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A Victorian era Scottish Castle with fabulous views over the Isle of Mull, the Atlantic Ocean and the Hebridean islands of Coll, Barra and the Uists, Glengorm Castle Hotel is a friendly, homely place with an atmosphere that is part luxury boutique hotel, part cosy family home.
There is a choice of 5 B&B rooms and one self catering apartment at the castle, while in the grounds there are also a number of self catering cottages. All the rooms are traditionally furnished, with warm colours and private bathrooms which have some nice old Victorian style deep baths. The self catering apartment has a lounge and well equipped modern kitchen with two double bedrooms, one of which has a king size bed. It is at the very top of the castle with roof access overlooking the turrets, while the various cottages are scattered around the estate offering more privacy and seclusion.
The castle itself has much common space, with a particularly welcoming sitting room with a large open fire and comfortable sofas and armchairs. There is a lovely wood paneled library too and a dining hall where the very generous breakfast is served every morning. Evening meals are not served at the castle but there is the coffee shop & deli in the old farm buildings open from Easter until November, and several nearby pubs and restaurants. You’ll find the owners of Glengorm extremely hospitable and friendly and they have a great selection of fine whiskies which guests can sample for free.
The estate grounds are magnificent, with many great hikes around coastal paths, woodlands and hills. There are also guided walks that you join from the castle which offer great opportunities for wildlife spotting (including whale watching) and where you can learn a lot about the past and present of the estate and the Island of Mull.
At the northern tip of the Isle of Mull the countryside around Glengorm has a wild, beautifully remote feel but is still near to Tobermory the main town on the island which is a picturesque little place that sees quite a few tourists in summer and has some good shops, pubs and restaurants.
People come to Mull for the scenery though and it has miles of open moorland, mountain peaks and rocky coastline to be explored. It is an excellent place for hiking though the weather is notoriously bad; Mull gets more rainfall than any of the other Hebridean Island and that means a hell of a lot of rain. Still though in some ways the bleak, brooding skies above can actually add to the beauty of the place but do of course be prepared when venturing off into the wild.
To get to Mull there is a ferry from the town Oban in mainland Scotland which takes about 40 minutes to arrive in Tobermory, about five miles from the castle. Oban is just over two hours drive from Glasgow and the journey offers some spectacular scenery, passing though Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park on the way. If you’re not driving there are also numerous trains from Glasgow to Oban.
Originally called the Mishnish Estate, the land was divided up into smallholdings farmed individually by peasant families as was the way of the Highlands at the time. In 1856 the estate was bought up by James Forsyth, from a rich plantation family in Jamaica, who, having quickly made plans to build a magnificent castle on his new land, set about evicting the tenants so as it seems, to not have them spoiling the view.
This was pretty standard practice for rich landowners in the 18th and 19th century and is known as the Highland Clearances, something which changed the landscape of the Scottish Highlands forever and decimated much of the ancient Gaelic culture of the region. The evictees cottages at Mishnish were then burned and the blue smoke filled the air giving rise, it is said, to the present name Glen Gorm or blue glen in English.
In 1858, he commissioned Edinburgh architects Kinnear & Peddie to design the castle which would be in the, very fashionable at the time, Scots Baronial style. It is said that Forsyth was a man obsessed with religion and mortality and the outer walls are adorned with biblical quotes. Across the entrance there is the symbol of a knotted rope and an extract from psalm 127: ‘Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it’.
Whether the Lord was building the house or not Forsyth would never get to make it his home for he died in an accident before it was completed. Local legend has it that this was the result of a curse placed on him by an elderly woman who, after being evicted from her home to make way for the castle, that he would not live to see it finished.
It was left to his son, James Noel Muller-Forsyth, just 18 at the time, was to finish the job and it would stay in the Forsyth family only until 1874 when it was sold on by James Noel to a Clyde shipyard owner by the name of William Lang. It changed hands thereafter quite a few times, Lang kept it for just 13 years, and the next owner James Cowan, a paper manufacturer, for just 8. a Frederick Morgan bought it then in 1895 and was to live in it until his death in 1910 when it was bought by the famous shipbuilding family, the Lithgows. Margaret Lithgow then made it her home from then until her death in 1938.
The castle lay empty after that and, though it changed hands again twice, it was slowly falling into a state of disrepair until 1962 when it was acquired by John Brockbank Carr who set about some major renovations it, installing mains electricity along the way. It was in 1970 that the present owners, and your hosts at the castle hotel, turned up; the Nelson family. Raymond Nelson decided to give up a successful army career to take up farming on Mull and bought the estate with that in mind. Today it is left to Tom and Marjorie Nelson to look after the farm and provide a famously warm welcome to guests in what is now one of the most highly rated castle hotels in Scotland.
Address: PA75 6QE
Argyll and Bute