Castles, Culture and Music
Leaving the home port of Girvan, you might glimpse in the distance the imposing eighteenth-century Culzean Castle, designed by Robert Adam as one of Scotland’s most impressive fortresses.
Moving west out to sea ten miles lies the iconic Ailsa Craig, an eleven hundred feet high uninhabited granite island, soaring high above the sea. At around three hundred feet sits a fifteenth-century castle once the home of monks and Scottish clans on the lookout for marauding Spanish galleons coming from the south.
Twelve miles to the northeast sits the island of Arran with its grand baronial Brodick Castle packed with treasures including valuable antiques, silverware, porcelain and paintings. Brodick Castle is dramatically set against the backdrop of Goat Fell Mountain and this grand castle has stunning views over the Brodick Bay.
Heading north Duart Castle with its 13th-century seat and dungeons have been the home of Clan Maclean for over 700 years. The Castle dominates the view to the Sound of Mull and Loch Linnhe.
Much further north dating back to the fifteenth century is Kisimore Castle, the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. Known as the castle in the sea due to its location on a rock, this castle is only accessible by sea.
For those who would like to include Ireland on their journey, the famous Giant’s Causeway renowned for its polygon columns of layered basalt is the only World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland and lies sixty miles to the west.
North again towards Oban is Dunstaffnage Castle, the once mighty stronghold of ‘the kings of the Isles’ where Jacobite heroine Flora MacDonald was believed to have been held, prisoner. Built around 1220, the castle was built at the time of the battle between Scotland and Norway for control of the Hebrides. Once besieged by Robert the Bruce during the wars of independence, its formidable stone curtain still has the power to inspire awe in visitors.
For those in search of deeper Hebridean culture, depending on the time of year there are an array of Gallic music festivals, street food and whisky and book festivals. Depending on the specific days of your journey, there are also live Celtic musicians performing in a variety of inns and pubs throughout the Hebrides.