THE HIGHLAND CASTLE TRAIL – 7 NIGHTS
Highland Castle Trail
A 7-night cruise taking in the historic castles located on the beautiful Scottish Isles and mainline Scotland.
Eilean Donan Castle
Isle of Rum
The Old Forge
Pub & Restaurant, Inverie
Eilean Donan Castle
Kyle of Lochalsh
1. Duart Castle
Duart Castle, proudly guards the sea cliffs of the Isle of Mull. Brought back from ruin in 1911, the Castle treasures 800 years of history of one of Scotland’s oldest Clans, The Maclean’s and its one of the last surviving privately owned Clan Castles in Scotland.
Visit today and explore the turbulent past of the Clan, the battles and the love stories. Stand under and admire the stone Clan Crest or enjoy the blossoming Rowan Tree in the Castle Courtyard. Explore the ancient Keep and ghostly Dungeons. Browse the magnificent Banqueting Hall and quaint Edwardian State Rooms. Walk the Battlements and lose yourself in the breathtaking view out across the Sound of Mull.
2. Glengorm Castle
The Mishnish estate was purchased in 1856 by James Forsyth of Quinish. He cleared the existing township of Sorne to make way for the new house, which was completed in 1860. The house was designed by Kinnear and Peddie in a Scots Baronial style. It is now operated as a guest house and wedding venue, with a cafe and shop in the former stables. The castle is located on a headland and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. On a clear day the Outer Hebrides and Islands of Uist, Rùm and Canna can be viewed from the castle.
Forsyth was a hated figure on the island. He cleared the crofters from the area by bullying and concerted pressure. One old woman had a title to her land which Forsyth took from her and throwing it into the fire told her she had a week to leave. Upon his return he was met by the woman and the local minister who had kept the original. Forsyth incandescent with rage decided to fence her in so that she could not leave to get provisions. However the woman managed very well it was said that men climb the cliffs nearby to bring provisions. When Forsyth was building the castle he was told by an old woman he would never live in the place. He died just before it was opened. Forsyth when building asked an elderly woman what he should call his splendid new house, she said call it Glengorm, he did not understand that it means blue smoke a comment on the peat smoke that would no longer be seen from the houses of the people he had made homeless. Many of the folk moved into Tobermory to find work.
3. Kinloch Castle, Isle of Rum
Rum is the largest of the Small Isles, and the 15th largest Scottish island, but is inhabited by only about thirty or so people, all of whom live in the village of Kinloch on the east coast. The island has been inhabited since the 8th millennium BC and provides some of the earliest known evidence of human occupation in Scotland. The early Celtic and Norse settlers left only a few written accounts and artefacts. From the 12th to 13th centuries on, the island was held by various clans including the MacLeans of Coll. The population grew to over 400 by the late 18th century but was cleared of its indigenous population between 1826 and 1828. The island then became a sporting estate, the exotic Kinloch Castle being constructed by the Bulloughs in 1900.
Located over on the west side of the island at Harris. The Mausoleum is a dramatic Greek, Doric styled temple structure that faces the Atlantic Ocean and has a backdrop of the Rum Cullin.
4. Armadale Castle
The Clan Donald established itself on Skye in the 15th century, occupying castles at Dunscaith and Knock, both within a few miles of Armadale, and Duntulm Castle at the north end of the island.
From the 1650s, the MacDonald chiefs also began to stay at Armadale. From the 1700s onwards, the mansion house at Armadale was used as a dower house (a large home occupied by the widow of a late owner or chief) and then rented out to others.
A number of famous historical figures have visited Armadale over the years. Flora MacDonald, famed throughout the world for helping Bonnie Prince Charlie to flee Scotland after the Jacobites’ defeat at Culloden, was married here on 6 November 1750. Samuel Johnson and James Boswell visited in 1773.
Around 1790, a new mansion house was built at Armadale and this, combined with the start of the plantings you see around the gardens today, became a real demonstration of the wealth and lifestyle of the landed aristocracy.
In 1815, the mansion house was extended to form Armadale Castle, designed by the renowned architect James Gillespie Graham. In 1855, fire destroyed much of the original house, which was replaced by the current central section (designed by David Bryce). In 1925, the MacDonald family moved to a smaller house leaving the castle to the wind and rain.
5. The Old Forge – Mainland Britain’s most remote pub
The Old Forge in the village of Inverie, Knoydart. With no roads in or out, an 18 mile hike over munros or a 7 mile sea crossing, the pub is the remotest on mainland Britain (Guinness Book of Records). The Old Forge is refreshingly free of technology – there’s no TV and no mobile phone signal – though there are plenty of musical instruments lying around for impromptu jamming sessions. It’s a place to make merriment, music and mischief; like pubs used to be.
With an ever-evolving dinner menu using locally sourced ingredients, it’s a great destination.
