It’s an exciting time for Barcaldine Castle. To add to our Scottish Breakfast and Afternoon Tea options, we have introduced our Black Castle Restaurant this year! To launch this new service, our chef John Larkins has created a beautiful menu using fresh, high-quality ingredients. John has put his extensive experience with European food to good use, as reflected in his selection of delicious starters, mains and desserts. Many of the choices are traditional Scottish dishes (perfect for us), while some have roots in other places.
How could we not include this? It’s a national favourite — or the national favourite! Despite what some may think, haggis is not an animal. It is the heart, liver and lungs (minced) of a sheep, mixed with onion, oatmeal, suet and spices.
Although it’s unclear where haggis originally comes from, it’s still the national dish of Scotland, and very commonly associated with the Scots. It is also the main course of a Burns Supper since Robert Burns’ poem Address to a Haggis in 1787. In Burns’ own words, it’s the “great chieftain o’ the pudding-race”!
Here at Barcaldine, our haggis comes as a starter with “neaps and tatties” (turnips and potatoes) and a whisky cream sauce. Mmmmm!
A highlight of our mains is our Tournedos Rossini. A beef fillet steak on a crouton with homemade pâté, this French dish is named after the Italian opera composer Gioacchino Rossini. Rossini loved good food and lived in Bologna, Florence and Paris. The gourmet chef of one of his favourite restaurants in Paris, Casimir Moisson, is one of those believed to have invented the dish in Rossini’s honour.
Another fantastique French dish, this classic 19th-century dessert comes from Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, France. Normally an apple tart and always upside-down, there are different stories of its origin in the 1880s. Hotel Tatin was run by sisters Caroline and Stéphanie Tatin, with their signature dish ultimately named after them. The funny thing is that, as the popular story goes, Stéphanie Tatin actually invented it by accident:
One day, Stéphanie had simply been making an apple pie, when she accidentally overcooked the apples in butter and sugar, and they became caramelised. Not wanting to waste them, Stéphanie put her pastry base on top of the apples and put the whole pan in the oven. In the end, her guests really enjoyed the rescued tart, and word of it travelled all the way to Paris.
And we have even more delicious dishes for you to try. Have a look at our varied selection of European food (mainly Scottish, of course) and see what takes your fancy!
The popular travel guide has listed its “ten regions that are ready for the spotlight”. As usual, Lonely Planet has made some great choices. Each one is definitely worth visiting, judging by the variety of history, culture and beautiful scenery. Although we’re not quite number one on the list, which Piedmont, Italy is, the Scotland’s Highlands and islands are listed as number five! We’re right above the Russian Far East and just below Australia’s Red Centre.
The list item starts by praising Scotland’s whisky: “a thousand years of history and culture distilled.” Lonely Planet seems to like the distilleries up here, and we agree. In particular, Oban Distillery is well worth a visit for the tours and tastings it offers.
The item also includes a link to Lonely Planet’s video “Introducing Scotland’s Highlands & Islands”. Give Barcaldine Castle a wave at 1:09! Also linked is their article The Great Glen: coast to coast along Scotland’s rift valley. You may want to have a read and see some of the gorgeous sights included, such as Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Fancy a trip up to the Scottish Highlands to see what Lonely Planet is talking about? While you’re at it, a stay at Barcaldine Castle will give you an even more memorable experience! Have a look at what else you can get up to when you’re visiting the Highlands.
Got any special occasions coming up? Any cool party themes in mind? If not, why not?! Nothing adds to the fun of a party like a gripping theme and an interesting venue. We’d love to hire out our castle for an evening and give you full and exclusive use of this historic building.
In case you need inspiration for your next event, here are some ideas to suit a variety of tastes.
Of all the best and most popular party themes, this is one that we recently brought to life here at Barcaldine. Just last month we held the most fantastic feast in the Seven Kingdoms! Our guests celebrated a 50th nameday in style complete with excellent costumes and a delicious feast prepared by our new chef John Larkins, it was like stepping right into King’s Landing. Any excuse to host another clash of kings would be welcome!
Did you know Hogwarts is in the Scottish Highlands? Although the Harry Potter books don’t mention it, J.K. Rowling has told us so herself. The films also use a number of Scottish locations for parts of the Hogwarts grounds. But the real Hogwarts cannot be plotted on a map. Maybe it’s next door to us!
Muggles can’t see Hogwarts, but they can still come to Barcaldine Castle for a night of witches, wizards and a magical feast — and maybe try to spot a giant squid in Loch Creran. Of all the party themes we’ve thought of, we’d perhaps like to try this one the most! For an even more magical time, while you’re here, you could even pop up to Glenfinnan Viaduct, where the films showed the Hogwarts Express transporting young students to the famous wizarding school.
If you visit during the summer, you can even take a steam train ride on the Jacobite, from Fort William to Mallaig, along the viaduct itself. Check it out and have your own Hogwarts Express journey! And that’s not all. Not far from the viaduct is also Loch Eilt, famous for a couple of Potter scenes of its own — including the breaking of Dumbledore’s grave on the island Eilean na Moine.
