds to the pleasure. It wasn’t built as a bell-tower, the bell was added in the C19th, associated with the church at the bottom of the lane, where you probably left the car.
It has a strange atmosphere, difficult to describe. I find it tranquil, which perhaps is why I don’t feel convinced about the prison idea, neither do I feel any anxiety here – which I’d have connected with a watch-tower. But you have to admit, the views are pretty wide – and presumably would have been even better before the trees were planted.
Inside the tower, a steep, narrow flight of stone steps takes you to the top chamber – it has a fireplace with initials crudely carved above it.
The ground floor room has no windows –
After admiring the bell tower – we sat and soaked up the atmosphere and the sunshine – the stroll back down the hill is easy. And your reward is to find yourself right next to the Findhorn river in all it’s glory.
The church is now derelict, boards up at all the windows, but I was intrigued by the gravestones. We saw similar symbolism here to that we’d found at Elgin. Nature seems to be reclaiming the land, a poignant reminder of the impermanence of man-made things.
For more information…
Do have a look at the Historic Scotland site for Ardclach