Duart Castle- Home of the Maclean Clan (History & Travel Tips)

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Duart Castle, home of the Clan Maclean, has dominated the view of Loch Linnhe and the Sound of Mull for more than 700 years thanks to its massive curtain walls and sturdy keep. Discover more about the Macleans and their history by taking a tour of the castle and the surrounding area.

At the castle tearoom, enjoy freshly prepared sweet and savory baked goods along with cakes that are made using Lady Maclean’s original recipes. Follow the well-indicated paths and roads that go around the castle, past the cannon and the jetty, and back to the tearoom. Admire the stunning views of the Sound of Mull and the beautifully blue loch. Visit Duart Castle and enjoy a memorable day and an unforgettable experience. 

Duart Castle has been featured on TV in Entrapment (1999), When Eight Bells Toll (1971) and I Know Where I’m Going (1945).

The view of Duart Castle from below.
The view of Duart Castle from below. Duart Castle from below. Isle of Mull, Scotland flickr photo by Jon Gudorf Photography shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

Battles Over Duart Castle’s Possession (13th Century)

Clan MacDougall constructed Duart Castle in the thirteenth century. The Argyll soldiers of Clan Campbell invaded and besieged Duart Castle in 1647, but they were repulsed and driven out by the Royalist troops of Clan MacLean.

Abandonment of the Castle (17th Century)

Six Cromwellian ships were stationed off the coast from the castle in September 1653, but the MacLeans had already left Duart for Tiree. On September 13, three of the ships, including the HMS Swan, were lost due to a storm. The wreckage of a warship from the 17th century thought to be the Swan is located in a Historic Marine Protected Area to the north of Duart Castle.

A sketch of the north elevation of the Renaissance-styled renovation of Duart Castle.
A sketch of the north elevation of the Renaissance-styled renovation of Duart Castle. Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons

Sir John MacLean, 4th Baronet, gave Duart Castle up to Archibald Campbell, 1st Duke of Argyll, in 1691. The castle was destroyed by the Campbell family, and the stones from its walls were left dispersed. Some of the stones were used by Donald Maclean, the fifth Laird of Torloisk, to construct a home for his family not far from the location of the castle. The castle’s ruins had been abandoned by 1751.

Rebuilding of Duart Castle (19th Century)

Archibald Campbell’s descendants sold the castle in 1801. It went first to MacQuarrie and then to Carter-Campbell of Possil, who preserved it as a ruin on the grounds of his own estate to the north, Torosay Castle. Later, in 1865, he sold Torosay Estate, which now included the remnants of Castle Duart, to A. C. Guthrie. The ruin was cut off from the remainder of the Torosay Estate on September 11, 1911, and Sir Fitzroy Donald Maclean, the 26th Chief of the Clan MacLean, purchased and rebuilt it. By 2012, further repairs were necessary, and a fund was established to collect contributions for this reason. As of 2020, the project is in its seventh phase.

The entrance to Duart Castle.
The entrance to Duart Castle. Otter, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Current Times

Duart Castle is open to the public where you can explore the home of the Clan Maclean and admire the scenic views of Loch Linnhe. Learn more about the Clan by taking a guided tour of the castle and the surrounding area. Explore the historic keep and dungeons, the magnificent Edwardian State Rooms, and the Clan exhibition; visit the Tearoom and Gift Shop; and enjoy the views from the gardens.

Duart Castle’s reflection in the Sound of Mull.
Duart Castle’s reflection in the Sound of Mull. Martin Burns, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Experience the wonderful surroundings while strolling around the grounds. Treat yourself to some of the castle’s finest baked delicacies before concluding your day by browsing the gift store for keepsakes. Enjoy an day with your loved ones at Duart Castle that you will always remember.

Interesting Duart Castle Facts

There are many interesting facts about Duart Castle. Below is a list of facts that you might find intriguing:

  • Duart Castle has been featured on TV in Entrapment (1999), When Eight Bells Toll (1971) and I Know Where I’m Going (1945).
  • Sir Fitzroy MacLean extensively renovated the Castle’s oldest section in 1911. 
  • The Clan name MacLean means ‘Son of Gillean’, which is derived from a thirteenth-century warrior, Gillean of the Battle-Axe, who was linked to the Kings of the Ancient Province of Dalriada.
  • A room at the castle has an exhibition on the RMS Swan that sank off the coast from Duart in 1653. 

