Ackergill Tower, Near Wick, Scotland

UPDATE - February 2019 - sadly since writing this Ackergill Tower has closed and is now privately owned. I'm quite sad to know I'll never get the chance to stay there again (I really hoped we would) but very grateful to have had the chance to spend one night in what would be a dream home if I were lucky enough. If you do want to get a glimpse of the inside though it was used as a location in The Crown, season four so keep your eyes peeled!

There are many different accommodation options available if you choose to do the North Coast 500 route, from AirBnB's and self catering options, traditional B&B's, inns, camping sites and of course hotels too. We chose (well actually my husband chose) a mixture of hotels and family run inns for our stay and all were brilliant. However one stay after our first day on the road, which was a bit of a splurge night, stood out for me as particularly special and that was our night at Ackergill Tower.

No one knows exactly when Ackergill Tower was built but in the mid 15th century the 'lands of Ackergill' were mentioned as one of the properties of Sir Reginald de Cheyne who at that time owned nearly half of Caithness. The style of architecture suggests it was built later, around 1475 and when first built was surrounded by a sea moat with its prime access being by sea and its main entrance facing seawards. When the male line of the Cheyne family expired in 1350 it passed to the Keith family through marriage before then being sold to George, the fifth Earl of Caithness in 1612 before again being sold in 1699 to William Dunbar, Baronet of Hempriggs who was a descendant of the original owner, Sir Reginald de Cheyne. The Dunbars were directly descended from the old royal line of Scotland, King Duncan's first nephew, Cospatrick being given the Earldom of Dunbar by his first cousin Malcolm III. Eventually though and despite great improvements being made to the building in the 1800s, as subsequent generations spent less and less time in the castle it became neglected and in need of renovation, it was eventually even considered beyond salvation. It was put up for sale by the Trustees of the estate in 1986 and once brought a two and a half year renovation programme was undertaken to bring it back to its former glory. In one of the guest lounges you can view an album full of photos taken during this whole renovation period which is interesting to have a look at. 

When we arrived at the castle the rain had become more persistent turning to hail at times too. It was still incredibly windy as well, so much so that as I wheeled my case across the drive the wind was actually blowing it along so hard that it was moving faster than I was walking, a first for me as I attempted to keep up with my case! As a result we didn't waste anytime getting inside. Once we'd checked in, and after a quick tour of the castle to show us where everywhere was, we were shown to our lovely room.

All the rooms have names rather than numbers and if you read the history of the castle (provided in the rooms) you'll soon realise that a lot of these have links to the history of the place. Our room was the Blue room and, as you can see from the photos above, was suitably blue. The room and the whole hotel had many little items of interest dotted around, like old books, old photos, ornaments etc. making it seem more like you were staying in someone's home rather than a hotel. Our room had a sea view, there was nothing beyond us but a small strip of beach, with the perfect little nook for watching and listening to it. It was so stormy that afternoon and evening that all you could hear was the wind whistling around the building and the sea roaring below it but it was perfect. I literally fell in love with the place in five minutes flat.

As we arrived late afternoon once we'd dried off a little and warmed up a bit we thought we'd take a walk around the grounds as, for awhile, it did stop raining. Our walk didn't last long though as the heavens soon opened again but we had at least managed to see a little of the outside of the castle before having to make a hasty retreat back inside. By then it was time to dry off (again) and think about getting ready for our dinner. You can obviously make reservations for dinner at the hotel and I'd recommend you do. It really is in the middle of nowhere and with the weather not being that kind when we stayed the thought of venturing too far was quite unappealing. Plus who wants to be thinking about driving or arranging taxis for themselves when you can dine in style in a castle.

Luckily the castle has two guest lounges as well so we headed to one of them first for a couple of pre-dinner drinks, joining a few of the other guests staying there that night, and whilst doing so getting to enjoy a little more of this beautiful place. Our dinner was served in the Great Hall (as was breakfast the next morning), I had pork whilst my husband had seabass with a cheesecake for me and cheese and biscuits for him to finish off. After all that food there was time for one more nightcap back in the lounge before retiring for the night.

Great Hall

One of the two guest lounges

After a good night's sleep we got up early to see the sunrise as our room conveniently faced the east. Whilst we knew we were pretty isolated doing this really confirmed it, as you can see for yourself if you watch the video clip below. It wasn't the most stunning sunrise I've seen but it was lovely as it was so apparent then that it really was just us, a few birds, the sea (which wasn't quite as wild the following morning) and a lighthouse blinking in the distance.

I briefly mentioned our dinner the previous evening but really want to take the time to mention our breakfast the next morning too. It obviously was another opportunity to enjoy a full Scottish, and was the best of all the places we stayed in, complete with haggis of course. This one gets a special mention though as it included something I haven't had in years .... fried bread! Whilst it may not be in the least bit good for you I honestly don't know when I had it last but I do like it so that was a real treat.

The fried bread is hiding under the potato scone

All to soon it was time to check out though and continue with the next part of our North Coast 500 adventure towards Ullapool. This hotel ticked all the boxes for me, I've always dreamt of living in a place like this, in the middle of nowhere right by the sea so to have the chance to stay here for one night was amazing! The awful weather actually made it all the better as it was perfect for going nowhere, just sitting in the comfy lounge by an open fire. It was most definitely a splurge but if you're headed to this part of Scotland, whether it's as a part of your own North Coast 500 travels or just because, I can't recommend this place enough.


Popular Posts