Eilean Donan Castle

The deliciously romantic Highland setting of Eilean Donan Castle will woo you this Valentine’s Day 

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Countless couples have fallen head over heels in love with this gorgeous spot in the north-western Highlands. Many marriage proposals have echoed off the Eilean Donan Castle walls, and lovers have wandered around the islet’s edge on which this iconic rebuilt ruin stands.

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Eilean Donan, which means the isle of Donnán, is one of the most photographed Scottish locations and was used for the film Highlander. It really is stunning. The castle sits on the tiny tidal island on Loch Duich and is connected to the mainland by a gracefully curving bridge – a popular location for wedding photos. All around, the grandeur of this mountainous region frames the scene.

Although captivating today, the castle lay in ruins for almost two centuries after it was used in a 1719 uprising by the Jacobites. Folk hero Rob Roy MacGregor was among those who visited the castle before leaving it in the hands of a Spanish contingent with 343 barrels of gunpowder. English frigates bombarded the walls before overwhelming the defensive position. Once inside, the government troops discovered the gunpowder and used it to blow up the castle.

For almost two centuries its ruins lay neglected, until a MacRae clan chief bought the island in 1911. He used the surviving ground plan of earlier phases of the castle to rebuild it over 20 years before it was
finally re-opened in 1932.

Take the high road

To best appreciate Eilean Donan Castle and its place in this beautiful area, you should first take a gentle drive.

Arriving from the south, meander left on an exciting old military road that soon climbs, affording fantastic views.

Continue down to the coast and the hamlet of Glenelg, where there’s a welcoming inn and fabulous views across the water to the Isle of Skye. The author Gavin Maxwell wrote his classic Ring of Bright Water from his cottage at Sandaig near here.

Just to the south of Glenelg lie Dun Telve and Dun Troddan, two of the best-preserved 2,000
year old towers known as brochs on mainland Scotland.

Drive back from Glenelg to enjoy the vista over Loch Duich before following its shore to reach the castle.

You’ll be smitten by views of the loch as you walk across the bridge. You can explore nearly every part of the castle including the rather grand bedrooms. But do be sure to have your loved one close to hand if you pop into the gift shop; one of the more well known ghosts of Eilean Donan is believed to haunt it. He is one of the Spanish soldiers who died in the battle. His apparition has often been seen clutching his head underneath his arm…

Useful Information

HOW TO GET THERE

From Fort William follow the A82 to Invergarry then the scenic A87, passing Shiel Bridge, to reach the castle by the east shore of Loch Duich.

FIND OUT MORE

Eilean Donan Castle

Dornie, by Kyle of Lochalsh

Ross-shire IV40 8DX

01599 555202

eileandonancastle.com

Open from 1 Feb every day. Admission: adults £6.50, family £16. No wheelchair access, virtual tour available.

EAT

Glenelg Inn

Glenelg, Kyle of Lochalsh,

Ross-shire IV40 8JR

01599 522273

www.glenelg-inn.com

Try the king-sized Loch Hourn langoustines for a true taste of west coast cuisine.

STAY

Kintail Lodge Hotel

Glenshiel Bridge

Kyle of Lochalsh,

Ross-shire IV40 8HL

01599 511275

kintaillodgehotel.co.uk

A friendly and ideally situated hotel perfect for a getaway.

NEARBY

Balmacara Estate & Lochalsh Woodland

Balmacara

Kyle of Lochalsh,

Rossshire IV40 8DN.

0844 493 2233

www.nts.org.uk

Open all year, daily 9am until dusk. No admission charge.

Stroll through the exotic and native woodlands and look for dainty snowdrops on a pleasant short stroll.

FIND OUT MORE

Kyle of Lochalsh Tourist Information Centre

Station Road,

Kyle of Lochalsh,

Rossshire

0845 859 1006

www.visitiscotland.com

OS Landranger Map 33

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Grid ref: NG 880 260