Culzean Castle
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Culzean Castle, the seat of the Marquesses of Ailsa, is situated on the sea shore, about 4 miles from Maybole. It is the most palatial edifice in this locality, and yet by reason of the height of the cliff on which it stands (100 feet), the building itself looks comparatively small. It was built in 1777, the previous house on the site being called Cove. Cove took its name from the remarkable caves which here penetrate the cliffs. There are three of these caves, two right beneath the castle, and one beneath the stables; and as they have often been described wrongly, pains have been taken, by the help of a friend, to render the following description accurate.

The two caves beneath the castle are placed one higher than the other, although they communicate, and are each 127 feet in length. Their greatest height is 34 feet, and their greatest width 44 feet, but these dimensions, of course, vary. The entrances to them are closed by walls and iron stanchions, although a door is left open for visitors. These are the largest eaves of the series. But it is the smaller cave beneath the stables which is the most remarkable. This cave has two entrances, a few yards apart, and stretches inward for about 240 feet, with a height and width of 20 feet at the entrance. But this is very far from being all; and an attempt recently made by two friends to reach its inmost recesses was thus graphically described to me by one of them. "After penetrating a long way in darkness and wet, we came to a small hole through which a slender person might creep, feet foremost, as there was a drop of eight feet on the other side. We crept through this hole, and, after the utmost difficulty, proceeded, I should think, nearly 100 feet further, where, amongst the holes, huge rocks, and winding ramifications, we lost each other, and although within calling distance, we could never meet. At times, the one caught a glimpse of the other's light, but it was only for a second, and, after an hour's intricate creeping and scrambling, I was horrified to hear my companion call out that in trying to creep through a hole amongst the rocks, he had stuck fast, and could neither get backward nor forward. I did my best to reach him, but although I kept on going from rock to rock, and from one elevation to another, in search of my friend, his cries, although never at any time very far from mc, appeared as far off as ever. At times, I wondered whether I could myself find my way out again, but the thought of my companion's perilous position maddened me, and again and again I strove to reach him. I was just on the point of giving up in despair, and endeavoring to make my way out to procure help, when, to my great joy, he and I simultaneously crept out of different holes into a little open space, about twelve feet from each other-he having at last managed to extricate himself. We immediately made our way outwards, though with extreme difficulty, and it is just possible that if it had riot been for the continued calling of a friend we had left near the mouth of the hole (and who declared he would not venture into the lion's den), we might have shared the fate of the piper We entered the cave at half-past three o'clock in the afternoon, and were not out till six, sweating like ponies, plastered and be-spattered with clay, and dripping wet. Neither miners nor drainers that night were in the running with us!"

There are various traditions afloat about these eaves. One is that they communicate by an underground passage with Turnberry. Another is that the fairies on moonlight nights used them for dancing-halls, as alluded to by Burns in his "Hallowe'en." Another is that a piper once entered them and was never seen again, his pipes having been last heard playing underground at a spot still called the Piper's Brae, about half a mile from the Castle. Another is that the laird of Culzean who shot Gilbert M'Adam the Covenanter, at Kirkmichael, used to hide in them from the wrath of the peasantry. And still another tradition points to their having been used by the smugglers of last century to hide their contraband goods in from the search of the gaugers. Which of these we are to believe depends on the amount of our faith; but after my two friends' romantic experience, I am inclined to go in for the piper!

In the present happier days, Culzean has become a famous resort for the sight-seer. Through the kindness of Lord Ailsa, the grounds are open to visitors on Wednesdays, on application to Mr Smith, Factor; and that the boon is valued may be guessed from the fact that upwards of 1000 persons annually avail themselves of the privilege. The terraces beside the Castle, the gardens, the pond with its water-fowl, and the grand stretches of shady walks and stately trees, with delicious outlooks on the sea, make a visit to Culzean a memory of delight.

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