Visiting Duart Castle – Tips and Tricks

Given its fascinating past and vibrant present, Duart Castle is one of the most visited castles in Scotland. Due to the castle’s ideal location next to the deep blue water, you may capture some stunning pictures and videos. Explore the castle and get to participate in a range of activities hosted on the estate.

If you’re keen to visit this wonderful place, you can make your trip simple and enjoyable by using the tips and tricks listed below.

The stunning aerial view of Duart Castle.
The stunning aerial view of Duart Castle. PaulT (Gunther Tschuch), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How to get to Duart Castle?

The best way to get to the castle from Glasgow is by bus or train, followed by a ferry ride to cross the lake and a cab ride to the castle.

The bus and ferry ride will take around 5 hours and will cost £38 ($45 USD). Taking a train instead of the bus will take about the same time, but cost around £63 ($75 USD).

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

The ticket price to visit Duart Castle for adults is £8.50 ($10.11 USD); for children between four and fifteen years, the price is £4.00 ($4.7 USD). For a family of two adults and two children (between the age of 4-15 years), the ticket price is £21.00 ($24.97 USD).

The castle and gift shop are open seven days a week from 10.30 am to 5 pm, July 1 until September 30. The castle is accessible from 10.30 am to 4 pm five days a week from October 1 to October 18 (closed on Thursdays and Fridays). Duart Castle closes down for the season on October 18th at 4 p.m and stays closed until the end of the winter holidays. 

You will be happy to know that everyone can enjoy the castle grounds, shop, and breathtaking views for free! The tea house is accessible without a ticket as well. Only Duart Castle entry requires a ticket, which must be paid for upon arrival. Historic Houses Association members are granted free admission to the castle with their membership card.

Duart Castle against the Scottish Highlands with a passing ferry in the foreground.
Duart Castle against the Scottish Highlands with a passing ferry in the foreground. Duart Castle flickr photo by *pascal* shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Things To Do at Duart Castle

Duart Castle offers you several opportunities to enjoy yourselves and have fun. Several of these activities include:

  • Explore the castle’s interior and get to see the Great Hall and the clan exhibition. 
  • Get to eat locally sourced and grown food at the castle’s Tea Room. Even now, some of their cakes are still prepared using Lady Maclean’s original recipes.
  • Throughout the year, a select few weddings are permitted access to Duart Castle. Say your vows in a historic Scottish castle with a rich history, beautiful gardens, and breathtaking sea views.
  • Buy souvenirs from the Duart Gift Shop. Sir Lachlan Maclean and his team choose each item. Every piece of jewelry, outfit, gift, book, map, and art piece they have is connected to the Clan and the Castle.
  • Join the special summer guided tour of the grounds every Monday in August.
  • Discover secret treasures like the mysterious “Green Man,” “Sir Fitzroy’s Spring,” and a hidden carving on the castle wall.
  • Enjoy the outdoor theatre, military re-enactments, music, storytelling, birds of prey, and Scottish pipers and highland dancers at the castle.

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

It takes at least an hour to tour the castle, anywhere between two to three hours if you spend time in the gardens or souvenir shopping.

Some words of advice and tips: 

Here are some words of advice and tips to make your travel easier:

  • Always wear comfortable boots and carry your rain gear of choice since the castle tours will take place regardless of the weather, including one brief trip down a potentially unsteady and muddy trail.
  • Near the pedestrian entrance to the castle and other buildings are two parking places for disabled people. Customers who are unable to walk may drive up to the castle, shop, or tearoom.
  • The castle grounds are dog-friendly, however, dogs are not allowed within the castle, the Tearoom, or the Gift Shop structures (except assistance dogs).

Quick Video Tour of The Main Duart Castle Areas

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Kainat Khalid
Kainat Khalid
Kainat is an English literature graduate with a profound interest in historical architecture. She has studied and explored the dusted pages of history for years which has ignited her passion to explore the existing remnants of our past glory and revisit them from a revised perspective. “There is no present without the past” is what she believes in and what drove her to begin cataloging these timeless historical monuments.

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