If you have ever dreamed of visiting romantic Scottish castles, lakeside Dunvegan comes pretty close to fulfilling the ideal. An imposing structure sitting on the shore of Loch Dunvegan, it’s one of the most impressive castles in the Hebrides and has been owned and lived in by the same family for over 800 years.
This private tour gives you exclusive access to the castle after it has closed for the day, allowing you to meet with the estate manager and learn some of the secrets of the building and its long and beguiling history.
The afternoon tour begins when your guide takes you to the castle jetty and escorts you onto the water for a short boat trip out onto Loch Dunvegan. The castle was built to be approached from the lake and is at its most magnificent when seen from the water.
The boat trip also provides a great opportunity to spot wildlife. There's a resident seal colony on the lake and these playful creatures can be seen lying on the rocks or splashing through the water and may even be accompanied by otters at times.
Once back onshore, you’ll have an opportunity to explore the gardens. The castle is surrounded by dense woodland which gives way to expansive formal gardens as you approach the building. The meticulously cared-for borders contain a huge variety of plants and shrubs from across the globe. Streams trickle under bridges, waterfalls tumble down rocky outcrops and tranquil ponds are awash with water lilies.
Toward the end of the day, when it begins to get a bit quieter, you will begin your tour of the castle with the estate manager. The structure is somewhat of a melting pot of architectural styles, having been restored, rebuilt and extended over the years from the 1200s to the present day. This makes its conservation all the more important – and difficult.
With few visitors at this time of day, you get the chance to spend longer lingering where you’re most interested, with the estate manager available to answer any questions you may have.
When the castle is completely closed to visitors, you’ll be escorted to the Great Hall, where you can chat to the estate manager. Over a wee dram of whisky, you'll learn about the castle’s long history and the challenges of its upkeep and will have time to ask questions about any of the family heirlooms or objets d'art you've seen.
The cruise, tour and talk take approximately two hours, after which you're taken back to your hotel.