Tuesday, 6 September 2016

5 Scottish Fairy Tale Castles

Our Scottish adventure continued on from Edinburgh and headed north.  Last year we tackled the entire north coast, this year we went for something a little more manageable - a "Castle Crawl" around Fife and Aberdeenshire.  The thing about Scottish castles is that, apart from the ruined ones, they all feel remarkably cosy.  Here are our five favourites and my only regret is that we didn't have time to stop and see more.

1.  Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle
I'm starting with the only ruin - but wow - just wow.  This place will really take your breath away in every sense of the word (I'm not kidding, there are a LOT of steps to climb!).  With a history that dates back to the 3rd century and includes William Wallace and Mary Queen of Scots, this is one not to be missed.  Download the app for an excellent self guided tour and make sure you have plenty of space on your memory card for photos.

2.  Craigievar Castle

Craigievar Castle
I'll confess, this one was my favourite, and not just because its colour matched my hair.  There is just something perfectly "castly" about it.  Imposing and dramatic and yet still beautiful to look at. The guided tour tells you all about its hidden secrets - I just wish the walls could talk.  It's a bit off the beaten track but well worth the drive.

3.  Kellie Castle

Kellie Castle
This was the gentlest of the castles - more of a fortified home with a wonderful walled garden.  We visited in the height of summer but I should imagine it's stunning when the autumn colours kick in.  There's an audio tour of the garden which is interesting even if, like us, you're not horticulturally minded - and if you are there are extra bits of the guide you can listen to that tell you more about the planting patterns and different species etc.

4.  Cathes Castle

Crathes Castle
Please excuse this photo but it was the one day of our 3 week hols when it rained.  I can't show you the very best bits of this castle as photos weren't allowed inside, but it has the MOST amazing painted ceilings I've ever seen - just superb.  There's a photo of one of them here from a project with RCAHMS - but it really doesn't do it justice at all.  The colours are so incredibly vivid - be warned, you may leave here with a crick in your neck...

5. Drum Castle

Drum Castle
This may not be the most dramatic but it's definitely one of the most fascinating.  You can see from the photo how it's evolved over the centuries and as you wander around the inside you start to piece together how it came to be the way we see it today.  On the top floor there's currently an art gallery hosting specially curated collections from Aberdeen Art Gallery while it undergoes extensive renovations - not all of it was to our taste but it was all fascinating to look at.  Once you're done with the insides you can climb to the top of the tower for magnificent views across the estate,  When they renovated the tower here they discovered 5 hidden rooms which they don't have the funds to fully explore, I did promise that when we win the lottery I'll remember them...