Loch an Eilein Castle

Loch an Eilein Castle: A Historic Landmark in the Scottish Highlands

Loch an Eilein Castle is a magnificent medieval fortress in Scotland’s heart of the Cairngorms National Park. The castle is situated on an island in the middle of Loch an Eilein, hidden in the forest of Rothiemurchus. Besides the Loch’s mirror-like water and ancient pine trees, mountain views and the 13th-century island castle add to its charm. Loch an Eilein translates from Gaelic as “Loch of the Island.” A picturesque loch surrounded by dense forests and rolling hills. The castle dates back to the 13th century and was once the stronghold of the powerful Comyn family.

Loch an Eilein is a unique and beloved place in Scotland. So much so that the Loch has been voted the UK’s best picnic spot! If you visit, you’ll know why!

Loch an Eilein Castle View

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Origins Of Loch an Eilein Castle

Loch an Eilein Castle is a picturesque castle in the Scottish Highlands near Aviemore. The castle is on a small island in the middle of Loch an Eilein, which translates to “Loch of the Island” in Scottish Gaelic. The exact date of the castle’s construction is unknown, but it is believed to have been built in the 13th or 14th century by the Comyn family, one of the most powerful families in Scotland.

The old castle on the island was built in antiquity on a natural defensive site. At the island’s south end, a half-house surrounded by a defensive wall is believed to have been built between 1222 and 1298 by the Bishop of Moray.

Architecture Of Loch an Eilein Castle

Loch an Eilein Castle was built on a small island in the middle of tLochoch, which was once used as a stronghold by the Comyns, a powerful family that ruled over the area in the 13th century.

The castle’s walls were also designed to withstand attacks, with thick stone walls that were difficult to breach. The castle’s location on an island in the middle of the Loch also made it difficult for attackers to approach the castle by land.

Clan Ownership

The castle changed hands several times throughout its history, with different clans owning it at other times. In the 15th century, the Clan Grant owned the castle and was a loyal supporter of the Scottish crown. Later, in the 17th century, the castle was owned by the Clan Macpherson, who supported the Scottish crown.

What is a Scottish Clan?

Groups of people who share a surname and a sense of kinship or familial ties are legally recognized as Scottish clans. The Gaelic words clann or clanna, which imply “children,” are the source of the English word clan. Clans are thought to have developed in the 12th century as a means for the monarch to keep the Scottish Highlands under control. Up until the Battle of Culloden in 1746, clans dominated Scottish politics. Following this event, the Act of Proscription prohibited clan tartans, bagpipes, and speaking Gaelic.

And, if you spend any time in the Highlands with locals, you’ll learn quickly that the Highlanders take their lineage and history seriously! They are the most passionate and patriotic of all the Scotts! It’s one of the things that makes The Highlands even more alluring! Oh, and the accent, folks – you’ll be hard-pressed not to be enamored by the sexy accent. Yes, I like The Highlands and all that comes with it.

Early History And Battles Of Loch an Eilein Castle

The most notable skirmish was in 1690 when the defeated Jacobites from the Battle of Cromdale besieged the castle. Furthermore, in 1745, after the battle of Culloden, the widow of 5th Laird Jean Gordon (alias Grizel Mhor, a well-known Jacobite Lady) sheltered fugitives in the castle. More recently, Grant lairds have also used the island loch to protect Osprey nests on the castle.

the lion rampant flag

The Wolf of Badenoch

Alexander Stewart, the future King Robert II’s youngest legitimate son, gave birth to the Wolf of Badenoch in 1343. Young Alexander became Lord of Badenoch and Justiciar of northern Scotland after his father ascended to the throne. This effectively made him the local sheriff, free to harass the populace as he pleased without repercussions—a common occurrence in world history. He successfully expanded his empire and used private militias to beat up people since he was an ambitious and power-hungry man. Mind you, why end on such a violent note? Alexander also married Euphemia, Countess of Ross, to acquire more titles and property, but their miserable union finally resulted in Alexander’s death.

A sturdy tower house of 10m x 8.5m with walls 1.8m thick was probably built on the north end of the island by Alexander Stewart, the famed Wolf of Badenoch (the younger son of King Robert of Scotland and Robert the Bruce’s grandson) in the 1380s as a fortified hunting lodge. Additionally, there were barrel-vaulted cellars, first-floor halls, and upper chambers. The connection curtain wall between the hall house and lower tower was built in 1600 by Patrick Grant of Rothiemurchus to increase security.

Decay and Preservation

Over time, the castle fell into disrepair and was abandoned. In the 18th century, the Dukes of Gordon used the castle as a hunting lodge, but it was eventually abandoned again. In the 20th century, the castle was restored and preserved by the Forestry Commission, who now manage the surrounding forest.

