Loch an Eilein Castle

February 08, 2020
Loch an Eillien Castle

Loch an Eilein Castle.

Loch an Eilein Castle can be found in the Cairngorm National Park in the Rothiemurchas Estate. It’s set on a tiny island on the northern part of the loch amidst a stunning setting of Scots Pine, Birch and Juniper which provide a natural habitat and home to amongst others Red Squirrels, Scottish Crossbills and Crested Tits.

Loch an Eilein Castle with snow capped mountains

The history of the castle is traumatic and checkered and was thought to have been built in the 14th century as a fortified refuge it’s believed that it became the property of Alexander Stewart, also known as the Wolf of Baddenoch. It was most likely last used in 1715 when Mackintosh of Balnespick was confined here.

In 1690 the castle was besieged by Jacobites retreating from their defeat at the Battle of Cromdale, however, the occupants held out successfully. In 1715 Mackintosh of Balnespick was apparently held in the castle to prevent him fighting against the Jacobites, and following the Battle of Culloden in 1746 fleeing Jacobites were seemingly housed in the castle.

Loch an Eilein Castle on a bright winters day

Around 1680 it was reported the the castle “is useful to the country in times of trouble or wars; for the people  put in their  goods and children here and it is easily defended, being environed with steep hills and crags on each side, except to the east”.

In the late 18th century the water level of Loch an Eilein was raised during the course of estate works, shrinking the island and covering the causeway. Today the castle is an inaccessible ruin and can best be seen during the winter months as there is little foliage covering it.

Loch an Eilein Castle late January

How to get to an Eilein Castle

Take the B970 south of Aviemore heading towards Coylumbridge at Rothiemurchas turn right then follow the road past Spey Lodge and turn left (it’s signposted) a single track road takes you up to the carpark.

There is normally an attendant during the season and the cost to park at the time of writing is £1.50.

The cost goes toward the printing of a map that describes the area in brief and helps the Rothiemurchas estate maintain this diverse and stunning area.

Loch an Eilein Castle in early March

Loch an Eilein Castle Structure

In the north west corner is a late 15th century tower house which is now reduced to two-storeys. A stair in the north east corner rises to what was a hall over a vaulted cellar. The hall has a fireplace in the southern wall and large windows facing to the east and west.

The line of the north wall is continued by a contemporary wall that contains a gate. The curtain wall adjoining to the south west was a later addition and contains a doorway and traces of a range with a fireplace and latrine on the upper storey. This range was later replaced by a single storey building adjoining the towers southern gable.

On the south side of the small court is a early 18th century block containing a hall over vaulted offices. On the east side of the court are slight remains of a 17th century block against the curtain.

By Allan

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