I’ve recently returned from a holiday/research trip to the highlands of Scotland where I fell in love with the glorious scenery. The Scottish weather is notoriously unpredictable and, true to form, the first day was so cold my fingers felt frostbitten and the second day I was so wet I nearly drowned but after that it was so hot I narrowly avoided sunstroke!
Before my visit, friends had raved about the beauty of the Highland landscape and it didn’t disappoint. It was almost impossible to find a view that wasn’t ravishing, which was just as well as it took my mind off the very long driving distances necessary to navigate around the mountains.
I’ve been thinking about writing a novel set in the Highlands and when my son described to me the romantic little castle on Eilean Donan, I knew it would be the perfect location for my story.
The tiny island is within sight of the Isle of Skye at the point where three sea lochs meet. It’s approached by a stone bridge and on the day I visited the tide was out. The smell rising from the large amount of exposed seaweed baking in the hot sun added a certain piquancy to the air!
The castle was originally built in the 13th century but in 1719 was garrisoned by Spanish soldiers supporting the Jacobites. Unfortunately the English government discovered the intended uprising and sent warships to blow up the gunpowder store, destroying the castle. The ruins were abandoned for two hundred years until Lt Colonel John Macrae Gilstrap bought the castle in 1911 and began its restoration.
Today the castle is a thriving tourist destination and a convenient stopping place on the way to Skye. There’s a good cafe, too. Despite the throngs of tourists and knowing that the castle has been almost entirely rebuilt only a hundred or so years ago, nothing can detract from the pure romance of this place.
I know that, one day, I must return.