Monday 14 July 2014

Castles Home and Away: Part Four

The most beautiful setting of all the West Highland coast castles visited on our mini-tour was Castle Tioram, dating from the 13th century. I have a penchant for the very old, and like other castles from this period in the area it is largely defined by a stark defensive curtain wall. It is situated on a tidal island, and nestles in a landscape of water, forests and hills. 

As Andrew and I approached along a road that couldn't have been more "minor" if it tried, it was clear we were in an area of outstanding natural beauty though somewhat more sheltered and soft than the unforgiving landscape of the coast beyond. The island had two natural beaches: one sandy and one rocky. Andrew and I climbed all over the island to take in all the angles. The approach form the water would have been particularly impressive, with the castle and a tricky cliff path looming high overhead.

Sadly the building is in a considerable state of disrepair and the entrance was barred from safety considerations. The rock on which the castle is perched is splitting, and over the centuries huge portions have fallen onto the beach. It won't be too long, if left unattended, that sections of the castle itself will come down in future rock falls. Infamously, Historic Scotland, refused Scheduled Monument Consent for the owner's plan to save and develop the building. This is regarded generally as a sorry chapter for Historic Scotland. I have not seen the plans myself to form a judgement, but it was definitely a lost opportunity. This building needs help yesterday for it to survive in any form into the future.

Andrew and I jokingly called the building "Castle Tearoom", as he is partial to tea and scones in country houses, and ironically this building is the very opposite of a developed attraction. We had to pick our way across mud flats to access the building and got rather wet in the process. Exploring the island involved a lot of undignified scrambling: in fact one of the panoramas caught the split-second before Andrew slipped flat on his face.

The building has a powerful presence and for a castle that was simply on our route home, it has now become one of my favourites. 

Castle Tioram's pentagonal curtain wall

the interior - taken through the grill at the entrance

the castle is on the tidal island on the right

view around Tioram

view around Toiram - Andrew fell flat on his face just after this was taken

Tioram panorama from the top of the island

Tioram panorama - starts at 45 degrees to horizon to capture most interesting silhouette

Tioram panorama

vertical Tioram panorama from beach


  1. Love the vertical Tioram photo!

  2. This is one of my favourite castles, too! As kids we used to play inside, the staircases were still climbable up to a point.

    1. You are very lucky to have grown up in the vicinity of the castle, and to have had access. :-) Do you still live in the area?