Whilst during a road trip of central and the highlands of Scotland, Olga and I decided to spend the morning at Inveraray Castle before we drove on to the town of Oban. We have heard of the castle before but didn’t know what to expect. The castle was used for one episode of the hit BBC drama television series, Downton Abbey, when the Christmas episode was filmed here in 2012.
Inveraray Castle stands on the shores of Loch Fyne and has stood here since the 1400s. However the castle we saw today was built on the original castle and was inspired by Vanbrugh who was also the architect of Blenheim Palace in Oxford. The castle we see today has stood here since the 1700s. There is a mixture of modern, Palladian, Baroque and Gothic styles all mixed in with the facade and the interior. After the first stone was laid, it took forty-three years to complete the castle. However since then, an extra floor was built and conical roofs on the corner towers were put in place due to a fire in the 1870s.
After paying for our tickets, we entered the castle via the Eastern Hall entrance. I remember the Armoury Hall on the ground floor being impressive with weapons on the wall but the impressive crests of the family who run the castle over the years are dotted around the place. Clan Campbell has this castle and is still lived in today. The Armoury Hall is twenty-one meters in height which means this is the highest ceiling in Scotland.
Other rooms to check out on the ground floor is the State Dining Room, the Tapestry Drawing Room with it’s magnificent tapestries, the saloon (the duke’s chilling out room), and the North-West Hall where costumes worn by the family through the last few centuries can be found here.
On the first floor is the main gallery where there are family portraits on display whilst there is the Clan Room which displays the family tree and other items belonging to the Clan Campbell. There is a Victorian Room displaying items from Queen Victoria’s reign in the 1800s, however it is mostly dedicated to her daughter, HRH Princess Louise who married the Marquess of Lorne who was the 9th duke of Inveraray Castle. There is also the MacArthur Room to check out where there is a ghostly bed here. The legend behind it is that a young Irish harpist was murdered by the Duke of Montrose’s men way back in the 17th century. The bed was moved to the castle today from the old castle and the boy’s ghose was so attached to the bed it travelled with it. What is spooky about this? When a member of the family is about to die in the castle, it is said that harp music can be heard coming from the room.
At the end of the tour of the castle, we walked down the staircase to check out the old kitchen in the basement with a lot of old fashioned pots and pans.
One of the highlights of the visit for us was walking around the beautiful garden. Due to its climate and a lot of wet weather, flowers here really bloom and give a lot of colour during the summer months. There are a lot of daffodils around April time before the rhododendrons and azaleas pop out with their colours of pinks, reds and whites. There is also a lot of heather, roses dotted in with the beautiful greenery of the trees.
Tips to make a trip to Inveraray Castle easy
Despite it being high season when we visited, we found car parking plentiful on arrival. The castle lies around forty miles east of Oban and sixty miles north of Glasgow. There is also a regular bus service from Glasgow to Inveraray which takes nearly two hours, however to get here by train, the nearest train station is Dalmally, so I wouldn’t recommend getting the train. It will be a real hassle to try and get a taxi from there to the castle.
Whilst here, there is a tea room selling a range of hot and cold drinks as well as cakes, scones and other snacks like ice cream (if it is really warm). Tickets can be brought on the day however it is visible to book them in advance on the website here.
This was a stop we are really glad we did. There is a lot of splendid castles to check out in Scotland and this is one of them. Not because Downton Abbey was filmed here, that didn’t interest us as we never saw the drama before, we came here because of the castle and gardens. A couple of hours is needed here and this is one castle which shouldn’t be missed.