Burns Night Is Coming & These Castles Are Calling

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With Burns Night fast approaching we thought it was a brilliantly fitting time to look north to the ever enchanting Scottish landscape and the mythical abandoned castles that adorn it. As you may or may not know, Burns Night celebrates the life and work of 18th-century Scottish poet Rabbie Burns. January 25th annually gives friends and family the perfect excuse to cook up some haggis, neeps and tatties and enjoy a dram or ten of whisky. Whether you’re celebrating this year or not, take ten out of your day and be transported to these gloriously grand ruins. Maybe you’ll end up with your ‘heart’s in the Highlands’, just like Rabbie.

New Slains Castle, Cruden Bay


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Overlooking the North Sea from its clifftop home, New Slains Castle makes for quite the dramatic sight. Dating back to the 16th century, the pile was in the Erroll family until they sold it in 1913. The castle is widely believed to have inspired author Bram Stoker, who was staying in the area when he began to write his seminal work – Dracula. Those who want to imagine themselves in Dracula’s infamous octagonal room need only step into the ruins of New Slains’ octagonal hall, better keep that wooden stake to hand, just in case…

Lennox Castle, Dunbartonshire


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Although construction on the castle didn’t begin until 1837, its Norman style and battlemented corner towers make it look far more ancient. It was sold to the Glasgow Corporation in 1927 for use as a mental hospital, however it was only open for three years before it was taken over as an emergency war hospital, eventually serving as a maternity hospital, too. Though now fenced off and closed to the public, you can still walk the castle’s perimeter, perhaps you’ll glimpse the ghost of a patient or two as you go…

Kinloch Castle, Isle of Rum


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This once Victorian pleasure palace was built on one of the western isles’ smallest mounds – the Isle of Rum. Sir George Bullough, a textile tycoon, built Kinloch in 1897, as well as a mausoleum for his father – from whom he inherited the island. Part of the castle was still in use as a hostel all the way up to 2015, though it is now abandoned. Tours of its once grand interiors can still be enjoyed, while the organisation that runs them is looking to one day reopen the hostel. A sleepover here would certainly be a unique experience.

Buchanan Castle, Loch Lomond


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Once home to the Montrose family, Buchanan Castle was commissioned in 1852 and completed by 1858. Having gone from a family home, to a hotel and golf course, then eventually a WW2 army hospital, the castle was finally abandoned by the 50s. In 1954, the roof was removed as a rather cunning way to stop paying tax on the structure. Since then, nature has taken its course and Buchanan now looks more like the home of a mythical woodland nymph than a Scottish Duke.

Castle Tioram, Loch Moidart


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Perched in isolation atop a tidal island in Loch Moidart, this ancient pile was once home to Clann Ruaidhri and later, Clann Raghnall. Some evidence suggests that Tioram was built as early as the 13th century. The castle has been in the wars over the years, set on fire during the Jacobite rising of 1715 and used to store weaponry during the Jacobite uprising of 1745. Though visitors cannot enter the interior of the structure, the island it stands on can still be reached on foot at low tide. Walking around the castle with the mist rolling off the loch can make for quite the experience.