Castles and Estates in Scotland
Castles and Estates in Scotland (42)
Covering 2,550 hectares (6,330 acres) on the Lochalsh peninsula, this traditional Highland crofting estate is a diverse mix of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes. It encompasses croft and farm land, woodland, moorland, villages, coastline, saltmarsh, lochs and offshore islands, and offers stunning views across the water to the mountains of Skye and Applecross.
The estate is also packed with fascinating archaeological and historic features, including two Scheduled Ancient Monuments – the open-air church at Plockton village and the crannog on Loch Achaidh na h-Inich. Plockton, a planned village dating from 1801, is a designated Conservation Area and well worth a visit, as is Balmacara Square, where you can see the estate’s original 18th-century steadings, millhouse and ice house. Drumbuie and Duirinish are outstanding examples of traditional crofting townships.
Even the estate’s woodland is a valuable part of Scotland’s natural heritage – a section of the Coille Mhór oak/birch wood is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area for Conservation.
The Lochalsh Woodland Walk is an attractively designed landscape open to the public throughout the year.
What to see & do
Start at the Visitor Centre in Plockton, which tells the story of the area through historical photos and artefacts, and explore the village afterwards, making sure not to miss the open-air church. Balmacara Square is also a must: the original 18th-century buildings are still there, including the Mill House, the Ice House and the B-listed farm steadings. Some of these have been converted, so the village now boasts a cafe, health and beauty salon, a craft workshop and a visitor centre.
Explore the Lochalsh Woodland Walks, which offer sheltered, peaceful trails through Scots pine, oak and birch trees, and along the banks of Loch Alsh.
Perhaps most impressive are the crofting townships of Drumbuie and Duirinish, where you can still see traditional rotational crofting on runrig land. Here species-rich meadows, Highland cattle and a wide diversity of birds, insects and wildflowers provide a rich cultural landscape. There is an excellent circular walk through these townships and along the shore where, if you are lucky, you might spot the elusive otter.
The Trust ranger runs guided walks through the crofting townships and along the coast throughout the summer, as well as around Plockton. The estate is an ideal base for other outdoor activities too, from walking and orienteering to mountain-biking, bird-watching and even sea kayaking (contact Kintail & Morvich, also owned by the National Trust for Scotland).
With so much to explore and discover, why not extend your visit and stay in one of the estate’s award-winning holiday cottages in Glaick by the shores of Loch Alsh. Craggan Cottage has its own secluded garden which leads down to a stony beach, while Ferry Cottage is full of historic character, as it was once the waiting room for ferry passengers travelling to and from Balmacara. Both holiday cottages sleep four and have magnificent coastal views.
For more information, please see the National Trust for Scotland's website.
The quintessential Victorian ‘Highland’ estate, Brodick Castle, Garden & Country Park on the Isle of Arran is the perfect place for a family day out.
The combination of a 13th-century square tower, a Jacobean mansion house and the additions of the Victorian lairds make Drum Castle unique among Scottish castles.
One of the National Trust for Scotland’s top ten most visited attractions, Threave Estate is the perfect place for a family day out – or two: there’s so much to see and do here, you may not fit it all in to one visit.
This superb castle dates from the 14th century and contains magnificent plaster ceilings and painted panelling, fine furniture designed by Sir Robert Lorimer and a long-concealed mural by Phoebe Anna Traquair.