Lochindorb Castle

Written by Chris Thornton | 12th of July 2023
Lochindorb Castle

Lochindorb is a freshwater loch in the east Highlands of Scotland, located directly south of Forres and Nairn and to the northwest of Grantown-on-Spey and Aviemore. The loch is a significant feature of the Dava Moor; it is a fairly desolate, windswept, bleak landscape with few trees and standout landscape features on the surrounding hills.

The meaning of Lochindorb seems to have a couple of different meanings "Loch of trouble" and "Loch of the minnows".

The loch itself is about 2 miles long and two-thirds of a mile wide; it is 969 ft above sea level. A single-track road with passing places runs along the east shore of Lochindorb, giving great views of the water and island castle.

Looking south at Lochindorb.

Lochindorb Castle - an island fortress!

The main draw to Lochindorb is the castle ruin on the island positioned on the central, east side of the loch. This is a partially artificial island, and while the castle may not look as impressive as the one at Loch An Eilean or Eilean Donan, it is still relatively big and well defined with its square perimeter wall.

A study of the main island suggested evidence of pre-castle occupation remains, with the site marked as a potential location for a Crannog due to an ancient and large oak beam being found on the loch bed below submerged walls near the shores of the island.

Lochindorb Castle one of Scotland's ancient and historical monuments. View of fallen walls.

Castle construction

The north side of the island seems to have man-made features and no bedrock, whereas the other sides have loch bed slopes comprised of natural clay.

This castle has strong links to medieval castle design in England and Wales with its sizeable thick curtain walls and circular towers. It would be classed as an Edwardian Castle after upgrades by King Edward I of England between 1303 and 1306. The thick, strong walls are typical of castles of this design, and the examples at Lochindorb Castle are 7 ft thick and, in some areas, still 20ft high, despite the lack of maintenance over hundreds of years.

Circular round towers defended each corner of the castle, and the entrance gateway was positioned at the east wall of the castle, giving access to a landing stage on the loch shore.

The south wall hosts a range of four grassed-covered buildings within the main enclosure, with one being known as "The Chapel" and another the "Primary hall".

Plan of Lochindorb Castle - A large quadrilateral curtained enclosure.
Artists impression of Lochindorb Castle
My daughter Ellie's artists impression of Lochindorb Castle.

Lochindorb Castle history

Here is a very brief overview of the history of Lochindorb Castle.

1290 - Likely constructed in the late 13th century for Sir John Comyn, the construction and design shared many parallels with the Comyn castle at Inverlochy and Castle Roy near Nethy Bridge.

1303 - King Edward I of England invades Scotland intending to crush William Wallace. This major push into Scotland leads him to Lochindorb Castle (then called Lowchyndorbe). From this stronghold, Edward launched attacks on neighbouring castles, many surrendering at the sight of a superior force.

1335 - Sir Andrew Murray laid siege to the castle on behalf of King David II during the Second War of Scottish Independence.

1342 - The castle was used as a state prison at this time, with its most famous prisoner being William Bulloch, who is associated with King David II of Scotland.

1372 - The infamous Wolf of Badenoch (Alexander Stewart) was granted ownership of Lochindorb Castle by King Robert II and was his base of operations and island stronghold during the burning of Forres and Elgin, including Elgin Cathedral.

1455 - Castle held by Archibald Douglas, Earl of Moray.

Kayaking on Lochindorb.

1456 - After the Earl of Moray's death at the Battle of Arkinholm, the crown took the castle and ordered it to be dismantled by the Thane of Cawdor at the cost of £24. The castle has been ruinous since this date. The Thane took a large iron yett from Lochindorb and relocated it to Cawdor Castle.

1606 - The castle was sold to the Campbells of Cawdor.

1750 - The Earl of Seafield came into ownership of the castle.

1793 - Despite the ruined castle, an old statistical account mentions that the towers are still standing, but only one is still in its complete entirety. It logs that substantial remains survived at the end of the 18th century.

1866 - Human remains were found at the castle, but very little information is available.

