Nestled amongst the mountains in the North West of Scotland lies the ruins of a place called Ardvreck Castle. The castle itself stands on a bumpy piece of land that juts out into the centre of a body of water called Loch Assynt and, like many landmarks of the region, is rich in Scottish history.
Ardvreck Castle is surrounded on all sides by amazing, dramatic mountains; whether you're looking for scenery or history, it's well worth a visit! But which Clans were the original inhabitants of this amazing location?
This week I took myself off on a little adventure to visit the castle in Sutherland in the NW Highlands of Scotland. I hadn't been before and wanted to get there for sunrise so set off early with camera, mug of tea & peanut butter sandwich in tow.
It’s about a 1hr 20min drive from where I am now (most of it down single tracks roads, I discovered!) along roads that cut across Sutherland from East to West. On the way there it was dark so I couldn’t see much, but the sky was just starting to lighten once I arrived.
Here in Scotland, winter sunrises aren't super early, and the fantastic light gives rise to long, dramatic sunrises, and glowing, lazy sunsets. And I had the place all to myself - what a treat!
Once I got back, I realised I didn't know too much about the history of the Castle, so I did a little research.
According to Undiscovered Scotland, the Castle dates back to around 1490 and was home to the MacLeods of Assynt.
The most famous story of the castle is that in ~1650, the wife of Neil MacLeod of Assynt imprisoned the Marquess of Montrose in Ardvreck Castle dungeons. At the time many Scots saw the Great Montrose as a traitor, but the political situation changed and it was the MacLeods who were later denounced.
Around 1672, Ardvreck Castle was attacked and captured by the Mackenzies who had had their eye on the castle for a while. Deciding they wanted something a little more modern, the Mackenzies built Calda House (can you spot it in the background in the above picture?). Calda House burned down in ~1737 and it, and the original castle, has turned to ruin ever since.
Although now just crumbling ruins, walking around the edge of the Loch in the wee hours of the morning was pretty spectacular, and I'm lucky to have such a stunning location so close to home.
So if you're in the area, be sure to swing by Loch Assynt and wander around Ardvreck Castle for a little while. Summer or Winter, it's an incredible, scenic place to visit!
Check out www.discoverassynt.co.uk/ for other things to do in the area.
Are you a MacLeod? Or a Mackenzie? Get your handmade map of Scotland today, with your choice of family tartan: Handcrafted Map of Scotland