Explore #4 of the ‘North of The Wall’ Tour
Mid afternoon on day one of our trip North of the border, we continued on through the beautiful countryside…
…and stopped off at a photogenic shell of a former castle.
History (abridged and rewritten from Wiki)
Dalquharran Castle is a category A listed building in South Ayrshire, Scotland, designed by Robert Adam. The house lies in ruins after the roof was removed to avoid local taxation in the 1960s.
The old castle and estate were bought in the late 17th century by Sir Thomas Kennedy of Kirkhill, and occupied by his son Thomas Kennedy of Dunure, who was the husband of Robert Adam’s niece. Adam designed a new castle for him from around 1781, and most of the new house was built from around 1785 to 1790.
The new castle was designed symmetrically around a central entrance hall, and built over four floors with a top-lit central spiral staircase. The interior was decorated in a classical style, and services were located in the basement. A round bastion turret in the south front contained a drawing room on the ground floor, with library above and views over Girvan Water.
When the castle was completed, Kennedy moved out of the old castle. Old Dalquharran Castle was abandoned and stands in ruins nearby, about 300 metres to the South East.
To the north, Adam designed a long low stable range connected at either end to the main building by screen walls with gateways, creating a forecourt.
The castle was extended in a similar style between 1880-81 by Francis Thomas Romilly Kennedy, grandson of Thomas Kennedy, to accommodate his wife and their nine children.
The Castle, circa 1900.
The house was sold in the 1930s, and leased to the Scottish Youth Hostel Association between 1936 and 1939. It was occupied by Langside School for the Deaf during the Second World War, which had evacuated from Glasgow. During the war, the estate were sold to John Stewart, who occupied the castle with his family and farmed the estate.
The house was eventually abandoned, as it was too large and expensive to maintain. The lead roof was removed in 1967 so the owners could avoid paying rates. It became a listed building in April 1971.
The interiors were in good condition in the 1960s, but are now destroyed. Outline planning permission was granted in 1990 for an ambitious redevelopment, with two golf courses, a hotel, conference centre, country club, and hundreds of holiday homes. No progress was made, and further permissions were granted in 2004 and then 2009 for less ambitious schemes to convert the castle into a hotel. These permissions have also lapsed, and the castle’s future remains uncertain.
The plan for this trip was to make the most of the late-summer weather, and spend the first couple of nights ‘wild camping’. I had wondered whether the grounds of this castle would be suitable, but as it turned out we had enough time to carry on a bit further and camp up on the coast (but more of that later).
This was a great little explore – warm weather, good company, and no interruptions or stresses whatsoever. I particularly enjoyed getting to give my drone a fly. Anyway, on with the photos…
Tim and I then got our drones out. I love flying over old shells of buildings like this, as it gives a completely different perspective of the decay…
Somewhat reluctantly we packed up our gear and headed back to the car. We then made our way up to the outskirts of Ayr, and found an absolutely wonderful spot to pitch our tents. We even managed to drive Mark’s 4×4 right next to us, saving lugging our gear after a looooong day – bonus.
We then popped into Ayr to collect provisions, and had a champions’ dinner back at camp of ice cold beers and steaming hot Dominos’ Pizzas – absolute heaven! Before long we all crashed out, ready for the usual early start the next morning…
Thanks for looking.