6. Eilan Donan
Located within the Kyle of Lochalsh Eilean Donan is recognised as one of the most iconic images of Scotland all over the world. Situated at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and surrounded by some majestic scenery, it is little wonder that the castle is now one of the most visited and important attractions in the Scottish Highlands.
Although first inhabited around the 6th century, the first fortified castle was built in the mid-13th century and stood guard over the lands of Kintail. Since then, at least four different versions of the castle have been built and re-built as the feudal history of Scotland unfolded through the centuries.
7. Castle Tioram
The ruined Castle Tioram (pronounced Cheerum) is sited on the rocky tidal island Eilean Tioram (the Dry Island) where the waters of Loch Moidart and the River Shiel meet. The castle is closed to visitors but it is possible to visit the island at low tide and look at the castle exterior.
Castle Tioram is the traditional seat of Clan MacDonald of Clan Ranald, a branch of Clan Donald. Castle Tioram was seized by Government forces in around 1692 when Clan Chief Allan of Clanranald joined the Jacobite Court in France, despite having sworn allegiance to the British Crown. A small garrison was stationed in the castle until the Jacobite Uprising of 1715 when Allan recaptured and torched it, purportedly to keep it out of the hands of Hanoverian forces. It has been unoccupied since that time, although there are some accounts suggesting it was partially inhabited thereafter including for the storage of firearms from the De Tuillay in the 1745 Jacobite Uprising and Lady Grange's account of her kidnapping.
8. Kinlochaline Castle
Kinlochaline Castle is a 12th-century Scottish fortress on the Ardtornish estate in Morvern in the Highland council area. It is also known as Caisteal an Ime (Scottish Gaelic for Castle of Butter) because a Lady of Clan MacInnes, Dubh Chal (Lady of the Black Veil), is said to have paid the builder with butter equal to the volume of the castle.
Kinlochaline Castle is located at the head of Loch Aline, positioned strategically for coastal defence. Four stories tall, 43 by 34 feet, with walls that are 10 feet thick blocks of rare sandstone. The castle was burned in 1644, when it was besieged by Alasdair Mac Colla during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. The castle was attacked by the Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll in 1679, during a feud. Kinlochaline was abandoned about 1690.
Re-construction in the late 1990s was overseen by Historic Scotland. The castle is now a residence.
Depart Craobh Marina bound for Duart Castle. Passing through the beautiful Cuan Sound we will then traverse to the entrance of the Sound of Mull, where Duart Castle is located.
There is then the opportunity to go ashore and explore the castle and even enjoy a scone in the tearoom!
Once satisfied guests will then return to Dignity for the evening, anchored in sight of the castle.
After leaving Duart castle behind guests will then enjoy the wonderful Sound of Mull as we progress towards the next destination of Tobermory.
Spending the afternoon cruising along the Sound of Mull guests will have time to enjoy the views and wildlife that the area has to offer.
Arriving alongside in Tobermory for the night, the option of dining at one of the local restaurants and a visit to the local pubs is one that many guests choose!
Departing the picturesque Tobermory we will visit Glengorm castle where guests can get ashore before heading to the overnight stop, the Isle of Rum and Kinloch castle.
Rounding Ardnamurchan point, mainland Britain’s most westerly point offers a spectacular view of the west coast and islands as we head north towards Rum.
After arriving in Loch Scresort, Dignity will drop anchor in sight of the castle for the night.
Having picked up the anchor in the morning, Dignity will set off towards Inverie via Armadale castle on Skye. Guests will have the opportunity to go ashore to see the castle before setting off for the evening destination.
Arriving in Knoydart, guests will be taken ashore to The Old Forge pub and restaurant for a fantastic evening of food and entertainment. When everybody has had their fill it’s back to Dignity for the night.
Being a hotspot for walkers, the area has many walking routes if guests should fancy exploring the area.
Leaving Knoydart it is important to go with the tidal streams up through Kyle Rhea or it can be very slow progress indeed. Kyle of Lochalsh, the land of castles, hills and lochs, is a gateway to the Isle of Skye and the wonderful north west coast. Being a narrow channel with a beautiful backdrop it is advisable to enjoy this part of the journey from the exterior of Dignity.
Having visited the famous Eilean Donan castle, guests will spend the night alongside in Kyle of Lochalsh and are welcome to go and explore the village and surrounding area.
Having set off early from Kyle of Lochalsh, guests will have time to relax and enjoy the journey south to the next destination, Castle Tioram.
Throughout the day guests will have the opportunity to go ashore, walk on the beach and visit the castle.
A fire on the beach under the stars is a nice way to end the day.
Journeying back round Ardnamurchan Point and in to the Sound of Mull destined for Kinlochaline castle, guests can relax on board and enjoy the scenery.
Arriving in Lochaline there is the opportunity to go ashore for a walk around the area.
Returning to Craobh marina throughout the day, guests will have the opportunity to reflect on their time on board…… and can start planning next year’s trip!