Hailes Castle is hidden away in a gorgeous location on the banks of the River Tyne just outside the pretty village of East Linton in East Lothian. One of Scotland’s oldest stone castles, dating from around 1220, it has had a fascinating (and horrific) history.
Hailes Castle’s horrible history
Hailes Castle was last owned by James Hepburn, the Earl of Bothwell. Hepburn was charged with the blowing up of Mary Queen of Scots’ then husband, Lord Darnley. After being released due to lack of evidence, Hepburn then proposed to Mary; who sensibly turned him down.
He then kidnapped her, got her to somehow agree to marry him, and then carted her back to Edinburgh, staying at Hailes on their way. I am sure you will know what happened next to Mary. It is a little easier being a queen these days is it not?
After Mary’s death and Bothwell’s execution, the castle was mostly destroyed by Cromwell, but there is enough remaining to wander around, including a grand hall, kitchens, and a couple of very spooky pit prisons. It really is a hidden gem of a place, and well worth hunting out.
How to visit Hailes Castle, East Lothian
Hailes Castle is managed by Historic Scotland and is free to enter. There is car parking in the layby next to the castle, however, it is located in a very small hamlet and I bet in high summer it can get a little annoying for the residents.
Instead, walk from East Linton along the River Tyne (not the one in Newcastle!) for about a mile and a half to the Castle. To get to East Linton from Edinburgh you also catch the use SEStrans Bustracker for live updates. The 3-mile round trip to Hailes Castle is also the perfect distance to enjoy a small tipple in The Linton Hotel when you get back!
Love from, Scotland x