Lochranza Castle

Visiting Lochranza Castle

Lochranza Castle’s ruins on the Isle of Arran near Glasgow, Scotland, stand overlooking the picturesque views over Loch Ranza and Scottish wooded forests. The castle, built in the 1200s has three-storey tall walls, and likely belonged to local nobility Dougall MacSween, the Lord of Knapdale. 


Free parking is available near various points around the loch. After that, it is a short five-minute walk out to the castle, and it is possible to drive right up to the structure.



Lochranza Castle is free to visit; no bookings are required.



It is open all year

Location and Access

Lochranza Castle is located on the northern tip of the Isle of Arran.

The Isle of Arran is an island off the southwest coast of Scotland which is accessible by ferry. The ferry departs from Ardrossan Harbour and arrives at Brodick, a town on the island's eastern side.

When driving from the North of England, it will take approximately 3 hours to reach the castle, or about 50 minutes drive from Glasgow with an accompanying ferry trip

If you're approaching from Western Scotland, there is an alternate ferry located at Claonaig. You can travel to the Kintyre peninsula and board the ferry directly to Lochranza. This means you arrive at the north end of the Isle of Arran and right near the castle.

You can take vehicles onto the ferry for the 55-minute trip, but reservations are recommended. 

There are also excellent rail links directly to Ardrossan Harbour, the port for the ferry.

Local buses depart from nearby towns like Brodick that will take you to Lochranza Castle.

Know Before You Go

Being situated on an island in the North Atlantic Ocean means powerful, cold winds and cold weather. Some activities involve hiking, climbing, and open water activities, as well as walking tours.

Take note of local weather conditions, particularly when travelling in the year's colder months, and dress appropriately.

The annual average temperature varies between 1°C to 16°C (33.8°F to 60.8°F). You can expect cool and windy conditions in the summer, with long winters involving freezing, wet and windy weather.

Places To Stay Nearby

History of Lochranza Castle

Lochranza Castle was built in the 1200s by Dougall MacSween for use as a base of operations for various skirmishes between the royals of England. It changed hands at least five times over the years and though it was renovated in the 1500s, only a few walls remain today.

Throughout its history, it's been home to well-known notable names as Stewart, the Montgomeries, as well as links to King James II and King Alexander III.

Other famous occupants included King James VI in 1614, and later in the 1650s, it was occupied by Oliver Cromwell.

In the 16th century, the Montgomeries upgraded the hall-house into a larger structure. It now resembles an L-plan tower house that you can visit today. In its early years, the property was used as a dwelling, a hunting lodge, and eventually a garrison for troops.

The Isle of Arran was not a contentious territory once the Scottish had defeated the Norwegian claim in the 1200s. Given its location, it lost its strategic use once the Scottish gained sovereignty over it in 1266 and was too strong a defensive position.

Time Line


-The 1200s

Lord of Knapdale Dougall MacSween builds a hall-house at the location of current-day Lochranza Castle.


Negotiations to settle tensions as part of the Scottish-Norwegian War of 1262-1266 occurred at the Isle of Arran. The property was given to the Stewarts by King Alexander III.


Evidence of Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, visiting the property. His grandson Robert II owns it later as a hunting lodge.


The castle and its surroundings are passed from King James II to the Montgomeries and then later used as a base.

-The 1500s

The Lochranza Castle is upgraded to resemble the current structure, as can be seen, today.

-The 1650s

Oliver Cromwell's troops occupied Lochranza Castle as part of the Battle of Dunbar.


Ownership transferred to the Hamilton family. Lochranza Castle falls into disuse over time.

Lochranza Castle Occupants

The Lochranza Castle was occupied by various Scottish royal families and their supporters.

The first family to have this property was likely the MacSweens, or it could even have been a member of the Stewart family. It was eventually transferred from the Stewarts to Robert the Bruce and King James II by the 1400s.

After being granted to the Montgomeries, it moved to the Hamiltons by early 1700. After this, it fell into disrepair. Current archaeology notes refer to it as ruinous.

Images of Lochranza Castle

Lochranza Castle Lochranza Castle Lochranza Castle Lochranza Castle Lochranza Castle Lochranza Castle
Lochranza Castle Lochranza Castle Lochranza Castle Lochranza Castle Lochranza Castle Lochranza Castle

Images Supplied and licensed from Shutterstock Standard Licence Package

Lochranza Castle Facts

Lochranza Castle is located next to a fishing village. The surrounding woodlands have a large population of elk and sheep commonly seen nearby and even make their way into the villages.

Various groups have inhabited the Isle of Arran for centuries. Remains of people from Ireland have been discovered, as well as evidence of occupation by the Norwegians. 

Eventually, it was absorbed into the Kingdom of Scotland following the Treaty of Perth.

Lochranza Castle was the site of many pivotal moments in Scottish history. Significantly, in its previous form as a hall-house, it was the staging area for battles between the Scots and Norwegians during the 1200s and was part of the Stewarts' territory.

Lochranza Castle Q&A

Is There an Entry Fee?

Lochranza Castle is free entry.

Is It Open All Year?

Yes, the site is open all year, but the castle is not open for visitors currently.

Are There Any Amenities at the Castle?

Lochranza Castle does not offer food, drink, or toilets. However, there are cafes and lodges nearby. The south end of Isle of Arran has many large resorts and hotels.

How Do I Get There?

Most people travel via the ferry that travels from Ardrossan Harbour, 50 minutes drive from Glasgow. It's also possible to take the train to Ardrossan Harbour.

Is There Accommodation on the Island?

You have many accommodation options, ranging from smaller houses through private accommodation to purpose-built hotels. The Isle of Arran welcomes many tourists every year.

How Do I Get Around the Island?

You can bring a vehicle over on the ferry or hire one on the island. There are also options to take public transport in the form of buses as well as bicycle hire.

Are Photos Allowed?

You can take photos and do flash photography.

Can Lochranza Castle Be Hired Out?

Unfortunately, the castle is not a venue for hire.

How Long Does It Take To See the Main Attraction?

You can thoroughly explore the ruins in less

Location of Lochranza Castle

Other Places To Visit Near Lochranza Castle

The Isle of Arran has many other unique locations to check out. It boasts a total of 7 golf courses which you can experience via the Golf Pass.

There are a variety of adventure activities like canoeing, sea kayaking, and paragliding. You can also attempt some more royal-themed activities like archery and horse riding.