It is a short boat ride from the mainland to the tiny island where the ruins of Loch Leven castle sit, but Mary, Queen of Scots didn’t have it so easy.
Mary was imprisoned in the castle for 11 months from 1567-68, during which time she was forced to abdicate her throne to her infant son and miscarried twins she had conceived with the Earl of Bothwell. She only managed to escape by so charming the teenage relative of her gaoler that he stole the keys and found her a boat to row her over to the mainland, locking the gate behind him and tossing the keys into the loch—they were found hundreds of years later.
But escape wasn't the end of the troubles of Scotland's tragic Queen: she was to spend 19 years in custody in various English castles, before being executed in 1587.
Although the castle is largely in ruins, you can still stand in the rooms that served as Mary’s prison cell.
Photo: Karen Gardiner