We decide to drive back via Shiel Bridge at Loch Duich. It's a short route only and at first a good choice.
Close to Shiel Bridge - at Ratagan - the view from the parking area is magnificent and we make a stop here.
We are passing waterfalls and then get to a sign. I'm very much afraid that I have no choice and this cup will not be taken away from me:
Yes, right, I accept. The weather is lousy today and consequently only few visitors to this cliché tourist spot. So we'll go sightseeing to a castle today, even inside. Overpriced entrance fee and all that jazz.
It's raining hard and we wait for a break to get to the castle.
Today Eilean Donan Castle is the property of the Conchra-Foundation initiated by the Macrae Clan and is used as museum.
So this is the entrance to the ancestral seat of the Macrae Clan.
In April 1719, 300 soldiers under the command of George Keith, 10. Earl Marischal as part of the Spanish support for the Jacobites landed at Loch Duich and occupied Eilean Donan Castle. However, the promised support bulk from Spain failed them and so the expected revolt of the Highland Jacobites did not take place. Consequently, the Royal Navy sent three frigates to the area which arrived at the castle on May 10th.
The Spanish soldiers shot with muscets at the negotiator approaching in a dinghy and so the frigates opened the fire at the castle. It lasted for one and a half days until the crews of the frigates stormed the castle and took the 44 surviving soldiers as prisoners. Among the supplies they found more than 300 barrels of gunpowder which they used for blasting Eilean Donan Castle.
Around 1220 Eilean Donan Castle was built by Alexander II. as defence against the Viking raids.
Loch Alsh in the right background. Left is Eilean Donan Castle at Loch Duich.
In 1912 Lt. Col. John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the ruin and started first restoration works. He was assisted by the local stonemason, Farquhar MacRae, who „claimed to have had a dream in which he saw, in the most vivid detail, exactly the way the castle originally looked“.
The complete restoration was performed between 1920 and 1932. Differing from the original plans, the stone bridge for access for built and a war memorial for the soldiers of the Macrae Clan killed in WW I.
Now and then the ghosts of the past peep through the castle windows...
...while in the kitchen everything is done for the provision of the inhabitants like in the good old days.
Today we should think this double bed somewhat short...
After the death of MacRae-Gilstrap in 1937 the castle remaind uninhabited and in 1955 was opened for the public as museum.
The restoration costs are estimated to 250.000 £.
This castle is one of the most photographed motives in Scotland. More than 310,000 visitors are counted per year and make Eilean Donan Castle rank three of the Scottish castles which can be visited.
Ranking on top by far naturally is Edinburgh Castle, followed by Braemar Castle.
We have seen our fill and it was worth the visit after all. At least it was dry inside the castle. And it will not be the last castle on this tour. Actually we will like the castle waiting for us within the next days even better. - Wait and see...
Back across the stone bridge and looking for some souvenirs in the castle shop. Then we return across the Skye Bridge to Dunvegan.