CASTLES, Cathedrals, Abbeys and Stately Homes
Castle Hill, Inverness IV2 3EG - Scotland, UK
Telephone: +44 (0)1463 710637 - Fax: +44 (0)1463 710848
A castle was built here by Macbeth, which was destroyed by Malcolm Canmore in 1057. Today the site consists of a fortress built in 1835 to house the Sheriff’s Court and Police Department, a function it still performs today. Inverness Castle is located in the city centre and sits on a low cliff on the east bank overlooking the river. The Drum Tower of Inverness Castle houses an exhibition portraying the castle story and is open daily during the summer season.
Home of the Loch Ness Monster!
"Nessie, oh Nessie, can you come out to play?"
Loch Ness MonsterThough history credits St. Columba with meeting the Loch Ness Monster in the 6th century, Nessie's present notoriety dates from the 1930s, when a road was built along the shore of the long Scottish lake. Since then, more than a thousand people have claimed sightings of the serpent-like monster; a few have even supplied grainy photos. Scientists periodically conduct underwater searches of the lake, but so far with no conclusive proof that the monster exists—nor indeed any proof to the contrary. Real or not, Nessie is today the world's most famous monster—and a gigantic boon to the local economy.
The picturesque ruins of Urquhart Castle are situated 2 miles from Drumnadrochit on a rocky peninsula on the banks of Loch Ness. After a chequered history, the building was blown up in 1692 to prevent it becoming a Jacobite stronghold.
It is rumored to have a cave at the shoreline, now hidden, that housed both Nessie and an ancient treasure.
It is now owned by Historic Scotland: telephone +44 (0)1456 450551. Summer opening hours are Monday to Sunday 9.30am - 6.30pm. In the winter (October - March), the hours are reduced to 9.30 am - 4.30pm. Admission charge 5 pounds for adults, 1.20 for children. Check with Historic Scotland before visiting to avoid disappointment.
The new visitor centre and car park was opened in November 2001. The excellent visitor centre includes an exhibition, film show, shop and restaurant.
You cross over a wooden gangway which now lies in place of the original drawbridge across the defensive ditch. First you pass through the main gate-house - look for door on the left leading to a small exhibit about Historic Scotland - go up a couple of steps and you can peer into the tiny prison cell which was guarded by the gate-keeper. In the other (south) lodge of the gate-house, you can see the remains of an old kiln where grain was dried.
Now inside, you can explore the whole of the castle ruins! Guide books for £2.50 can be purchased. These give reconstruction drawings of how the castle would have looked when lived in and it is easy to walk around the ruins and see which bits were what. You can also go right down to the shore via the water-gate (directly opposite the gate-house) which is how most people would have entered the castle when it was in use.
Take the path which leads to the tall tower which was well defended with another ditch and drawbridge. Here you can take the steps down and see what would have been the store rooms. Take the spiral staircase up (and up!) and you can go and stand at the top of this 5-storey tower! It is highly likely that the lord would have had his private chamber and meeting hall here in this building.
You will get a good view from the top of the tower and be able to see the layout of the ruins. To your left, nearest the loch, you will see what was once the great hall, chambers and kitchen. To the right is a very obvious rectangular ruin on the ground - this was probably the old chapel. At the far end of the site you can clearly see a circular stone base - this was the dovecot which provided the lord with his supply of pigeons for his dinners! Next to it is what may have been the smithy.
It is amazing how uneven the ground of this site is. Despite the difficulties of building, it was a prime strategic location sitting as it does surrounded virtually on three sides by the cold waters of Loch Ness which would have been a main route through the Great Glen of the Highlands.
It's great for kids who will enjoy clambering everywhere and it's not expensive for them to get in. A piper is often on hand to lend even more atmosphere to the place. The ruins are floodlit at night.
or snail mail...