Updated: Jan 22, 2021
Back in 2016 a friend and I decided to take a road trip to Scotland. Halfway through the trip, which lasted eleven days, we found ourselves staying at the Altnacealgach Inn on the shores of Loch Borralan. Our hosts were very gracious, warm and friendly. The cabin we stayed in was clean and spacious, and had a fully fitted kitchen. There was still pink in the sky near midnight. I heartily recommend staying there if you are planning a trip in the Assynt region of the North-West Highlands. And if you do, be sure to have a shot of Laphroig at the bar.
We would have by-passed Ardvreck Castle had it not been for our hosts. We had never heard of it and had not factored visiting it into our plans. However, we had charted out our course through Scotland so thoroughly beforehand that we could afford to make the odd spontaneous detour. Indeed we had already done so when we stopped over in St. Andrews after leaving Edinburgh and before driving north.
To get to Ardvreck Castle you take the A837 north from the Inn. You'll get there in under 15 minutes. Although of course there's so much natural beauty on the way that you'll probably want to get out of the car and take photographs every two minutes (which is what we did).
You can park near the castle but I recommend you don't. Stop a little way before and walk along the sandy path strewn with pebbles. Take in the waters of Loch Assynt, the surrounding hills and mountains, the castle itself in the distance standing on a rocky outcrop. Behind it stand sloping hills. The area around it is green.
Stop along the way to look at the remains of a ruined house, its walls made of rough stone.
Carry on walking and you reach a gurgling stream that spills onto the loch.
Then the castle itself beckons. Walk up along the path to it. Only a ruined tower and part of a wall remains of the original castle, ringed by a stone wall. The rest is lost to time. The top part of the tower seems to have been twisted relative to the bottom half.
Before you leave don't forget to drink in the surroundings. The scenery is stunningly beautiful. The glassy lake, the green rolling hills framed by the mountains in the background, it's all simply breath-taking. There were a few people walking around the castle grounds, but not a lot. The area is quite secluded compared to other comparable places, such as Eilean Donan. That castle (famous for appearing in Highlander) may be more impressive in the conventional sense. But the area that surrounds Ardvreck is more beautiful in my book. So take a trip, soak it in, and then enjoy the rest of the North-West Highlands. Travelling through that area was one of more pleasant surprises I've had in a long, long time. Don't take my word for it though. Discover it for yourself. You'll be happy you did.