For this year’s Group Shore Excursions from Invergordon we have decided not to include Urquhart Castle in the program, instead focusing on Cawdor Castle. A number of our customers have asked us why we have chosen to do this, so we thought that we’d write a blog to explain.
What our customers say: “I’ve never heard of Cawdor Castle”
What WOW say: There are many impressive castles in Scotland. but unfortunately not all of them can be world famous! That being said, Cawdor Castle is pretty well known in its own right, being the home of Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play of the same name.
Many of our customers have told us that this was the highlight of their Highland visit (check out our TripAdvisor reviews here). For those who come on multi-day tours and visit both castles they rate Cawdor more highly than Urquhart Castle (incidentally, they also prefer it to the iconic Eilean Donan Castle). From a purely photographic point of view Urquhart and Eilean Donan win hands down but, if we focus on our customers’ overall enjoyment, and their experience of visiting and learning about life in a Scottish castle, we are convinced that Cawdor is the clear winner!
What our customers say; “So, what’s so good about the castle?”
What WOW say: Unlike Urquhart castle, which is a ruin, Cawdor Castle has been carefully preserved and gives visitors a unique glimpse into what life would have been like for the landed gentry back in the 15th Century.
The castle, with its classic tower house design, has a fascinating past which dates back to the 13th century, although much of building that we see today is a little newer (if you can consider the 15th Century as new!).The castle is still lived in today by the Dowager Lady Cawdor, who moves out in the summer months to let visitors be guided through the immaculately furnished rooms of one of Scotland’s most romantic castles.
It is a real pleasure to walk through the castle with its curious mixture of modern and ancient side by side. There are also magnificent grounds with perfectly kept gardens and a beautifully tranquil forest.
What our customers say: “Every other tour goes to Urquhart Castle – why don’t you?”
What WOW say: It’s undeniable that Urquhart Castle is one of the most popular and heavily-promoted tourist attractions in the area. However, as a consequence of this it attracts a LOT of visitors. On one of our WOW shore excursions in 2012 we managed to get there just before the masses arrived; they were expecting 10 coaches (500 people) within the next 10 minutes! In our opinion, this leads to a less than satisfactory visit with queues (lines) to get in and lots of people inside all trying to see and do the same thing at once.
Cawdor Castle is also popular on shore excursion days but it does attract less visitors and we are usually able to time our visit to avoid large crowds . This ensures that we can spend as much time as possible enjoying the castle, and the tour in general.
What our customers say: “What about just stopping for a view?”
What WOW say: Last year we stopped for views of Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness. However, the design of the visitor facilities there ensure that the best views are only available after you have paid your admission fee! Whilst limited views are possible this involves walking along the side of a busy road, which really isn’t the sort of experience that we like to give our customers here at WOW Scotland!
To ensure that you can see Loch Ness we will be driving to the village of Dores; a dramatically picturesque gateway to one of the most famous views of the loch, which can be admired from an uncrowded, windswept beach. And for those of you that really want to get a view there is usually the chance of looking down the Loch through a large pair of binoculars to see the castle itself!
We hope that you can now understand why we are huuuuge fans of the delightful Cawdor Castle. If you have any further questions about our shore excursions, please feel free to contact us.