Explore Castle

Introduction

The areas around Dalgair House Hotel are renowned throughout Scotland for their castles and the history they belong to.  This activity pack is designed to take you on a trip to three of the more hidden castles in the area, all within a short driving distance of the hotel.  You can cover all 3 in a day or you can choose the ones you most want to see.  Whatever ones you choose you are guaranteed to learn some incredible facts about Scotland and its past; the murder of kings; victorious battles; sieges and destruction; of legendary figures such as Cromwell and Bruce.

The three castles are: Distance from Callander     

Distance from Callander Time
Doune Castle 7 miles 15 minutes
Castle Campbell 25 miles 45 minutes
Drummond Castle 25 miles 45 minutes

This pack contains details on each castle to offer some background to allow you to choose which castles you want to visit and in which order. More details are available at each site to enable you to learn more about these incredible buildings. There are also details under each castle on other sites and attractions of interest to visit in that area, as well as details of pubs, restaurants and cafes you may wish to try.

At the back of this pack are a series of questions about each of the castles you can visit. By answering these questions correctly and returning it to reception at the Dalgair you can win a prize! Ask the hotel staff for more details.

Enjoy your visit!!!

DOUNE CASTLE

If at first sight of Doune Castle you have a feeling of déjà vu then don’t worry. The castle featured to great effect in the cult comic classic Monty Python & the Holy Grail film in the 1970. when some strange French soldiers taunted King Arthur from its ramparts. Today Doune Castle is a place of pilgrimage for Monty Python fans from all over the world who come to see the place where the film was made.

Now for something completely different. On a more historical.note the fortress of Doune Castle was built in the late 14thC by Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, who effectively ruled Scotland during the reign of Robert III and while James I was imprisoned in England. In 1420 governorship of the kingdom passed to Murdoch, Robert Stewart’s son. However when James I returned from exile in 1424 Murdoch was executed by the returning monarch and Doune Castle then became a royal retreat and hunting lodge and remained as such for over 100 years.

The castle has featured in a number of historic dramas throughout its history. Mary Queen of Scots used the castle and forces loyal to her held the castle until 1570. It was occupied by Montrose in 1646 during the Civil War and by government forces in 1689. During the Jacobite rebellion of 1715 despite the appearance locally of a Jacobite army under the Earl of Mar who fought an inconclusive battle against the government forces at nearby Sherrifmuir Hanoverian forces held Doune. However, in the 1745 uprising it fell to the Jacobites of Bonnie Prince Charlie and used as a prison.

Situated on the first floor above the gateway passage, the Lord’s Hall is reached from the courtyard by an enclosed stone staircase. Once inside, visitors can see the room much as it would have been following its renovation in 1883. Wooden panelling lines the wall and a plaque on the west wall displays the arms of the Earl of Moray. Overlooking the hall, at the north end, is a musicians’ gallery.

Doune castle is a fascinating place to visit. Unlike the polished feel of the great castles such as Stirling or Edinburgh Doune still gives a sense of a real medieval military keep. Visitors get a real sense of a living, working castle with its labyrinth of rooms, interconnecting passageways and staircases. The visit to Doune takes around an hour but there are some lovely walks at the edge of the river if you wish to make the most of the views of the castle on from the river bank.

Things to See Around Doune Castle

If you enjoy Doune Castle and are still looking for more to do in the area then there are other places of beauty and interest to see:

Dunblane Cathedral: five minutes drive east from Doune is Dunblane Cathedral, one of the finest medieval cathedrals in Scotland. Dunblane Cathedral, built upon a Christian site first established by Saint Blane around the year 600, is one of the few surviving medieval churches in Scotland. It is set on a hill above the River Allan where there are a number of interesting walks.
Lake of Menteith: The Lake of Menteith is the only Lake in Scotland. There are many plausible explanations for this oddity, but the most likely seems to stem from the visit of a Dutch cartographer commissioned to make maps of Scotland and who, in the middle of the last century, apparently asked the name of the place. He was told that this was the “Laigh” of Menteith. In truth this meant the area, not the loch itself. Laigh is Scots word for low-lying ground and the cartographer seemingly misinterpreted his information and thereafter called what had at one time been named the Loch of Inchmahome, the Lake of Menteith. Visitors can visit by boat the beautifully situated Inchmahone Priory founded in 1238 with much of the building surviving. The five-year-old Mary Queen of Scots was sent here for safety following the battle of Pinkie in 1547. The scenery is breathtaking and in the winter the lake often freezes over and hosts the Bonne Speil Grand Curling match.

