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The Screaming Heads of Burk’s Falls

A few weeks ago,  saw something about the site Atlas Obscura, because they have a new book out. The site is basically what it says: An atlas of obscure, odd places all over the world.

I checked out what odd places are close to me, as everyone probably does, and the one that stood out was the Midlothian Castle in Burk’s Falls, Ontario. That’s about 2 hours from me, but I had a trip planned to North Bay last weekend that went right through Burk’s Falls, so it was a no-brainer to stop by this place.

The Midlothian Castle is a farm property where a high school teacher has built a big stone castle, and placed hundreds of stone screaming heads all over the fields. There are also some geodesic domes.

We followed the Google Maps GPS directions, and when it said we were basically at the castle, I saw a motorcycle parked on the side of the road, and a little entrance, so I pulled over and got out. I talked to the motorcycle guy, who had no clue what the place was – he had just been led there by a geocaching map. He showed us an amazing, but sadly quite blurry, photo he had just taken on a little point-and-shoot, of a fox in mid-air, pouncing on something.

We went in, and could see a bunch of the screaming heads in the distance. We had to walk in for about a minute or two before we got really close to them, but they were indeed really crazy. I took a bunch of pictures, which I’ll paste at the bottom of this post.

There had been some sort of rave there the weekend before, and I looked at pics of it on Instagram and it looked just insane. While we were there, there was a big disc golf tournament going on, and there were dozens of guys all over the fields, all of whom looked like they hadn’t washed in a few days – I didn’t realize disc golf was such a sleazebag sport, but it looks great.

There were also a few groups of ladies wandering around, looking at the screaming heads, and I’m not sure whether they were with the disc golfers, or just there to see the crazy castle and heads. I assume the latter, because the golfers looked like they’d been there overnight (there were a lot of tents all over) and used to the big stone screaming heads that were all over.

I took a bunch of pictures, and we spotted the fox, who I got a short bit of video of, before it ran into some woods. Some of the ladies kept making weird sounds at it (you can hear this on the video), which scared it. I followed it into the woods, trying not to bother it, but I quickly lost track of it.

After a bit, we went back to the car, and drove a little bit farther down the road, having realized that there must be another entrance. The second entrance was much more obvious, and you could see the big, insane castle there. I didn’t get any pictures, which I really regret now, but we had already walked around the grounds for quite a while, and the parking situation was extremely unclear.

What seemed to be the main parking area was full, and there were a few tents in there too. I pulled into one area where I obviously couldn’t park, because I wanted to turn around, and some lady ambled towards me, waving and saying “You can’t park there!!”

So, at the main castle, I think I probably screwed up by just going “Ahh, good enough, we saw enough, let’s get back on the road to North Bay”. I should have got some pictures, because the castle looked wild, and the whole vibe was totally weird. There was an older guy near the entrance to the castle in some tie-dye and sweatpants if I recall, and the whole vibe was just so so so much like some English psychedelic hippy commune festival or something. I kept saying “I know these people love Hawkwind.” and “This looks like a goddamn Hawkwind festival!” and stuff like that. It was cool as hell.

Anyhow, I’ll stick in some photos here – I don’t feel like editing the ones I took too much (the colors were pretty lackluster), but I uploaded them all to Google Photos, which made HDRs and animations out of some of the bracketed exposures I took, so that’s why there are some GIFs and HDRs here.

But first the fox:

You can see a bunch of heads in the distance here
You can see a bunch of heads in the distance here

20160924203758-animation

20160924203721-animation

There was a small area full of sunflowers too
There was a small area full of sunflowers too
I don't know what this is called - geodesic pyramid? I'm pretty sure there was a geodesic dome nearer to the castle too. This had a sign that said not to climb it, boooo
I don’t know what this is called – geodesic pyramid? I’m pretty sure there was a geodesic dome nearer to the castle too. This had a sign that said not to climb it, boooo
You can kind of see big stones here that I believe are wolves howling into the sky
You can kind of see big stones here that I believe are wolves howling into the sky. There’s also a disc golf net in the foreground.
The screaming heads have stuff written on stones at the bottom. This one had the alphabet. Why not!
The screaming heads have stuff written on stones at the bottom. This one had the alphabet. Why not!

p1000504

 

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