Situated on a tenuous promontory towards the northern edge of Loch Awe in Scotland, the fifteenth-century Kilchurn Castle now rests as a picturesque ruin.
I first spied it through the trees on the far side of the loch, and it was no easy task finding the path that leads to it. I was familiar with it through a connection to ancient family history, and had long desired to go, but we happened upon it by chance one sunny Saturday in early spring. We approached over the moor and found our way through a low door into a dark cellar, from which we emerged into the bright inner keep.
At the centre of this courtyard is the upturned remnant of a tower struck by lightning. The storm was so terrible, the destruction so absolute, that the castle was abandoned and left to fall into ruin.
We wandered up the spiralling stairs, gazed out of tower windows and stood on windswept battlements. We dozed on the daisy-speckled grass in the shade, and lingered for many hours.
The castle’s magic has not escaped various artists and poets through the centuries. Turner painted it, and in 1803 William Wordsworth addressed it: ‘Child of loud-throated War! the mountain Stream Roars in thy hearing; but thy hour of Rest Is come; and thou art silent in thy age.’
I saw the ruin once again, from far away on a misty day that rendered it a black silhouette on the silver water, entirely unlike the place I had been to—but Scotland never stays the same for very long.
Spectacular. A sleeping behemoth.