Scotland is one of the most beautiful countries I have been to, and the landscape is scattered with beautiful castles, manor houses and tales of times gone by. It’s got a magical and mystical air about it…let’s just say that it was right up my street, as I love taking photos of old buildings. My family knew this after I went to Germany on exchange and came back with 1 photo of the family I stayed with and 6 spools (yes it was that long ago) filled with beautiful German buildings…my mum was devastated as she just wanted to see the people I stayed with and the people I met…needless to say – there were none of those photos – which was pretty unusual for a 17 year old girl.
Now that you have some background, you can imagine how excited I was to go photograph the castles in Scotland…to be honest I had no desire to go inside the castles, as that doesn’t interest me – I just wanted to photograph the outside.
So, I best get something else out the way, if you are a purest like my husband, then let me state now, that not all the castles listed below are infact castles – some of the are manor houses…in short, a castle must be defendable. But, in Scotland they class all these as castles, so to keep it simple, I will too.
Eilean Donan Castle – Kyle of Lochalsh
This has to be number 1 on the list as it is probably one of the most recognised and photographed castles in Scotland. It’s situated on a small island, and surrounded by beautiful and dramatic scenery. Which is probably why it is one of the most visited castles in the Scottish Highlands.
*However, in my opinion the best view and photo opportunity for this gorgeous castle, is actually from a pier across the loch. This is where I took the photo below, so basically drive past the castle, as if you are driving into Kyle of Lochalsh and turn immediately left after crossing the bridge. That is the best spot in my opinion and I actually bumped into fellow photographers there.
To be honest, I came across this castle by accident, we were driving from Fort William to Oban, for a Whisky tasting at 10h00. As one does when in Scotland! I made my husband pull off the road, so I could jump out and take a photo of this castle. There was just something about it that appealed to me – it was probably the combination of blue sea, grey castle and majestic mountains.
There is a coffee shop that you can go into close by that claims to have the best view – sadly we didn’t have time for that, so I just quickly took this photo from the A828.
Cawdor Castle – Nairn
This castle is still lived in and owned by the Cawdor family, which is pretty amazing. We didn’t see any other castles like that. The thing I probably likes about it the most was the entrance – the draw bridge.
If you have the time, you really should walk through their gardens, they are so beautiful. They have 3 Gardens – the Walled Garden, Flower Garden and Wild Garden. We didn’t get to the Wild Garden but the other two alone are gorgeous. We probably went a little early in the season as they were still planting a lot, but I have recently seen photos of how it looks now in June – and all the flowers are blooming, which makes it magical.
Drummond Castle – Crieff
In all technicality, you can’t visit this castle, you can only visit it’s gardens but you walk past part of the castle and can see it from the gardens. So, I have included it because the castle in itself is beautiful and is surrounded by the most gorgeous formal terranced gardens in Scotland. They make me think of Paris, which is probably why they were used in Outlander fan, as the French gardens in the second season.
You mustn’t miss the road to the castle & gardens, as it is lined with Beech trees that are over 100 years old. It’s so magical, it makes you think of fairytales.
*Side note, do not follow the GPS to go to Drummond Castle Gardens, or you will miss the Beech lined road, as for some reason it takes you through the back entrance.
Balmoral Castle – Ballater
To me, this is less of a castle and more a manor/estate house, but I put it on the list, as the grounds and the building are so beautiful and really worth a visit. If you didn’t already know, it is considered to be the Scottish home of the Royal Family.
Sadly they were doing some renovations when we were there, so you can see the scaffolding in my photo, but otherwise I just feel involve with this gorgeous country house.
*My suggestion is that you walk from the gate up to the castle, it will take about 5 – 10 mins, but you are surrounded my forest and get the opportunity to stop and watch the squirrels playing in the trees. There is a shuttle bus, but the walk is beautiful and pretty magical – so I recommend it.
There are more castles than you can imagine in Scotland, these were just my favourites. While we were driving around the countryside, all you see is signs for castles. So, you really can get lost in all their beauty!
*Something to keep in mind is that some of these places are only open from April/May – October, so you need to check this before planning your trip.
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