Every hike in the Hudson Highlands I was captivated by a gem of an island in the middle of the river with a castle on it.
For years visiting Bannerman’s Castle was on my bucket list and it finally happened this year. Tours operate from May-October and there are two ways of getting to the island, by boat or kayak. While kayaking sounded like a blast, hopping on a tour boat is certainly the more economical way of experiencing the island. Jump off points for tour boats include Newburgh and Beacon – the latter of which is best used for those taking the metro-north from NYC because the departure dock is right beside the station.
The boat ride on the Hudson River sandwiched between stunning mountains is very relaxing on a warm day.
You may be graced by a bald eagle, keep your eyes peeled during the journey.
When you reach the island and disembark you will go along with a guided tour. It is very informative and requires a bit of climbing – though there are many rest stops along the way. Tidbits of history about the island including information on Native Americans, the Dutch, and American Revolution are discussed. Bannerman Island, also referred to as Pollepel Island, is now home to an abandoned military surplus warehouse and that is the crux of the story.
Frank Bannerman was a Scottish immigrant who began collecting scrap metal at a young age. He transformed his work into a business buying and selling surplus government ammunition from the Civil War up to the Spanish American War. He ended up with so much material he needed to move it from NYC and thus, up the river it went into the Hudson Valley. Bannerman was a fine business man. He decided to build a castle based on those he saw in Scotland which he simultaneously used to store his munitions and use as a living advertisement to captivate those – quite like myself.
He also built a residence on the island and today it houses a museum about the island.
Outside is a lovely garden, a happy place for the butterflies.
Walking around the trails there are incredible views.
This is a phenomenal trip to make, I couldn’t recommend experiencing this piece of intriguing history in the Hudson Valley.