I’m sure if you’ve heard anything about Scotland before, you will have heard about the epic castles that are sprawled about the landscape. These castles and keeps are obviously romanticized in many novels, but once you see one for yourself – you’ll understand why.
After visiting the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye, we headed towards Eilean Donan Castle for our first visit! (We would return later towards the end of our trip – due to the circuitous nature of this particular tour).
Eilean Donan Castle is located in a spectacular location – on a small island where three lochs meet.
Even before our yellow bus was parked, we were already giddy and ready to go exploring! It was an anticipated stop on our tour and we obviously couldn’t contain ourselves from taking loads of photographs!
To get to the castle itself, you have to cross a lovely bridge that adds to the picturesque nature of the location. (Note: Whilst the castle is open to visitors, you do need to purchase a ticket to cross this bridge! Even if you only want to walk across the bridge or wander around the castle grounds… )
The castle was apparently first inhabited around the 6th century but not fortified until the 13th. Since then:
Today, the castle is owned and maintained by the MacRae family, whose ancestor had purchased the island that the castle was built on in 1911. There are four generations of the family that still inhabit the castle today (though not on a daily basis)!
The name of the castle seems to come from the Irish Saint Bishop Donan who came to Scotland in 580 AD.
As you’ll notice, the castle has varying layers of protection around it.
As mentioned before, it was fortified in 13th century BC in order to defend against the Vikings who raided Northern Scotland at that time.
We had already decided when we arrived that we would definitely be taking the tour of the inside of the castle. (Eilean Donan Castle was not an inclusion on our Compass Buster tour, so you could choose whether you wanted to go inside the castle, or just admire it from the outside.)
So, after we bought our tickets and made our way across the bridge, we finally got up close and personal with Eilean Donan Castle’s history.
If you are travelling independently, the admission fee is £7.50 for an adult. More information about opening hours, admission and visiting Eilean Donan Castle can be found here.
Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures inside the castle itself – seeing as it is still inhabited by the family who owns it. But we can say this, the inside is lusciously decorated and befits the castle’s history! As you go through the various rooms, you get a sense of what it may have been like to live here during differing time periods and also gain some knowledge on some of the previous inhabitants of the keep.
Walking inside and outside the castle to get to various rooms, you hear stories about what had taken place within its walls. It turns out there are literally skeletons in the closet in this castle – but we won’t spoil it for you!
And even in the windows! A little spooky, right?
Looking out from the castle, you are rewarded with some spectacular views of the lochs and the mountains of the surrounding area.
This castle has seen a lot of changes over the centuries – having dealt with Jacobite raids, Spaniards, English and many other attempted invaders. Thank goodness for the MacRae family and all their efforts in rebuilding and renovating such a beautiful example of Scottish castles.
If you want to learn more about Eilean Donan’s history, you can do so here.
Visiting one of the most photographed castle in Scotland was definitely a highlight of our trip! (And we would be returning in a few days for a second visit!) We hope we gave you enough of a sneak peek that it entices you to go visit the site as well =D.
But for now, we leave this iconic castle as we headed off to our next destination. Check back next week for the rest of Day 4!
From Vancouver with Love,
Ioana and Natalie
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