Scottish Tour Guide's Blog

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Castle Stalker, Scotland

This evening, I am posting information on Castle Stalker, a sympathetically restored castle which has origins in the 15th century.

Caisteal Stalcaire (Fortress of the Hunter) is located on the Rock of the Cormorants, an islet at the mouth of Loch Laich, which in turn is an inlet off Loch Linnhe in the West of Scotland. There is a good viewpoint located off the A828 at Portnacroish, between Fort William and Oban. Portnacroish is about twenty-six miles south of Fort William.

This castle has featured in Scottish history, being a host to King, scene of battles, murders and wars. Here is a historical summary:

  • Built by Sir John Stewart prior to his murder at Dunstaffnage in 1463 by a Macdougall. The murder was avenged in 1468 at Battle of Stalc fought at the Castle’s gates.
  • Played host to King James IV (1473-1513) during hunting (hawking) expeditions in the Highlands.
  • Friction between Campbells and Stewarts 1520-1544 resulting in murders.
  • Fell into Clan Campbell hands during 17th century.
  • Failed to fall to a force of besieging Jacobites in 1745 which left the castle as an important supply base for the Government forces during the Jacobite uprising.
  • Served as a mustering point for surrendering clansmen after the Battle of Culloden in 1746.
  • Ruined by 1840 but restored in 1960s.

Tours of the castle are available, albeit on a restricted basis of one tour per day between March and October. Access by boat.

Castle Stalker, Scotland

Hiking group on way to Paisley, Scotland

This evening, I am posting information on today’s small group hike which followed the route of the White Cart Water (river) from Pollok Park in Glasgow to Paisley, both being in the West of Scotland. Length of route was about six miles. Hike benefited from blue sky and brilliant sunshine, albeit with low elevation, winter sun which militated against photography.

The route covered historic sites with particular emphasis on the Industrial Revolution (late 18th/early 19th centuries) The White Cart was a source of free energy which powered a large number of mills and similar enterprises.

Pollok House, at start of the walk, is a 18th century Palladian mansion associated with the Maxwells. It is open to the public as a visitor site.

Pollok House, Glasgow

The walkway itself is also used by cyclists and is strong on local wildlife, such as reptiles and birds.

Refreshment stop.

White Cart Water

Paisley was the centre of a massive textile industry with emphasis on cotton thread which provided funds and wealth for construction of the rather grand town hall.

Anchor Mill, former textile mill, Paisley, Scotland.

Paisley Town Hall, Scotland.

The oldest building in Paisley is the 12th century Abbey where William Wallace aka ‘Braveheart’ may have been educated.

Paisley Abbey, Scotland.

Blarney Castle, Cork, Ireland

This afternoon, my focus is on Blarney Castle  which lies very close to the pretty village of Blarney in the south of Ireland, just 8km from the city of Cork. This site attracts high volumes of visitors each year whose prime objective is to visit and kiss the famous Blarney Stone which is located at roof level with access entailing a climb up some 127 steps.

Kissing the Blarney Stone, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Today, the castle remains extend to just the keep which essentially comprises a 15th century tower house inside which the vaulted first floor was once the Great Hall.

View of castle from gardens

Interior of Blarney Castle, Cork, Ireland

Key aspects of the facility:

  • Kissing the Blarney Stone entails being suspended backwards under the parapet. This act is believed to confer a magical eloquence on the participant.
  • In addition to the castle, there are 60 acres of parkland, gardens, avenues and arboretums.
  • Rock Close, a supposed mystical place on the site of an ancient druidic settlement.
  • 19th century Blarney House (open in Spring only) which is accessed via a walk through flower and fern gardens and a herbaceous border.

Aquatic feature in garden

Blarney House