Top 5 Castles in Britain
Tying in with our new interactive maps of castles in Britain, this week we have been putting our heads together to pick our Top 5 Castles in Britain. A very personal choice, with everyone championing their favourite castle, but over tea and custard creams we finally came to a decision on our top 5. We hope you agree!!
First on our list is stunning Leeds Castle in Kent. This English castle has been called the “loveliest castle in the world”. Originally a Norman stronghold listed in the Doomsday book, then a royal residence and a royal palace, this stunning castle is set on two islands in a magnificent lake.
And better still, you can now stay overnight in the Stable Courtyard rooms, and explore the castle grounds and gardens when the estate is closed to the general public.
Second on our list is a ruin but wow, what a romantic setting! Castle Tioram (pronounced “Chee-rum“) sits on its own island in Loch Moidart in Ardnarmurchan on the western coast of Scotland. Torched during the Jacobite Rising in 1715 to stop it from falling into enemy hands, this ancient seat of Clan MacDonald of Clanranald is now in such a poor state that you cannot go inside for fear of the walls collapsing.
It can be reached on foot across a causeway when the tide is right, and is well worth a visit if only to gaze in awe at its magical setting. If you are lucky enough to visit on a warm summers day, the loch appears as a blue lagoon dotted with tiny islands and edged with silvery sands and forests. Simply idyllic.
Third on the list is also a Scottish castle and will be instantly recognised by fans of the original ‘Highlander’ movie. Eilean Donan Castle sits in Loch Duich by Kyle of Lochalsh, again on the western coast of Scotland. This 13th century castle was a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and suffered a similar fate to that of Castle Tioram in that it too was a casualty of the Jacobite Rebellions and partially destroyed in 1719.
One of the most photographed of all Scottish castles, it stands majestically at the point where three great sea lochs meet and is accessed across a bridge. Open to the public from March to November.
Fourth on our list is a Welsh castle, Caernarfon Castle in North Wales, setting for the investiture of the Prince of Wales in 1969. Perhaps the most intimidating of King Edward I’s Welsh castles, it dominates this walled town, also built by Edward I.
A World Heritage Site, the castle was begun in 1283 and intended as a seat of power and government as well as a fortress. Its polygonal towers set it apart from other lesser castles, and these towers and most of the curtain wall remain intact today.
And last but not least, it’s back to England and magnificent Warwick Castle. Warwick Castle dates back nearly 11 centuries and was home to the Earls of Warwick and the Greville family until 1978 when it was taken over by the Tussauds group.
This ‘ultimate’ castle offers a fun day out for all the family with shows, demonstrations, activities, living history and more. This year for the first time families can stay overnight and experience medieval glamping in a medieval bell tent.
If our list has sparked your interest in these amazing ancient buildings, why not experience the history and romance for yourself, first hand? Browse our selection of accommodation in castles, which includes luxury castle hotels, castle B&Bs and even rent your own castle!
Or visit these castles and many more from the comfort of your own home with our interactive maps of castles in England, Scotland and Wales. You can even chose the ‘satellite’ view to see them from the air!