Sitting on the banks of Loch Awe, the beautiful five-storey tower house that is Kilchurn Castle is a stunning structure with a rich history. Not only does Kilchurn have a fascinating tale involving one of the most powerful clans in Scotland, but it’s also one of the most photographed castles in the country.
If you’re looking for more information about Kilchurn Castle, you’ve come to the right place! We’ll be breaking down the castle’s history to get there and the top attractions to look out for while you’re visiting.
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History of Kilchurn Castle
Clan Campbell was a powerful clan of Scotland, with the Campbells of Glenorchy considered the most potent cadet branch of the Campbells. From the 15th century until the 17th century, they dominated the Scottish Highlands and built castles to secure their expansion throughout the region. Kilchurn Castle was the very first Castle the Campbells of Glenorchy erected.
Kilchurn Castle was a key factor in allowing Clan Campbell to expand throughout these two centuries, and the Castle has seen many of Clan Campbell’s finest warriors and leaders, including Sir Colin Campbell, the 1st Earl of Glenorchy and Sir Duncan Campbell, the 1st Lord of Campbell. These two prominent figures are son and father and had ancestry linking them to the Earls of Argyll.
Under the leadership of these two men, Kilchurn Castle also expanded along with the Campbells of Glenorchy. What started out as a five-storey tower house with an outer wall grew to encompass a single-storey dining hall, circular corner turrets, and architecturally significant decorations throughout.
By the 17th century, the Campbell family were the representatives of Argyll in the Scottish Parliament and the Earl of Breadalbane with his wife, Countess Mary Campbell. Throughout the turbulent times they lived in, Sir John Campbell took advantage of every opportunity he could to pacify the Highlands. Kilchurn transformed from a residence of the Campbells of Glenorchy into a modern barracks that could house 200 troops.
As the 17th century turned into the 18th, the death of Queen Anne spurred a conference at Kilchurn Castle, where the beginnings of the Jacobite Rebellions began to stir. The Earl of Breadalbane joined the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, a rebellion that failed.
Forced to surrender, the Campbells and Kilchurn Castle took a downturn in Scotland’s history after this point. They unsuccessfully attempted to see Kilchurn Castle to the Scottish Government after the family moved to Taymouth Castle instead.
By the 1760s, they were further damaged by lightning strikes and violent winds and became wholly abandoned. The Castle is within the care of Historic Environment Scotland and is a beautiful attraction to come and visit during a tour of Argyll and Bute.
How to Get There & Details to Know
Kilchurn Castle is a hidden gem within Argyll and Bute and is only possible with directions since the Castle is signposted. It’s easiest to reach by car and remains open to visitors between the summer months of April and September. During this busy period, the castlCastlepen form 9:30 – 17:30 and is free to enter without any entry fees.
Kilchurn Castle is currently temporarily closed at the time of writing, but ensure you check during your visit to see if they’re open for visitations.
How to Get There by Car
Driving to Kilchurn Castle is the easiest way to reach the attraction, although it still takes just shy of 2 hours from Glasgow. Here’s how to reach Kilchurn Castle:
Take the A82 from Glasgow through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, exiting from the north side of the national park. At Clifton, take the A85 and follow it west until you reach the Kilchurn Castle car park.
How to Get There by Transit
Taking public transit to Kilchurn Castle requires a fair bit more walking, but it is possible to do. The journey takes about 3 hours, starting from Glasgow’s Queen Street Station. Take the ScotRail to Oban for 10 stops until you reach Loch Awe.
From there, walk around the Loch until you reach the Kilchurn Car Park and the Castle.
Attractions at Kilchurn Castle
The garrison stronghold that is Kilchurn Castle comprised many unique features throughout its time, including being one of the oldest surviving barracks, one of the most photographed castles, and many more accolades.
Here are the top attractions you can look forward to seeing at Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe, and the surrounding region.
Grab a Picture of Kilchurn Castle
Kilchurn Castle is a highly photogenic castle in the Highlands, with the stunning Loch Awe, situated around it only elevating the castle even further. If you make your way around the south side of the loch, you’ll be graced with the perfect angle to capture the Castle and the hills behind it.
Walk Along the Castle’s Battlements
Before the levels of the Loch Awe changed, you could only access Kilchurn Castle via a low-lying causeway that went underneath the water — fascinating. Today, however, Kilchurn Castle lies part of the peninsula that connects it to the British Mainland instead.
So you won’t have to worry about taking a stroll to the Castle and the loch’s waters, which makes exploring the Castle’s elements all the easier. From atop this clan and government garrison, you’ll be able to see much of the stunning landscape that surrounds it.
While the barrack block, private chambers, and inner courtyard of the Castle are not are open to visitors, what can be explored is well worth the trip.
Look out for Historic Inscriptions
Historical inscriptions and architecture are the best parts of visiting historical monuments and directly connect visitors to the rich stories related within. At Kilchurn Castle, you can see several of these historical inscriptions throughout the Castle. Most notable is a carved inscription, which can be found over the front door of the castle of the year Sir John Campbell, 1st Earl of Breadalbane, and his wife, Countess Mary Campbell, took reign of the abode in 1693.