We want to tell you a story about a lovely local lady who’s doing something remarkable with her blog, ‘Love Exploring Scotland’. She’s a true friend of Dundonald Castle and we think you’ll love her work.
Dawn-Marie Wyllie has huge affection for her country. She’s passionate about the outdoors, photography, writing, history and all things Scottish. She has a part-time day job, working in communications for local government, but when we asked her if she writes as part of her job, she’s very modest.
“Not really”, she says, “but I love to write, I always have, so I wanted to push myself and do something rewarding with my spare time. I have very little experience of writing and I’m always worrying if I’m good enough, but I think that you can only get better with practice, and I hope my passion for Scotland comes through in my posts!”
An inspiring heritage
It really does. If you visit www.loveexploringscotland.com, it’s a stunning mosaic of Scottish scenes, fascinating locations and rich folklore. There’s no doubt Dawn-Marie is a talented amateur photographer – she’s caught the eye of Visit Scotland and works with them when she can.
Dundonald Castle and woods, with their sense of history and amazing nooks and crannies, are an obvious favourite. Just recently, Dawn-Marie and her fiancé Alan took some stunning drone footage of our beautiful castle, which they painstakingly edited, to get it just right. They’ve very kindly given it to us to share with you and we couldn’t be happier with the results.
From the Iron Age to the Vikings, Robert the Bruce and the Stewart Dynasty, to the Earls of Eglinton, Old Auchan’s House and Covenanters and Smugglers who crept through the shadows on many a thrilling night, there’s so much to inspire creativity in Dundonald.
Dawn-Marie is keen to find out all she can about our village and is extremely supportive of the Dundonald Castle Community Heritage Project. She says, “I loved playing outside when I was little (there was no technology to distract me back then) and going for walks in the countryside. I also loved writing stories and in my diary when I was young. I lost or forgot about this passion over the years, and now, thanks to places like Dundonald, I’ve found it again, or maybe it’s found me?”
The Outlander effect
At Love Exploring Scotland, you’ll see lots of other beautiful and interesting places to pique your interest. Her most popular piece continues to be about the Devil’s Pulpit at Finnich Glen in Stirlingshire. It’s one of many spine-tingling Scottish locations that have featured in the brilliant Outlander series, starring Sam Heughan and Catriona Balfe, and was also used as a location for Guy Ritchie’s recent film King Arthur:Legend of the Sword.
Dawn-Marie is a huge Outlander fan and was lucky enough to meet Sam when he was filming at Dean Castle in 2015. She says he was so friendly and a real gentleman, and by following him afterwards on Twitter, she took inspiration from his venture, My Peak Challenge.
A personal journey
My Peak Challenge is a global movement that inspires and supports members to live healthier, happier and more balanced lives, while raising funds to change the lives of others. It’s been designed to take people out of their comfort zones, so they can achieve things that they never thought possible. You can find out more at www.mpc2017.com
On her own journey, Dawn-Marie has achieved so much by pushing herself both physically and creatively. She says, “Many of us are very good at just staying put, not changing anything in our lives for the better. It’s easier that way. What we forget though, is that months and years go by so quickly and as we get older we usually look back and say: “I wish I’d done that.” It’s never too late to change though, so let’s just do it now.”
So what’s next? Dawn-Marie says, “I want to keep challenging myself and improving my blog for everyone to enjoy. At the moment I’m getting ready to walk the Arran Coastal Way and I’m exploring Dundonald again, as there’s still so much to find out. The excavations set to take place this year are really exciting. Right now, I’m curious about the ancient well in the middle of the village pub – I’m told there are five more in the village! I’m determined to get to the bottom of that mystery!”
We wish her all the very best. There’s such joy and inspiration in what she’s created. We look forward to all her adventures to come and if anyone knows the story behind those village wells, please let us know!