If there’s something you simply can’t miss when visiting Scotland, it is the magic of exploring amazing and historical locations such as castles and forts. We’ve collected a list of some of the best places around The Highland Club, from approximately 30 minutes to a 2 hour drive away. No matter the distance, they’re all worth a visit!
Urquhart Castle approx. 30mins drive away
Further down Loch Ness is Urquhart Castle, a medieval castle that has played a role in Scottish history. After passing between Scottish and English hands, the castle was destroyed in the 14th century to ensure Scottish control but since then has descended into ruins. From these ruins, you can still look out onto Loch Ness to glimpse more of the views that the Highlands are famed for.
Tel: 01456 450551
Eilean Donan approx. 1hr drive away
The Isle of Skye has an abundance of castles, including Eilean Donan located where three lochs meet. This 13th century castle is well renowned as one of the quintessential views of Scotland throughout the world. It is alleged that the castle was built in order to protect the lands against Viking raiders, who settled around Scotland from 793 to around 1100. After being reformed to its former glory (it fell into ruin after the castle was partially destroyed during the 1719 Jacobite Rising), this castle is now a must see.
If you want to see what the view is like before you go, check out the link below for a live web cam stream from the castle.
Inverness Castle and Inverness Cathedral – approx. 1hr drive away
Inverness Castle has stood proudly overlooking the River Ness for 175 years. Previously the castle has not been open to the public as it has been the base for the city’s court. However, the city is currently in the two-year process of moving the courts out and opening up the castle to the public. This has started with the opening of the North Tower Viewpoint, which give a fantastic 360-degree panorama of Inverness.
To book a ticket for Inverness Castle Viewpoint in advance, please visit https://www.highlifehighland.com/invernesscastleviewpoint/admission/
Castle Leod – approx. 1hr 15mins drive away
Any fans of Outlander may find the name of this castle similar to Castle Leoch, the seat of the Mackenzie Clan. Beyond the world of Outlander, Castle Leod is and has been the seat of the Mackenzie Clan for a long time. The site was originally a Pictish Fort on the only low lying, dry mound in the area due to flooding. It was rebuilt into a stone keep in the 11th century. Since then its history has been far too great to recount here solely. As the castle is still lived in today, it is not open all the time. See the website below for listed open days and prices. This beautiful castle is certainly a must see, especially for any Outlander fans.
Cawdor Castle – approx. 1hr 30mins drive away
Built around a thorn tree that a donkey supposedly chose, Cawdor Castle still houses the Cawdor family. Though associated with Macbeth’s murder of King Duncan, as their website say, this castle is not where King Macbeth (the actual King, not the character) would have murdered Duncan. Despite the lack of literal literary history, this castle has plenty of look at. It contains 3 beautiful gardens and different gift shops (including a wool shop). You can also go salmon fishing in the grounds (with permission and only with a license bought from the website) or go on nature trails around the grounds. The grounds of the castle include not only beautiful gardens that you can wander throughout, but also a golf course and putting green for those interested. Spend a day perusing nature or indulging your favourite leisurely outdoor activities – but remember to plan your fishing in advance!
Tel: 01667 404401
Blair Castle – approx. 1hr 40mins to 2hr drive away
Blair Castle is a historical site that has played a significant role in Scottish history. Said to have first been built in the 13th century, Blair Castle has been visited by Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Victoria, and it was also an important location during the Jacobite Rising. Explore the grounds of the Atholl Estates (on which Blair Castle is located), on foot or even on the back of a Highland pony. There is plenty here for an exciting day out in a beautifully historical castle.
Blair Castle, Blair Atholl
Tel: 01796 481207
Armadale Castle approx. 1hr 50mins drive away
Once the seat of Clan Donald, Armadale Castle is now known for its beautiful gardens, ruins of the old Armadale Castle, and the Museum of the Isles which relays the history of the Highlands and Islands, and the history of Clan Donald. On the estate, you can also go walking from the Cuillin mountains to the Sound of Sleat, there are views for all tastes.
The Museum is open from 1st April to 31st October 2017, from 10am-5.30pm daily with the last entry at 5pm.
Armadale Castle, Gardens & Museum of the Isles
Isle of Skye IV45 8RS
Tel: 01471 844305
Dunvegan Castle approx. 2hrs 30mins drive away
The MacLeod Estate covers over 40, 000 acres, and the ancestral home of Clan MacLeod overlooks all the land. Though likely a fortified site originally, the castle itself was first built in the 1200s. It has since become one of the most well known sites on the isle for its history and its beauty.
As well as gardens, Dunvegan Castle is home to The Fairy Flag, a heirloom of the Clan MacLeod which is meant to have magical properties that aided the clan during times of war. You can visit this mystical item with a tour inside the Castle. But be warned that you cannot take pictures inside as the chief of Clan MacLeod still lives in the castle on occasion.
Isle of Skye
Tel: 01470 521206
Castle Duart approx. 3hr 20mins drive away
Forming the seat of Clan Maclean, this majestic castle is from the 13th century and located on the Isle of Mull. The castle itself isn’t the only beauty as the structure is located at the tip of the isle, and so it is surrounded by literal panoramic views of the coast line. Inside the Castle, they have period furniture as well as plenty of family portraits. Castle Duart also has a tea room which features local baking for those who want a quick coffee break whilst enjoying this historic site.
Isle of Mull
Tel: 01680 812309