Want to see one of the most fascinating castles in Scotland?
The Caerlaverock Castle is really unique with a triangular shape. It makes it so appealing from every angle!
Below is my guide to help you plan your visit with map, tips and pictures.
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Why visit the Caerlaverock Castle in South Scotland?
Caerlaverock is one of the most unique castles in Scotland, and one of my favorite (see my list).
Just have a look... it has so much character!
It is away from many of the major Scottish attractions, but I think it is well worth the detour.
The triangular shape and the surrounding moat create a unique visual experience!
Caerlaverock virtual tour
Below is a short video to give you an idea of what a visit can look like - get a virtual tour!
Understand why it is one of my favorite things to do in Scotland?
Before you keep reading the name Caerlaverock over and over, check out its pronunciation here
More photos after the planning tips.
PLANNING TIPS & Map - Visit the Caerlaverock Castle Scotland
How to get to Castle Caerlaverock - Location & Map
- South West of Scotland, in Dumfriesshire
- Just 20 min drive south of Dumfries via B725
- Dumfries to Caerlaverock = 11km drive
- Edinburgh to Caerlaverock Castle = 2h15 drive
- Glasgow to Caerlaverock Castle = 1h45 drive
- Beware, if coming from the East you first see a road to the Caerlaverock Nature reserve. This is not the road to the castle.
- You can combine it with a visit to the Sweetheart Abbey which is not far.
- Below is a map to get your oriented and locate the Caerlaverock Castle:
The GPS coordinates and location on a practical map are available in my Travel Guide eBook:
Plan your dream trip around Scotland!
- Opening hours - April to Sep 9:30am to 5:30pm, Oct to March 10am to 4pm - last ticket sold 30 min before closure.
- Adult entry price - £6 - check here for latest info
- The castle closes at 5:30 but not the park so you can still walk around and enjoy the forest and views of the castle
- Toilets and picnic tables onsite
- Plan 30min to 1hour for the inside and 30min to 1hour for the outside.
- Walking around can get muddy after the rain
- To explore inside there are some steps, one staircase of 20 steps is narrow
- Plan an extra hour to explore the woodland walks and the ruins of the old castle
- Note - weddings can be organized at the Caerlaverock castle so visit may be disturbed
Need to rent a car in Scotland?
- Compare prices on my favorite platform: Discovercars.com - one of the best rated comparison sites!
- Choose the car and company you prefer (prefer a compact car for the single-lane roads)
- Consider their full coverage option - I always take it for peace of mind!
- Book early to have a large choice of vehicles!
Where to stay near Caerlaverock Castle
Where to stay in Scotland?
- Edinburgh to explore the fascinating city - see best rated accommodations
- Portree central to explore the isle of Skye - see best rated accommodations
- Glencoe to take the time in the magnificent valley - see best rated accommodations
- Ullapool for the West coast on the North 500 - see best rated accommodations
- Thurso for the North coast and ferry to the Orkneys - see best rated accommodations
- Kirkwall to explore the Orkneys - see best rated accommodations
- Inverness for the famous Speyside whiskies - see best rated accommodations
Find more inspiration in my article about where to stay in Scotland
Caerlaverock Castle Facts & History
- Built in the 13th Century to control trade, but it was preceded by several fortifications
- Built by the Maxwells
- Captured by the English in 1300 after a siege
- After many and many changes, battles, alliances, reconstructions... it was abandoned in the 17th century after yet another time being besieged
- The main modifications were done by the Maxwells: the gatehouse in the 15th century and the new housing was built inside with a Renaissance facade (ambitious for the era) just before it was abandoned
The triangular structure
- The Caerlaverock Castle consists of a triangular courtyard with a gatehouse, round towers and other buildings
- It is defended by a wet moat
- Rare animals and plants live in the castle ground and in the Caerlaverock Nature Reserve
Dumfriesshire's Caerlaverock Park and Estate
When you arrive on the ground, you first have to drive under an arch, believed to have been built in the 1500s.
The carpark is located near the small house with the ticket booth and toilets.
The castle is located in a well-maintained park. Picnic tables are available near the carpark and there is also a children playground.
Touring the outside of the Caerlaverock Castle
I enjoyed the inside of the castle but let me start with the exteriors. With the water, the green and the surrounding forest, the place is really scenic. And it is so rare to see a triangular castle!
Here is a complete tour of the castle from the surrounding grounds.
Caerlaverock Park Map - A triangular castle...
Sadly, there is no place to see the castle from above to complete the experience...
I wish they would build a tower to admire the triangular shape.
On one of their displays, there is this visual to give you an idea:
As you can see in number 4 of this map, there are also some woodland walks. The estate covers 5,200 acres.
They lead to the ruins of an earlier fort. Not much of it is left.
I have no pictures because we were tired from the long road, we had that day and decided not to explore.
Explore the ruins of the Caerlaverock Castle Interior
The gatehouse and gate
The front of the castle with the gate is what remains in the best condition.
It is a massive wall due to the triangular shape where two towers flank the gatehouse.
As it was the weakest part of the castle, it had elaborate defense features with places to drop things on assailants.
The Towers - Murdoch and more
Once inside you can explore many rooms with good information displays.
You can sometimes climb inside the building.
Some stairs are easy, but one is very narrow (20 steps to reach the top for a good view of inside the castle).
There are 2 round towers - one is still standing (the Murdoch one) whilst the other is partially destroyed.
One is called the Murdoch's Tower – so called because Murdoch, Duke of Albany, was imprisoned there before being executed in 1425.
The Mansion of Caerlaverock
Once inside you will discover 2 distinctive styles of decor.
The plain and strong wall from 1295 and the renaissance facade for the mansion built in 1634 to show off the family's power.
Other highlights of South Scotland to consider visiting:
- The charming ruins of Sweetheart Abbey - read article
- The ancient site of Cairnholy - read article
- The Borders Abbeys including Melrose Abbey and the photogenic Jedburgh Abbey
- The inspiring Scott's view - read article
- And the impressive forts, East of Edinburgh: Dirleton Castle and Tantallon Castle
Planning a trip to Scotland? Check out my guide to help you plan your road trip:
Plan your dream trip around Scotland!
And keep track of your own trip!
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