Threave Castle, Dumfries and Galloway

Threave Castle

On the second day of our recent four night trip to Dumfries and Galloway in south west Scotland the first historical place we visited was Threave Castle. Visiting this castle is a bit more awkward than some others as you have to get in a boat to get there, although it’s such a short stretch of water that it takes about three minutes to get there. Despite the fact that the water is so shallow that if you fell in it would only come up to your knees – they still make you put on a lifejacket!

Threave Castle

The castle sits on an island in the middle of the River Dee and it’s only the second castle that I’ve had to get on a boat to visit, the other one being Loch Leven Castle. It’s a big improvement on a moat though, I imagine the inhabitants would have felt nice and safe.
Threave Castle

But Threave Castle did come under attack when the Douglas family it belonged to fell foul of King James II in 1455 and the windows below look onto the area where he had huge guns positioned to fire at the castle over the river. The king had decided that that branch of the Douglas family was going to be wiped out.

Threave Castle

The arrows fired through the arrow slit windows below wouldn’t have been much use against cannonballs.
Threave Castle Exterior

Inside is really just one big room now.
Threave Castle Interior

There’s an RSPB bird sanctuary nearby and after leaving the island we went for a circular walk and had a look for wildlife from one of the hides. In the distance the ospreys were flying around, also red kites and buzzards. In fact it looked like the red kites were being a bit too successful as there were loads of them flying around. But I’ll leave them for another blogpost.

Threave Castle from Osprey viewing area

7 thoughts on “Threave Castle, Dumfries and Galloway

  1. Hi Katrina,
    What a gorgeous day you had while you were at Threaves Castle–I love all the photos. My imagination goes wild! Thanks for the historical information as well. I love the idea of getting on a boat to get there–it helps to set up the enchantment of this ancient place.
    I, too, am very fond of the last photo. I’m almost imagining that that’s near where you were bird watching??? Not sure.
    I had just turned twenty when my mother and I took an extraordinarily well organized three-week tour of Ireland, Scotland, England, and North Wales. It was in July (1973) and we were so fortunate to have impeccable weather.
    We toured western Ireland first, and as we drove about, I kept asking our kindly bus driver (who was Irish, unlike the English tour leader), what is that stone building over there, and then later, over there? I remember the driver’s last name was McGonigal and he was an older man who was so kind.
    He said, “Oh, that’s just a wee castle. Ireland has wee, tumble-down castles all over everywhere.”
    And indeed they do. We stayed at a country, castle-like, modern hotel not far from Kerry. In the back of the hotel, when I wandered through thigh-deep grasses, I found a wee, tumble-down castle, inspected it thoroughly on my own, and wondered, “Who lived here? When was this built? No one at the hotel, whose property this was, could answer any questions about it. Interestingly, the hotel was German-owned, and the Irish staff were happy to wait on us, but were sullen when interacting with the German management. Interesting…

    • Judith,
      Yes it was late at night, just before midnight and I had just put my laptop off. Anyway, I suppose every prominent family – and by that I mean violently ambitious families – had to have their grand castle. They are all over the place in Scotland but even more so in the Border country as the Border was always being fought over and towns and land constantly changing between the Scots and the English. Every wealthy family around the ‘debatable lands’ needed a fortified house to live in. I think it’s such a shame when tourists don’t get the real Scottish or even Irish traditional hospitality if hotels and B&Bs are owned by foreigners who know little about the area. If you can remember the name of that hotel you should google the area and you’ll probably get some info on it. I’ve seen some very dour looking Germans on bus tours here, they never look like they’re enjoying themselves!

  2. Lovely to see your photos. I visited Threave with my husband, then fiancé, more years ago than I would like to divulge. The most exciting thing was that to reach the ferry, there were 13 kissing gates to negotiate. By the time we reached the water, there was quite a queue behind us. We let everyone else go ahead of us on the way back! Needless to say, in those days lifejackets were nowhere to be seen.

    • Janet,
      It is a lovely area to visit. I don’t think there are quite so many gates nowadays. If you did fall in the water I’m sure no lifejackets are necessary as the water is only about knee deep!

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