Visitors trapped inside Dunstaffnage Castle say it was ‘fabulous’

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For centuries Dunstaffnage Castle served as a stronghold and kept people out but on Thursday evening it had the opposite effect when two visitors were trapped inside.

Niki Ghofranian and her sister Ritta Nielsen are from California and visited the castle as part of a birthday tour across Britain, but when it was time to lock up, the Americans were left on the inside.

Niki and Ritta, who planned their trip around a Sir Elton John gig in Dublin, paced the walls for a couple of hours before being rescued by emergency services.

Despite facing the possibility of spending a night locked inside a castle, the incident was not a negative one.

In fact, it was ‘fabulous’.

Niki said: ‘I love history and if I had to be locked in somewhere, there couldn’t be a better place.

‘We were alone for a little bit in the castle, which was nice because there were no others in our pictures.

‘The police mentioned they might have to break the door and I would not have liked that to happen. I would have happily spent the night. It is a historic castle. You don’t break it to get someone out.’

In the end, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service were able to loosen the bolts and wedge the gate open.

The sisters first noticed they were locked in after Ritta attempted to get a photograph from outside the castle.

Niki said: ‘I heard her say, “Nik, we are locked in,” which I hardly believed. She then told me, “No, really, we are”.

‘Honestly, I thought it was fabulous. The only problem was my phone battery was almost dead and her cell didn’t get reception.

‘I tried to call Oban police and I’m not sure where I actually reached. I stayed on the walls looking for people.

‘I finally saw a little girl and waved her to come over and told her we were locked in the castle. She went off running and yelling, “They are locked in the castle”.

‘The police finally came and couldn’t get the door open so they called in the fire brigade. I think we were only locked in for a few hours at most.’

A spokesperson for Historic Environment Scotland said: ‘While spending a night in a historic castle such as Dunstaffnage might seem like a once in a lifetime opportunity, we’d like to thank those visitors for their patience and hope that their visit wasn’t spoiled too much.’