Scotland Trip 2022 Part 4: Castles

Castles rise up in our imaginations as relics of a mythical past, set places for fantasy tales full of Chivalry and Romance. Or at least this seems to be the way most Americans think of castles. Of course the reality is far less romantic. A real castle is a defensive structure, often used as a base for offense, that lorded over a brutal time. Either way, they are fascinating!

A lot of people think of Scotland as a land of castles, and we did see plenty, though our trip wasn’t centered on them. Occasionally we’d catch a glimpse of a ruined tower or a full castle and then back to the typical scenery, which was gorgeous. Of course most of the glimpses were around water, not up in the moors or mountains.

Some of the castles were ruins, others reconstructed, and still others pretty close to original, though there have been changes and modifications over the centuries. There were even a couple of castles that were more decorative than defensive, though “real” castles had been in those places at one time. Thinking of the past, with hill forts forming the roots of some castles, there have been defensive structures there for on the order of 3000 years.

As I said, our trip was not centered around castles, but we did see a few. Of those we just drove by, we slowed down for photo ops on two – Castle Stalker (between Oban and Fort William, beautiful setting, used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, last scene) and Doune Castle (near Stirling, used in many movies and TV shows, again including the Monty Python). I also saw a lot of Edinburgh Castle and Inverness Castle, but entered neither (well, I was almost in Edinburgh, but no tour).

The first castle we visited was Stirling. It is impressive, dominating the landscape. And it has a rich history, though they seemed to concentrate on Mary, Queen of Scots in our visit. We were a little rushed, but I still made it to most of the rooms and walked around a little, but not much.

Armadale Castle is actually a newer structure built to resemble a “real” castle. It was build by Lord MacDonald. The ruins of the castle form the centerpiece of the Clan Donald Centre and the Museum of the Isles. I talked about my visit when I talked about Skye.

Leaving Skye we visited Eilean Donan. This castle was destroyed in the 18th century, but restored in the early 20th. It is gorgeous! I did get a pretty good photo a couple of days before our our visit, but you can see some reflections on the bus window!

Urquhart Castle is a romantic ruins on Loch Ness. We had a short boat trip to the castle and then plenty of time to walk around. The high point was a defensive structure back to the 6th century, and possibly earlier, but the castle we see today was built between the 14th and 17th century (the large tower being rebuilt in the 16th century). This was a very cool place.

We watched the Military Tattoo ( post to come) from the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade. This isn’t in the castle, but uses the castle as a dramatic backdrop and “prop”. And then the castle is so often visible through out the city. It is the type of places you might think of when you hear the word “castle”.

Below are some photos of castles we saw and/or visited, including photos from above. As always, click on a photo to view it full size. Once up, you can scroll through the photos.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the castles of Scotland! To go back to the beginning of the journey, and the page that links all sections together, please see Part 1!

40 thoughts on “Scotland Trip 2022 Part 4: Castles

    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks, Yvette. I think everyone loves visiting castles, and it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed some of the other parts of the trip more, but glad I saw all of these places and I have a few more castles I want to visit the next time I am there…

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  1. Pingback: one last visit: Ever Present – Touring My Backyard

  2. Ju-Lyn

    That is a whole of castle for a not-focused-on-castles journey!
    One of the delights on our driving trips in Scotland was to spot one on the horizon amidst all the stunning scenery. One of my vivid memories to this day is of Urqhart – clambering over ruins is one of my favourite castle activities (although reconstructed is very instructive); and I knocked my head pretty good climbing through a window. The bruised bump was my souvenir!

