ARMADALE CASTLE & GARDENS
Isle of Skye
t: +44 (0) 1471 844305
Clan Donald Skye is a large Highland estate on the Sleat peninsula in South Skye. Once part of the traditional lands held by the Chiefs of Clan Donald, the estate was purchased in 1971 by the Clan Donald Lands Trust. The Trust was established to promote an understanding of the history and heritage of Clan Donald and the Lordship of the Isles. As custodians of this wonderful estate, the Trust has worked tirelessly to save and develop this important resource for the benefit of visitors to Skye and, importantly, for the local community.
The heart of the estate is its Visitor Centre. First opened in May 1976, the ever expanding facilities of the Centre have been enjoyed by increasing numbers of national and international visitors over the subsequent years. As a testimony to its drive for excellence, VisitScotland awarded the Centre its fifth star as a Visitor Attraction in August 2013.
The magic of Clan Donald Skye unfolds as the visitor enters the gates and proceeds down Lord MacDonald’s Drive into the 40 acre restored historical gardens of the estate. Here, between cultivated lawns, beautifully planned terraces and herbaceous gardens, stand towering trees, centuries old, giving way to enchanted woodland walks, carpeted in seasonal wildflowers and enriched with bird song. The Drive ends at the imposing ruins of Armadale Castle, designed by James Gillespie Graham and a monument to the aspirations and dreams of the 19th Century Lords of Sleat.
The fully accredited Museum of the Isles, with its ever popular library and study centre, opened within the gardens in 2002. Here you can discover the history of the Highlands and Islands through the story of Clan Donald, its most powerful clan.
Six interconnecting galleries, each with their own theme, take you through 1500 years of history and culture of the area once known as the Kingdom of the Isles. The MacDonalds – or Clan Donald – were Lords of the Isles and sit at the heart of the history of Gaeldom. Our museum follows their story and that of the Highlands.
Audio guides in several languages and for the visually impaired are available. Young visitors can enjoy exploring the museum with our children’s trails.
There is a lot to see, so allow enough time. Most of our visitors spend between 45 minutes to an hour in the museum, but you will need more time if you are researching your ancestors and planning to use the genealogical resources and archives available in the library and study centre.
As well as the ever-popular children’s adventure playground, which is suitable for all ages, in 2013 Clan Donald introduced Armadale Activities offering visitors the opportunity to engage in a range of exciting target sports. Again this year, this very popular addition to Clan Donald will be offering clay pigeon shooting, archery, tomahawk throwing and air rife shooting. It will also be expanding its program of activities to include the exciting addition of a treasure hunt.
The Visitor Centre boasts gift shops and a wonderful family/self-service restaurant where you can enjoy Clan Donald’s estate-produced venison and, if you wish, buy some to enjoy at home. But should you decide to linger longer, nestling within the beautiful grounds of Armadale, Clan Donald is able to offer self-catering holiday accommodation both for short breaks and longer visits.
For those enjoying an extended break, the wider estate offers some stunning walks for all levels of fitness, with views eastward across the Sound of Sleat to Knoydart, or on the west of the peninsula across to the Cuillin mountain range. This region is home to iconic wildlife species including Red Deer, Golden Eagles and Sea Eagles. Whether for scenery or wildlife photography, a camera is a must.
Disabled facilities are provided by the centre and full information can be found on our website, www.clandonald.com.