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Review of Torrisdale Castle Estate, Kintyre, Scotland

Reviews
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Posted by Yvonne Gordon at 10:24 on Monday 17 December 2012

Yvonne Gordon visits Torrisdale Castle, a historic castle estate on the beautiful Kintyre peninsula in Scotland, which has a range of self-catering accommodation

>> For availability and booking see our full listing for Torrisdale Castle

Torrisdale Castle. Photo by Catherine McArthurTorrisdale Castle. Photo by Catherine McArthur

The Setting
Torrisdale Castle estate is on Kintyre’s east coast, with views across Kilbrannan Sound to the west coast of the Isle of Arran. There is a variety of accommodation on the castle estate, ranging from a unique archway dwelling or cosy woodland cottage to rustic farmhouses. It’s also possible to stay in an apartment in the castle itself.

Torrisdale Castle was built in 1815 and its extensive grounds are home to wildlife, woodland and nature trails, all which make it perfect for a peaceful retreat. The owners are committed to running the estate in a sustainable manner, with a number of eco-friendly initiatives in place and more green initiatives underway.

Garden Cottage at Torrisdale Castle Estate. Photo by Yvonne GordonGarden Cottage at Torrisdale Castle Estate. Photo by Yvonne Gordon

The Accommodation
There are six different holiday properties at Torrisdale castle estate:  inside the castle are the Servants’ Quarters, a spacious self-catering apartment which sleeps six. It has modern comforts and plenty of character including a roll-top bath and a secret room, as well as lovely views over the grounds.

The Arch Cottage is set over three floors in the archway, giving it a unique character. The bedroom on the top floor has superb views and the living room on the middle floor has a log burning stove. A short stroll away in the valley is Lephincorrach Farmhouse, a spacious farmhouse which sleeps ten. The farmhouse’s energy efficient features include shutters, a large stove, insulation and an efficient hot water system.

Garden Cottage is a cosy romantic retreat on a wooded hillside. It has an eco-friendly outdoor hot tub, fuelled by wood. The cottage sleeps two and has a log burning stove. The South Lodge is a listed cottage at the castle gate, with great sea views. It sleeps two and also has a secluded garden. Glen House is a charming secluded house near the woodlands at the rear of the estate, with great views of the hills and valleys. It sleeps seven.

Woodburning hot tub at Garden Cottage. Photo by Yvonne GordonWoodburning hot tub at Garden Cottage. Photo by Yvonne Gordon

The Food
The properties are all self-catering but you can order a hamper for arrival, with delicious local produce including Kintyre cheese, smoked salmon, Carradale preserves, bread from a local bakery, lamb sausages from Ifferdale Farm and Springbank Whisky.

For eating out and local shopping, Carradale village is 6km from the castle and has a village shop, bakery and restaurants. Guests can also shop at the Farmers' Market or supermarket in Campbeltown and local produce including lamb can be purchased from Ifferdale Farm. On Fridays, a fish van visits the castle.

The Activities
There are plenty of walks and nature trails around the grounds, and there is also a small beach. You can go on a walk with the estate ranger to learn about the wildlife, flora and fauna. The Kintyre Way passes through Torrisdale estate so the castle is a great base for anyone interested in walking part of the 87-mile route

There is a bicycle trail at Cnoc nan Gabhar near Carradale, and bicycle rental facilities are planned for guests. The castle’s organic tannery specialises in natural coloured sheep and deerskins, using an ancient tanning method to produce superior skins.

Dipping sheep skins at the Organic Tannery on the castle grounds. Photo by Yvonne GordonDipping sheep skins at the Organic Tannery on the castle grounds. Photo by Yvonne Gordon

Springbank Whisky distillery in Campbeltown dates back to 1828 and a tour will take you through every step of the whisky making process, from the malt room to a final tasting. Kintyre is known for its wildlife, birdlife and coastal scenery. Visitors can drop into the Machrihanish Seabird and Wildlife Observatory on the south of the Kintyre peninsula. Other activities near there include surfing, fishing and golf. The Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse is at the south-western tip of the peninsula.

The Green
Torrisdale has invested in lowering its carbon footprint in a number of ways including insulation, double-glazing, energy efficient appliances and light bulbs. Guests are encouraged to be energy conscious and to recycle all waste.

Yvonne plants a Hornbeam tree at Torrisdale estate. Photo by Catherine McArthurYvonne plants a Hornbeam tree at Torrisdale estate. Photo by Catherine McArthurTorrisdale is installing a log-fuelled biomass boiler to serve a number of properties including the castle, tannery and arch. The four holiday cottages all have log fires or stoves, with logs supplied from sustainable woodland. A hydro-electric scheme is being developed using a river on the estate.

For every booking for a holiday, one guest plants a native tree to offset their carbon footprint. Each property also has a nature diary to record wildlife sightings.

How to get there
Campbeltown (20 km to the south) is the nearest main town. There are regular buses from Glasgow to Campbeltown and Torrisdale will make arrangements to collect you. There are ferries from Gourock to Dunoon and then from Portavadie to Tarbert. You can also get the ferry from Lochranza to Claonaig. From Northern Ireland, there is a ferry from Ballycastle, Co Antrim to Campbeltown. Local buses also serve Torrisdale.

Top Tip
There is lots to do in the area but arrange a nature walk around the grounds with the estate ranger who will take you for either a gentle stroll, a coastal walk or a trek up the hills for superb views across to Arran. You might spot deer, golden eagles, basking seals and a variety of birds.

Verdict
Torrisdale is set in a beautiful unspoilt area and either makes a great base for exploring the Kintyre area, or for just relaxing on a romantic or family break. There’s plenty to do whether you choose to stay in the castle grounds or explore the peninsula, and thanks to features like log burners and thick insulation, the properies are ideal to stay in all year round.

Woodland walk at Torrisdale Castle Estate, Scotland. Photo by Yvonne GordonWoodland walk at Torrisdale Castle Estate, Scotland. Photo by Yvonne Gordon

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