Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ardtornish Castle

I've lost count of how many times I've seen Ardtornish Castle from the sea. The first time was in the early 90s when I took the ferry from Oban to Barra. Over the following 16 years I must of sailed by it at least a dozen times, always wanting to get ashore to see it close up.

Ardtornish Castle
This historic castle dates to the 13th century. It was a principal stronghold of the Lords of the Isles until the late 1400s, and Sir Walter Scott placed the opening scene of The Lord of the Isles in the castle's hall. Although it is easy to visit the castle from the mainland (by driving to Lochaline), over many years of island going I never found myself in that part of the mainland, and so I had to settle for seeing the castle from the sea for about 15 years.

Then, in 2006 while on a cruise aboard MV Chalice, we anchored for the last night of the cruise in Ardtornish Bay. We went ashore to wander a bit, and to see the castle. The castle ruin was extensively 'fixed up' in the early 1900s, when its most notable characteristic when seen from the sea was added (a large arched window). Here are a few photos of the castle from that visit in 2006. For more on Ardtornish see this RCAHMS link.

Approaching the castle from the mainland
The remaining south wall seen from where the hall may have been
On the shore below the castle are a couple remnants of galley slips. The worn stone shown may have been used as a mooring post.

Landing place below the castle
Mooring stone?
Looking up from the landing
The 'add-on' window
When the time to go came we departed from the beach below a large house known as Innibeg (also called Bay Cottage), which I believe is owned by Adam Nicholson (the author of Sea Room). What a marvelous location (except maybe when cruise boats show up).

Departure time - Innibeg (aka Bay House) in the distance

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