Sherrifmuir: a short 5 minute drive from Dunblane takes visitors up into the hills of Sherrifmuir, site of the famous battle in 1715 where the Jacobite army under the Earl of Mar, in true Scottish tradition, managed to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory against the Hanoverian army. Despite being so close to Dunblane Sherrifmuir is a wilderness and within minutes you are alone in the midst of stunning scenery full of wildlife. There are also a range of great walks which offer marvellous views of the Forth valley all the way to Edinburgh and the Forth Bridges.
Places to Eat & Drink

In Doune there are a number of small hotels and bars where food is served. In Dunblane the intimate Tappit Hen pub beside the Cathedral is famous for its choice of beer and whisky and is an excellent place to spend an hour reading the paper over a pint or admiring the Cathedral through the window. In nearby Bridge of Allan there is the famous Allan Water café reputed to serve the best fish and chips in Scotland. The Clive Ramsay deli in Bridge of Allan also attracts visitors who prefer a more continental feel to their meals. Bridge of Allan also has a range of Italian, Thai and Indian restaurants.

At the Lake of Menteith the hotel offers very good food and views that are worth the money on their own. After a meal it is a place you have to drag yourself away from, promising to come back soon. The Bouzy Rouge at the top of Sheriffmuir offers great food in a very traditional, relaxed style and many locals make the weekend 30-40 minute walk from Dunblane to the pub for lunch.

Drummond Castle (open May to end of October)

Drummond Castle does not perhaps sit comfortably in the company of Stirling, Doune and Campbell castles as it is renowned less for the actual castle itself but more for its breathtaking gardens.
Drummond Castle is arguably the best kept secret in the area, for as the picture demonstrates Drummond boasts a magnificent garden hidden amongst the rolling hills of Perthshire. The castle featured in the film ‘Rob Roy’. Also it is a bit of a misnomer to say Drummond Castle when in fact there are two castles; one from 1491 and a later baronial mansion added in the 19th century.

The original owner of the castle Sir Malcolm Drummond fought by Robert the Bruce’s side at Bannockburn in 1314 and was granted lands in Strathearn. The castle was built there in 1491 by Sir John Drummond. His daughter was the lover of James IV; it is rumoured that they even married and had a daughter. In order to form an alliance with England, Scotland’s nobles wanted James IV to marry Margaret Tudor, the sister of the English king Henry VII. Margaret Drummond was in the way of this plan and along with her two sisters was murdered with poisoned fruit. Both she and her sister are buried in Dunblane Cathedral.

Mary Queen of Scots stayed at the castle, by then seat of the Drummond Earl of Perth, with Boswell and hunted locally. The castle was damaged by Cromwell’s troops in 1653 when they laid siege to the castle.
The Drummonds lost the lands and seat after the Jacobite rising of 1745-46. The 6th Earl of Perth commanded the left wing of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s doomed army at Culloden.

The Gardens
In 1605, King James VI (now king of England as well as Scotland), promoted the 4th Lord Drummond to be the first Earl of Perth. The Castle is most famous for it’s magnificent Italianate parterre gardens, one of the finest formal gardens in Europe. It was the first Earl who is credited with transforming the gardens and castle in the 1630s. The architect, John Mylne III was King Charles I’s master mason. Originally laid out in 1630 by John Drummond, 2nd Earl of Perth and Italianised and embellished with a number of fine statues in 1830. A special feature is the unique 17th century Sundial that has around 50 faces and tells the time in many of Europe’s capitals.

The castle and gardens are reached via long tree lined avenue that stretches for over a mile. There are greenhouses, herb gardens and a number of beautiful walks to be had within and outside the gardens.

