The Most Incredible Castles in and Around Inverness, Scotland

River Ness and Inverness Skyline
River Ness and Inverness Skyline | © Dave Conner

From fortified tower homes to evocative ruins, along with fairy-tale turrets and shining white- or pink-walled structures, there are over 3000 buildings in Scotland that can be called castles, and the area around Inverness is a good place to begin exploring some of the most impressive structures.

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Ardverikie Estate

Used in movies including Mrs Brown and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, and in television shows such as Monarch of the Glen and Outlander, the estate and buildings of Ardverikie will prove instantly recognisable. A relatively recent castle, built in the Victorian era as a sporting estate, Ardverikie is also a popular holiday venue, with a large variety of estate properties for guests to stay in, and rooms available for wedding ceremonies. Situated south of Inverness and nestled in the mountains, the surrounding scenery is some of Scotland’s best.

Fort George

There is no other castle like Fort George in Scotland, the design more at home in the colonial fortifications of the Caribbean. Built in 1748 to act as defence and garrison against any future Jacobite uprising, it used parts of an earlier medieval fortress in its construction. Unless you find beauty in hulking geometric fortifications, Fort George is generally not viewed as the prettiest of the castles around Inverness, but it is impressive in its sheer scale and sense of menace. Although still used by the military, it is possible to visit the museum, marvel at the thickness of the walls and potentially spot dolphins in the sea below the walls.

Brodie Castle

The pink-tinged walls of Brodie Castle protect a remarkable collection of art and antiques, and the rooms have been restored with expert care and diligence by the National Trust for Scotland. The castle is open to the public in the summer, and the grounds are open all year round, with woods, hides for wildlife watching and an important collection of daffodils in the landscaped gardens. If you can’t tear yourself away, there is also luxury accommodation available in the Laird’s wing of the castle.

Castle Stuart

For almost 300 years, Castle Stuart lay derelict, roofless and abandoned, the original family fortunes foundering when Oliver Cromwell gained power in England. The present owner, Charles Stuart, has had the castle lovingly restored, including decorating the bedrooms in the tartans of the clans who supported his namesake, Charles Edward Stuart — “Bonnie Prince Charlie” — at the nearby battlefield of Culloden. The golf course beside the castle was constructed in 2009. It is of such a high quality that it has hosted the Scottish Open and won international awards for its design. The castle on one side, and the expanse of the Moray Firth on the other, provide a stunning backdrop for a round of golf.

Urquhart Castle

Perched on the shore of Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle commands spectacular views across the water, especially from the top of its tower. The castle was the site of many battles and raids during the years it was in use, often switching hands, and eventually being blown up by departing government forces in 1692 so that it could not be used by the Jacobites. As well as an excellent visitor centre, there is also a full sized, working trebuchet siege engine in the castle grounds and a chance to try to spy the Loch Ness Monster, Nessie.

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