Bannerman Castle

Bannermancastle1I’m always up for an adventure especially when it involves being outside and on the water.  Throw in a little bit of culture and I’m your gal.  Years ago, I heard about this mysterious island on the Hudson River called Pollepel and on this island, there’s a castle called Bannerman Castle.  The only way to access the island is via ferry boat or kayak.  Growing up in the Hudson Valley, I have a deep appreciation for the area and its history so when I found out that Bannerman Castle was literally falling apart, I had to make it a priority to visit this Summer.

Why take a boat when you can kayak to the castle right?  I’m not one to take the easy road and I thought, what better way to enjoy a sunny day than kayaking on the Hudson River?  I asked my sister to join me (more like forced) on a 6 mile kayaking trip from Cold Spring to Pollepel Island, hike around the island, tour the castle and back.  Mind you, neither one of us has kayaked that far before.  Sure, we’ve both dabbled in some kayaking during our life time but 6 miles?  It seemed really far.  I wasn’t allowed to take my fancy camera because our guide told us we would get really wet.  He wasn’t exaggerating because even though we were on a river, there were waves, currents, and strong winds.  Even though kayaking for 6 miles and 2 ½ hours was challenging at times, it was the most fun I’ve had and the most gratifying feeling knowing that I did it.

When we were approaching the island, the abandoned ruins looked so eerie like out of a Tomb Raider movie.  After we docked, we had a “snack” that was the most gourmet snack I’ve ever had.  The guides had a bag from the Cold Spring General Store filled with organic cheeses, prosciutto, hummus, fruits, veggies, and organic granola bars.  Then, we went on our tour of the island with a member from the Bannerman Castle trust.

The island has a long history dating back to the early 1900’s when Francis Bannerman bought the island to store his navy equipment and ammunition and was also the family’s Summer residence.  The castle has Scottish influences from Francis’ Scottish heritage.  Today, the castle and surplus warehouse are collapsing due to the haphazard architectural design, theft, vandalism, neglect, and decay.  Even though the castle and warehouse are in shambles, it is still quite a sight to see from a kayak on the river.  I was in awe that so much had gone down here and I grew up only 30 miles away.

The whole trip was 4 hours through Hudson River Expeditions for $130.  I admit, the price was a bit steep but the tour was very informative, it was a great way to spend a day being active, and part of the tour fee is donated to the Bannerman Castle trust.  Our kayaks launched from Cold Spring which is a stunning waterfront town with a gorgeous view of all the surrounding mountains.  It’s a great excuse to discover the Hudson Valley and get out of the City for the day.