CIE TOURS - August 11, 2018
Best of: Scottish Castles
Scotland is known around the world for its stunning and majestic castles. Read on to discover our blogger Evelyn’s top 3 favorite Scottish castles from her CIE Tours travels: Glamis Castle, Edinburgh Castle and Dunvegan Castle!
I visited Glamis Castle at the end of my Scenic Britain tour and it was truly a delight. Moving from one ornate room to the next, I couldn’t help but think “Wow, I need to get myself one of these!” Unfortunately, I think it’s slightly above my price point at this point in my life. Also, I’m not sure how willing the owner, Simon Bowes-Lyon, the 19th Earl of Strathmore, would be to sell it to me – considering it has been in his family since 1372!
One notable inhabitant of the house was Elizabeth the Queen Mother. She was born to the 13th Earl of Strathmore as the ninth of ten children. Evidently, she was quite the mischief maker and was known to throw cold water unto unsuspecting guests arriving to the house. Eventually, she grew out of such tricks, but kept her fiery nature as she refused Prince Albert’s marriage proposal in 1921! It wasn’t until his second proposal two years later that she accepted and the royal marriage was announced.
Grand as it may be, one striking thing about Glamis Castle is that it truly is a family home. You can easily imagine a young Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret sitting on the wooden chairs by the drawing room fireplace. It’s a castle with stories of ghosts and murder (does the Thane of Glamis in Shakespeare’s Macbeth ring a bell?), but also of family love and childhood memories.
Though you can bet on it being more crowded than others you may visit, (particularly in August), the castle in Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh is a must-see! Once you cross the threshold to the other side of the castle walls, you are free to explore its many buildings and collections. Plan out your time wisely to see all that this grand fortress has to offer, including the Scottish Crown Jewels, David’s Tower, St Margaret’s Chapel, and the military prisons. You could easily make a half-day out of it.
Edinburgh Castle is also home to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo every August. Before I attended this event, I was looking forward to it, but wasn’t really sure what to expect. The dancers, drummers, pipers, lights, and fireworks blew me away and made for an evening that was truly magical! I think I speak for everyone on my Scottish Clans and Castles tour when I say it was a night that we will never forget. (Editor’s note: five of our CIE Tours Scotland tours include tickets to this incredible performance in August! Click here to learn more.)
Here, on Scotland’s scenic Isle of Skye is Dunvegan Castle sitting upon the dark, ominous looking water. The fortress, with its turrets and cannons, were surely a force to be reckoned with. Cruelly, the dungeon was built near the kitchen as prisoners slowly starved to death.
The MacLeod (pronounced “cloud”) clan called it home and the castle’s foundations date back to as early as the 1200s! Despite the castle’s looming presence, refurbished rooms suggest a softer side to castle living. Dunvegan’s extensive grounds and gardens add to this effect with waterfalls, water lilies, and wooded walkways. You half-believe that some mythical creature will pay you an unexpected visit! Keep your eyes peeled because Dunvegan Castle is home to the Fairy Flag! Bestowed upon a MacLeod chief by a fairy to bring the clan miraculous victory in battle, it could only be used on three occasions. Legend has it that it has already been used twice. If used again, the MacLeod chief will be sent to Fairyland, never to return!
By Evelyn Adams
Evelyn was one of our 2018 Social Media Concierges.
Want to learn more?
- Go deeper into the history of these impressive castles: Glamis Castle, Edinburgh Castle, and Dunvegan Castle
- Check out the colorful history of the Fairy Flag
- Discover our other Scotland CIE Tours that include a viewing of the incredible Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo!
- Castles not your thing? Our other award-winning Ireland tours and Britain tours are just a click away!