Bannerman Castle Tour:
What to Know Before you Go
I’ve looked longingly at Bannerman Castle from my train seat many times and dreamt of visiting this very interesting place. So when I found out that they offer options for a seasonal Bannerman Castle Tour, it only took me a matter of hours until I bought our tickets for a tour from Beacon, NY!
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.
Although this location is open, please follow these guidelines:
– Please be safe.
– Practice social distancing, wear a mask, wash hands thoroughly and follow all mandates and recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (cdc.gov) and NY State and local Governments.
Hiking to the summit of Pollepel Island during our Bannerman Castle Tour was one of those experiences I will never forget.
If you haven’t visited or taken a Bannerman Castle tour, it is something you should definitely add to your list now!
MAY – OCTOBER
Saturdays 11am & 12:30pm & Sundays 12:30pm (hours vary, depending on tour)
TOUR AND HIKE PRICES:
Adult: $37.50; Child (11yrs and under): $32
Bannerman Castle Tour Tips:
Things to Know before Taking a Bannerman Castle Tour:
- Pollepel Island and Bannerman Castle tours are only open seasonally
- The terrain and tour may be a little daunting for young children or people with mobility issues.
- Strollers are not allowed.
- Parking can be found at the designated parking lots from each dock (Beacon & Newburgh) for the ferry rides.
- Special Events take place throughout the season.
- This article only reflects the experience I had during the Bannerman Island Guided Tour and Mini Hike to the Summit
- The Bannerman Castle Trust offeres various visiting options through the season (see below).
Where is Bannerman Castle/Pollepel Island Located?
On the Hudson River near Beacon, NY, lives Bannerman Castle on a little island called Pollepel Island. The only way to get there is by finding your way across the Hudson River.
One way to get to this island is by taking a ferry from the Beacon Train Station or from Newburgh Ferry landing.
Another way is by kayaking from Cornwall, Cold Spring and/or Beacon.
Canoes and small motorboats are also welcome to tour the island.
Don’t worry, because the way you get there doesn’t matter. Once you are there, the castle itself takes your breath away.
“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.Wikipedia
Taking a Bannerman Castle Tour
As previously stated, the island where Bannerman Castle stands is accessible by ferry, kayak, canoe and small motorboat.
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 Bannerman Castle tour is not offered as often as the others and we were intrigued to see both the Castle and the Summit all in one visit.
When taking the ferry over to Pollepel Island for a Bannerman Castle tour, there are several options available:
- Self-Guided tour with Music from Beacon, NY
- Self-Guided Tour with Music from Newburgh, NY
- Guided Bannerman Island Walking Tour Tour from Beacon, NY
- Guided Bannerman Island Walking Tour from Newburgh, NY
- Guided Tours & Hike to the Summit from Beacon, NY
The island is open for guided and self-guided Bannerman Castle Tours, seasonally, from May through November. The tours are popular and often sell out because there are many people that make return visits to the island and castle, year after year.
Because Bannerman Castle, itself, is mostly in ruins, there is no entrance into the castle and the Bannerman Castle tour only takes you around the perimeter of the castle and through the grounds.
Although walking in and exploring is not possible, the ability to be so close to this amazing structure, in my opinion, is just as good.
The castle has some interested features. One being the wall that bears the name “Bannerman’s Island Arsenal”. It can be seen when approaching the island on water. (As seen in the second 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, NY 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 island, 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.
It was like something out of a movie.
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 about this place is that the purpose of the castle and the arsenal was for Mr. Bannerman’s military surplus that he sold in his business.
The guides showed a replica of the catalog where these items were sold from. It was really interesting to know that the location did not start off as a private residence.
During the Bannerman Castle tour, one can see the outer walls of the castle remains.
Some pieces of the walls are propped up with steel rods in order for them to remain erect.
It is amazing to hear how the Bannerman family lived and what they created on this almost 7-acre island.
Part of the tour also took us on 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.
The conclusion of the Bannerman Castle Tour
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. This was not a bad thing and it only added to the evening and made this outing even more memorable.
I highly recommend that you make plans to tour Pollepel Island and take a Bannerman Castle tour.
No matter how you get there (ferry, kayak, canoe, or small motorboat), be prepared with enough space on your camera to take many, many photos.
This outing combines the Best of History and Being Outdoors.
Tips for an Amazing time during your Bannerman Castle Tour:
- You don’t have to only take a tour to visit the island.
- The Bannerman Castle Trust holds many events throughout the season, including Movie Nights & Music Performances.
- Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for any weather (as you can see from this post) by having an umbrella or poncho handy.
- Have your camera/phone fully charges and ready for taking lots of photos.
- Wear appropriate attire and have sunblock/bug spray on hand because the Bannerman Castle Tour is completely outdoors.
MORE THINGS IN DUTCHESS COUNTY:
- 15+ THINGS TO DO IN BEACON, NY
- WALKING ACROSS THE HUDSON ON THE WALKWAY OVER THE HUDSON
- A QUICK GUIDE OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, NY
Where to Next???
Now that you have learned about Bannerman Castle and Island Tour, let’s see where you should go next…