Self-Drive Castle Trail
Have you ever thought of coming to Scotland and not just visiting castles but also staying in castles all the way through? It can easily be done.
This suggested itinerary is based on a week, staying in six different castles and visiting twelve more - not so much a top ten of Scottish castles as a top eighteen in one week! The itinerary can of course be varied or added to as required.
Many people like to start in Edinburgh as it sets the scene nicely. Just twenty minutes drive from the city is Borthwick Castle, a magnificent 15th century keep from which Mary Queen of Scots was forced to escape disguised as a servant boy. Nearby is Crichton Castle, once owned by the Earl of Bothwell, Mary's third husband. We suggest two nights at Borthwick and a look at the wonderful Rosslyn Chapel, made famous by 'The da Vinci Code', as you leave and head north.
Those now deep in the story of Mary Queen of Scots can then visit the island fortress of Lochleven Castle in Fife where Mary was held in 1567. There should still be time to visit Glamis, birthplace of her late Majesty the Queen Mother and one of the most magnificent and interesting castles in the country. That night we recommend a night in a privately owned castle close to the sea.
Next day, there are more treats in store. Dunnottar Castle is a hugely impressive fortress on a rock jutting into the North Sea, now ruined but still full of history and stories. Inland, Crathes Castle is a completely different experience - the furnished home of a well-heeled 16th century laird. In the afternoon you head up 'Royal Deeside' and across to Castle Stuart, an unforgettable place that has had super-enthusiastic reviews since we first started using it ten years ago.
Castle Stuart breakfasts tend to be long affairs but there will still be plenty time to see Cawdor Castle and the famous Urquhart Castle by Loch Ness. Continuing down the 'Great Glen', that night you are in one of the finest hotels in Scotland: Inverlochy Castle.
Close to the present Inverlochy Castle is the ruined 13th century version, still remarkably well preserved and well worth a look. Then it's on to Glencoe (see the visitor centre for the full story of the massacre), across the lovely Rannoch Moor to Glenorchy and down to Loch Awe. Here you can see Kilchurn Castle. That night, you are in a private castle on the west coast.
You now head down the beautiful Scottish west coast through Kilmartin Glen, passing by a stream of Bronze Age monuments and round to Inveraray Castle, seat of the Campbell Clan and a fascinating visit. Driving by Loch Lomond you arrive in the Trossachs and your last stay, again in a private castle.
Depending on flight times you may have time to see Doune Castle (notorious for a Monty Python scene but also a remarkable 14th century castle) and Stirling Castle, second only to Edinburgh for varied historical interest over the centuries.
This is just one example of the sort of holiday that we can arrange. The guide price for this six night, six castle holiday, together with a large automatic car for the duration is GBP 1426 per person (approx. USD 2180.86 in Feb. 2015).
A marked map, tourist literature and as much advice as you need are all part of any Clans and Castles holiday.