We love visiting different places around our the world. However, we are finding that there are lots of places not far from our home that we have never managed to visit. Castle Campbell, at Dollar, is one of those places. I have known about it for quite some time, but it’s taken us years to actually visit.
Castle Campbell is situated part way up a steep hillside at the head of the dramatic Dollar Glen. The castle looks down the glen to the town of Dollar It looks particularly impressive when you view the castle on the way up the steep road to the upper car park. Because of the castles location it is not suitable to visit on icy or snowy days, when the road may not be accessible (it is rather steep).
There are two ways to arrive at the gate of Castle Campbell. The first is to park at the first car park designated for the castle and then walking along the muddy path that twists and turn for 1500m up the glen to the castle. As our 3 year old was rather tired, we decided not to take this route (it might mean that he wouldn’t have enjoyed the castle so much) and drive the car up to the top car park, where it’s a shorter walk down to the castle (although it can still be steep for short legs on the way back to the car).
History of Castle Campbell
Castle Campbell was built in the 15th century and orignally began as Castle Gloom (derived from the Scottish Gaelic Glom, which means chasm). The name was changed to Castle Campbell when it passed through marriage to Colin Campbell, 1st Earl of Argyll.
The castle was a Campbell residence throughout the 15th and 16th century. It played host to John Knox, the Protestant preacher and Mary Queen of Scots in 1563.
Unfortunately the Campbell’s downfall at Castle Campbell came about during the Covenanter’s war, when the Marquis of Montrose laid waste to the surrounding lands. In 1652 the Campbell’s of Castle Campbell submitted to Oliver Cromwell’s commonwealth, but only 2 years later Royalist rebels burned the castle to the ground over 2 nights.
The 8th Earl of Argyll was executed and his son the 9th Earl of Argyll built Argyll’s lodging beside Stirling Castle rather than restore Castle Campbell.
The Best Bits
Castle Campbell is a small castle, but you can spend quite some time wandering around the castle and along the many pathways throughout the glen. We would definitely recommend walking along some of the paths and admiring the view up the glen, with the castle looming overhead.
The castle itself has some unusual designs including two loggia, which are normaly found in warmer climes. Loggia are simply a side of a room or hall that is open to the outdoors (which is why they are often found in warmer areas).
The older part of the castle, the tower, would have been the area of residence and the kids found it fun to find the toilet in each room! One of the upper rooms have two ‘green man’ masks on the ceiling which may have held lamps at one time.
My personal favourite part was the rooftop, at the very top of the spiral stair. The views down to Dollar and further afield were amazing, even on a cloudy day. And then facing the other direction the hillside and trees looked spectacular too.
The Surrounding Glen
We walked down just below the castle to play in the burn and throw stones into the water. The paths go all the way down to Dollar, so if you wanted to park there and walk up to the castle and back it’s perfectly doable, just wear sturdy footwear and expect mud.
The next time we visit we will definitely be having a look along some more of the paths through Dollar Glen.
As I mentioned before the road is very steep and in bad weather the castle will be closed due to problems with access. The property does have a very small car parking area just outside the castle that can be used via prior arrangement. However the castle itself has cobbled floors, stairways (some without handrails), that may make disabled access challenging.
The cobbles can be rather slippy when wet, so take care when walking over them.
Free to members of Historic Scotland or National Trust For Scotland.
Child (5-15): £3.30
Under 5’s free
We loved it and will definitely be back again soon, it’s really a wonderful castle for all ages and the many pathways through the glen make it ideal for a family day out.
Check out my video below for a peek at what Castle Campbell has to offer.
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