Scottish Castles and Views–Loch Ness Area and Eilean Donan

Eilean Donan Castle Scottish castles and views

On the Road to Skye

We said farewell to our adventures in Nairn/Inverness and set off for Loch Ness and more Scottish castles. We also had high hopes for fabulous views of the Highlands on our way to Skye. Boy, were we NOT disappointed!

In this post:

Loch Ness Cruise–Scottish Castles and Views

We left early in the morning to allow enough time for any possible traffic around Inverness to get to our cruise on Loch Ness. It took us around 45 minutes.

Our particular Jacobite Cruise leaves from the Clansman Hotel, which is across the street from the dock. We were fortunate to find a parking spot at the hotel. There were several buses there and it was busy. We went inside to check out the gift shop while we waited (and bought our Nessie souvenirs), and then headed down to the dock.

The cruise we booked was a two hour cruise, which included the entry fee and a self-guided tour of Urquhart Castle. The boat was clean, roomy and had a bar that sold drinks and snacks. We started out on the open deck, but as it was pretty cold and windy on the Loch we eventually moved to a table inside. The crew was very nice, friendly and professional. It took about 30 minutes to get to Urquhart and the views were beautiful. It was a treat to see Urquhart from the water.

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Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle is located in what is called “the Great Glen.” This area was formed by long-ago seismic activity which split open Scotland and raised the Highlands. There are four large lochs in this “crack,” and it formed a natural roadway through Scotland. This “highway” runs from Ft. William to Inverness.

Located on Loch Ness, this 500 year old fortress has seen much of Scotland’s violent history. Government forces blew up the castle when abandoning it during the Jacobite Rising in 1692. Because of its strategic location in the Great Glen, it was fought over time and time again.

We docked right next to the castle and had an hour to walk around and explore, and had fun imagining how it looked in its glory days. It has a fascinating history. We spent so much time exploring the ruins that we never made it up the hill to the visitor center! You can climb to the top of the great tower and the views are even more incredible.

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On the Road to Skye

Can we talk about how incredible the drive from Inverness towards Skye is? I actually started crying it was so beautiful. Plus I was so excited to be there and experiencing the Highlands first-hand. Sounds crazy, I know. And for many of the incredible views I was unable to take photos as there was no “scenic pull-off” area. It was a beautiful day, and it was such a gorgeous drive. Below is a slide show of many of the photos we took. I apologize for the large number of them. I really couldn’t choose! Enjoy the slideshow below:

 

 

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Eilean Donan Castle

The last stop on our “Castles and Views” journey to Skye was the beautiful, iconic Eilean Donan Castle. On this gorgeous day, the views of the castle and surrounding area were incredible. The entry fee includes a self-guided audio tour, which I recommend. We were able to walk through and learn about the castle. Did you know the bridge that leads to it was used in the James Bond film, “The World Is Not Enough” and Bond drove his sports car over it? Looking at that bridge, I don’t know how he did it.

Eilean Donan, like Urquhart, has a very violent history as well, because it is strategically located where three Lochs meet. Also like Urquhart Castle, government forces blew up Eilean Donan during the Jacobite Rising in 1719. The castle was abandoned for 200 years but purchased by a military man in 1911 who reconstructed it based on some original plans and finished the work in 1932.

It is a truly beautiful place and I highly recommend you visit if you go to Scotland.

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Truly worn out from seeing all of this beauty, we entered sensory overload as we crossed the bridge to Skye and headed to Portree to check in to our next hotel. Our stay on the Isle of Skye is up next on the blog.

Have you ever taken this drive to the Isle of Skye? How did it make you feel? I was truly overwhelmed. What a beautiful place.

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