Things to See Around Drummond Castle

If you enjoy Drummond Castle and are still looking for more to do in the area then there are other places of beauty and interest to see:

Muthill: five minutes drive south from Drummond Castle is Muthill which has a medieval church tower situated in the centre of the town beside the ancient church.
Comrie: nearby (15 minutes drive) is Comrie a lovely Perthshire town at the heart of scenic western Strathearn and where the Scottish Highlands truly begin. Situated at the meeting of Glens Lednock and Artney within Strathearn there are a number of beautiful walks in the area. Visitors can try their hand at trout fishing at the Drummond Trout Farm & Fishery or watch the fish on the underwater camera.
Crieff: a short 5 minute drive from Drummond takes visitors up into Crieff, the second largest town in Perthshire. The are boasts two distilleries that can be visited, Glen Turret and also the Famous Grouse Experience just on the outside of the town. At any time of year but particularly in the Autumn a drive or walk through the Sma’ Glen to the north of the town is unforgettable.
Places to Eat & Drink

In Muthill, Crieff and Comrie there are a number of small hotels and bars where a range of food is served. There are also a wide range of friendly pubs with a good choice of beer and whiskies.

For those with deluxe tastes Drummond Castle is not far from the world famous Gleneagles Hotel where visitors can enjoy afternoon tea or, if you really want to treat yourself you can have lunch or dinner at Andrew Fairley’s five star restaurant. Alternatively a fine lunch with excellent views can be enjoyed in the 19th century splendour of Crieff Hydro.

Castle Campbell

Once you see the approach to Castle Campbell you may think it belongs more to Lord of the Rings or Indiana Jones than to a Scottish fortress. To reach the castle you have to walk almost a mile up through Dollar Glen with its high sides, crashing waterfalls and thin bridges to reach the plateau where the castle is kept. For the less adventurous there is a road that can be walked or driven.

Even in its history Castle Campbell seemed to emerge from a dark gothic past. Originally called Castle Gloom it has the Burn of Care on one side and the Burn of Sorrow on the other. Some argue that the local town Dollar, was originally called Doleur, meaning sadness. Despite this romantically dark image the castle and its setting amongst the rolling Ochil Hill is breathtakingly beautiful and is a visit that sums up Scotland for many visitors.

The castle was originally the main lowland stronghold of the Campbell clan. Notable visitors to the castle include Mary Queen of Scots who stayed in January 1563 and John Knox in 1556. By the end of the 16th century the Campbells dominated the Western Highlands but, in 1650, Oliver Cromwell defeated the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar which resulted in the castle being besieged and sacked by Roundhead troops in 1649.

Castle Campbell is a wildly romantic place, steeped in history. It offers both an interesting visit and a beautiful walk through the Glen. It is a hidden treasure of the Forth Valley area and visitors always feel they have discovered the castle, not just visited it.

Things to See Around Castle Campbell

If you enjoy Castle Campbell and are still looking for more to do in the area then there are other places of beauty and interest to see:

The Glens: along the hill foots drive that runs alongside the Ochil hills there are a number of Glens to walk. Menstrie, Alva and Tillicoultry all have their own glens that have signposted walks up into the hills. These walks are accessible to all levels of walkers and offer stunning views of the carse. (valley)
Wallace Monument: This is the centre of Braveheart country. The Wallace Monument is a landmark that can be seen for miles across the carse and is of great emotional significance to all Scots. The statue of Wallace at the top loks out over the site of his most famous victory at Stirling Bridge, just underneath the castle. The monument to Scotland’s best known warrior can be reached either by a two-minute bus ride or on foot (10-15 minutes) up the steep craig to the monument. The views are spectacular as are the exhibitions inside. Don’t miss it.
University of Stirling: as the road head along the hill foots back into Stirling Stirling University nestles underneath the Wallace Monument. Set in beautiful parkland the University offers a range of excellent walks and the lochs in the centre are wildlife sanctuaries. On campus there is Airthrey castle, a baronial castle of the 19th century. There is a 9-hole golf course open to visitors in the summer and a challenging putting green. The Gannochy sport centre boasts an Olympic sized pool as well as all other sports facilities. Within the university is the excellent MacRobert theatre which has two cinemas and a theatre and there is a range of events available every night of the week. There are bars and cafes around the theatre for visitors and students.

Places to Eat & Drink

Dollar is a picturesque town with a number of good hotels and bars. For those who like to eat and shop the retail centre in Tillicoultry has the Butterfly Inn where lunch or afternoon tea can be had before or after a venture through the shops. The Sterling furniture centre is a magnet for shoppers across the centre of Scotland.

About 5 minutes walk down the hill from the Wallace Monument is Corrieri’s café renowned for its café style Italian food and excellent fish and chips. It is usually very busy but it is a great places for a relaxing meal, especially if you have kids.
Just beside the Wallace Monument is the Sword hotel with good food and drinks.