Published: November 1st 2011October 30th 2011
This is Ian's favourite castle and by chance we are staying around the corner in the village of Dornie. He has been up early walking down to the castle to catch it in different lights and again in the evening. The castle itself has a long history and was rebuilt in the early 1900s. They have done an amazing job with the restoration and you can now wander through the castle. I think the kids gained more of an understanding of how the castles worked and felt in their day.
The castle sits on an island in Loch Duich that is believed to have been inhabited since the iron age. The original castle is thought to have been built in the 1200s as a defensive measure against the vikings. It has been in different forms over the centuries. I believe it now replicates the 13th century plans.
The views from the island are magnificent. The photos just do not do it justice. We have uploaded a lot of photos and a lot look alike. We are using this blog to back them up (and you will start to see proof Ian's obsession to get the right photo).
My love affair for The Castle started when I first saw the 1986 film 'Highlander', starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery. The Castle was the setting of the residence of the Clan MacLeod when the film flashes back to the 1500s. It still remains one of my favourite films and often can be found playing on the tv at home when Alex has a night shift.
I was able to see The Castle with my own eyes in 1989 when, still in High School, I visited my family in the UK during school holidays. The image of the first glimpse of The Castle as you drive along the loch is lasting and was still with me now in 2011, in anticipation of seeing it once again.
When we were planning this trip, seeing The Castle again was almost a certainty as, at the very least, I, just as my father before me, would want to show my children this stunning site and its picturesque setting. Further back in my mind I dared to have a small thought how good it would be to stay somewhere near The Castle, not entirely remembering where exactly it was.
During our planning, Alex had identified a small number of home accomodation, care of homeaway.co.uk, across the Highlands for us to consider, with one in Dornie being a frontrunner contender. When I had a closer look at the location of Dornie and saw the proximity to The Castle, it was a done deal!
Unlike some fond distant memories where the passing of time elevates a past experience to an exaggerated level, The Castle was even better than I remembered. It is no wonder The Castle may be the most photographed in Scotland (I definitely further fed this belief).
Aside from the new tourist centre and car park, not much had changed from the outside. We arrived with a couple of days left before The Castle closed for the off-season, so were able to enter The Castle, something I had not done previously. While it was wonderful to step inside The Castle and explore the grounds, most of the furnishings and fittings in the banquet hall, kitchen and bedrooms, were replicas of how the castle would have looked and operated in the 1930s. This took something away from one's own imagination of a medieval castle.
Staying in the
nearby village will further add to its legacy in my memories. Whether its taking the opportunity to go for a walk in the wee hours, or for a leisurely stroll after a pint or two in the evening, or even simply driving by during an everyday mundane task such as a supermarket trip; it will all elevate this experience to a new high.
Eilean Donan castle is one of those sites where no words will do it justice, no art will fully capture its setting, no fridge magnets its essence, nor no film fully capture its magnificance.
There can be only one!
There are more photos below