Rothesay Castle featured in historic attraction pass

Rothesay Castle at night. (Pic - Iain MacLeod)
Rothesay Castle at night. (Pic - Iain MacLeod)

Rothesay Castle is one of six top island attractions included in a new link-up between Historic Scotland and Caledonian MacBrayne.

New for 2015, the Islands Explorer Pass allows access to six Historic Scotland properties, including Rothesay’s spectacular town centre castle.

Other attractions featured include a traditional thatched blackhouse on Lewis, Barra’s Kisimul Castle (known as ‘the castle in the sea’), a 1,400 year old abbey and an industrial ironworks.

Valid from April until October, the Pass allows visitors to explore a number of Historic Scotland sites for a one off cost.

The six Historic Scotland attractions included in the new pass are:

* Iona Abbey and Nunnery, founded by St Columba more than 1,400 years ago, is home to the largest collection of early-Medieval sculpture in Scotland, including carved stones and crosses.

* The Blackhouse Arnol, situated on the Isle of Lewis, is an example of a traditional, fully furnished, thatched house which provides a unique insight into rural Scottish island life.

* Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace, in Taynuit, near Oban, Britain’s most complete example of a charcoal-fuelled ironworks provides a fascinating insight into the Industrial Revolution.

* Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel, near Oban, is one of Scotland’s oldest stone castles. Built in the 1200s, this stronghold of the MacDougall’s once dominated Loch Etive.

* Kisimul Castle, on the Isle of Barra, is the best–preserved Medieval castle in the Western Isles and dates back to the 15th Century. The island stronghold is the seat of the Chiefs of Clan Macneil of Barra and can only be reached by a short boat trip.

* Rothesay Castle, on the Isle of Bute, is a unique Scottish Castle, notable for its unusual circular design and its close association with the Stewart Kings of Scotland.

Susan Loch, head of visitor operations at Historic Scotland, said: “The Islands Explorer Pass is a great way for visitors to explore the history and heritage of the islands, and it will be particularly useful for people who want to enjoy a touring holiday of the islands.

“Historic Scotland cares for all kinds of attractions in this region, so whether you’re interested in exploring ancient castles, learning about a lost way of life on Lewis or making a pilgrimage to the iconic Iona Abbey, there is something for you.”

Maggie Maguire, UK tourism development manager for Caledonian MacBrayne, added: “We’re pleased to be teaming up with Historic Scotland to help people access some of the harder to reach attractions in their care by ferry.

“We hope that this will be a great success and are proud that CalMac can play its part in bringing many more visitors to these exceptional properties.”

For further information on the Islands Explorer Pass, click here.