Scotland Road Trip Part 2 - Lifestyle Family Photography

Three Castles - One Day

Looking for Nessie!

Looking for Nessie!

Loch Ness

We left off with our family touring Culloden and Clava Cairns. From there we drove just under an hour to a rather dodge hostel outside Loch Ness. The following morning we were up early to find breakfast and beat the crowds at Urquhart Castle. This was one of many castles we were able to visit free of charge since we have been English Heritage members for over a year with renewed membership. I had no idea this was even a thing until I started doing the research for this trip and we ended up saving so much money. For example, entry fee for our family alone just for Urquhart was almost 1/3 of our English Heritage membership fees. That’s INSANE! Ok, enough about my love for my English Heritage membership and on with the trip.

Surprise surprise, Sutton needed to know what the stable situation was like in the 14th century.

Surprise surprise, Sutton needed to know what the stable situation was like in the 14th century.

Urquhart Castle has runes that date back to the 13th century and after going a number of raids during the Scottish War of Independence was left partially destroyed in the late 1600’s to prevent it from being used by Jacobite forces and then was left in a state of decay.

We left just as the rain started to fall and 4 massive coaches unloaded hoards of tourists. From we started making out way to Skye with two more castles to see on the way.

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan is located on a small tidal island where three lochs meet and is connected to the mainland by a single lane foot bridge. This castle was again founded in the 13th century and became a stronghold for Clans Mackenzie and their allies Clan Macrae. In the early 1919 it was purchased by Lt. Col John McRae (yes he is related to Clan Macrae mentioned earlier and was full restored until 1932. In 1955 the castle was opened to the public and today is owned by the Conchra Charitable Trust, which was established by the Macrae in order to maintain and care for the property.

Sing me a song of lass that is gone…

From here we made a short drive and crossed over the Skye Bridge. Our 4 year old recently decided that he was afraid of heights so it was touch and go there for a moment but once we crossed that bridge and entered heaven on earth also known as the Isle of Skye. No amount of words can describe the beauty of the landscape, the only thing I would change is the midges.

Upon hearing that we were headed to yet another castle the kids immediately started complaining. We heard all the excuses in the world about how another castle will be boring and they just wanted to finish the day. Then we let slip that this castle has something special…boat rides.

Their reactions to hearing boat rides.

Their reactions to hearing boat rides.

This was not any boat ride…we were headed out to see seals. My oldest two don’t have many similar interests but the one thing we can almost guarantee they agree on are animals. We raced from the ticket booth, past beautiful gardens and a grand entrance and down to the docks. We put on our life vests met the young couple we would be sharing the boat with who were visiting from the Netherlands and were on our way. Our captain was a weathered man who guided us around the loch and answered all questions that we threw at him, including the fact that there were indeed sharks that have been spotted in the area. which made the kids very uncomfortable and they started imagining all the possibilities. Ollie spotted some jellyfish in the water and we were told that the light house at the other side of the island has seen a pod of whales for the couple weeks prior. After the boat tour we had a mere 30 minutes to tour the castle, which was the perfect amount of time for these Smith Kids after a very long day out.


This was by far our busiest day, but one of the most memorable and one of my personal highlights of our trip. After we left Dunvegan we headed on our next adventuring…camping for two nights in rainy Scotland which is a story for a different day. To be continued!