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Castle pictured on the front of the Rick's Scotland book? Sites in the highlands?

We will be driving through the highlands from the Spey area to the island of Mull and Iona and then onto Edinburgh and would like to tour a castle or two. The one on the front cover of Steve's book is quite picturesque but unsure of what castle it is or if you can even go inside? Where is it? Any suggestions of other historical, cultural, church/abbeys or natural sites or experiences that are on your "not to be missed" list that would be along our route would be appreciated. We have 4 days in June to make this trip. We have already been to Edinburgh so don't include sites that are in the city.

Also, will we need a 4x4 vehicle or will any midsize car be OK?

Posted by
7077 posts

I believe that's Eilean Donan castle - I'm sure I'll be corrected if not. Yes you can go inside and tour that castle, it's one of the most popular in Scotland. Depending on your route, which isn't real detailed in your question, it could be on your route between the Spey area (specific place?) and the Isle of Mull. It's more toward the Isle of Skye but, again depending on your route, may or may not be out of your way.

Another one you can visit is Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness if that's on or near your route. It's more of ruin than Eilean Donan but also fun to explore and in a beautiful setting.

Posted by
1878 posts

Eilean Donan seems to be confirmed by Google images. An hour and a half from Inverness according to Google maps. It looks like a really cool castle and a costs 7.50 GBP to visit. Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness is a ruin but I always thought an evocative one, from photos. (Probably jam packed with tourists all the time). I have never been to either. I have been to Stirling Castle and it was spectacular. Roslyn Chapel outside of Edinburgh is supposed to be great, despite the hype associated with the Da Vinci Code.

Posted by
287 posts

The day I went to Urquhart Castle it was crowded, but not overly so. And since the ruins are spread out over a rather large area it keeps the crowds from getting too bunched up at any one point. The views out on to Loch Ness, especially on a clear day (like I was fortunate to have) are spectacular and taking a boat ride on the Loch from the Castle was lovely.

Posted by
276 posts

If it is Eilean Donan Castle then my advise is to give it a miss. Take as many photographs as you want from the outside and then move on. Scotland is not short on castles.

I have been to Eilean Donan and on that day it was very much a victim of its own popularity. The entire visit was unpleasant with far too many people trying to view what is quite a small castle. Inside is not authentic and whilst that didn't bother me because I knew the history behind it, the number of people inside trying to move around meant there was no time to stand and stare and really take things in.

The stewards also got really upset with people attempting to take photographs and I thought that was most unwelcoming. The family who own the castle are making quite a lot of money out of it and if they do not wish paying visitors to take photographs of family items, then why put them on display?

Urquhart Castle was a much more pleasant experience and we were able to move around with ease and there were no bottlenecks. This is likely because it is a ruin and so most of what you see is outside, nevertheless the shop, cafe and small exhibition area were not too congested.

With regards a car you won't need a 4x4 and a mid size car will do. You will need to request an automatic when booking your car if that is what you would prefer.

Posted by
906 posts

I would definitely make a stop at Eilean Donan Castle. It can get crowded if you get there when there's tour buses in so try to get there at opening if you can. It's not a large castle, but quite interesting. As for taking photos inside, some places allow it, some places don't. The no photos rule is why I come back from trips with lots of nice post cards. Stirling Castle was also great fun, and someone else mentioned Rosslyn Chapel which is also well worth a visit. Quite an interesting history. I skipped right by Loch Ness and its castle on the advice of the company that did my route itinerary as they said there are better castles to visit.

Posted by
1664 posts

Eilean Donan is the tourist castle in Scotland. Best seen on the outside from the sea ward side, from Skye. It is cramped in side, and it still is a private home, like Dunvegan, Duart and Dunrobin.

Because of its popularity it can be busy. Urquhart is owned by the Crown through Historic Scotland.

If you are heading for Mull, though, it may be out of your way. I suggest Duart on Mull proper, seat of the Macleans. One of the other popular ones as the ferry passes it.

Posted by
5678 posts

Duarte is an outstanding castle. When you stand on the site you can immediately understand the strategic importance of the castle. You see in so many directions and you would know when anyone was coming. It's awesome.

Posted by
118 posts

I visited Eilean Donan and enjoy seeing both inside and outside of castles. It was remodeled in early 1900's on inside, so more to that era. Definitely worth stopping for pictures of outside if no time to see inside. Duart on Mull is wonderful - situated for great photographs of the area. Enjoyed the inside as well. If you are like me and love castles, then any of them are worth stopping to see. Dunvegan on Skye has lovely grounds to wander, Urquhart is a ruin (so not really an inside to see - at least not when I was there in 2009) but wonderful to wander around and take photos with Loch Ness as backdrop. I won a local photo contest with one taken at Urquhart! I drove around Mull and Skye in August and had a small car - no need for 4X4. But I guess that depends on where you are going.