I had timed my drive up from Fort Williams via Loch Ness and overnight stay in Strathpeffer to fit one of the few open days at Castle Leod. Why, you ask? Because as an Outlander fan this is what you do.
And who greets me when I walk up to the castle entrance? Non other than the clan chief himself! John Ruaridh Grant Mackenzie, 5th Earl of Cromartie.
I was speechless. He told me about the history and urged me to go around the tree park. There is a rare and very old sequoia. Plus Diana Gabbaldon has planted a tree there. I was still awestruck and could only nod.
The castle interior feels lived in. Very unassuming but still impressive. The great hall is Regency style which was unexpected. So was the Edwardian billard room. I was clearly on Outlander time line in my head.
Impressive is also the collection of agates on display. The Earl himself collects, tumbles, cuts and polishes them. Majority is for sale.
Did you know you can become member of the clan and go to gatherings? Oh yeah! Check the website for details and fascinating stories about the Mackenzies: castleleod.org.uk