Yes we did manage a Castle or two during our holidays all be it they are few and far between in fact so few and far between one was one side of the country and the other the other side.
We visited Dunrobin Castle on a rather long way back home, home to the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland since the 13th century. Situated 52 miles north of Inverness it is surprisingly French and Disney like in its appearance, not like a traditional Scottish Castle at all.
It’s 13th century core is still there but can not be seen from the outside, for that you need to go inside the castle and look through into an internal courtyard. However, I have no pictures of that as Dunrobin, along with many other castles these days do not allow photographs to be taken inside (my guess it is some kind of condition that insurance companies put on them, well I hope that is the case I would be doubly miffed it was them just being silly). That being said it must also be said that the Dunrobin’s entry charge means that should you be north of Inverness and unsure what to do for a day then this is the place to go. There is of course the castle itself, a good number of rooms open to the public, although it still is a family home. Hubby loved the children’s playroom with some fantastic toys made by local people on display. There is copious amounts of wood panelling, wonderful bookshelves with each foot and a half shelf separately adjustable – project for Hubby, though not sure he will ever get around to it – innumerable family trinkets and memorabilia from down through the centuries all encompassed in a wonderful warm and welcoming feel.
The main rooms of the Castle face out on to the gardens and the North Sea:
It was a glorious day when we visited the sky was blue the sea aquamarine, the gardens are a lovely mixture of formal gardens and wooded areas and you can wander round them to your heart’s content as entrance to them is included in the price, as is one of the best falconry displays I have ever seen, and the fantastic family museum housing some stunning Pictish stones (warning to those of you who don’t like taxidermy there is quite a bit in there) which is in the once Summer house. (Don’t be fooled, it is probably at least twice the size of the Rectory.) We spent the whole afternoon at Dunrobin, but we could have easily spent the whole day (I could have spent the whole day in the museum), good value for its £9.50 entrance fee and what is more the nice gentleman who welcomed us did try every angle going to get us a reduced price. But we were too old, or too young and weren’t student, yes we were sure.
The other castle could not have been more opposite not only on the other side of the country but also a ruin. This picture – courtesy of Hubby – was taken as we headed north, we had planned a stop on the way back when I would have taken my pictures but it was raining and the end of a long day, so that is for another journey.
Ardvreck Castle is on Loch Assynt near, well near nowhere. Okay it is about half the distance north of Ullapool that Dunrobin is from Inverness but it feels and is totally isolated unlike Dunrobin. On the east the roads are wide mainly straight and in parts dual carriageway, in the west the roads are narrow twisty and in parts single track with passing places. Built in the 15th century it was the family seat of the Clan MacLeod. Next time we are up that way I would like to spend some time exploring both the castle and the near by Calda house, which is also in ruins, which Clan MacKenzie built in 1726 as a modern manor house after capturing the MacLeod’s castle and lands in 1672.