Another classic way to get that fantasy feel is with a fairy-tale theme and a party in the Great Hall. Dress to the nines and throw an enchanted ball with roaring fires and romantic candlelight. We can’t promise talking candlesticks and tea cups, but we can guarantee you a memorable and magical night! We’re always up for hosting a wicked queen or a sleeping beauty, so be our guest and have your happily ever after.
TripAdvisor has voted Barcaldine Castle the number one haunted B&B. Legend tells that the ghost of Donald Campbell, the Laird of Barcaldine, haunts the castle to this day. Donald was murdered during the Massacre of Glencoe, by Stewart of Appin. Stewart then escaped and went to stay with Donald’s brother Duncan, who hadn’t heard the news. Still, Donald haunted Duncan for housing his murderer, and it was only after Stewart had done a runner that Duncan found out his brother was dead. Frustrated by this, Donald’s ghost returned to Barcaldine Castle for good, where guests say they can still feel his presence…
We all love a good ghost story, and a nice gothic evening in the castle can add to the chilling legend surrounding it (especially the Caithness Room). If you’re a fan of all things gothic, you could even pretend you’re in Castle Dracula or the Castle of Otranto.
The Black Castle was built between 1601 and 1609 by “Black” Duncan Campbell. During the Union of the Crowns, as it happens. In 1603, Elizabeth I of England passed away; James VI of Scotland quickly succeeded her, uniting Scotland with England and Ireland. What better use is there for Barcaldine than to celebrate our history and keep it alive with a Renaissance-style feast?
We also suggest some Shakespeare themes. Did you know The Scottish Play (Macbeth, but don’t say it out loud) is thought to have been first performed in 1606? People often connect the play with King James, patron of Shakespeare’s work. So bring your skulls and go mad, and we predict that you’ll have a great time!
So what are you waiting for? Thinking caps on, and see if you’d like to book Exclusive Use of Barcaldine Castle for your next big event. It’ll be a night to remember!
If you follow our blog or social media or if you’ve treated yourself to a stay at our luxury castle you’ll know that we have you spoilt for choice in the food department – offering delightful Afternoon Tea sessions, and hearty Scottish breakfasts (or lighter alternatives, including a Gluten Free menu) to keep guests going throughout the day. However, we are pleased to announce that we’ll soon be expanding our food services to offer a full à la carte evening menu for guests and visitors alike to feast on!
And how are we able to offer this exciting (and tasty!) new addition to our services, we hear you ask? We’re thrilled to announce experienced and talented chef John Larkins (pictured) will be joining our team full-time after previously dazzling our wedding and exclusive use clients!
A Scottish native himself, John has been perfecting his culinary skills since leaving school, having accumulated a wealth of cooking experience by working with French, Scottish, Italian and Spanish chefs throughout his career to date.
John reveals: “my mentor was a great Scottish Chef who taught me some of the French Classics, which started with the Five Mother Sauces; at the same time my inspiration also comes from Raymond Blanc [an accomplished French chef].”
As his cooking career has gone from strength to strength, John has adopted his own unique and special culinary style whilst sticking to the fundamental laws of cooking. His infectious passion for creating delectable dishes has seen him work the way up to Head Chef positions so we know our diners’ taste buds are in safe hands!
“Taste, natural colours and texture are so important; therefore, it is vital to use local and in-season produce and build a menu around those types of ingredients, whilst keeping your menu choice limited and changeable,” John explains.
“I love presentation and design, it is so important to marry aesthetics with beautiful food,” he adds.
Sharing his motivations for creating delicious plates, John says: “knowing you have created and presented a symphony of joy in your restaurant where your customers obtain an unforgettable and amazing dining experience brings true satisfaction, which is always my aim.
“Every day is a school day, you are always learning and always from each other [in a kitchen].”
And when he’s not cooking up the ultimate dining experience for our guests and visitors?
“It’s true I have a great passion for food but during my free time I love my golf”, John admits. “My other interests are singing, garden design and sunshine holidays (especially Crete in Greece).” – we don’t blame him!
“Daniel and I are super excited to have John join our team. We already know that his food exceeds expectations and he has the amazing ability to transform even the simplest of dishes.
“The feedback we have received over time has been phenomenal and we always knew that he could easily become part of our Barcaldine family and help us grow the business in an exciting way.
“Like ourselves, John shows true love and passion within his work and the hospitality trade – which is very important to us here. We can’t wait to get started and be able to offer our guests more than just a Luxury Bed and Breakfast, but a full experience.”
Who doesn’t love a castle? We’ve all heard of Camelot, Castle Dracula, Sleeping Beauty’s castle, Hogwarts, and other impressive buildings of fiction. It’s always nice to visit a real castle to recreate the mystical feeling that we often associate with our favourite stories. Plus, they can teach us something about our country’s history.
There are many good reasons to visit a castle on one of your trips – but why just visit a castle when you could own one for the day? With exclusive use, you can take full advantage of the scene and truly relish the castle-y experience.
