Sunday, 7 February 2010

Ardvreck Castle

In the north west of Scotland, another dramatic ruined castle stands guard

Ardvreck Castle is on a rocky point in Loch Assynt near Inchnadamph and guards the strategic ford now occupied by Skiag Bridge. The castle is on the route from the south to Lochinver, and, via a pass on the shoulder of Quinag, to the far north. It was built around 1490 and was a MacLeod stronghold.

It's a very dramatic and atmopheric ruin, a stark tooth of stone rising from a wild loch. It always seems to me to have an air of cold indifference. Certainly it gave cold comfort to the Marquis of Montrose, who was betrayed and captured whilst sheltering here in 1650 after the defeat of the Royalists; a remarkable breach of traditional values by the wife of the MacLeod chief.

In this view of the castle, a sense of the strategic position is shown. The steep slopes of Glas Bheinn (776m) sweep up from the loch shore, routing travellers and armies right to the castle. A little to the north west is the superlative mountain Quinag (the stoup, or milk bucket). One of my favourite hills, I've climbed it, kayaked along part of it's base and stayed in a cottage at it's foot - I really recommend it!

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