A Cold and Gloomy Day into the Historic Urquhart Castle
If you are visiting Inverness or Loch Ness for the day, you have to visit Urquhart Castle. The castle has over 1000 years of heritage. It’s set in a beautiful location in the Great Glen and sits above Loch Ness. Think a moody day, surrounded by hills, trees and a misty loch. What’s not to love? It is one of the most-visited castles in Scotland. Half a million people visit the place per year! I visited the castle on a very cold gloomy day in October 2020. The low mist over Loch Ness and the autumnal colours were exceptional.
Founded in the 13th century, Urquhart was a royal castle. The MacDonald Earls of Ross raided the castle several times. It also played a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century. Clan Grant took over the castle in 1509. With constant raids and conflict, Clan Grant abandoned Urquhart in the 17th century. Urquhart fell into ruin in 1692 after an attempt to destroy the castle to stop its use by Jacobite forces. See, lots of history! You are still able to climb the Grant Tower that looks out over Loch Ness. You can also visit the prison cells, kitchens and the great hall where all the glorious feasts took place. Before you get to the castle, there is also a working trebuchet siege engine which is very cool!
You are able to see the castle ruins from a distance without having to pay admission to the site. There are several stops on the A82 road (where Urquhart Castle can be found) and some walks nearby where the castle is in view. But to get up close, learn all the history of medieval life and see the artefact collection you will have to pay. Visit the Historic Scotland website for up-to-date ticket prices.
We visited Urquhart Castle from Glasgow and made the journey to and from in one day. It can be a day trip! It takes roughly 3 hours to get there by car from Glasgow and 3 hours back. We stopped off in Pitlochry and had lovely views of the Cairngorms on the way up. We then came back on the A82 road and visited Fort William for food and went home through Glencoe. If you love castles and mountains, it is the perfect day-trip to take in Scotland. Make sure you have your car snacks packed and some brilliant playlists to get you through. Scotland is a beautiful place. There is no doubt you will find places to stop off in on your way up and your way back (like we did).
There are no roof-topped places to visit on the castle grounds. So I cannot say it enough – you are in Scotland, bring a rain jacket or umbrella no matter the season! On the day we visited it was perfect. Loch Ness covered in mist and the hills had low clouds creeping through the trees. A Jacobite Cruise wandered along the misty loch for passengers to see the castle ruins. It felt like stepping into a fantasy world.
Let me know if you have visited Urquhart Castle before! You can follow me on Instagram @frostsprout.