The raw and rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands is legendary. Amidst the wild, windswept landscape of shimmering lochs, jagged peaks and lush, verdant valleys, the sense of history is almost palpable. People from all over the world come to this magnificent location to explore its bountiful natural highlights and the scars and relics of the past, left by centuries of kings, queens, nobles and peasants. |
Explore the Highlands on a Barge Holiday
Traversing the lochs and waterways of this awe-inspiring region on a barge holiday is one of the most relaxing and illuminating ways to unlock the secrets of the storied Scottish Highlands. Visitors get to see the highlands from a very different vantage, and there's something quite special about this 'big picture' view that affords a deeper understanding of the scope of its beauty. Among the historical attractions included on the itinerary of many barge holidays through the Scottish Highlands is the picturesque Eilean Donan castle.
Eilean Donan Castle
Set on a tiny island jutting out into a loch, the first sight of the castle's dramatic silhouette against a brooding sky is unfailingly evocative - one can almost hear the hooves of knights and cries of battle echoing around the highlands.
The tidal island on which the castle sits is at the juxtaposition of three lochs - Loch Duich, Loch Long, and Loch Alsh. The island is so small that, at first glance, it appears as if the beautiful stone castle is actually hovering over the water. Visitors can cross over the arched stone bridge that links it to the mainland and explore the beautifully preserved interiors of the castle, including the wood-beamed grandeur of the Great Hall.
The site has a history dating back at least 800 years and through at least four incarnations of the castle. It served for many centuries as the stronghold of two great Scottish clans – the Macraes and the Mackenzies. In the 18th century, however, the Mackenzies' role in the Jacobite rebellions led to retribution from the government of the day, who razed the castle to the ground. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the castle was reconstructed under the supervision of Lieutenant-Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap.
Preserved for Posterity
Its picture-perfect profile and romantic ambience makes the castle a popular wedding venue, but such is the drama and theatre of this fairy-tale setting that it has also been immortalised on film, on many occasions.
A number of high-profile movies have been shot in and around the castle. The best-known (and the reason why so many visitors experience a certain déjà vu) was the iconic Highlander – in which the timelessness of the castle's exterior and the harsh, haunting backdrop of the highlands made the ideal setting for a story set in the 16th century. In the James Bond classic, The World is Not Enough, the castle took on a somewhat more modern appearance, as the headquarters of British secret intelligence agency MI6.
Authentic, timeless and steeped in legend, Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most recognisable icons of the Scottish Highlands and a magnificently preserved piece of 13th century history.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways. We can provide you with a luxury, all-inclusive barge holiday in Scotland to enjoy the sights of the most picturesque lochs and waterways. Wonderful barge cruises are also offered in France, Holland, and Italy.
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