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On The Table Read, “the best entertainment magazine in the UK“, travel writer Josette Celeste explores historic landmark, Inveraray Castle, used as a filming location for A Very British Scandal and Downton Abbey.

Josette Celeste on The Table Read

Written by Josette Celeste

Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle on The Table Read
Inveraray Castle

I have visited plenty of castles in my random voyages across Great Britain—often getting lost and seeing magnificent buildings in the distance, trying to figure out how in the world to get closer to these giant places that I accidentally stumbled upon—and I can genuinely say that Inveraray Castle is one of the most memorable and warming places I have ever visited.

I have travelled extensively across the continental United States, as a former storm chaser, stayed in some of the most luxurious hotels across the country, and have road tripped the UK six times—exploring all that this vast landscape of history, entertainment, natural beauty, and amazing food has to offer. To say that a place holds such high esteem in my heart is not said lightly. (This castle even inspired my poem, “Tapestry and Silver”.)

Why have I travelled the UK so extensively, you may ask? Well, quite simply because I am in love with this place and I am a wee bit obsessed. Allow me to share my obsession with you lot!

Western Highlands

I have fallen in love with the Western Highlands with their many windy and rainy nights, rushing rivers, moody sea lochs, and abundance of Highland cows. The feeling of this magical land is beyond palpable, it entrenches one’s soul.

Dun na Cuaiche on The Table Read
Dun na Cuaiche, photo credit: Josette Celeste

I want to share this place with you because of my personal connection with the castle—and because I just love it so very much!

Big Island Activities

I am an American tour guide in the Western Highlands of Scotland, and this castle is my number one recommendation for anyone visiting these lands. Full disclosure—allow me to preface that my great-grandmother was a Campbell, so…perhaps I may be a bit biased. Regardless, this place is magnificent, whether you are a member of the clan or not.

Surroundings Of Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle rests on the outskirts of the town of Inveraray (meaning, “mouth of the river Aray” in Scottish Gaelic), overlooking the town and its sea loch.

When I first arrived here, I rode for what felt like ages on the road that snakes Loch Fyne. Loch Fyne is a sea loch, meaning it fluctuates with the tides. This proves a hypnotising visual at night, when the moon rises above the water; the town is quiet, and the stars are incredibly vibrant in their reflections beside the moon. At night is when I most realize how hidden away this town is from the rest of world. It’s a relaxing solace away from dizzying distractions of everyday life.

The hills surrounding the castle are inspiring, especially during the sunrise. Peering just above the castle and the town rests Dun na Cuaiche, with a folly (pretend) watch tower in its midst, calmly standing as a relaxing break for hikers who managed to make the trek up the hill to see the unforgettable views of the castle and town. If you have time, I recommend you walk up to the top. It takes about 45 minutes or so one way, and the views are worth every footstep.

Inveraray Castle on The Table Read
Photo credit: Josette Celeste

Bring a picnic from Inveraray Castle’s tea room or gift shop, a blanket—the gift shop has blankets aplenty:, bring your favorite book or sketch book, or carry your diary and write a wee note to your future self. Embrace every bit of this Scottish experience, and savor all of your tingling senses of touch with Scottish woollen blankets, sight of magical lands that inspire many a poet or film maker, sound of creeks and cows, smell of fresh air and the salty lochs, and taste of handmade scones and cakes from the tea room.

And brace yourself for the grand home of the seat of Clan Campbell that encompasses Inveraray Castle.

History Of Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle is the seat of Clan Campbell, one of the most widely recognized clans in Scottish history. There are an estimated 13 million members of the clan, and they travel from all over the world to visit this castle (Inveraray Castle and Gardens). The current Chief of Clan Campbell is Torquhil Campbell, 13th Duke of Argyll. He and his loving wife, Eleanor Campbell, Duchess of Argyll, take such incredible care of this important place, and their hard work shines in every aspect.

The Campbells have opened their home to the public as an entertainment venue since the castle was built in the 1700s (Inveraray Castle and Gardens). The earlier Dukes of Argyll built Inveraray Inn as a shelter for their many guests to rest soundly within walking distance of the castle. You, too, can rent a room where many have stayed to visit the previous Dukes of Argyll. However, the castle was officially opened to the public, rather than just private guests of the castle, in 1953 by the 11th Duke of Argyll and his third wife, Margaret, a couple who later became infamously connected to the castle in scandal.

