Monday, 23 May 2016

Buchanan Castle + Loch Lomond.


First things first - I really wouldn't recommend venturing inside a ruined castle, particularly one that has signs warning you off. Just do what I did, and let your slightly mental husband break in instead...



Okay, before we start, yes I apologise that it's yet another ruined castle but this one is a little bit different. This is far from a visitor attraction, there is no gift shop selling postcards and tea towels (why do they always sell them?!) and there's no Historical Scotland looking after this building. Buchanan Castle is near the village of Drymen, in Stirlingshire. Drymen is the scene of my famous refusal to continue even attempting the West Highland Way - yes I gave up after like 12 miles out of 96 which should tell you everything you need to know about me. Anyway, I much preferred returning (by car) and having a sneak peek at this impressive looking house.


The Buchanan family owned the estate from around 1231, hence the name, but sadly in 1682 the last of the family line died out, so a chap called James Graham bought the land. His son went on to become the 1st Duke of Montrose, and the famous architect William Adam (who also designed one of my favourite buildings in the world) drew up plans for a country house and parklands. Unfortunately, this house was destroyed in a fire in 1850 (fires are becoming weirdly common in my posts... am I a bad omen?). The replacement was designed by William Burn and it's this baronial manor house that  kind of still stands today.



The Dukes of Montrose remained at the castle until it was sold in 1925 (although it still remains the seat of Clan Graham). It was being used as a hotel with a golf course on the grounds in the 1930s, but during World War II it was requisitioned and used as a hospital. One of the more well-known patients was Rudolf Hess, who was the deputy to Adolf Hitler and who had flown to Scotland to try and negotiate with the UK before being captured pretty much immediately. After the war the building was used as an Army school, before the roof was removed in 1954.


There have been some attempts to redevelop the building by turning into flats but these have been refused permission. So, as it is, it's been left to crumble. In fact, it's on the Buildings at Risk Register meaning that despite being of 'historical or architectural interest' it's suffering from neglect and poor maintenance. I mean the trees growing through the middle of it make that pretty obvious. 


I really love how creepy looking abandoned buildings are, particularly any that have been used as something as emotive as hospitals. It's like the beginning of a horror movie, and this place would be the perfect setting except for the fact that it's smack bang in the middle of a residential estate. I was expecting it to be hidden away, something you'd stumble across while walking through a wood, but nope - there are houses just across the street. I'm not entirely sure I'd like to look out of my living room window while drawing the curtains on a winter's night and see such a sinister looking building so close to me, but then I do have an over-active imagination! It just looks like the perfect location for ghosts, but the only ghost hunt I can find seems to have just turned up baby owls rather than any spirits.


As I said at the start, I DO NOT CONDONE ENTERING DERELICT BUILDINGS! If there's a sign telling you it's not safe, please don't take the chance, I really don't want to be responsible for anyone getting hurt. When it comes to my husband though, he's had 8+ years of not listening to a word I say, so he was going to find a gap in the fence no matter how many times I told him not to. At least he took some photos for me I suppose.


 
 

One of the things I love about abandoned buildings is how nature seems to engulf them. The way man-made structures are overtaken by trees and vines is so interesting to me, and I love that plants and shrubs will always find a way to exist in these strange spaces. Seeing trees literally right through the centre of the building, now standing two or three storeys high after 60-odd years of growth is a really intriguing reminder that some forces are much more powerful than humans will ever be.


Buchanan Castle is so beautiful, and I would have loved to have seen it in it's heyday. It always makes me a bit sad that these houses which would've been so loved and treasured by their owners for so long are now wasting away to nothing. The phrase 'if these walls could talk' is so accurate - who knows what kind of stories this building is the setting for? 

After a little bit of investigating we said goodbye to Buchanan Castle and headed down to probably the second most famous loch in Scotland for a wee wander. 


One of the benefits about my husband coming from Dunblane is that his family home is close to the Loch Lomond and Trossachs national park. We've had a few lovely summery days out at the loch, including walking along the bonnie banks, canoeing across to the islands or even just driving alongside it in the sunshine. This trip started out like so many others, with me still in awe at how bloody beautiful this country is. And then, as always, the rain came. 


We were gazing up at Ben Lomond, which doesn't look like it but is one of the 282 Munros in Scotland (mountains over 3000 feet) and which my friend Amy and I tried (and failed) to climb last year. Just as I was mentally shaking my fist at old Ben Lomond and telling him we'd beat him in the rematch, the heavens opened and it poured down on us. It doesn't look like it, but the weather in the pictures above was horrendous. Only in Scotland can the sun still be shining while you're getting pelted with raindrops so large and cold they actually hurt your skin. 

But isn't the view worth it? :)

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6 comments

  1. You're pictures are absolutely stunning! Love this so much :) who needs summer sun on the beach when there's such gorgeous scenery just up the road?!
    Rebecca xx
    - www.thestyleshake.com -

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    1. I only just saw this comment but thank you so much! That's kind of you to say. Yeah Loch Lomond is gorgeous, we are very lucky to have national parks aren't we? They are so unspoilt and just peaceful :) xx

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  2. I just found this while searching for pagan signs over fire places which brought up the picture you took of that amazing fireplace. Both me and my wife love old castles and totally missed this when we stopped off at Loch Lomand last year. This place is stunning how accessible is it? We plan to return to Scotland in the not too distant future and this needs to be on our visit list. Finally a castle withou a gift shop as well !!

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    1. Hi!

      I love Buchanan Castle, it's definitely worth a visit. In terms of getting there, it's really accessible as the castle is actually in the middle of a residential area weirdly! Google maps will get you there pretty easily - it's just outside of the small town of Drymen, and the road up to it may be advertising Buchanan Castle golf club but you can't miss the castle! In terms of getting inside it, as long as you try and avoid being seen by residents it's not too difficult. Easiest place to get in is through the front door - if you do go I'd advise old clothes as you have a lot of plants to get through before you even get near the fence!
      Let me know if you do visit! It's a really interesting house! X

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  3. Thanks for that :) We are hoping to get back up there early next summer, it's quite a trip from the south west coast ! I'll be sure to let you know how it goes :) x

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