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When you think of Scottish castles, what arrives to brain? Spooky, misty moors? Brave knights in satisfies of armor? Drawbridges and battles? Mead and merriment?
They’re all that, and much more, as my sister Kathy and I acquired on our CIE Tours 8-day bus tour named “Scottish Aspiration.” We joined 36 some others on this excursion, which started off in the bustling metropolis of Glasgow in western Scotland, and we traveled by mentor bus in a horseshoe form, ending in the funds metropolis of Edinburgh.
There were being a good deal of reasons to love this excursion, such as the 6 castles we frequented. Outlined alphabetically, listed here are some of the incredible castles of Scotland.
1. Armadale Castle
Isle Of Skye
To get to the Armadale Castle ruins, we took the Lord of the Isles car or truck ferry from Mallaig to Armadale on the Isle of Skye, portion of the Interior Hebrides archipelagos off the western coast of Scotland. The Isle of Skye is nicknamed “The Misty Isle” due to the hazy weather that blows in from the Atlantic. Our tour guide, Fran, reported that of her 14 decades guiding excursions, she experienced only noticed wonderful climate on this isle about 3 instances, but our day was a single of them!
Armadale Castle was in ruins and roped off for security considering the fact that it was developed in the 19th century. Nevertheless, the creating facades had been extraordinary. From the castle web page, “Armadale Castle was when the seat of the Macdonalds of Sleat, section of the mighty Clan Donald. Now a damage, it overlooks the Seem of Sleat and is encircled by some 40 acres of gardens, landscaping, and superb trees.” Indeed, the gardens have been stately with footbridges about effervescent streams, ornamental gates, trellises, and more.
Pro Tip: Tickets were provided in our bus tour, but you can obtain tickets for the museum and grounds on-website.
2. Blair Castle
Blair Atholl In Highland Perthshire, Scottish Highlands
The renowned Scottish Highlands deal with about 10,000 square miles in northern Scotland. On the 145,000-acre Atholl Estates, just one of the greatest in Scotland, sits Blair Castle. It’s been the dwelling of the Atholl loved ones for a lot more than 7 hundreds of years, with a varied record of turbulent and peaceful situations.
If initially impressions subject, Blair’s Terrific Hall entrance does the task. Two stories significant, it has dim wood-paneled walls covered in muskets, swords, shields, and the like. We saw picket carved staircases, household portraits, tapestries, and period home furniture, as well as elaborate bedrooms, an complete home of good china, and a Victorian ballroom with 175 pairs of antlers. I guess it’s “all in a day’s decorating” in these a exceptional place.
I cherished the Tapestry Space with Mortlake tapestries at the time owned by King Charles I. Tapestry-protected chairs, sofas and rugs made it a home of beautiful depth and texture.
Common Scottish Quaich
In the course of our have exploration time, I requested a castle guide about a huge silver bowl I saw. She mentioned it was a standard Scottish quaich — a managed bowl, generally created of silver, shared in between mates. In my naïve Minnesota way, I asked if they shared soup in that attractive bowl. In her gracious Scottish brogue, she said, “Oh, it would have been whisky, my expensive!” Why sure, of class.
Pro Tip: From July to September, the Scottish Highland heather fields bloom in purple majesty. By Oct, when we traveled, they experienced turned a rusty crimson but ended up still attractive.
3. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle, one particular of the oldest fortified sites in Europe, sits high on Castle Rock with remarkable views of the metropolis and Blackness Bay. We had a guided tour and time on our possess. Here are a couple of highlights.
Despite the fact that images is strictly forbidden in the Crown Home, we did see “The Honours” — the Scottish Crown Jewels — defined as the crown, scepter, and sword of point out applied in the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots in 1543. They have been beautiful, and security was everywhere in that little area!
The castle’s amazing Reception Hall has been called a marvel of medieval Scotland, accomplished in 1511 for King James IV. On just one lengthy wall have been fits of armor and a display screen of swords and shields, all really ornate.
