A Visit to Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland

A Visit to Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland

A Visit to Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland
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A Visit to Eilean Donan Castle in Sctland

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Eilean Donan Castle: situated on a small tidal island where three sea lochs meet and surrounded by majestic mountains and Scottish wilderness, it is not hard to see why this castle is considered to be one of the most photographed in Scotland, and beloved of shortbread tins.

Eilean Donan was the focus for a road trip earlier this year. A spectacularly moody and dramatic image of Eilean Donan was featured in February’s edition of Countryfile Magazine and as soon as I laid eyes upon it I wanted to see it in the flesh. So off we went.

A few weeks later my partner and I set off from Kent to begin the two day drive north, staying with my parents in Yorkshire overnight. The second day of driving saw us skirt the Lake District National Park and enter Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park north of Glasgow a few hours later. But the best part of the drive for me was traversing the A82 towards Fort William through the misty, brooding mountains of Glencoe.

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A Visit to Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland

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And boy was Eilean Donan worth the long drive, all 610 miles of it.

The first fortified castle was built in the mid-13th century, with various alterations over the next few centuries until it was partially destroyed during the Jacobite uprising in 1719. It wasn’t until Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1911 that Eilean Donan was restored to its former glory. The castle was re-opened in 1932 and is now a popular tourist attraction.

As we visited during March there were few tourists around, and it was wonderfully peaceful gazing out from the small island across the waters to the distant mountains. The only way to look around inside the castle is by guided tour, for which we were more than happy to pay. Our guide was very knowledgeable (who wouldn’t be after working there for 15 years?) and told us so many fascinating things; the entrance hall has a barrel vaulted ceiling with no keystone to hold things in place – quite unusual and a master of design. And the walls of the great hall have narrow passageways within and peep holes, the better that people may listen in on councils in centuries gone by – perhaps where the saying ‘the walls have ears’ comes from…

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A Visit to Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland

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The tour finished with a walk through the bedrooms where the current family still reside; recent wedding photo’s lay side by side with old trinkets and old paintings adorned the walls with family trees. A wander through the original kitchens revealed a room trapped in time, stuck in the mid-1900’s when parties would have been hosted and friends invited to stay and plenty of food was required.

Oh to live in a castle!

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Rachel is a freelance ecologist based in the south of the UK. In between travelling around the UK to carry out protected species and habitat surveys, she takes any opportunity she can to explore the local area and hopefully discover hidden gems. Her blog Hither and Yonder documents her work, experiences and little local adventures.

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