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This evening, I am posting information on Urquhart Castle which is conveniently situated half way down Loch Ness. In fact, this castle offers the best vantage point to view the Loch and its elusive monster.

Urquhart is pronounced ‘Erk-ut’ and is one of my favourite visitor attractions in Scotland. I visit the site some five or six times per annum in context of my round Scotland tours.

The visitor centre is well managed. Apart from usual gift shop and refreshment facilities there is a useful introductory film on the castle’s history.

The site was fortified from around AD580 when occupied by the Picts. The first conventional castle on the site dates from the 13th century when lands there were granted to Sir Thomas le Durward.. However, the current ruins derive from a rebuild by the Grants in the 16th and 17th centuries. The castle was deliberately blown up in 1692 by Government troops to prevent the castle falling under rebel, Jacobite control.

Chief features of the castle include drawbridge, gatehouse, prison, kiln, water gate, cellars, kitchens and the tower with latter providing a superb aspect for viewing the loch. There is also a replica trebruchet, a catapult type machine for attacking castles before the time of gunpowder and cannon.

Overall, this is an excellent visitor attraction, especially for guests wish to view the famous loch.

Images and video to follow.

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This evening, I am posting information on Blair Castle, one of Scotland’s top tourist attractions.

This castle is coveniently situated close to the main A9 north-south tourist route and just north of Pitlochry in Perthshire.

Although Blair is designated a castle it is more of a grand house or mansion and is the ancient seat of the Dukes of Atholl and home to the Atholl Highlanders, Britain’s only legal private army.

The castle is a well managed tourist attraction offering not only the castle to see but also well managed grounds and gardens. Inside, the castle contains a collection of Sevres porcelain, Chippendale furniture and Holbein portraits.

The castle started as Comyn’s Tower in 1269. By the 16th century a great hall had been added to the original Tower House. Mary Queen of Scots visited in 1564.

The castle was involved in military action during the 17th century war when Cromwell’s troops took control. During the 1745-6 Jacobite uprising it was subject if a siege by the castle’s owner, Lord George Murray. Substantial re-modelling occurred in both 1758 and 1869.

The grounds include a walled garden, a wooded grove, a ruined celtic church, and a red deer park. Horseriding is also available for visitors.

Overall, an interesting visitor attraction which I visit maybe four or five times a year in context on my Scotland tours.

Images and video to follow.

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This afternoon I am posting information on Dundonald Castle which is located south oif Glasgow on the way to Troon and Ayr. A visit to Dundonald usually fits in nicely with a visit to Burns country and Alloway.

Dundonald Castle is an impressive ruin located on a high elevation with views across the Clyde estuary to the Isle of Arran. It must have been a formidable edifice in its day!

The castle is located on an ancient fortified site dating back to the Stone Age, many thousands of years ago. The current building superseded an earlier, 13th century castle built for the High Steward of Scotland to defend against Viking attacks.

The latest castle is based on a fortified Tower House (c.f. yesterday’s post covering Castle Campbell) which was built for King Robert II on his accession to the Scottish Crown in 1371 and was used as a Royal residence by the early Stewart kings for the the next 150 years

This attraction is well presented with a useful Visitor Centre close by. However, access is via steep walkway.

This castle is definitely worth a visit.

I will post some images shortly.

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