On the other lengthy wall were wood alcoves with benches. I walked by what I imagined was a model in interval costume, positioned with a book, motionless. When Kathy walked by, the female looked up from the reserve straight at her. You can picture our surprise!
Pro Suggestion: If you are traveling to Edinburgh Castle in August, never skip the Royal Edinburgh Armed forces Tattoo, an elaborate “pomp and ceremony” military services performance that showcases songs and cultural acts from close to the earth.
4. Eilean Donan Castle
Dornie By Kyle Of Lochalsh, Scottish Highlands
The outstanding Eilean Donan Castle sits on an island in which a few fantastic lochs (lakes) meet up with. According to the web site, “…the initially fortified castle was developed in the mid-13th century and stood guard around the lands of Kintail. Because then, at minimum 4 distinctive variations of the castle have been crafted and rebuilt as the feudal historical past of Scotland unfolded by way of the centuries.”
Pro Tip: This was just a photo prevent on our bus tour. You can order admission tickets at the ticket workplace or use self-service ticket machines at the castle.
5. Glamis Castle
About an hour and a 50 % north of Edinburgh, the Glamis Castle looked stately even on a wet working day. The internet site claims it was “the ancestral seat to the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne since 1392 … Glamis is renowned for its wealthy record and renowned people from Mary Queen of Scots to James V and was the childhood house of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mom.” No photographs had been permitted within when we were being there.
On top of that, Glamis Castle is reported to have been the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Macbeth (Macbeth is referred to as the “Thane of Glamis”). Although we did not have time to see it, the Macbeth Trail is a 25-minute walking route to seven wooden sculptures, each portraying a significant scene from the participate in.
6. Inveraray Castle
Also in the Scottish Highlands, Inveraray Castle sits on the banking institutions of Loch Fyne, about 60 miles from Glasgow. We had a guided tour below and when again, walked by means of elaborate rooms with chandeliers, dining regions, dwelling rooms, fireplaces, and more.
The web site offers the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, “Inveraray Castle is to start with and foremost a loved ones home in which our household has had the wonderful privilege of expanding up in. However, its really existence displays the component played by the Campbells in the prosperous tapestry of Scottish and British historical past.”
For you Downton Abbey lovers, you may well remember this castle from the Xmas 2012 episode, which was shot in this article.
Bonus: Castle-Like Lodging
Muthu Newton Hotel
Touring all these castles may make you come to feel like royalty. When it is time to rest your weary head in the Scottish Highlands, remain at the glorious Muthu Newton Hotel. Originally constructed as a family members property (Wow!) in the 17th century, it capabilities 63 rooms and exquisite gardens and grounds.
Atholl Palace Resort
A different stellar lodging suit for royalty is the Atholl Palace Lodge. It is also a popular marriage ceremony location, and when we were being there, we liked observing a bridal party of adult men in tartan kilts and females in beautiful robes with classy fascinators on their heads.
Scottish castles are famous and exceptional. Of class, not anyone may well feel so.
Like all superior Scottish guides, Fran was extremely professional about history, geography, geology, plant and animal daily life, clans, and customs. She gave us considerable narration on the tour.
Looking back again about her 14 years of guiding excursions, she explained to us a humorous tale about two gals on a tour who took copious notes on her every phrase. As the tour continued, Fran seen they reduce way again on notice-taking. A person day, Fran caught a glimpse of their notebooks with cryptic notes: “ABC MDS.”
On subsequent days, if she glanced at their notebooks, she saw the exact same point: “ABC MDS.” At last, she asked them what it meant. Sheepishly (pun meant), they instructed her: “Another Bloody Castle, More Damned Sheep.” When observe-taking got outdated, they resorted to an easy abbreviation to sum it up!
When you go to Scotland, I’m trusting you’ll see past “another bloody castle” to the uniqueness, splendor, and stories in each one. These 6 amazing castles are a excellent location to begin.
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