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CastleUK Blog 2011

Castle UK Blog June 2011 PageA place where I can record and then archive my monthly updates and what's new in our hunt for castles UK.

This months island castles, are from Argyllshire and Ross and Cromarty.

In May we went on a 6 day Scottish castle expedition, with ferries to catch there was a bit more to this hunt.
The basic plan was that we wanted to go to Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull, Eilean Donan Castle near the Isle of Skye and visit by boat, Castle Stalker in Loch Laich, with overnight stops in Glasgow, going up and coming down.
At 7:00am with a long list of mottes to see on the way, we set off to Glasgow and after a stop at a butty van, we hit Scotland and then Crawford Castle the first motte, of the hunt. After 3 more mottes it was time to move closer to Glasgow and visit the superb Craignetham Castle, the big stone castle of the day, then on to Glasgow with only 5 castles in the bag, for a beer and a bit of castle spotter shopping.
Day 2, up we go to the Inn at Ardgour, our base for 4 days and of course there's castles on the way. We hit Loch Lomond and the rain at the same time, there's castles on some of the islands in the loch but with the trees and the rain it's hard to see anything but an island of foggy trees, it's disappointing. We go past our turning point, to see a couple more islands and we grab a tea and a coffee by Inveruglas Isle but it's raining hard now and were not happy. We head back and then turn west at Tarbet for Loch Fyne, 3 sites on the way before Inveraray Castle, it's a pound to park and I get my pictures of the site of the old tower, marked by 3 pillars. We stop at the village and go into the whiskey shop, after trying a wee dram, we come out with 3 bottles, it's good stuff and I wasn't a whiskey lover until now! We head off for Kilchurn Castle, the big stone castle of the day and in light rain we walk to Loch Awe, it's a cracking castle but the rain makes it hard to get good pictures. On to Ardgour now but first we have to catch the ferry across the Corran Narrows of Loch Linnhe, the Smart on a ferry, this was a first and we enjoyed the short trip, it's the reason for stopping here, along with the view, if the clouds lift.
Day 3, we catch the ferry in sunshine and headed to Oban to catch the big
Isle of Mull ferry. It's a 40 minute trip and you get views of Dunollie, Achadun and Duart castles on the way, out on the deck with a tea and a coffee, we were looking forward to seeing Mull, it was an excitingly new way to hunt. First stop, Duart Castle and the big stone castle of the day doesn't let us down, then it's on to Moy Castle. The road goes to a single track, with pot holes and it starts raining hard, after 40 minutes we get to Lochbuie but now it's a 10 minute walk to the castle and a stone circle, I was hoping to see it from the Smart but it's just to early to get soaked so we just turn around and head for Tobermory. On the way I tried to get a long shot of Eilean Amalaig, it's a fortified island but the pictures looked foggy with the rain, it's turning into a nightmare. Next stop was Aros Castle it's a site we wanted to visit but now the rain is coming down in stair rods, like when we were little, I get some pictures from the road but the spotter said lets go for it. It was ok at first, with the hoods up on our parka's but by the time we got to the castle, I was starting to feel water coming through my coat. I got my pictures and we set off back, water was running down my arms but my coat had absorbed so much water I had to take it off to drive, it just wasn't funny. Next stop Tobermory, it's colourful waterfront was chosen by the BBC as the location of the popular children's television series Balamory, we park up and I put on my wet coat to walk down the waterfront. It's raining and nowhere is fun in the rain, so we shoot off to catch the next ferry, when you're cold and wet you only want to go home.
Day 4, it's Skye and Eilean Donan Castle.
Day 5, we stop around Oban, visiting Barcaldine, Dunstaffnage and Dunollie castles, with some castle spotter shopping and a drive along Glen Coe. Castle Stalker was the big stone castle of the day.
Day 6, we are glad to be off back to Glasgow, the rain had knocked our duck egg off, it was time to leave. Dumbarton was the big with a bit of stone castle of the day and we also visited Hill House, which is the finest of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's domestic creations and dates from 1902. Built for the Glasgow publisher Walter Blackie, Mackintosh and his wife also designed the interior fittings and decorative schemes.
Wet hunts are rubbish, Chris.

For more information, click on the pictures.

Dunollie Castle WallpaperDunollie Castle, OS 49/NM 852-315 Argyllshire Scotland, is this months wallpaper.
The picture was taken in May 2011, on the
6 day Scottish castle expedition and the view looks north at the tower and barmkin on the summit of a rock promontory. This is a great tower house and you can get up close but there's a steep little zigzag path first.
Castle StalkerCastle Stalker, OS 49/NM 921-473 Argyllshire Scotland.
Was possibly an early 14th century Fortalice, founded by the MacDougalls, lords of Lorn. Standing on a small island at the mouth of Loch Laich, in the mid 15th century the stone rectangular tower house, was founded by Sir John Stewart, lord of Lorn. Of three storeys and a garret, to the south and east are the fragmentary remains of the barmkin.
The site is owned by the Allward family and is open for tours, May to September. Well we had booked a tour around this castle but it was like the rest of the hunt, we got close but never within touching distance. Small boat, choppy water, with an in-shore wind and heavy showers, at 6:30pm on our last night we were dead in the water, the final nail had been driven in the coffin of the Highland castle expedition, upset and disappointed we set off back to the Inn at Ardgour.
Eilean Donan CastleEilean Donan Castle, OS 33/NG 881-258 Ross and Cromarty Scotland.
Was originally a mid 13th century stone courtyard fortress, founded by Farquar II, earl of Ross. It stands on a small island at the mouth of Loch Duich, which was occupied by an earlier vitrified structure or fort. The towers and curtain walls of Castle Donnan encased the entire island and in the 14th century a rectangular keep, now of three storeys and a gabled garret stood on the highest point.
The site is owned by the Conchra Charitable Trust and is open daily, March to October 10:00-6:00pm, last admission 5:00pm, open 9:00am July and August. To go to Skye and Eilean Donan Castle, it's a must and on this day in didn't rain, it's a long way from our base at Ardgour but there's a couple of good stone castles on the way. After a couple of hours, we turned a corner and it's there, in the sunshine it was looking good, at the pull-in like so many others, we were compelled to stop to snap a picture. This chocolate box castle will not let you down, there's no coffee flavoured sweets in this box, the car park is busy but the place feels empty, we walked about among the crowds like we were on are own. It's a rebuild but it's better than good, this is a top table castle and you can even find the foundations and the outline of the 13th century walls and towers if you look.

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