Tourist boom means end to weddings at iconic Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle. Picture: Wikimedia Commons
Urquhart Castle. Picture: Wikimedia Commons
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Couples will no longer be able to tie the knot at the iconic Urquhart Castle, overlooking Loch Ness, because it’s attracting so many tourists.

The 13th century castle has become one of Scotland’s most popular historic attractions, with 487,837 visitors in the year to April 2018, up more than 87,000 on 2016-17.

Operators Historic Environment Scotland (HES) say booming visitor numbers mean the ruined castle can no longer cater to weddings at the same time.

An HES spokeswoman said: “Urquhart Castle is one of the most-visited historic attractions in Scotland and, due to an increasing number of visitors, we are no longer offering weddings at the site.

“This is to ensure we are not compromising on the experience we can offer the bride and groom on their special day, as well as not impacting the core visitor experience.

“We continue to offer couples the opportunity to have wedding photography taken at the site.”

Urquhart Castle has hosted scores of weddings since legislation permitted ceremonies to be held at venues other than churches and registry offices. A local cruise operator has said it will step in.

The iconic castle was taken into state care in 1913.

In its current ruined state, it dates to the 13th century, with the remains including a tower house with scenic views over Loch Ness and the Great Glen.

Earlier this year community chiefs explored the option for a buyout of the castle’s visitor centre.

The Glenurquhart Rural Community Association invited locals to a meeting to explore the proposal in May, when residents were offered the opportunity to vote on whether to progress with the buyout.

Willie Cameron, business development director for the Cobbs Group, said: “I was approached by a client in relation to them hosting their wedding at the castle when I found out that they have decided they will no longer be doing them anymore.

“I feel there should have been more liaison with the local community. We are more than happy to work with couples who wish to get married in the local area at any of our establishments and I have spoken with a local cruise operator who is happy to offer an alternative of getting married on a boat off of the castle,” he said.

Urquhart Castle is HES’s third most visited site, ranking behind only Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle.