THE lure of the Loch Ness monster has made a Scottish castle the third most-visited attraction in the country.
Urquhart Castle, on the banks of the world-famous loch, drew in 300,000 visitors in the last year, putting it behind only Edinburgh and Stirling castles in terms of popularity.
Last year, just over 270,000 people visited, meaning a boost in numbers of over 10%.
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, said: “It is fantastic that Urquhart Castle has achieved these visitor numbers.
“Scotlandcontinues to be a must-see visitor destination and our castles are a huge part of the visitor experience.
“It is a testament to the hard work of staff and continued partnership working with like-minded organisations thatUrquhartCastleis experiencing such a boom in visitors, which is great news forScotlandheritage tourism sector.”
The castle has played a role in some of the most famous periods inScotland’s history and figured prominently in the Wars of Independence, coming under the control of Robert the Bruce after he became King of Scots.
It is not known when it was built but historians believe that the Castle could date back to as early as the 6th century.
Stephen Duncan, director of commercial and tourism for Historic Scotland, said: “We are thrilled that Urquhart Castle has experienced its highest number of visitors in one year- particularly with a couple of months still left this season.
“We’ve continued to invest in the visitor experience at Urquhart- from how we present the story of the site through to running an interactive events programme which is designed to help bring history to life and are looking forward to welcoming visitors over the upcoming season.”
The castle was gifted to the National Trust for Scotland in 2003 and has seen hundreds of thousands of visitors cross the drawbridge ever since.