Ok so full disclosure I used to work at Inveraray Castle, so I’m probably biased. But honestly it’s one of my favourite castles to visit. I love a day trip to Inveraray and it’s not complete without popping into the castle. So without further ado here are my top ten reasons why Inveraray Castle should be on your castle visiting travel itinerary.
1. The castle
The architecture of the castle is truly stunning, it’s not a fortified cold stone castle and more of a fairytale palace. You can’t help but look at it. From the turrets to the stunning windows it’s just gorgeous. The castle is built from a rare stone that gives it an amazing green grey colour that is often commented on by visitors. I will never get sick of looking at Inveraray castle.
2. The grounds and gardens
Honestly if castles are not your thing, it’s worth just getting a ticket for the gardens or walking around the estate for free. Argyll is blessed in general with lush gardens (due to all the rain and the milder climate) but the castle gardens combined with the castle, the River Aray and Loch Fyne is a winning combination. Walking up Dun na Cuaiche or up to the Salmon Leaps is also a great way to spend an afternoon. Walks around the estate out with the castle gardens are accessible year round as well.
3. The history
Clan Campbell, the Dukes of Argyll and Inveraray have been major features in a lot of Scottish and British history. If you you’ve watched or read Outlander you might remember mentions of the Duke of Argyll. The history is varied and at times notorious. Tumultuous and full of twists and turns. The castle boasts a wide variety artefacts, antiques and paintings as well.
4. The people
I worked at Inveraray Castle for two summer seasons and got to meet a cracking bunch of people. It was a pleasure and I learned so much. Friendly, helpful and a great team to work with. Knowledgeable about the both the castle and the local area.
5. It’s a living castle!
Unlike many castles, Inveraray is still very much a family home. For this reason there is understandably areas that are not on display. But you’re very likely to see the Duke and Duchess around castle as they regularly come to stay. Just look out of the change of flag and you’ll know if they’re in!
6. The tearoom & gift shop
Whether it’s coffee and cake or a light lunch the tearoom is one of my favourite places to eat in Inveraray. The selection of cakes, scones and tray bakes are top notch. And lunch outside on a nice day is just lovely. Everything is made fresh there using local produce and it really shows in the quality of food produced. The gift shop will always be close to my heart. As that’s where I worked. One day I’ll be back to buy one of the gorgeous wool blankets. I’ve been to a lot of gift shops and the castle’s stands out for the variety of products available.
7. Inveraray Highland Games
I managed to visit the games properly for the first time last year and I loved it. With pipers, sporting events and tonnes of local business stalls and food producers, it’s a great day out. And an amazing display of Scottish culture and history.
8. The vibe
There are no massive lines like Edinburgh castle. It’s busy but you don’t feel like your being squashed into a billion ticket queues. Through obviously if you see several big coaches parking up maybe go round the gardens first.
9. Is it raining?
Go to the castle. It’s indoors, theirs lots of stuff to read and look at. And even a quiz for the kids to do (with a prize at the end). Plus the gift shop and tearoom is open to all visitors regardless if you’re going into the castle or not.
10. It’s full of surprises
You never know when a celebrity might pop in (I got my picture taken with a Terminator) or a load of luxury vintage cars may stop in for a visit. People even hire the castle and gardens for weddings. Super yachts and helicopters has been known to turn up. And yes the castle did feature in the 2012 Downton Abbey Christmas special. So you never know who you might see. Pretty sure I served one of the actors from the original series of Dynasty once.
Inveraray castle is well worth a visit, as is Inveraray in general. Make a day of it. It’s less than 2 hours from Glasgow and accessible by public transport. It’s often a stop on guided tours as well. Bear in mind the castle opens on a seasonal basis (1st of April till the 31st of October for 2019) but you can walk up an view the outside and walk around the estate anytime of the year.
Here’s a link to the castle website where you can find more info and details: https://www.inveraray-castle.com