Urquhart Castle, subject of today’s Tuesday Travels, has been on my list of “must see” places for a long time, so I was thrilled to find a shore excursion that included Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness and Culloden Moor.
The castle’s visitor’s center was our first stop after lunch. We got off the motorcoach and entered the visitor’s center where we went into a large room to view a film about the castle. At the end of the movie, the screen went up and the row of curtains at the front opened up to reveal a stunning panorama of the ruined castle situated on the edge of the loch. A brilliant piece of showmanship.
The history of the castle spans more than four centuries. Founded in the 1200s and destroyed in the 1600s, Urquhart was the target of raids by Clan MacDonald and was at times captured by the English. At one time, it was one of the largest castles in Scotland and is still an impressive ruin. I took a number of photos on the meandering walk down to the ruin, including a stop by the Medieval catapult. In 1297, after the castle was captured by the English under Edward I, Sir Andrew de Moray laid siege to the castle, presumably using a similar catapult. The castle was occupied by British troops in 1690 during one of the Jacobite uprisings. The soldiers blew it up when they left, and the castle became a romantic ruin.
Today’s visitors can wander through the rooms and climb some of the remaining, very narrow stairways. Here’s a view from inside the tower.
Can you imagine living there? I can’t imagine it was much fun, since castles were cold and drafty, but you’d have to work hard to find a house with a better view!
It always amazes me at how much of a castle can remain after so much devastation and so many years.
One of the things we discovered on our tour of Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland and Wales was how small the feet were of people in those days. Even the knights. That’s why the length of each step is short.
At Blarney in Scotland, I couldn’t make myself go up to kiss the stone. Narrow staircases and no railing even though tourists were coming and going on the same steps. Long, crowded lines, and a dark castle did it for me and my claustrophobia.
I understand. I’m not claustrophobic, but I was a little nervous in those narrow stone staircases at Urquhart. And you’re right; it’s amazing how much remains. I guess the castle was really well built to begin with.