Armadale Castle and Gardens


Armadale Castle (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford


Armadale Castle Gardens are a scant 3/4 of a mile from the terminal for the Mallaig ferry at Armadale on the Isle of Skye. The first item of notice is what looks to be a massive doorway facing the Sound of Sleat, looking back toward Mallaig.  This is an eleborate doorway and towering stonework which appears to have once housed a window.  This was the original entrance to a major Gothic extension to the castle built in 1815 to the design of architect James Gillespie Graham.



Vine-covered Architecture of Armadale Castle (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford


You can enter what little is left of this part of the castle. In doing so you pass into what was once the grand hallway, and you are faced by what was once the equally grand Imperial Staircase. Today this all has the feel of an elaborate garden folly. The hallway is open to the sky and, apart from the doorway, has few standing walls. Here some of my new friends are taking their own photos of the Sound from atop the staircase.



Stairway to Nowhere (C) by Debi Bradford




Armadale Castle and bench (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford


There is nothing to be seen inside the castle itself, which is nothing more than a shell.  In 1855 a fire destroyed much of the original mansion house, and in 1858, the “gap” in the frontage left by the fire was filled by the addition that today forms the most imposing part of the castle. In 1981 the ruinous Gothic wing was made safe, effectively by demolishing most of what was left of it, and the 1858 building was consolidated to allow for possible future restoration.  (Undiscovered Scotland)  Truly, the castle wasn’t the draw here, except for the Gothic portion.  What we enjoyed most were the gardens.



My Tree (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

A mild climate due entirely to the “Mexican Gulf Stream,” as our guide insisted upon calling it, means lush gardens grew in abundance in the western Highlands and Isle of Skye.  Our brief time here wouldn’t allow all 40 acres to be explored, but we did our best.  Magnificent trees, some almost 200 years old, tower above stunning carpets of bluebells, orchids and wildflowers in spring and summer. Sheltered below the giants are the young firs which will eventually replace them, as well as the growing collections of elegant birch and beech trees.  (Clan



Artist Palette (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford


Native azaleas, rhododendron, moountain laurel, daisies, ferns, bluebells, woodland plants and flowers that reminded me so much of home … because that’s where they also grow.  The Gulf Stream sweeps north past Scotland, bringing temperate climate that creates lush gardens.  This is only the first of many we visited.



Armadale Castle (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

Part of their forty acres includes a series of nature trails through both woodlands and pasture, leading up a hill to the panoramic viewpoint at the top of Cnoc Armadail.  This is the territory of red deer and golden eagles with the opportunity of a rare glimpse of the sea eagle.  Our time did not allow that sort of stroll but it’s on my list for when I return to Armadale Castle on the Isle of Skye.


Garden Treasure (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford



    1. Thank you so much! I found all of Scotland to be mystifying and incredible. I wish I’d had more time to actually think about what I was photographing – most was done on the fly. They came out okay and they still convey the feeling – the “sense of place,” and that’s good. Thanks for your kind comment!

  1. Ahhhh! A castle!!! Now you’re speaking my language! I would so love to go on a castle tour 🙂 I told Fre’de’ric that I believe I lived in a castle and if I ever went to Europe I would search until I found it!!! So happy to see more pics of your wonderful time in Scotland!! ❤

  2. I like how the remains of this castle now work as a garden. Leaves more to the imagination. And from what I’ve seen so far Scotland seems to tickle the imagination. I love ‘your’ tree and believe I see a fairy looking over your shoulder.

    1. Fairies, fairies everywhere in Scotland. I swear there were Ents there, and definitely hobbit holes. Gaelyn, I thought of you so much while there – the trees, the grand sweeping landscapes gave me much the same feelings of sheer AWE as did the Grand Canyon. You would love Scotland, my friend. Thanks for your sweet note – XO!

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