    Like

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Scotland Trip 2022 Part 1: Overview | Trent's World (the Blog)

  4. Diana

    We are lucky you take a lot of photos so you can share them with us after your travels! I didn’t think about how these castles are fortresses and not so romantic in era’s that were brutal I am sure. But the history is so wonderful and maybe someday I’ll be able to see in person too. I’m thankful to be able to see here as we hear about your travels! 🤩

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Despite the reality of why they were built, reading the stories is a lot of fun, and the castle are beautiful. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the photos! I hope you can make it over there sooner than later.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  5. Rowena

    Thanks so much, Trent. Absolutely fabulous (to use a cliché). It was interesting looking at your photos after exploring Bathurst and the surrounding goldrush towns. We pulled over regularly to photograph old houses beside the road right down to crumbling, dilapidated shacks. It was so much fun. So good to get out exploring again after the last two years. Travel reawakens the soul, imagination etc. So good for you (except perhaps your bank balance!)
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Glad you enjoyed the trip so far :) It is great to be out and about again, able to explore with few restrictions and worries (well, my dad was pretty sick with Covid for a couple of days, but it was worth it). Photography helps me see, and I occasionally find something I missed when I go back through the photos.

      Like

      Reply
    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Yes, there is! Of course, for us over here, there is so much history in England as well! It’s been ages and I need to go back, but I think Scotland still tops my list ;)

      Like

      Reply
        1. trentpmcd Post author

          Yep, visited once, but didn’t see the cliffs of wherever (can’t remember the name) except out of an airplane window from 37,000 feet… It is gorgeous too, and I know I have Irish blood as well as English and Scottish, but for some reason, Scotland spoke to me much more.

          Like

          Reply
          1. willowdot21

            You probably mean the Giant’s Causeway Northern Ireland. My Dad was lrish my Mum English I am drawn to Ireland , but Scotland and Wales have deep calls on my soul …it’s the Celt in us Trent you obviously have more Scottish blood than Irish. 💜

            Liked by 1 person

            Reply
            1. trentpmcd Post author

              I was actually thinking of The Cliffs of Moher, though the Giant’s Causeway is another one – some think of it and Kiltrock on Skye as being connected.
              I do think the Scottish blood must run deeper in me. And I did love Wales, but Scotland more :)

              Like

              Reply
    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I still have visions of those old stories I heard and read as a kid, but Edinburgh castle is pretty much what I always Minas Tirith/Anor from TLotR should look like… I hope it isn’t too long before you can make it over to see one in person.

      Like

      Reply
    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks, Dawn! I was going to say that there is nothing like them in the US, but then I thought of some of the forts that were built when castles were still being used… They are beautiful and fun to visit.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  6. Leyde Ryan

    I LOVE castles, and though I’ve not seen one “in person”, I’ve yet to see a poor photo/image of one. They are beautiful even in ruins, to my romantic mind–and I appreciate the clarification that their purpose was defensive fortresses. Thanks so much for sharing these–it was just the escape I needed today!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Castles are beautiful, and often the ruins are cooler to be around than the still functioning ones – there is a scene of Romance in the air, the mystery is that much deeper. I hope do get a chance to see one in person some time :)

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I did see Holyroodhouse from the outside, but didn’t enter it. And I saw the signs for Edinburgh Dungeons and assumed it was one of the tours of the lost parts of the city, like the ghost tours and such. I’m not sure what “Britannica” is – a part of Holyroodhouse where the Queen stays or something similar? Anyway, so many great castles and such in Scotland! And, despite my kidding, I will have to see Dunvegan on my next visit (I think I’ll have to spend a full three days on Skye!). I’m glad you are having fun revisiting some of the places you’ve seen :)

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. robertawrites235681907

        Britannica is the yacht that the Queen and her family sailed about the world in. It was lovely to tour, very interesting. Edinburgh Dungeons are, indeed, part of a ghost tour. They are also a significant part of the city’s history and it is also where the infamous Burke and Hare body snatchers found their victims. If you are interested, there is a brief overview here: https://www.thedungeons.com/edinburgh/whats-inside/what-is-the-dungeon/burke-and-hare/

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        1. trentpmcd Post author

          Ah, ok, with a name like that I should have thought “boat”, not “building”. Next time I’m in Edinburgh, I might do one of those tours – they sound interesting and fun.

          Liked by 1 person

          Reply

Express Yourself

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s