Their official site states that Eilean Donan is one of Scotland’s most visited attractions. I find that fairly hard to believe, given its out-of-the-way location. The restored medieval castle is located on the north-western edge of Scotland, a good four to five hour drive from Edinburgh. I would think the only tourists to visit it would be those on their way to the Isle of Skye, a destination that unfortunately not everyone takes the time to visit while in Scotland. Although I myself did not venture across the Kyle of Lochalsh to take in the sights of National Geographic’s 4th best island in the world, I did get a glimpse of it from the walls of Eilean Donan castle.
I may be a little biased, since I absolutely love medieval castles and had wanted to see Eilean Donan from the day I first spotted a picture of it in a travel magazine. A solitary structure situated on its own little island, surrounded by beautifully blue waters and the highlands as backdrop, I vowed that one day when I make my millions this would be the castle I would live in. Of course, it’s a historical site and not up for sale, so that’s not exactly possible, so I settled for visiting it when I had the chance to explore Scotland a few years ago.
The castle had been beautifully restored, although there really isn’t that much to see inside. My favourite room is the Banqueting Hall with it’s long oak table and family portraits. You can also visit the kitchen and bedrooms, but they were just a little too modern for my tastes. Although the little island leaves very little room for exploration, the views from the castle walls will make up for it tenfold. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a day when it’s not raining, the vistas over the three lakes – Loch Long, Loch Alsh and Loch Duich – are breathtaking and you’ll be able to see the Isle of Skye in the distance.
For me, the biggest appeal of Eilean Donan castle lies in my own imagination. I can still picture myself living there – perhaps growing a small vegetable garden from which to draw ingredients for the feasts that could be cooked up in the kitchen, or snuggled up with a good book next to the fire in the banqueting hall on a rainy day, or simply staring out the window and thinking about the history that permeates its old stone walls. In my mind, this old castle could be a place of perfect contentment.
Have you been to Eilean Donan or the Isle of Skye? What would your best island be?