From ancient gates, to grand towers and magnificent grounds, here are our favourite reasons/excuses to indulge in your castle fantasy and experience it all to yourself, just for a bit.
Perhaps the most obvious reason to rent a castle is for a wedding in the perfect setting. Since the royal wedding earlier this year, many engaged couples might be tempted with a royal wedding of their own, and the dream fairy-tale wedding is definitely a stylish way to tie the knot. Where better to do it than a place that was built to last?
Even for those who are already married, a party to celebrate a special anniversary would be just as romantic, if not more so, and we think it’s very deserving of such a beautiful setting. Even without a special anniversary coming up, there are still special birthdays to celebrate – and who could think of a cooler birthday party? Castles could suit a bunch of different types of parties … but personally, we’re thinking of a themed murder mystery!
Sometimes an office Christmas party isn’t a good enough thank-you for the team. And they might just need a change of scenery. So why not treat them like nobility? As well as having plenty to see and explore nearby, a castle is the ideal setting for some memorable team-building activities.
We’ve established that castles are fun, so why not put that fun to good use and start a fundraiser? A fun run, a themed gala, even a charity ball. Such a grand venue is sure to grab the attention of potential donators.
And we don’t just mean to take your usual pics for your post-holiday slideshow or your social media. We mean that any photographer, professional or amateur, with or without a model in regal fashion, deserves a historic scene for some artsy shots. Different castle interiors can offer all kinds of scenery, from grand and elegant to rugged and medieval, so they set the tone for an array of purposes.
From history documentaries to medieval dramas to fantasy films, we love to watch some drama in the great hall! Even an amateur filmmaker could set their stage and shoot a scene with a stunningly realistic background.
For filming in Barcaldine Castle, find out more here.
We hope at least one of these ideas has tickled your fancy, and we hope you’ll pick The Black Castle for all your castle needs. For more information about renting here, please visit our Exclusive Use page.
Castles by their very nature hold mysteries and, as one of the only ancient castles on the mainland open on a B&B basis, our very own Barcaldine Castle is bound to have some shadowy secrets of its own. With a friendly and memorable accommodation service – it would almost be a crime not to stay and discover the thrills of the 400-year-old castle!
According to a public survey conducted in 2013, many visitors to the castle believe it to be haunted – possibly by the ghost of Donald Campbell, Laird of Barcaldine, since he was violently murdered in the castle in the 17th century by Stewart of Appin during the Massacre of Glencoe, one of the most notorious massacres in Scotland’s rich and colourful past.
Victim Donald is the brother of the castle’s founder Sir Duncan Campbell, who built the ‘Black Castle’ between 1601 and 1609. Legend states that murdered Donald continued to haunt his brother Sir Duncan, as punishment for sheltering Stewart of Appin, his murderer, at his home in Inverawe, where Appin had fled after murdering Donald. Poor Sir Duncan didn’t even know his brother had passed away, so unbeknownst to him sheltered his brother’s killer. By the time he had wised up, it was too late, the murderous Stewart of Appin had fled once again!
Donald Campbell reportedly haunts Barcaldine Castle out of pure frustration at the injustice he suffered. Guests often tell tales of The Caithness Room being haunted, with sightings of Donald’s ghost featuring heavily in their stories. Many who have slept on the right side of the king-sized bed in The Caithness Room claim that they experienced feeling pressure on their back or legs as though someone was sitting on them! Others allege that odd lights have moved around the room at night, with no clear explanation as to how they got there.
The TripAdvisor survey may have been carried out in 2013, but many are still tempted to find out if Campbell’s ghost still roams the rooms and halls – are you?!
The castle may have wi-fi access and modern facilities but rooms such as The Breadalbane Room retain their traditional charm, boasting a super king-sized four-poster bed commissioned in 1898. Meanwhile, The Lochnell Room features an impressive 17th century Jacobean four poster double bed that is complemented by other period furniture.
Ornate, open roaring fireplaces, antique furnishings and paintings and even a secret staircase ensure the historic feel of Barcaldine isn’t just restricted to the bedrooms but embodies the entirety of the castle!
With secret spiralling staircases, a sinister bottle dungeon and being nestled in the stunning mountains of Glencoe boasting picturesque views, Argyll’s Black Castle is now available to be used as a backdrop for film and TV shows as of 2018. If you’re a movie fan, why not visit the castle to say you’ve been to what will no doubt promise to be an iconic film location in years to come?
Whether you’re a ghost hunter, film and TV fan or history buff, we’d be surprised if you weren’t intrigued by what Barcaldine Castle has to offer. To book your stay visit our Reservations page.
Review Date: The beginning of October
“Fabulous Bed and Breakfast”
“Lovely castle with a beautiful view of the countryside. Only an easy 20 minute drive to the heart of Oban. The accommodations were great. The bed was so comfortable. The breakfast was delicious. You must try the full Scottish breakfast. A lot of wonderful flavors. We are definitely going back to Barcaldine Castle!”
For more reviews from our guests visit TripAdvisor.