1940s - The castle was unfortunately used for target practice during World War 2. An unexploded mortar shell was found near the castle by diver Ken McComiskie in 1988.

1992 - An intact jar was found in an excavation on the northeast side of the island, containing small pieces of wood with cut marks and a few fragments of burnt peat. It now exists in the Inverness Museum.

1993 - The Scottish Trust for underwater archaeology investigates the waters around the castle. They discover signs that the island displays features of artificial construction as no bedrock exists. Two stone shot balls were also found made from granite and are likely from Sir Andrew Murray's siege in 1335, after being thrown from trebuchets.

A team from Edinburgh University discovered a fully intact 15th-century jug.

Over the years, many newspaper articles have shown interest from various groups and local land owners in turning Lochindorb Castle into a more accessible tourist attraction, including a visitor centre and car park. Still, to date, none of these plans has come to fruition.

Kayaking on Lochindorb.

FAQs on Lochindorb Castle

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Lochindorb.

Can you walk around Lochindorb?

Yes, it is possible to walk around the loch; it is about a 4-mile walk around the perimeter of the loch.

Can you visit Lochindorb Castle?

Yes, but you will need a boat! There is no other way to access the island.

Who owns Lochindorb Estate?

Alexander WG Laing & Saltire Trustees (Overseas) Ltd.

Kayaking on Lochindorb.

Why is the landscape so desolate around Lochindorb?

A dense forest existed around the loch comprised of hazel, birch, pine and oak and was used as a hunting estate. There is strong evidence this forest was burned, but no direct historical reference as to why, but folklore passed down in tradition makes mention of a Queen Mary of Strathspey. This queen was enraged after her husband enquired about the state of his favourite hunting forest and his two prized staghounds but did not ask about her own well being. She ordered the burning of the entire forest and the slaying of the dogs!

Who knows how accurate this tale is, but the fire did occur, and blackened tree stumps can still be found across Dava Moor to this day.

How deep is Lochindorb?

Lochindorb has an average depth of 4 m over about half its area and a maximum depth of 17 m.

Distant view of Lochindorb Castle. Pre castle structure.

Is fishing allowed on Lochindorb?

Yes, and no permit is required. Brown trout and Pike can be caught here, a great venue for beginners.

Is wild camping possible at Lochindorb?

Yes, there is nothing to stop you wild camping at Lochindorb. If you have a boat to get to the castle, someone has already made a fire pit in the centre...

Wild camping at Lochindorb
Wild camping at Lochindorb Castle? This looks ideal!

How to get to Lochindorb?

Unfortunately, no public transport passes the loch; you will need a car, bike or taxi to get there.

  • From Forres (16 miles): Head south along the A940, then continue south on the A939. A short distance later, you will see a right turn for Lochindorb. Follow this single track road until you reach Lochindorb.

  • From Grantown-on-Spey (9 miles): Travel north on the A939 until you see the signage for a left turn Lochindorb down a small slip road. Continue along this road until you reach the loch.

Video of Lochindorb Castle

Please view this video of Lochindorb Castle from my friend John Luckwell.

Key information on Lochindorb Castle and Loch.

  • Lochindorb is a freshwater loch in the east Highlands of Scotland.

  • The loch is approximately 2 miles long and two-thirds of a mile wide, 969 ft above sea level.

  • A single-track road with passing places runs along the east shore of Lochindorb.

  • The loch contains a partially man-made island with the ruin of Lochindorb Castle.

  • The castle has sizeable thick curtain walls and circular towers; some areas of the wall are still 20ft high.

  • The castle/island can only be accessed if you bring your own boat.


Lochindorb is an excellent place to stop if you decide to drive from Grantown to Forres and well worth the detour, especially if you have kayaks to visit the castle or fancy a little fishing in its gentle waters.

Images provided by John Luckwell and Adam Rhys Chisholm.

Related articles:

Lochindorb location | Google Street View

All information was correct at the time of writing, please check things like entry costs and opening times before you arrive.

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