At Eilean Donan, we strive to try and ensure safe access for all our visitors, however as one of Scotland’s 8000 Scheduled Monuments, we are strictly governed as to what we can actually do to enhance that access. A Scheduled Monument is a monument of national importance that Scottish Ministers have given legal protection under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. This scheduling ensures the preservation of the site for future generations to enjoy but it does prevent the Trustees from undertaking certain measures to improve access for all i.e. banisters for outside staircases or installation of elevators.
We do recognise that the design and layout of the castle, including all the uneven steps, narrow stairways, corridors and the different floor levels within the castle walls, does make access very difficult indeed for the less able-bodied. For wheel-chair users, it is nigh on impossible.
Under the legislation of Scheduled Monument governance, unfortunately, we are simply not permitted to alter the buildings in any way to try to alleviate this issue.
As such, we offer free access onto the island for any Registered Disabled visitors. This permits those visitors to at least cross the bridge and explore the exterior areas of the castle. Please note however that some of those areas are gravelled, which can prove difficult to manoeuvre wheelchairs.
In addition, we have created a touch-screen computer based “Virtual Tour” which is available on request in our Visitor Centre. Again, there is no charge for this resource and indeed it does offer glimpses of areas within the castle that the visiting public don’t normally have access to.
Our Visitor Centre on the other hand has been specifically designed for easy access for all. Disabled Car Parking is available within close proximity to the building, approximately 20m from the main entrance. Movement from the car park to the visitor centre services is all on the same level, with no stairs or ramps to negotiate. All access doors to and within the Visitor Centre, including the Gift Shop and Coffee Shop, are wider than 80cm to facilitate wheelchair access, and we have two disabled toilets in two separate parts of the building. Both toilets have twist locks, lateral transfer space and fitted grab rails, along with emergency assistance alarm cords.
Although dogs are not permitted entry to the castle, Registered Assistance dogs are welcome in the Visitor Centre and water can be provided upon request.
The Trustees take their responsibilities for providing universal access provision very seriously and adhere to the Equality Act accordingly. We work hard to provide the highest level of access to the whole site but in some instances, due to the historic nature of the castle, this is not always possible.