Scotland to reopen its most famous castles in August
Historic fortresses in Edinburgh, Stirling and the Scottish Highlands will welcome visitors with enhanced safety rules
Scotland will reopen many of its historic castles on August 1.
Edinburgh Castle, the country’s most-visited tourist attraction, will be among those welcoming visitors again next month.
After several months of closures, tourism in Scotland restarted on July 15, when hotels, national parks, restaurants and cafes were given the green light to reopen. Historic Environment Scotland is the organisation that looks after the majority of the country’s castles, and it will reopen three of its most famous properties next month.
Edinburgh Castle in the Scottish capital, Urquhart Castle in Inverness and Stirling Castle are all opening on Saturday, August 1.
Visitors keen to get back to exploring these historic monuments will need to book in advance, as tickets are being released in fortnightly rotations. Reservations can be made on the Historic Environment Scotland website, which the organisation jokes is preferable to booking via carrier pigeon or town crier.
Protecting ourselves might look a little different today to how it did when our castles were built, but it’s still just as important
Historic Environment Scotland
The organisation has also outlined some other rules in place at its ancient sites that are designed to keep visitors safe during the pandemic.
Physical distancing is being implemented and tourists are helpfully reminded to stay “at least as far away from each other as the average length of a fully grown unicorn” – Scotland’s national animal.
There are also cues for visitors to practise good hand hygiene. “Protecting ourselves might look a little different today to how it did when our castles were built, but it’s still just as important,” reads the website.
A "be kind" policy has also been implemented at all of Scotland’s historic attractions, with visitors asked to give people space and be patient. “A suit of armour doesn't always mean there's going to be a battle. So let's not get carried away,” states the website, referring to the obligatory face coverings sightseers will need to wear in some areas of the castles, as per Scottish Government rules.
Ancient castles and mythical creatures
Edinburgh Castle is by far one of Scotland’s most recognisable landmarks. Set on top of a volcano – don’t worry, it last erupted 340 million years ago – in the heart of the capital, the fortress welcomed more than 1.7 million visitors last year.
But Urquhart Castle is one of Scotland’s most picturesque. Overlooking Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands, the noble ruins are a popular stop-off point for travellers hoping to catch a glimpse of Nessie, Scotland's mythical loch-dwelling monster.
Meanwhile, Stirling Castle is a beacon of Scottish independence with a turbulent history that links William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Mary Queen of Scots.
As Scotland continues to revive its tourism sector, a further 23 historic locations will reopen over the next few months. These include the ancient Skara Brae on the Orkney Islands, which will open in August, and St Andrews Castle and Fort George, scheduled to open in September.
A 14-day quarantine period
Visit Scotland – the country’s tourism organisation – released a breathtakingly beautiful video last week highlighting the country's treasures and encouraging people to go and explore, now that movement restrictions have eased. Tourism is one of Scotland’s most important industries, but a lack of international visitors because of Covid-19 means the country is more reliant than ever on locals rediscovering what's on their doorstep.
While Scotland has never closed to international visitors, there is a 14-day mandatory quarantine period in place for all arriving passengers.
The country – popular with Britain’s Royal Family – is also a favourite with Dubai’s royals. In April, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, posted a throwback to his time stalking puffins on a remote Scottish Island.
Scotland has recorded 18,547 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but at the time of writing, had not recorded any related deaths for nine days in a row.
Scotland has taken a cautious approach to the easing of coronavirus restrictions. The country came out of lockdown two weeks after England, and was the first in the UK to implement mandatory face coverings in public areas.
Updated: August 2, 2020 01:19 PM