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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 19 July, 2023
Expert travel writer: Lucy Gillmore

This fabulous fairytale castle was designed to resemble a fancy French chateau by Sir Charles Barry (who also designed the Houses of Parliament in London), with ornate formal gardens, modelled on those at Versailles, sloping down to the sea on Scotland’s north-east coast.

It’s the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Sutherland and with 189 rooms, it’s not on the bijou side. Continually inhabited since the beginning of the 14th century, it was used as a naval hospital during the First World War and boys’ boarding school in the 1960s.

The self-guided tour of the state rooms and older sections of the castle offers a wonderful insight into centuries of clan history.

The spellbinding daily falconry displays in the gardens – featuring peregrine, gyrfalcon as well as Harris hawks – are also well-worth hanging around for.

While you're there

The Loch Fleet Nature Reserve nearby is a tidal basin fringed by fragrant pinewoods threaded with walking trails and wildlife-watching hides. In spring you might see osprey diving for fish, in summer seals on the sandbanks with their pups.

After your visit, head to Golspie’s gourmet ice-cream parlour, Capaldi’s, for scoops of cherry ripple, coconut white chocolate, cinnamon latte and cappuccino choc mint to enjoy on the long sandy beach.


Price from: £14
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 8+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

The castle is half a mile north of the village of Golspie on the A9 – which is the main driving route up the east coast of Scotland. It is 50 miles north of Inverness. This section of the A9 is part of the now legendary North Coast 500.

There is a large car park if you’re driving here. There are also direct buses from Inverness to Golspie.

When to do it

The castle is only open daily from April to October each year. If you want to avoid the crowds avoid Easter and the peak summer months of July and August.

Falconry displays take place twice daily, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Destination guides


Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Scottish Highlands

Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom (UK)

Ruins of Kilchurn Castle on the edge of Loch Awe with brown hills behind

Magnificent mountain scenery slashed by silvery lochs and peppered with brooding castles: all laden with rich Scottish heritage, history and tradition. Drive the NC500 road trip, or ride on the spectacular West Highland Line.