Thursday's Child: Castle Levan, Gourock, Scotland

Thursday, April 19, 2012


From time to time, I might be accused of being a romantic traveller.  I’m not interested in staying in a chain hotel, where the rooms look the same no matter what country it’s in.  I love to stay in an inn, bed and breakfast, or even a casbah that really reflects the place I’m visiting and its people.

So it should come as no surprise that when we visited Scotland seven years ago, I wanted to spend a night in a castle.

Great idea, but here’s the problem: most castles are really expensive.  The amount of money it would have cost for the Pollock family to stay one night in many Scottish castles would have eaten up half our trip budget.

So I started researching castles that were a little off the beaten track, and found the charming Castle Levan.  Recently restored by Historic Scotland, and run by Lady Lydia and her husband Jan, it perfectly suited our budget and our need for romance.


We loved exploring the castle inside and out, and Lady Lydia was eager to show off her wonderful homestead.  A narrow stone staircase wound up to our third floor bedrooms. Our rooms were homey rather than glamorous, which suited us perfectly. Most important, there were enough turrets, stone walls and arrow loops to make us feel like we were experiencing a small part of the Middle Ages.

Best of all, the castle even came with its own ghost, The White Lady.  Since we were traveling with our two little girls, we were grateful that Jan waited until breakfast the following morning to tell us the story.  We didn't see this apparition, but shivered to hear the tale that involved Lady Marion Montgomery and Mary of Guise (the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots).  Forget the girls – I’m not sure I would have slept a wink had I known about this ghostly being that haunts the premises.

And how smitten were the girls with Lady Lydia?  When she was too ill to join us for breakfast and see us off in the morning, they drew her Get Well cards.
Photo credit: Castle Levan

32 comments:

Carol said...

It's beautiful! What a great idea. I agree about not staying at a chain hotel, you have found a charming and perfect place to stay. Bet you won't find ghosts at a Marriott :)

Jess said...

This is just so lovely. I can't wait to take a big vacation, so I can stay at some of the places you've described and recommended!

Belinda said...

I KNOW I would love traveling with you and finding these wonderful hidden spots!

Beth said...

And I would love to travel with my blogging buddies too!

Valerie said...

Lovely photos, Beth! What a hidden treasure...it definitely pays to search around!
I don't think a castle would be a castle without it's own ghost. :-)

Achu's Amma's Kitchen said...

lovely pics and great notes..

Claudia said...

I will stay at a chain, a castle or an inn - anywhere to see new sites! I want to know more about the ghost. I adore Scotland - there is a rugged beauty there that is so different from other places. I just felt a wildness.

Jemi Fraser said...

Beautiful! We visited Scotland when I was in high school - and the castles/ruins were gorgeous! :)

bakewithjill.com said...

How cool! I am eager to go back to Scotland, and staying at a castle is a requirement! I hope there are still some affordable castles to be found.

Becki's Whole Life said...

What a magical night for you all! I can't even imagine what my girls would think about spending a night in a real castle.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Super post! There must be a picture book somewhere in that story. :)

My grandparents used to go to a castle somewhere in England for special occasions. My Nanny isn't able to travel now though.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

For our honeymoon in Germany, my husband and I stayed at quaint inns, which were a lot cheaper than staying at chain hotels (and more fun). We did stay at a castle in the Rhine Valley for one night. But the room got really hot because the window was too tiny to let in the cool air. Despite that, we enjoyed our night there. :)

Medeia Sharif said...

I've never stayed at an inn before. I'd like to try a bit harder looking for places to stay, but I end up in chain hotels.

Great pictures. I love castles.

gobakeyourself said...

This is such a beautiful location - a great choice over hotels :D

Cheers
Choc Chip Uru

yummychunklet said...

So pretty! And a castle to boot!

Reem I Simply Reem said...

Awesome!!!
This castle looks just out of a Fairy Tale....

cookingmisadventures.com said...

Staying in a castle, with a Lady, and a ghost?!? Sounds right up my alley!

Claire Davis said...

So beautiful and full of charm! Scotland is on my list of places I would love to visit.

Raina said...

What a treat that must have been to stay there! I would have been glad not to hear of the ghost until the next day too..lol

bittersweetblog said...

Beautiful! I can't imagine what a dream it must have been to stay at a real castle. They're such magnificent reminders of history. :)

profiterolesandponytails said...

I believe in the same traveling philosophy! I'd take a charming, cozy inn over a chain hotel any day. Your hostess at the castle sounds like quite a character -- she must have been the highlight of your stay at the castle!

Beth said...

She was, Barb!

Barbara said...

I agree, Beth. We love staying at castles, B & B's, anything but the ordinary.
This is beautiful.

Julie said...

What beautiful photos! The first one is especially lovely! Hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

Sissi said...

Scotland is THE British region I dream of visiting, so thank you for making me dream again.

magda said...

Scotland must be so incredibly beautiful. I hope I visit it soon, it's not that far away from Holland after all...!
Beautiful photographs!

Miriam said...

What a beautiful place!! So lovely :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Elaine said...

Such beautiful photos, Beth. I would love to spend the night in a castle!

Katerina said...

I've been to Edinburgh in my 20's and I loved it! I didn't have the time to travel around and this is something I need to do sometime in the future. The castle is beautiful and I am sure you had a memorable time while you stayed there!

Lizzy said...

My parents lived in Scotland for a year, so we were lucky enough to go visit them during their sabbatical. But I'd love to go back to this lovely locale...and stay in this castle despite the ghost :)

backroadjournal said...

It is wonderful when you find a lovely out of the way place to stay. It sounds like you had a wonderful experience with your castle stay.

Ruth said...

Lovely pictures. Sounds like my kind of place.

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