Kilchurn Castle was built in the 15th century by Sir Colin Campbell. It stands on what used to be a small rocky island in Loch Awe, the third largest fresh water loch in Scotland.
Several paranormal incidents have been reported at the castle. On one occasion a couple was camping in the castle walls when they felt a cold spot and then heard a disembodied woman’s voice say “free me!” They were so alarmed that they left the castle immediately. Another visitor claims that she was tripped at the castle by an unseen force, breaking her wrist in the process. Others have heard the pitiful sound of a child crying out for help on the grounds. Some say this is the spirit of a child who was locked away in an upper room at some point in the castle’s history. In 2010 visitors to the castle reported the sound of footsteps above them on the floor boards in the turret, although when they reached the top, they found that they were alone. People also report a general feeling of being unwelcome at the castle, as if the spirits don’t want company.
In the 16th century, Loch Awe was known for a legendary water monster. It was said that the loch was home to a beast that was reputed to resemble a giant eel with the girth of a horse, reaching incredible lengths. Fishermen were afraid of the beast and it was said that it would come ashore during winter. More recently on Loch Awe, a photographer heard the sound of voices and
giggling when no one was there. He fled the area after something started
skimming stones across the frozen loch in front of him
The last alterations to the castle took place in the late 17th century and it was garrisoned by government troops during the Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745. In 1769 the castle was struck by lightning and by the early 18th century it was abandoned and left to fall to ruin.
In the 19th century, the water level of Loch Awe was lowered and as a result, Kilchurn Castle became accessible by land. Legend has it that a homeless woman, known as the Witch of Kilchurn, then took refuge in the castle ruins and became something of a local character. She was often seen in town buying her pipe tobacco. Some say her spirit may be responsible for some of the castle’s unexplained activity.
Once home of the powerful Campbell’s the fact Kilchurn is in ruins shouldn’t deter you from making the trip. Still a handsome stronghold, Kilchurn is made all the most impressive thanks to its surroundings. It sits on the banks of Loch Awe with mountains visible around it. In recent years it has become a real tourist favourite thanks to the photo opportunities it offers. If you visit I have heard you can get a boat to it over Loch Awe for maximum enjoyment, sailing up to the walls you’ll understand why the government were so keen to occupy it following the end of the Jacobite Rebellion. The castle itself is locked up as the keyholder has been struck down with heart trouble but it is worth the walk from the car park just off the A85 near Dalmally.