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Scotland's most recognisable castle?

Updated on February 9, 2017

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle is reputedly the most photographed castle in Scotland, if not the world, and surely epitomises everyone's romantic vision of a Scottish castle.

Set against a backdrop of rugged mountains and sea lochs no visitor to the north west coast of Scotland can fail to be moved by the awe inspiring sight of this castle standing on its own island linked to the mainland by a stone bridge causeway.

Eileen Donan Castle

A markerEilean Donan Castle -
Eilean Donan Castle, Dornie, Kyle of Lochalsh, Highland IV40 8DX, UK
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Where Is The Castle?

How to get there

Eilean Donan castle is located on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands in Invernesshire. Travel along the A87, the main west coat route for visitors to the Isle of Skye, and Eilean Donan Castle is situated near the small picturesque village of Dornie, 8 miles east of Kyle of Lochalsh and the Skye Bridge.

The castle commands a strategic position on a grass and rocky outcrop where three sea lochs meet, Loch Long, Loch Duich and Loch Alsh, and sits against a dramatic mountain backdrop of the Cuillin Mountains of Skye and the Five Sisters of Kintail.

Named in Lonely Planet Top 1000 Sights

... one of Europe’s “most fairytale like castles”, for its “brooding, solitary and rugged” appearance.

Haven't I seen the castle before?

If you think you have seen Eilean Donan Castle before, then you are probably right.

The castle has featured in many films and television programmes including: "The Master of Ballantrae", "Highlander", "Loch Ness", The Bond movie "The World Is Not Enough", "Entrapment" and "Elizabeth The Golden Age", to name but a few.

A brief history and tour of the castle

Eilean Donan, or island of Donan, has probably been occupied since the 6th or 7th century with the original castle being built in the early 13th century as a defence against the Vikings. As a stronghold of the Mackenzies and later the Macraes the castle was besieged and often at the centre of skirmishes between rival clans. This culminated in 1719 in the castle being garrisoned by Spanish soldiers for the Jacobites in their rising against the British. After a bombardment by three Royal Navy frigates the castle was blown up and demolished. Ruined and abandoned for the next 200 hundred years rebuilding and restoration work started in 1912 and the castle you see today was completed by 1932.

Many of the original features were retained and the castle is now a living testament to the turbulent years of the past stocked with artefacts, Scottish Clan memorabilia and historical treasures. A tour of the interior rooms including the vaulted Billeting room, the Banqueting Hall, bedrooms and kitchen give a real feel for life in a Scottish castle. The bedrooms, other small rooms, corridors, stairs and passageways, and in places low ceilings add to the atmosphere. Outside the courtyard, exterior walls and small 'island' complete a most fascinating and interesting tour.

Opening Times And Admission

Although the castle is not all it appears and what the visitor sees today has been largely rebuilt between 1912 and 1932 from earlier ruins and restored to its present state, you will not be disappointed. The castle is in the hands of the Conchra Trust formed by the owners, the MacRaes with opening hours and admission for 2014 as follows:

Castle & Exhibitions - Every day 1 March - 24 December, 10.00am to 5.00pm

There is a Visitor Centre, coffee shop & toilets, and gift shop.

AND finally the local village of Dornie is well worth a visit too.

About me

The author

Antony was born in the small coastal town of Saltburn-by-the-sea, and lived in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire before returning to his native Yorkshire. He has spent his adult life in the north of England working for a UK Bank and two Government Agencies.

Now living in Yorkshire between the Dales and the Moors Antony enjoys writing and taking photographs. He has written and published two ebooks bringing together some of his short stories and humorous anecdotes, and been published in The Yorkshire Dalesman.

His interests include walking, photography, history, travel, reading and watching cricket.

© 2011 Antony J Waller

Did you recognise the castle from the films, and have you been there?

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    • Northern-Light profile image

      Antony J Waller 6 years ago from North Yorkshire

      @jadehorseshoe: Thank you. Glad you enjoyed the visit to Scotland!

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 6 years ago

      GREAT Lens!

    • Northern-Light profile image

      Antony J Waller 6 years ago from North Yorkshire

      @squid-janices7: Simply stunning, isn't it.

    • squid-janices7 profile image

      squid-janices7 6 years ago

      Saw this castle during my last visit to Scotland - it is well worth the drive. Of course, I'm a big fan of castles as evidenced by my Chateaux of the Loire Valley lens :)