Castles

Barsallach Point, The Machars, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland

Dumfries & Galloway occupies a huge portion of southwest Scotland. From the Rinns of Galloway in the west to the southern uplands almost as far as Hawick in the east, and from the Solway Coast north to elevated Sanquhar and the border with Ayrshire, this area escapes the notice of many visitors. It lies tucked to the south of Edinburgh and Glasgow and to the west of the English border, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that most people arrive from Northern Ireland on the ferry to Stranraer.

As off the beaten path as Dumfries & Galloway is, it boasts one peninsula in particular that sees even fewer hardy souls: The Machars. Read more...

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The view over Loch Leven, Lochaber, Scotland

A couple of years ago I rolled out a series of Itinerary Ideas articles that highlighted different areas of Scotland. When I’d written as many as I could, I couldn’t help but notice there were still some glaring holes on the map, little wastelands of knowledge here on my site. It was this process that kickstarted the planning of my subsequent trips – I needed to dig into and explore these areas in more depth, and so I hit the road this past spring to ferret out some of the great visitor experiences in Lochaber and the west highlands. Read more...

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Doune Castle, Stirlingshire, Scotland

I’ve been on a bit of a castle kick lately, and today’s focus is on one of the most popular castles in Scotland. Doune Castle stands just northwest of Stirling and rose to cultural stardom with the release of Monty Python and the Holy Grail in 1975. It is an undeniably handsome facade perched in the midst of a wooded bend of the River Teith, just outside the town of Doune (and near to Deanston distillery). This is a pretty part of Scotland, where the Central Belt gives way to foothills rolling up into the highlands, and it is easily accessible on drives north from the cities.

I visited Doune Castle this past May… Read more...

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Dunstaffnage Castle, near Oban, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

Hardly a ten-minute drive north of Oban stands one of the oldest castles in all of Scotland. Dunstaffnage Castle looms from a rocky promontory and glowers across a key junction of western Scotland’s sea lanes, guarding the entrance to Loch Etive and protecting the Pass of Brander from Scotland’s enemies. A fortification has stood here for a very long time — some posit it may have been a Dál Riatan stronghold as far back as the 7th century — and the impressive structure visible today was largely constructed in the 1200s.

Old castles like Dunstaffnage are my favorite kind because they were functional, defensive fortifications… Read more...

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Castle Tioram, Moidart, Lochaber, Scotland

The Scottish highlands west of Loch Linnhe are something of a black box. The loch, an enormous arm of sea water, thrusts into the highlands all the way up to Fort William, clefting Lochaber in twain. If you look at a map, this severed land seems to hang down into the sea, barely holding onto the Scottish mainland at Arisaig and Glenfinnan. There are three access points to the lands of Moidart, Morvern, and Ardnamurchan, none of which are particularly convenient: The car ferry at Corran, the A861 south of Lochailort, and the ferry to Kilchoan from Tobermory on Mull.

Hard to reach, out-of-the-way places? My kind of places. Read more...

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