The castle was home to Dukes and royalty throughout the centuries, with one of it’s most famous residents being the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Louise. Princess Louise was more than just a beautiful princess, she was a trained and talented artist, sculpturer, painter, jeweler, and dress maker. Her influence is scattered beautifully about the castle, displaying her artistically prolific home life whilst she was married to the 9th Duke of Argyll.

A Very British Scandal

Inveraray Castle on The Table Read
Castle Dining Room, photo credit: Josette Celeste

A castle isn’t complete without a connection to scandal! Although there are several ghosts that reside within the castle, the more modern scandal originates with the 11th Duke of Argyll, the present Duke’s late grandfather, and the 11th Duke’s third wife, Margaret.

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They had such a tumultuous relationship wrought in scandal, that their story inspired A Very British Scandal, on BBC One (  and Amazon Prime Video (

The show is a three-part mini-series that stars Paul Bettany and Claire Foy, and was released in late 2021. The filming took place on the grounds of the castle as well as in surrounding areas in Inveraray.

The story depicts the 11th Duke of Argyll and his third wife, he had four wives, investing many months and thousands of pounds into the restoration of the castle for public visitors. The scandal, however, is about their relationship whilst they lived at Inveraray Castle, and is one of the many reasons why the castle gets visitors today.

Downton Abbey

In 2012, Downton Abbey filmed their 2-hour Christmas special for Season 3, in Inveraray Castle and the Argyll Estates. To this day, many visitors come to see the castle specifically for this special and there are many screen shots and posters from Downton Abbey around the Castle and it’s tea room.

Architecture Of Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle on The Table Read
Image from Inveraray and the Dukes of Argyll by Ian G. Lindsay and Mary Cosh

The castle has many fascinating connections with famous architects including Matthew Digby Wyatt, who designed Paddington Station. He also designed the front entrance porch where many visitors dry from the rain before entering the castle, the castle team call this porch “Paddington Station” because of this connection.

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Anthony Salvin, who designed the Palace of Westminster (Inveraray Castle and Gardens), also made plans for additions to the castle. Unfortunately, these plans were never completed, but the look and design did inspire the completed look for certain parts of the roof (Inveraray Castle and Gardens, and Inveraray and the Dukes of Argyll). His drawing plans are on display within the castle.


The county of Argyll in the Western Highlands is one of the rainiest counties in all of the UK ( Because of seemingly limitless amounts of rain, Argyll produces vibrant and lasting rainbows. These rainbows are not your average, run-of-the-mill, can’t-catch-them rainbows.

Inveraray Castle on The Table Read
Photo credit: Josette Celeste
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They are BRILLIANTLY vibrant, so much so, that even the indigo and violet colors are visible and if you catch the timing right, you might just see a Highland cow covering up the treasures beneath the rainbow.

Book A Tour At Inveraray Castle

Lastly, you come to visit the castle, I recommend you book a tour in advance. Inveraray Castle has many knowledgeable guides who are trained extensively on the castle and family history, and they love what they do! The best way to see the castle is to book a guided tour! Because of the great demand for tour bookings, I recommend you book well enough in advance, because you cannot book upon arrival.

His Grace, The Duke of Argyll, and his family all live at Inveraray Castle. When you visit, if they are in town, you may catch a glimpse of them lovingly working to make their home such a welcoming place for their customers. They often work in and around the venues—preparing the space for weddings, selling teas or coffees, or even autographing books for their customers to share their love of the castle with everyone who comes to visit.

A Family Business

Inveraray Castle on The Table Read
Photo credit: Josette Celeste

This is truly a family loved business, and the atmosphere authentically depicts this loving environment. The tour guides will welcome you with smiling faces and plenty of warmth in their hearts. So please, come visit this castle, the surrounding town of Inveraray, and be sure to thank your tour guide for showing you all the beauties of the castle and telling quite a few ghost stories beside the fire! And, please, do not forget the gift shop!

The gift shop houses many Scottish-made treasures as well as Clan Campbell gifts to take home and cherish. There are incredible cashmere scarves, woollen blankets, sweets, fascinating books on Scottish history, and of course—plenty of whiskey!

I hope you love the castle as much as I do—it truly is an incredible home.

More From Josette Celeste:

Josette Celeste is an American adventurer living in Wales.




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