Have you ever ridden on the Metro-North Hudson Line heading up to Poughkeepsie? Did you notice a beautiful castle on the Hudson between Breakneck Ridge and Beacon? It looks like a castle out of a fairy tale. If you have, then you’ve seen the majestic and monumental Bannerman Castle.
I’ve looked longingly at Bannerman Castle from my train seat many a time and dreamt of visiting this very interesting place. So when I found out that they offer seasonal tours, it only took me a matter of hours until I bought our tickets for a tour from Beacon, NY!
Where is Bannerman Castle & Pollepel Island Located?
On the Hudson River near Beacon, NY, lives Bannerman Castle on a little island called Pollepel. One way to get to this island is by taking a ferry from the Beacon Train Station or Newburgh Ferry landing.
Another way is by kayaking from Cornwall, Cold Spring and/or Beacon. The way you get there doesn’t matter because once you are there, the castle is breathtaking.
According to Wikipedia:
“The castle is currently the property of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and is mostly in ruins. While portions of the exterior walls still stand, all the internal floors and non-structural walls have since burned down. The island has been the victim of vandalism, trespass, neglect, and decay.”
Visiting Bannerman Castle
As previously stated, Bannerman Castle is accessible by ferry and kayak. Although we live closer to the Newburgh ferry dock, my hubby and I opted to take the ferry from Beacon because we bought tickets for the ‘Bannerman Island Guided Tour and Mini Hike to the Summit‘. This particular tour is not offered as often as the others and we were intrigued to see the Castle and the Summit all in one visit.
When taking the ferry, there are options for taking a Self-Guided tour or Guided Tour. Kayak tours are all guided tours. The island is open to the public seasonally from May through November. The tours are popular and there are often many people that make return visits to the island and castle.
Because Bannerman Castle is mostly in ruins, there is no entrance into the castle and the tour takes you around the perimeter of the castle and on the grounds. Although walking in and exploring is not possible, the ability to be so close to this amazing structure is just as good.
One wall bears the name “Bannerman’s Island Arsenal” and can be seen when approaching the island on water. (As seen in the secong photo below).
Bannerman Island Guided Tour and Mini Hike to the Summit
The evening of our tour was nothing short of extraordinary. We launched from Beacon at 6 pm and cruised down the Hudson River to Pollepel Island/Bannerman Castle. The evening started off lovely and we arrived without any problems. As we approached, the staff opened the gate that led us straight onto Pollepel Island.
Before we get to the part, let me tell you that seeing Bannerman Castle from the water is amazing. It is a completely different experience than seeing the castle from the train. Everyone on board enjoyed taking so many photographs and as you approach the island, one could better see the sheer size of this fortress.
Upon arriving at the island and climbing the steps onto the first landing, the tour began. The tour guides are friendly and knowledgeable. The first piece of information that struck me is that the purpose of the castle and the arsenal was for Mr. Bannerman’s military surplus that he sold in his business.
During the tour, one can see the outer walls of the castle remains. Some pieces of the walls are propped up with steel rods. It is amazing to hear how the Bannerman family lived and what they created on this almost 7-acre island. Part of the tour is also taking a stroll through the Bannerman Castle garden. The brilliant views of the Hudson River from the gardens takes your breath away.
This particular tour takes you along a rocky path and up to the summit of Pollepel Island. As the sun had started to set, it was the perfect place to take amazing photos of the Hudson River and landscape beyond. The majority of the visitors took out their cameras and/or phones to take a shot of this beautiful evening.
The History of Pollepel Island
Before Bannerman Castle was built, the island was used during the Revolutionary War to anchor one side of a series of defense logs to the other side of the Hudson River. These logs were designed in a way that they hoped would prevent the British from heading North. Unfortunately, this tactic did not work, but the island itself played a significant role in the war.
Mr. Bannerman bought the island in order to store surplus from his business. Because the supplies were military in nature, the island was a safe refuge to place these items. The arsenal was built first and later the castle. Mr. Bannerman designed the castle, but because he was not an architect, the walls were not built in 90-degree angles and have led to the reason for several collapses so far.
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More Photos of our Tour of the Bannerman Castle Grounds
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Upon approaching the conclusion of our tour, we realized that it was starting to rain and, boy did it rain… By the time we took the 20+ minute ride back to the Beacon dock, we were soaked through to our undies. This was not a bad thing and it only added to the evening and made this outing even more special.
I highly recommend that you make plans to tour Pollepel Island and Bannerman Castle. No matter how you get there (ferry or kayak), be prepared with enough space on your camera to take many, many photos. Ths outing combines the Best of History and Being Outdoors.
A Few Things to Know before visiting Pollepel Island/Bannerman Castle:
- This place is perfect for everyone: Friends, Couples, and Families with older children
- The terrain and tour may be a little daunting for young children
- Cost: Prices, at the time of this posting, are $35 for an adult $30 (children under 11 yrs) for a ferry ride and walking tour
- Kayak and walking tours are priced by the individual touring companies
- Parking can be found at the designated parking lots from each dock (Beacon & Newburgh) for ferry rides.
- Kayak tours leave from Cornwall, Cold Spring, and Beacon
- Pollepel Island and Bannerman Castle tours are only open seasonally
- Special Events (Movies Nights on the Island, and Theatrical Events) take place throughout the season
For Additional & Updated Information,