Walking and Hiking Trails At Loch An Eilein

Loch an Eilein Castle Today

Winter storms caused these ruins to crumble despite minor repairs from the early 20th century. The island on which the castle sits proudly decreased in size in the 1770s when a sluice built to enable felled timber to be floated down the Spey raised the water level. The water now obscures the zigzag causeway once said to connect the castle to the shore.

Loch an Eilein Castle

Video of Loch an Eilein Castle Today

Location Of Loch an Eilein Castle

Address: Loch an Eilein, Aviemore PH22 1QT, United Kingdom

Loch an Eilein Castle is in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland. The castle is on an island in the middle of Loch an Eilein, a freshwater loch in the Rothiemurchus Forest. T

Visiting Loch an Eilein Castle

To reach Loch an Eilein Castle, visitors must first park their car at the designated car park near the Rothiemurchus Centre. From there, a well-marked footpath leads through the forest to trails and views of Loch an Eilein Castle.

Loch An Eilein Entry

Nearby Attractions

Loch an Eilein Castle is located in the heart of Cairngorms National Park, making it an excellent base for exploring the surrounding area. Here are a few nearby attractions that are worth a visit:

Rothiemurchus Estate

Rothiemurchus Estate is a vast scenic beauty area with plenty of activities to entertain visitors. It offers a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and horse riding. Visitors can also explore the Rothiemurchus Forest, home to various wildlife, including red squirrels, pine martens, and capercaillie.

Cairngorm Mountain

Cairngorm Mountain is the UK’s sixth-highest mountain and offers stunning views of the surrounding area. Visitors can take the Cairngorm Mountain Funicular Railway to the top, enjoying panoramic views of the Cairngorms National Park. There are also plenty of hiking trails for those who want to explore the mountain on foot.

Cairngorm Mountain

Highland Wildlife Park

The Highland Wildlife Park is home to various animals, including polar bears, tigers, and snow leopards. Visitors can take a guided park tour and learn about the animals and their habitats. There is also a play area for children and a café serving food and drinks.

Strathspey Steam Railway

The Strathspey Steam Railway is a heritage railway that runs through the Cairngorms National Park. Visitors can ride on a steam train and enjoy the stunning scenery. The railway also offers special events throughout the year, such as Santa Specials and Murder Mystery Dinners.

Strathspey Steam Railway

Photo Credit: Strathspey Steam Railway

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history of Loch an Eilein Castle?

Loch an Eilein Castle View

Loch an Eilein Castle is a 13th-century castle located on a small island in the middle of Loch an Eilein, in the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland. It was built by Alexander Stewart, the Earl of Buchan, in the early 1300s as a strategic stronghold during the Wars of Scottish Independence. The castle has since been used as a hunting lodge and a tourist attraction.

How can one purchase tickets to visit Loch an Eilein Castle?

Loch an Eilein Castle

The castle is not open to the public, and you cannot buy tickets.

The island is inaccessible without a bridge or boats, so you must swim, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard there. The island’s remoteness contributes to its Arthurian charm—a mystery, abandoned castle rising out of the Scottish Highlands’ mist or water. It’s quite the sight.

Is swimming allowed in Loch an Eilein?

Loch an Eilein Castle

Swimming is allowed in Loch an Eilein, but it is not recommended due to the cold water temperatures and the potential for dangerous currents. Visitors should exercise caution if they choose to swim in Loch an Eilein. And, if you plan to swim in tLochoch, consider a wet suit!

Can you wild camp at Loch an Eilein?

must have camping gear

Located in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, Loch an Eilein is a beautiful loch surrounded by forests and hills. The area has campsites and wild camping opportunities.

Closing Thoughts

The Scottish Highlands are a particularly stunning part of the world—a place more beautiful than words can do justice. The drive through The Highlands is a tearjerker. You’ll see countless castles, mountain ranges, waterfalls, Loch after Loch, and tons of wildlife. As you meander through The Highlands, you see tourists pulling over at every lookout.

Loch an Eilein Castle is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the Cairngorms National Park or the forest of Rothiemurchus. Its unique location and rich history make it a fascinating and memorable experience for visitors of all ages. It is also a must-see destination for anyone interested in medieval history and Scottish culture. Its stunning location, fascinating history, and breathtaking views make it a truly unique and unforgettable experience.

It’s worth pointing out that if you explore The Highlands, allow yourself a couple of extra hours for each route. Not only because you will want to stop and take in the scenery. But, you will inevitably find yourself stuck behind camper vans and tractors, which slow you down tremendously.

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