Abandoned beauties in Scotland

Visit these hauntingly beautiful abandoned castles in Scotland and enjoy their spectacular surroundings. 

1) Old Castle Lachlan

Old Castle Lachlan is a beautiful little ruin on the banks of Loch Fyne. It serves as head of the MacLachlan clan, who are one of the oldest Scottish Highland clans, and were faithful Jacobite soldiers. The castle came into ruin after the Battle of Culloden in 1746, where their 17th chief was killed. It is said that a government ship sailed up the loch and shelled the castle after the defeat and hasn’t been habited since. Today there is great walks around the castle, and it’s a great place for a picnic or to stretch out after you’re epic dinner at Inver.

Old Castle Lachlan on a sunny day

2) Edzell Castle and Garden

Edzell Castle is a ruined castle built in the 1500s, and was home to the powerful Lindsay family, who hosted famous guests such as Mary, Queen of Scots. The Lindsays had to sell Edzell in 1715 because of mounting debts and the new owner, Earl of Panmure, lost it because of his part to play in the Jacobite rising. This castle nobles’ residence might be over, but its gardens certainly aren’t. The walled garden or ‘Pleasance’ was built in 1604 and is a marvellous walled garden to visit. In the walls you can spot a series of carved panels that depict the seven cardinal virtues, the liberal arts and the planetary deities. They are unique to Scotland and said to have links between esoteric traditions and freemasonry.

old ruins of the Edzell Castle in Scotland

3) New Slains Castle

Slains Castle is a very impressive ruin that lies just outside Cruden Bay. Constructed in 1597 the castle looms over the cliffs edge, and has a slight eerie feel to the grounds. It’s no wonder then why this castle served as serious inspiration for Bram Stoker’s famous Dracula. Be careful when exploring the castle and near the cliffs, especially when it’s windy, as it’s easy to loose footing. Park in the small carpark off the A975 or take the slight longer walk in from Cruden Bay. “Once again... welcome to my house. Come freely. Go safely; and leave something of the happiness you bring.” – Bram Stoker, Dracula

New Slains Castle in Scotland against a purple pink sky

A975, Cruden Bay

4) Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle or Dùn Fhoithear in Gaelic means ‘Fort on the shelving slope’ and describes one of the most influential medieval castles in Scotland’s history. The heavily fortified ruin stands strong 49 metres above the North Sea and is bursting with history. The oldest Pictish fort to ever be found was discovered just north of the castle, legends like William Wallace have captured it and Mary, Queen of Scots, and James VI have both been visitors here. The views are stunning looking out across the narrow path to the castle and the tour is well worth paying for. If you want to walk to the castle from Stonehaven, there is a great cliff top walk. Download the simple map from the Dunnottar website. Not to be missed if you are ‘castle bagging’.

abandoned Dunnottar Castle view from cliff in Scotland

5) Castle Tioram

Ruined Castle Tioram sits on a rocky tidal island and stands imposing over Loch Moidart. Its location would have been significant, especially before pre-industrial times when seas, lochs and rivers were the most efficient way to navigate Scotland’s rugged west coast. It also is in the middle of a historic trade route out to the western isles. The castle has historically been at the centre of the MacDonalds of Clanranald, who are responsible for a lot of friction between clans of the Highlands and Islands and the monarchy. It was seized by the government in 1692, due to clan chief Allan of Clanranald defaulting to the Jacobites in France, however he recaptured it in 1715 during the Jacobite uprising and burnt it to the ground to stop it falling back into governments hands. It’s been a ruin ever since. Turn off the A861 for signposted road towards ‘Castle Dorlin’ as the locals refer to it. Follow the single-track road and park at the car park at the end. From there, walk across the beach to the castle. Bear in mind tidal times. And be careful of falling masonry when exploring, the 13th-century ruin is very unstable.

Castle Tioram in Scotland

Eilean Tioram Loch Moidart/River Shiel Doirlinn

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Hidden Scotland reveals off-the-beaten-track places and interesting details for anyone who's keen to explore Scotland's best-kept secrets.

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