Walk: Carbisdale circular - the rise & fall of Castle Spite

Highland | Invershin | Half day walk | ★★★

[Carbisdale Castle]

Once upon a time, Carbisdale Castle was built for the Duchess of Sutherland, overlooking the Kyle of Sutherland opposite Invershin. Unpopular with the rest of the Sutherland family, her share of her spouse's (the 3rd Duke's) will was contested by the duke's son following his death. After the family finally agreed to the duchess being awarded a financial settlement along with a new castle built anywhere outwith Sutherland, surely this ugly chapter had drawn to a close? Not so - the duchess had her new residence constructed at Carbisdale, Ross-shire in 1907... directly overlooking the Sutherland border, which is just a few hundred metres away. Castle Spite - as it colloquially became known - was carefully designed to enrage her estranged in-laws: the castle's main tower only has three clock faces on its four walls, with the side facing Sutherland left blank so as not to give even the time of day to Sutherland. After World War II, Carbisdale Castle became the Scottish Youth Hostel Association's pride and glory - a palace in which lucky guests could stay for suspiciously low prices as recently as 2011. Alas, the fairy tale came to an end when the building's repair costs spiralled out of control, leading to its sale in 2016. Nevertheless, the hillside behind the castle remains an interesting place for a walk, with a footpath network (overgrown in places) connecting a quiet lochan, 17th century battle site, minor waterfalls - and numerous views across to Sutherland, of course.

[Looking southeast from View Rock]

📌 Walk: Carbisdale circular - the rise & fall of Castle Spite ★★★
Start / finish at layby next to railway viaduct, A836 at Invershin, G.R.: NH 579954 ///royal.adventure.perfectly

▶ 6 km / 4 mi | ▲ 210 m | ⌚ Half a day | Moderate
Features: Invershin viaduct & Kyle of Sutherland; Carbisdale Castle; View Rock; Culrain Burn, waterfalls & lochan; site of Battle of Carbisdale
Terrain: Mixture of undulating paths and tracks; slightly overgrown sections around View Rock. Complicated routefinding - map required.

Route & map

Layby - footbridge alongside viaduct over Kyle of Sutherland - Carbisdale Castle - View Rock - Culrain Burn - lochan - site of Battle of Carbisdale - return by more southerly route


Route credit: Walkhighlands

On our visit

Wildlife: Red squirrel, pheasants and chicks, mallard ducks, treecreepers and tits.
Weather: Cloudy with fleeting brighter spells, light winds, 13°C.

Chronological photo guide

[Carbisdale Castle & the Kyle of Sutherland]

[Viaduct over the Kyle of Sutherland]

[Path alongside the railway]

[Carbisdale Castle]

[Track beyond the castle]

[Looking southeast from View Rock]

[Path beyond View Rock]

[Fungus by the Culrain Burn]

[Waterfall on the Culrain Burn]

[Lochan]

[Site of the Battle of Carbisdale]

[Woodland return path]

[Re-crossing the Culrain Burn]

[Pheasant]

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