Sitting proud and isolated on one of several islets off Loch Linnhe, 25 miles from Oban and a mile and a half north-east of Port Appin, the four storey Castle Stalker is one of Scotland’s most picturesque, history-drenched and (some would say) cursed fortifications. It’s also one of very few which has seen ownership change as a result of a drunken bet: that happened in 1620, when Duncan Stewart lost the castle to the Campbells of Airds. A rowing boat seems to have been involved, but beyond that details are scant.

The earliest building is thought to have been established by the MacDougalls around 1320. The castle in its current form was built in the mid-15th century by the Stewarts, who by then had assumed the Lordship of Lorn. In the churchyard at nearby Portnacroish, which sits just across the water, you can see a memorial stone marking the site of the Battle of Stalc in 1468, when a combined force of Stewarts and McLarens took on the MacDougalls. It was during the battle that Dugald Stewart, First Chief of Appin, killed Alan MacCoul, who had murdered Dugald’s own father Sir John Stewart five years earlier.

Dugald Stewart was later killed while raiding MacDonald of Keppoch. His son, Duncan, was murdered by the McLeans in 1512, and Sir Alexander Stewart was attacked and killed by a party of Campbells while fishing near Castle Stalker in 1520. Bad luck followed the Stalker Stewarts overseas as well: a later descendant, another Duncan Stewart, was assassinated in 1949 by secessionists in Malaya, where he had just been made Governor of Sarawak. All this has helped give Castle Stalker its reputation as a place of violence, intrigue, mystery and murder.

Under the Campbells the castle remained a government redoubt in the 1745 uprising – the Stewarts came out for the Jacobite cause – but by 1800 they had departed and by 1840 the castle was near-ruined. In 1908 it was returned to the Stewarts. The slow process of rebuilding gathered pace from the 1960s onwards and Castle Stalker is now owned by the Allward family.

The sea loch being tidal, the castle is reachable from the shore, though only just. In normal times, tourists are ferried over in a boat which can hold 12 passengers. In these abnormal times the castle is closed, so visitors can only stop and stare and maybe snap a picture or two. As anyone will know who has tried, it’s hard to take a bad one of Castle Stalker.

What to watch:

It’s hardly in keeping with the spirit of the place, but Monty Python And The Holy Grail is the go-to movie. Much of the 1975 film was filmed around Doune Castle, but Castle Stalker has a starring role in the final scene in which Arthur and his army charge the castle – here occupied by a garrison of French soldiers who are mocking them from the ramparts – only to be arrested by police and thrown into a Black Maria.