With stunning views, Urquhart Castle overlooks Loch Ness, near the village of Drumnadrochit. Steeped in lore and legend, Urquhart Castle has played an important role in Scottish history. In medieval times, it was one of Scotland’s largest castles, and today it remains one of Scotland’s most visited castles.
1296 is believed to be the first documented record of Urquhart Castle, when it was captured by Edward I of England, beginning the Wars of Scottish Independence. There’s also a record of “a” castle being on the site in the 1220s when the Durward family had a stronghold there. In 1690, during the Jacobite rising, the government troops blew up the castle upon exiting.
If traveling on your own, try to arrive early in the day. During busy times, parking can fill up quickly and you could be turned away. A tour might be the best way to ensure your entrance into the castle. occasionally, the castle may be closed due to bad weather.
We arrived at Urquhart Castle in time for our lunch break, allowing us time to also explore the castle ruins before embarking on our Loch Ness cruise.
The gift shop offered a wide variety of item so we did a little shopping and then had lunch at the café. They had a nice selection of prepared lunches and pastries, saving us precious minutes, not having to wait for a meal. With limited stop time on tours, a long wait for lunch can absorb a lot of exploring time and there was so much to see!
After lunch, we watched a video presentation which provided us with intriguing facts about Urquhart Castle. I thought it was well worth viewing and was only about ten minutes long. It gave us some context and background which helped us better appreciate exploring the castle and grounds. This is a must! It was extremely interesting! They spoke of St. Columba, extensive battles and the history of Urquhart Castle. The video room is located in the main building, near the gift shop.
After the short film, we ventured out the back of the café onto a deck overlooking Urquhart Castle and the breathtaking landscape of Loch Ness. It is truly a beautiful setting! Then, it was onward to the castle. As we approached the castle, it started to rain. We crossed over the wooden gateway to get to the castle. This was where the drawbridge used to be. We explored inside the castle during the heavier rain, taking shelter at times in alcoves. It was interesting to see the prison cell and the great hall…..imagining when the castle was occupied. By the time we made our way to Grant Tower the rain had turned to mist, so we were able to enjoy the views of Loch Ness and surrounding hills. Very Picturesque!
Leaving the castle, we had a bit of time for more exploring before boat departure. We strolled down a hill to the loch, away from the other visitors, and sat on rocks in a little cove. We watched the ducks and enjoyed the view of Loch Ness as the sky cleared and the sun began peeking out of the clouds. Sometimes it’s nice to just relax and lose yourself in wonder about what may have existed. Did St. Columba really perform miracles here in the 6th century? How hard it must have been to defend your family’s castle, being raided nearly every year for a hundred and fifty years by the McDonalds, Lord of the Isles……. Robert the Bruce gaining control in the 14th century.
Enough wondering and wandering, there was a boat to catch!