Boats to Castle Island run from April to October from Kinross Pier (right outside The Boathouse Bistro) which is just a 15 minute walk from the Green Hotel Golf & Leisure Resort hotels.
It’s the second largest of the Loch’s seven islands and much larger than it was before the great drainage scheme of 1830 when Lochleven Castle and its gardens occupied the whole island.
Today, Lochleven is under the stewardship of Historic Scotland and is considered by many to be one of Scotland’s most important medieval monuments - both because of the structures and the buildings that remain and because of it’s colourful past.
Although it is unclear who first built a fortified structure here, the curtain wall probably dates back to around 1300 with the tower house being built not long afterwards. And its origins would appear to lie in Edward I of England’s attempts to conquer Scotland, first launched in 1296.
Indeed, there is a story that William Wallace captured the castle from the English. Certainly Robert I (the Bruce) was staying on the island in 1313 during preparations for the Battle of Bannockburn. And it remained as a royal castle until 1390 when Robert II granted it to Sir Henry Douglas.
...and Mary Queen of Scots
And it was still in the hands of the Douglas family when its most famous visitor, Mary Queen of Scots, arrived for the first time in 1561 shortly after her return from France following the death of her first husband, the French king Francis 1.
She was to return to Lochleven, as a visitor, on two separate occasions. First in 1563, during which stay she disputed heatedly with John Knox, the architect of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, whom she had summoned to the castle and again in 1565, accompanied by her second husband, Lord Darnley.
Her next visit, following the suspicious death of Darnley and Mary’s third marriage, this time to the Earl of Bothwell, was not to be a voluntary one.
In 1567, tensions between Bothwell and various members of the Scottish nobility had culminated in the abortive Battle of Carberry Hill and Mary’s surrender. Within a matter of days, Mary was a prisoner at Lochleven where she was to remain for almost a year in the custody of her former host, Sir William Douglas.
Attended by two ladies-in-waiting, a cook and a personal doctor, and free to walk the castle grounds, it wasn’t perhaps the most gruelling of imprisonments, nor was it an easy time for her. Whilst on the island, she suffered a tragic miscarriage of twins and was forced to abdicate in favour of her infant son who became James VI of Scotland (and later James I of England).
In 1568. she made a daring escape and managed to raise a small army, but within a fortnight of her escape, her army had been defeated at the Battle of Langside and Mary was in exile in England, never again to return to the country of which she had been queen almost since the day of her birth.
With such a rich and romantic history, Castle Island has to be on your list of places to visit while staying at The Green resort.
Loch Leven Heritage Trail
Following the Loch Leven Heritage Trail is the perfect way to appreciate the beauty, observe the wildlife and savour the history of Loch Leven - a National Nature Reserve and Scotland’s largest lowland loch.
It runs for 8 miles (12.5 kms) from Kinross Pier to the RSPB bird sanctuary at Vane Farm and since the trail is traffic free, well-signposted (so no risk of getting lost!) and mostly flat, it’s ideal for walkers, joggers and cyclists and for most wheelchair users. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the Scottish countryside at it's best with spectacular views across the Loch and its islands to the rolling hills beyond.
Contact Us if you would like to step back in history and book a boat trip out to visit the historic Island on Loch Leven.
Find out more!