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I must have sailed past Duart Castle a hundred times, maybe even two hundred, before I first anchored by the small stone jetty under the cliff. It is worth a stop, not for the tearoom or the shop which are a bit dull, but for the view from what is known as the Sea Room which Fitzroy Maclean built on to the side of the keep after he bought the castle as a ruin in 1910, and then restored it. Here you can sit on cushions covering a wide window seat and look north up Loch Linnhe to a great panorama of mountains, including Ben Nevis. The foreground stretches from Morvern to Lismore. The restored castle, which is still owned by the MacLeans although like so many castles round here was built by the MacDougalls in the 13th century, is certainly domestic in feel if a bit run down in the public areas, even though it was clearly once a substantial fortress. The photographs of what it was like before the restoration make one wonder whether similar ruins could today be made to look as good, or would the preservationists prefer ivy covered crumbling walls, like Aros or Dunollie castles? Whatever, Duart is a great success as it stands on its point, Saltire flying in the wind, well known to all west coast sailors as they take the tide in or out of the Sound of Mull. It is particularly wonderful on a dark and stormy night with a single lighted window - one expects vampire bats to be flying in and out!
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An old familiar sight at the southern entrance to the Sound of Mull - as it looks now, in the summer.....
Duart Castle before the restoration, described by Dean Monro in 1549 as "A strenthey place, bigged on a craige at the sea syde".
From the The George Washington Wilson and Co. Photographic Collection, courtesy of the University of Aberdeen. Ref 3792/C1991
.... and in April with an unusual amount of snow