Carbisdale Castle - and the King's pub!

Carbisdale Travel Blog

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Urqhart Castle

We had a quick stop at Urqhart Castle which I'd been to two years ago with my friends Vaiji and Raju so I didn't bother taking a tour. Just the usual photo stop.

The drive to Carbisdale seemed long, it was raining and I was feeling sleepy. And if things couldn't get worse, it  was getting dark outside, and the charge on my iPod was nearly running out. I couldn't wait to get down, and was getting irritated at one point thinking "so we're driving this far up north JUST for a night??!". It appears that a lot of people had conveyed the same to the driver and the guide so they kept telling us that it's well worth it.

Well he announced at one point that we've "reached" so there I was looking out.

Carbisdale Castle converted to YHA where I stayed for a night
It felt like we were in the movies for a bit.... we went through this little road surrounded by tall trees, a thick thick forest, just so dark and "woody" until I could see a majestic gate. King Arthur, eat your heart out I thought! And this continued, more darkness, the road got narrower to a point where I was thinking "I hope I know where the driver is taking us to", and finally we could see some lights. There it was, the Carbisdale Castle YHA, our home for the night.

It was huge (I mean it is a Castle afterall), well lit and surprisingly, crowded as well! With lots of families, fellow backpackers, the rich - poor - old - young, all staying at the same place. I'd never been inside a castle before so it was a cool feeling being inside one. The way to our room itself was so cryptic.

Carbisdale Castle YHA
Unlike other hostels and hotels I've stayed in where it's so simple - just follow the directions to the lift from the reception, here you had to climb 3-4 different sets of staircases (not even continuous) at differnet points, with doors opening and closing, all too royal, LOL! There's also this story that this castle is haunted, that got the girls a bit scared for the night. We were staying in 16 bunker beds rooms.

Had a good shower, went to the royal kitchens which were surprisingly not huge but very crowded, I'd brought some microwavable food so had that for dinner. Our guide Dave told us of this pub we'd all be hanging out that night... this is the same pub that the Royals who lived here apparently would frequent. And besides the pub and the Castle, there's really nothing else in Carbisdale! The directions to the pub themselves sounded interesting.

Pub near the Castle
The two things he told us were "be sure to carry your torches with you" and "travel in groups". Wow, Sherlock Holmes, meet Vikram!

Got done with dinner, went with Brad and a few more people out of the castle to the pub. We went through these thick woods by walk. I was hoping that there are no snakes or any such, as we reached an eerie walkway (complete darkness, note), we could faintly see a sign asking us to press a button. Once we did that, like in the  fairytales, the path just lit up. It was beautiful. As we were walking, we could see the Castle herself looking all majestic in the full moon night with the lights turned on. So we walk about a mile or so in the 'dark' with the lit paths, and do we get the pub? No! We then cross this bridge - not a proper cemented or tarred one but a bridge made of steel mesh where we could actually see the river flow right below our feet.

Bagpipe at the pub
Scary again! So we finally crossed the bridge, and found the pub on the other side. Nice small area.

A lot of fun was had once inside, it was just us, about 30 of us and there was good music, good drinks and they even got a bloke to play us the bagpiper. Each of us could have a go, I didn't volunteer. It's not easy is it! We hung out here till about 30 mins past midnight, and we made our way back.  The forst path again was well lit, the problem we had was the journey between the  end of the forest trail to the inside gate of the castle. It was dark, at times we had to rely on the moonlight and our voices to guide us through. Scary again, but real fun seeing as we were in a big group.

Slept that night at 1am. Felt funny, I feel that I'd just gotten into the spirit of  the Isle of Skye when the 3 day trip was about to end.

 

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Urqhart Castle
Urqhart Castle
Carbisdale Castle converted to YHA…
Carbisdale Castle converted to YH…
Carbisdale Castle YHA
Carbisdale Castle YHA
Pub near the Castle
Pub near the Castle
Bagpipe at the pub
Bagpipe at the pub
Carbisdale
photo by: Vikram