It was thirty-four years since I had last been to Scotland with my only son, my first-born. At that time, we saw the Buchanan Castle – only in the distance across Loch Lomond. But, this time my grandson, Shaun was with us and we truly wanted to see Buchanan Castle up close and personal. In a strange way, I was trying to connect the generations of us living with those in the past.
Our wonderful travel guide, Gerry McAllister, Markris Executive Chauffeur Service said “Aye, right, Margaret, ’tis nothing there. ‘Tis nothing but a ruin.” And so it is…. but beautiful, majestic and one of the best parts of our trip to Scotland in May, 2017.
Fortunately, Gerry knew exactly where to find Buchanan Castle. No signs or billboards indicated the way, as this particular castle is not a normal tourist stop. Had we been traveling alone, we may have driven right past it. We stepped out of Gerry’s Mercedes, just a short trip northwest from Glasgow in Drymen, Stirlingshire, Scotland.
The Castle Was Calling Us!
The boys and I sauntered down an unkept trail seeing faint glimpses of the castle in the distance.
The sun was warm, casting shimmering flashes of light through the overgrown plants.
Welcoming streaks of sunlight crept through the shadows of the trees. And, we listened as the birds seemed to call us hither.
In our effort to get closer we encountered a wire fence that circled the outside of the castle. The fence was mangled in spots with a sign, “DANGER, Keep Clear by Order of Montrose Trust.”
Well crap! I didn’t see a sign… did you? We really wanted to get in! My son, Patrick and I just looked at each other…thinking. We had come all this way, three thousand miles across the ocean. Were we going to let a flimsy wire fence stop us? But, maybe it was dangerous.
Just then, the head of a young man came popping through the fence.
“There is an easier way in, just down the fence line a bit, he said. It’s fantastic, but careful where you step.”
And so, trespass we did!
A ruin, and yet a picture postcard wherever we looked.
Buchanan Castle … Talk to Us!
As my maiden name is Buchanan, all three of us explored the castle as if it belonged to us. At the same time, it felt as if we were treading on sacred ground. I imagined what it might be like to have my father or an old ancestor alongside us, whispering tales of their life and time. We were here NOW, and maybe never have this opportunity again.
We stepped over and around fallen logs, and missing steps. But the castle walls seem to be full height and part of a turret still had its shape.
We ventured up spiral stair cases almost buried in muddy earth and found something fascinating wherever we looked. It was hard to take it all in. What might be right here in front of us that we were missing?
“Wow! Come look at this!” Patrick called. We tried to make out what it said. I wondered when and how it came to be on the inside wall of the castle.
We found the writing is English but unintelligible! And probably not nearly as old as the wall. Still, our imaginations ran wild as we took in the smell of earthy moss and envisioned what it was like to live here so many years ago. Perhaps, the highland fling had been danced to bagpipes in the very spot where we were now standing.
Eventually, we found our way out of the fence and to the car. “Well I was ready to call the Bobby, thought you Keelies fell in.” said Gerry.
Fortunately Shaun captured a short video as he explored this great gem of history – a ruin, yet still alive for the adventurous to check out for themselves. Play the short clip below for a glimpse of the castle for yourself.
More of Buchanan Castle
- See some truly excellent professional photos of Buchanan Castle in an article on The Forgotten Scotland in the Daily Mail.
- For more video, you should really click here for a different glimpse into the haunting and mysterious past within the castle walls.
- For more history, check out the article in AtlasObscura. Interestingly, Buchanan Castle was turned into a hospital during World War II and Rudolph Hess, Hitler’s right had man was treated for his wounds there after his airplane was shot down.
Until next time …. please, comment below.