Castle Varrich, Tongue

4.2
#6 of 15 in Historic Sites in Caithness and Sutherland
Castle Varrich is in the far north of the Scottish Highlands, near the village of Tongue. The castle is on a local high point of rock, overlooking both the Kyle of Tongue and the village of Tongue. The castle's precise origins and age are unknown.The ancient seat of the chief of the Clan Mackay was at Castle Varrich, thought to be over one thousand years old; there are believed to be caves under the castle which were once inhabited by the Mackays. It is believed that the Mackays may have built their castle on the site in the 14th century, on top of an existing old Norse fort.The walls are generally 1.4m thick, or thicker, and have been built from roughly squared blocks of metamorphosed sandstone rock of varying thickness, laid in rough courses of random depth. The stones seem to have been laid without the use of mortar, and have suffered little from weathering, considering that the building may be 1000 years old, and considering the local weather. From places where parts of the walls have fallen away it appears that the construction seen on the wall faces is consistent throughout their thickness; as distinct from the type of walling where the faces have been constructed in a tidy fashion, but between them is a core of rubble.The castle had two floors plus an attic. The ground floor may have been used as stables; it was entered through an existing door on the north wall. There were no stairs between the two floors, suggesting that the ground floor was for horses or cattle. The upper floor entrance was on the south side and would most likely have been accessed by a ladder or removable stair. There was a window in the east wall and a fireplace in the west, but both have now collapsed past recognition. Later the clan chief's seat moved to Tongue House. Varrich Castle is about one hour's walk away from the village of Tongue, and is clearly signposted from there.
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Castle Varrich Reviews
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TripAdvisor
  • Had a very relaxing walk with a good view. My wee one enjoyed it as it is not too far but not too near to where we are staying.  more »
  • About half an hour walk up to the castle, cross over a footbridge which people have seen otters.in the ruins there is a spiral staircase with the best views. well worth going.  more »
  • We went to Tongue as a genealogy trip. These are ancestral lands for the MacKay Clan of which my dad’s side of the family was a Sept. So cool to trace history and get a sense of where you come from. A...  more »
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  • The view from Castle Varrich looking towards Tongue village . A pleasant half hour walk from the hotel crossing the river bridge and spotting otters if your lucky, like we were. Splendid view of the loch and estuary .
  • Super cool! A neat piece of history!
  • Midgies and no real path at the castle.
  • Great little walk up to the castle. Beautiful views from the top and not a busy tourist destination so the atmosphere feels just right.
  • Nice 25 minute walk to the castle from next to RBS, with a great view from the top

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