The Urquhart Castle in Loch Ness Scotland was the second castle we had visited in Scotland. To be honest, we were not big on castles, but thought that this was the best place to view Loch Ness , a 37km long lake, famous for the fabled ‘Loch Ness monster’, Nessie. The Urquhart Castle is a renowned castle by the side of a famous lake. We thought that as the whole of Loch Ness was pretty big, and the best place to look out for Nessie is probably near a castle, with a nearby toilet and parking lot. Urquhart is quite unlike Stirling Castle where little is left of the halls and rooms that the castle was home to many centuries ago. Today, what’s left is the structure of rocks and foundations that held the stately castle up. Is the Urquhart Castle near Loch Ness Scotland worth visiting? Read on more to find out.
History of Urquhart Castle
Like many castles in the world, the Urquhart Castle passed through many hands. The history below somewhat explains why the castle is left with all but its rocky foundations. It’s quite scenic due to lush green gardens right next to the famed lake.
According to Wikipedia, the present ruins of Urquhart castle date from the 13th to the 16th centuries, though built on the site of an early medieval fortification. Founded in the 13th century, Urquhart played a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century. It was subsequently held as a royal castle, and was raided on several occasions by the MacDonald Earls of Ross. The castle was granted to the Clan Grant in 1509, though conflict with the MacDonalds continued. Despite a series of further raids the castle was strengthened, only to be largely abandoned by the middle of the 17th century. Urquhart was partially destroyed in 1692 to prevent its use by Jacobite forces, and subsequently decayed. In the 20th century it was placed in state care as a scheduled monument and opened to the public: it is now one of the most-visited castles in Scotland.
Its lovely gardens
The gardens were lush green and well-trimmed, making it a very pleasant walk to the castle, from the visitor centre. We arrived at about 11am (in summer), and there were parking lots available. So fret not!
A machine designed to hurl projectiles at one’s enemies. I actually mistakened this for Ms Trunchbull in Ronald Dahl’s Matilda – Ms Trunchbull. It’s actually named after a font – Trebuchet MS. Beautiful.
Looking for Loch Ness
It is quite possible to find a quiet spot at the castle, despite the tourist crowds. We climbed up the staircase of the stone castle. For a moment, we had a quiet spot to ourselves to take this shot.
The Travelling Squid’s Take
Should you visit the Urquhart Castle near Loch Ness Scotland? I think it’s worth a visit if you have time. It’s pretty picturesque. When we visited there were some threatening grey clouds hovering over the castle – therefore I think the photos would have looked more beautiful on a sunny day. Unlike Stirling Castle, it wasn’t as wide and didn’t have that many facilities as compared Stirling. Therefore I suggest that for the complete castle experience, visit Stirling Castle instead. If you just want a short glimpse of Loch Ness, there are other alternative stops along Fort Augustus or the A82 which is quieter and less touristy at the same time.
Sighting of Nessie’s a pipe-dream
Last but not least, while a Nessie sighting is a coveted once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s quite unlikely you will succeed. One way to ease the disappointment would be to consume several Scottish ales while looking out into the lake. 😉