Morton Castle enjoys one of the most breathtaking settings of any castle in Scotland. It stands at the head of a triangular bluff, with ground falling away sharply on two sides into Morton Loch below. On the far side of the loch the ground rises steadily to the beautiful Lowther Hills to the north-east.
Finding Morton Castle is an adventure in itself, as there are no direction signs of any sort until your are quite close. The key to finding it is to follow the A702 north-east from Carronbridge for 2km until you reach the first right (i.e. east) turn off the road. This is the first half of staggered crossroads, and unsigned.
Follow a very narrow road steeply up a hill, crossing another very minor road at a crossroads. The single track road you are following has very few passing places. It leads you round to the right on meeting the drive to a house, and a little further on you find yourself at a triangular junction.
Your route, signposted at last, is along what looks like little more than a track ahead and slightly to the right. A little further and you come to a junction with a broad forest road on the right, where you can park. The path running the final couple of hundred yards to Morton Castle goes through the gate opposite. It seems further, but the total road distance from the A702 junction to the parking place is no more than 2km.
It would be nice to say that Morton castle has the presence, the architecture, or the history to do justice to its setting. The truth is that there's actually not all that much to see here beyond the stone walls of a roughly rectangular range and parts of two towers. But don't let that put you off: this really is Undiscovered Scotland and you should come simply to enjoy the location and listen to the wind.
A castle was first built on this site by 1307, but it was named as one of 13 castles in Nithsdale to be dismantled under the terms of the 1357 Treaty of Berwick between England and Scotland.
The castle whose remains stand today was built in the mid 1400s by the Earls of Morton, whose family had been granted the land in 1440. When originally constructed the castle might have looked a little like Caerlaverock Castle, south of Dumfries.
Like Caerlaverock, Morton Castle would originally have comprised a triangle of ranges around a central courtyard. And like Caerlaverock, Morton would have had an impressive gatehouse. The partial western tower that remains formed one side of this gateway, the actual entrance being to its west, with a matching tower forming part of a west range on the other side of the main gate.
The condition of the castle as you see it today owes much to James VI's campaign against John, 8th Lord Maxwell in 1588, during which Morton Castle was captured and burned.
It then passed back to the Morton family, before being sold several times in the early 1600s. Parts of it remained habitable until at least 1714, after which it was abandoned and, despite its remote location, used as a quarry until repairs of what remained started in 1890. A clock, said to have been from Morton Castle, is on display at nearby Drumlanrig Castle.