Despite my Scottish roots I never believed that Scotland was especially bonnie. I'd always assumed that its reputation resulted from the efforts of marketing types, the classic novelist Walter Scott and other nationalists resentful of the high profile of Scotland's lowland neighbour. I suspected that Scotland oozed no more beauty than a former Iron Curtain country such as Estonia. Then I made the mistake of visiting Scotland and discovered that, if you can ignore the swarms of gnats, the country is stunningly beautiful. For evidence, look no further than Eilean Donan Castle ( www.eileandonancastle.com ) near the scenic village of Dornie on the main tourist route to the Isle of Skye. Billed as 'Scotland's most romantic castle', Eilean Donan is the ideal place for the lovestruck and adventurous to visit and linger. For one thing, the hilly scenery surrounding it is as dreamy as any you'll find north of the border. For another, the castle is a wedding hub. You can marry or renew your vows outside or inside the stronghold, which feels like something from a Scott novel made real, thanks to its vast fireplace, gothic leaded windows, enormous walls and Douglas fir beams, which were shipped from British Columbia during restoration in the 1930s as a gift from the MacRaes of Canada. Another reason to go all starry-eyed is the castle's association with film history. One of the first films made there was the 1935 production The Ghost Goes West, which featured Robert Donat as a rich American who moved the building brick by brick back across 'the pond', only to discover that he had taken a ghost home too. In Donat's footsteps, a procession of Hollywood stars followed. Errol Flynn appeared in the Master of Ballantrae (1953), David Niven in the story of a hero represented in the castle by a lock of hair - Bonnie Prince Charlie (1948) - and Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert in The Highlander (1986). Named after St Donan, a hermit who once lived on the island, the castle owes its existence to the Scottish warrior-knight king Alexander II, who built it in the 13th century. It served as the clan home of the MacKenzies and their bodyguards, the MacRaes, for more than 300 years. In 1539, a spat between the MacKenzies and the McLeods of Dunvegan over the claims of Donald Gorm MacDonald to the title of Lord of the Isles drove MacDonald to attack the castle with 50 galleys. He was killed by Duncan MacRae with a single arrow. During the inconclusive 1715 uprising against the English, Eilean Donan was garrisoned by government troops but fell to the Jacobites (members of the movement devoted to the restoration of the Stuart kings to the thrones of England and Scotland). The castle remained rubble for two centuries until a clan member, Lieutenant-Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap, entered the picture. The colonel planned to keep the castle as a ruin. But a stonemason named Farquar MacRae, who had been hired to tidy up a little, rebuilt the whole thing, inspired by a dream in which he said he saw how the castle originally looked. Conveniently, the colonel had married a rich woman, Ella Gilstrap, who proved to be as gung-ho as he became about the enterprise. After the rebuilding was finished, the plans for the castle surfaced in the archives of Edinburgh Castle - and guess what? They turned out to be just as MacRae had dreamed. As a result, cementing its romantic credentials, Eilean Donan is known as the Castle of Dreams.