We can think of noting more exciting than visiting a castle in your motorhome so here are our favourite Castles to visit on or around North Coast 500 route
Dunrobin Castle – Dornoch
On the northern coast near Dornoch, architecture lovers can marvel at the stunning French design of Dunrobin Castle. The most northerly of Scotland’s great houses, Dunrobin is the largest castle in the northern Highlands with 189 rooms. It dates back to the early 1300s, and is home to the Earls, later known as the Dukes, of Sutherland. Its interiors were designed by Scotland’s own Sir Robert Lorimer while its magnificent architecture and fairy-tale spires were added by Sir Charles Barry, who also designed London’s Houses of Parliament.
Urquhart Castle – Inverness
Urquhart Castle sits beside Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland. The castle is on the A82 road, 21 kilometres south-west of Inverness and 2 kilometres east of the village of Drumnadrochit. The present ruins date from the 13th to the 16th centuries, though built on the site of an early medieval fortification. Discover 1,000 years of drama, experience a glimpse of medieval life and enjoy stunning views over Loch Ness from the ruins of the greatest castle in the Highlands. Climb the Grant Tower that watches over the iconic loch, peer into a miserable prison cell, said to have held the legendary Gaelic bard Domhnall Donn, and imagine the splendid banquets staged in the great hall. A more comfortable view of the iconic ruins, against a backdrop of Loch Ness and the hills of the Great Glen, can be enjoyed from the café.
Castle of Old Wick – wick
The Castle of Old Wick was probably built in the 1100s. Known as ‘The Old Man of Wick’, the castle is dominated by its four-storey tower. Parts of its seaward side have long since collapsed, but it retains a striking and dramatic presence. The Castle of Old Wick was built in the twelfth century. At this time Caithness and Sutherland, as well as many of the islands along Scotland’s northern and western coasts, were under the control of the King of Norway. Accordingly Wick Castle was probably founded by one of his magnates and most authors attribute it to Harald Maddadson, Earl of Orkney and Caithness. Harald was half Scottish – his father was Matad, Earl of Atholl – and it is presumed he sought a family seat on the mainland. If this supposition is correct, the castle was built circa-1160. Beware – do not visit on a windy day
Ardvreck Castle was built by the Macleod Clan in the fifteenth century on a promontory of land that juts into Loch Assynt. It witnessed regular local clan warfare throughout its history but it became infamous for its role in national events in 1650 when James Graham, Marquis of Montrose was betrayed there and handed over to his Covenanter enemies. Ardvreck Castle is a ruined castle dating from the 16th century which stands on a rocky promontory jutting out into Loch Assynt in Sutherland, Scotland. One can reach the ruins by driving along the A837 which follows the north shore of Loch Assynt from the village of Inchnadamph.
Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey
The Castle of Mey is located in Caithness, on the north coast of Scotland, about 6 miles west of John o’ Groats. In fine weather there are views from the castle north to the Orkney Islands. The Castle of Mey was built by George, the 4th Earl of Caithness, for his second son William Sinclair. When visiting the family seat Girnigoe Castle in 1573, William was murdered by his older brother John, who had been imprisoned there for about six years by his cruel father. John had been planning an escape but William found out about it and told their father. John was in turn murdered and the castle went to the third son, George Sinclair, who founded the family of the Sinclairs of Mey and whose descendant succeeded to the Earldom in 1789. He changed the name of the castle to Barrogill Castle. George, the fifteenth Earl died at the age of 30; he had never married and having no children he left the castle to his friend F G Heathcote, on condition that he changed his name to Sinclair. His widow eventually sold it to Captain F B Imbert-Terry, who subsequently sold it to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 1952.
Until 1970 Strome was a much busier place than it is today, for the main road from Achnasheen to Kyle of Lochalsh followed the north west side of Loch Carron from Lochcarron to a ferry which plied between here and Stromeferry on the far shore. It is easy to imagine many of those waiting for their ferry exploring the nearby ruins of Strome Castle. But the ferry disappeared with the completion of the Stromeferry bypass along the south east shore of Loch Carron to its head, and with it went most of the visitors to the castle. Today’s Strome Castle has a slightly sad and neglected air. On the plus side this gives a visit a sense of exploration: on the down side it makes access much more difficult for all but the completely able and well-shod. Off A896, 4 ½ miles south west of Lochcarron. Strome Castle was built in in the 1400s. Its position is a strategically important one, guarding the north side of the Strome Narrows near the mouth of Loch Carron and the ancient ferry crossing here. And its position is also a commanding one, on a rocky bluff, surrounded by steep drops to the shore and sea on three sides. Perched on a rocky outcrop at the end of Loch Carron, Strome Castle has perfect views towards the Isle of Skye. It was built in the 14th century and changed hands many times over the centuries, until finally, in the 1600s, it was besieged (and blown up) by Kenneth MacKenzie, Lord of Kintail. Not for the feigned hearted. Beware – do not visit on a windy day
For more information about the amazing Castles on the North Coast 500 route, speak with the team at Lowland Motorhome Hire today