Loudoun Castle has what is arguably the most impressive entrance of any theme park. Visitors pass by a ruined castle before entering the park proper through a stone archway. Although not loaded with attractions, the park designers have spaced out what they have making the park feel a lot larger then it actually is. Where the other parks in the country feel like fairgrounds, Loudoun Castle actually feels like an old country manor with a few rides located in its gardens.
The first one for us was Twist and Shout, a Schwarzkopf-built Silverarrow model I had previously ridden at Dreamland. Given that the ride was originally designed to be portable it was hardly surprising to find that it had made the journey well, running as if it was brand new. It is intensely boring to reiterate the same thought all the time, but once again I could not help but be reminded as to how well designed all the Schwarzkopf rides were. On a peripheral note, the coaster enthusiast in me was relieved to see that the owners had not reinstalled the incorrect ride sign from the Dreamland days (see Holnemvolt Park for a full explanation).
The only other major coaster was also moved here from a previous home in Dreamland. The control panel and ride inspection certificates carry a number of different spellings of the older name, Wild Mouse, though the park has rebranded it here as Rat Trap. Its location, at the far end of the park, meant that we were the first riders of the morning; nobody else had made it down this far yet. This was evidenced by the fact that the chain lift was switched off.
It was a delight to see another installation of a Schwarzkopf Apollo just three months after the previous one. The name, Plough, seemed a little odd to me, but perhaps there is some significance to this in Scotland. Either way, the ride was operating well, and I enjoyed it greatly. Martin elected to sit it out due to a personal incompatibility with spin rides, although he did say based on observing it that even he could probably have survived it with breakfast intact.
George took what he considered to be a superb photo of me on the Logger's Leap flume. The quality of the picture was boosted greatly, he felt, by the fact that I could not be seen in it, the water splash completely obscuring any identification of who the passenger might have been. While on the subject of George, he also came out with a gem of a comment in the car about Martin not being able to attend a future trip we are planning:That's okay; we'll do it some other day, when you're also busy!
Switching into credit whoring mode, we each had a go on the Wacky Worm (#512), before a second spin on Twist and Shout. This had developed quite a queue, largely due to the supreme inefficiency of operation. Slow loading on coasters was a feature of all three parks in Scotland. One can only speculate as to the reasons for this, although I suspect quantity of guests is probably one of them.
I ended up riding Twist and Shout a second time immediately as a volunteer. The reason was a child who could not have been move than four years old who could not ride without an adult with him. The only thing I could interpolate from the stream of thought in a strong glasgow accent was that this would be his first roller coaster. This blond haired kid, who was being cheered on loudly by gangs of supporters, maintained an impassive face all the way up the lift hill. As the ride began, though, his face lit up like a christmas tree and the hands went as far into the air as they would go. A coaster enthusiast in the making no doubt; he was already in the queue for a second go as we went to get some lunch.
It is not difficult to get fast food wrong. One of the easiest things to spoil is chips, which can be positively revolting when cooked badly. Though I am not a regular patron of fast food at home, I do know enough to consider myself a connoisseur of what is good and what is bad. More often than not amusement parks fall firmly into the latter category despite their best efforts to the contrary. To that end, it was a pleasant surprise to find the chips at Loudoun Castle to be among the best I've ever tasted anywhere; they were piping hot, crunchy, and had a slight spice to them that tasted positively divine.