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Thursday, 17 November 2016

A Scottish Scandal – The Sale and Breakup of Carbisdale Castle

The Negligence of Holyrood and the SNP at the Destruction of a Jewel of the Highlands
Carbisdale Castle in all its glory

Me outside Carbisdale with the forests behind me - date unknown
Picture I took of the Railway bridge connecting Invershin station and Culraine - date unknown
A picture I took of the gallery - date unknown
Picture I took of the main entrance to the castle - date unknown
Secondary entrance to castle
The winding path to the castle
 
CESARE LAPINI
This isn't the normal type of political post that I write but it is political.   It is how a wonderful national asset in the Scottish Highlands, which produced an income for the communities around it from the tourists it attracted, was asset stripped by the Scottish Youth Hostel Association whilst the Scottish government looked on, or rather didn't look on.
Pasqualle's Andromeda
I fell in love with the beauty of the Highlands at the age of 14 on a youth hostelling trip.  I went back there repeatedly.  The Highlands are the most beautiful and unspoilt part, not only of Britain, but Europe too.  In particular I was fascinated with Carbisdale Castle, the most unique youth hostel I’ve ever stayed in.  Built for the Duchess of Sutherland by her estranged family by marriage, it is situated in Sutherland and can be seen for miles around.
the lower gallery
I probably stayed there at least 10 times.  It is situated in the most glorious part of the Highlands, on the banks of the Kyle of Sutherland.  It is served by two railway stations, at Culraine and across the bridge at Invershin.  Trains run or used to run about 3 times a day.
It is fair to say that the castle was almost a part of my life as I would hitch-hike from Liverpool and then Brighton to Scotland and and stay without fail in the castle, about 50 miles north of Inverness and about 5 km north of Bonar Bridge.  The last time I stayed in it was with my daughter in 2003.

This year, not having been back to the Highlands for a decade, we decided to rent a cottage a couple of miles north of the castle.   When I inquired about the castle, the owner of the cottage told me that it was a scandal what had happened.  The castle had been closed for about 5 years because of the need for repairs and instead of raising the money, the Scottish Youth Hostel Association had decided to sell the castle off, which they finally managed to do this year for less than a million pounds.  Less than a family home in London.
Jacob's Dream
What was so wonderful about the castle, apart from the grounds and the fabulous interior, was a  gallery in which fabulous marble statues were situated, with gorgeous paintings on the wall.  The vandals of the SYHA sold these off first in order to raise money.  Scotland has its own government which at the time in question was controlled by the Scottish National Party.  What the hell were the SNP doing during this process?  The Scottish government should have used its powers to preserve the castle intact, if necessary passing legislation to this effect.  It should have ensured that the £6 million necessary to repair the castle was forthcoming and a unique and irreplaceable national heritage was preserved for future generations of Scots.  Instead they paid homage to the free market and allowed the vandalism of capitalism to take full effect.  The paintings and sculptures were sold off for double what it was thought they were worth, £1m, more than the castle itself and now some property company has bought it in order to turn it into a private residence for some playboy.
Pasquale Romanelli
For all the talk of red Tories, the SNP are no better than the Red Tories they oppose.  The Labour opposition at Holyrood is of course no better.  It failed to raise the issue and one suspects they knew nothing of it either. 

I post therefore some pictures I took during my stays there and information I gathered from brochures as well as other pictures from amongst other sites Sothebys!
PUTTO READING, IN A LANDSCAPE
A brochure that used to be issued describing the castle can be seen here and the statues and art can be seen here

Below is a video of the surrounding area, which consists of the most beautiful forests and country.

Some Features and facts

  • The castle has 365 windows, one for each day of the year.
  • The clock-tower only has clocks on three sides. The side facing Sutherland does not have a clock.
  • There is a secret door below the Great Staircase which could be opened by rotating one of the statues. This mechanism is not in use anymore.
  • The castle is said to have several ghosts. It has been investigated by paranormal experts with varying results. The appearances include a lady in white, fallen soldiers of the Battle of Carbisdale and the sounds of a piper. The Ghost of the Castles GardenerThe Hooded Gardener is said to roam the grounds looking for his lost daughter, he often haunts girls that are the same age as his own daughter (15); he has been seen dressed in black with a black hood with only part of his face shown.
  • The Castle has a large collection of art with some pieces dating back to the year 1680.
  • There are 19 Italian marble statues in the Lower Gallery of amazing beauty, dating back to around 1857.
  • Every May, Erskine Stewart's Melville Schools, a private school, had a school trip there. During this time, bagpipes were played at 7 in the morning as an alarm.
Cupid in Repose

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