On the castle trail
- 05th October 2015
Whether you are looking for a fairy-tale tower, a vampire’s lair or a ruined fortress, with more than 300 castles around bmi regional destination Aberdeen, a trip to the North-east of Scotland will meet the expectations of any castle hunter.
With many of the castles less than an hour’s drive from Aberdeen city centre; you can easily spend days tracking them all down and exploring the castles, their grounds and the incredible scenery which surrounds these pieces of Scottish history.
Here we take a look at some of our favourite castles in the area.
Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven
Surrounded by 160 foot high sheer cliffs, Dunnottar castle is a ruined medieval fortress which perches above the North-sea. Almost cut off from the mainland the climb down the cliffs and then back up to the castle is not for the faint hearted but it is all worth it when you reach the top and stand surrounded by its dramatic ruins. Dunnottar castle has played a part in many historical events. It was besieged William Wallace (as immortalised in Braveheart) and was once guardian of the crown jewels of Scotland. It has featured in a number of films and, most recently, visitors to the site will recognise it as providing one of the backdrops to the castle in Pixar’s Brave.
Slains Castle, Cruden Bay
Legend states that Slains Castle provided the inspiration for Dracula’s castle after Bram Stoker visited nearby Cruden Bay in 1895. As you look up to the castle, brooding on the rocky coastline, it isn’t too hard to imagine the infamous vampire stalking the ruins. The castle was originally built to replace Old Slains Castle, situated about six miles south-west of the present site, after it was destroyed in 1594. Less than a mile from Cruden Bay, you can walk up to the ruins from the fishing village or park near-by to visit the site.
Built in the 1580s, Tolquhon castle served as a noble residence for 300 years and is one of the most picturesque castles in the area. From the moment you step through the ornamental gatehouse the castle will take your breath away. From the main house to Preston’s tower there is a lot to explore and the site is a prime example of a courtyard castle from the 1500s. Although a ruin, many of the rooms are intact and you can still see the complex tiling on the floor of the Great Hall. The castle is situated midway between Tarves and Pitmedden and is run by Historic Scotland.
As you approach Fyvie castle you get a commanding view of the castle’s towers, which were built by the castle’s five successive families over the course of the building’s 800-year history. Once you take a step inside the building you will be met with Edwardian interiors, armoury, artwork and legend. Like many castles, Fyvie is said to be haunted but on top of the usual ghouls, Fyvie has its own legend, “The Weeping Stones of Fyvie” which speaks of three stones which were taken from a sacred burial site and used to build one of the towers. The legend states that until they are returned no male heir shall live to inherit the castle. One of the stones is now on display in the castle, and as no male heir has ever survived to inherit, you can decide for yourself if you think it’s true.
An enchanting 16th-century tower house, Crathes is surrounded by 240 hectares of formal gardens, woodland walks and rolling Scottish countryside. With its turrets and towers, winding staircases, ornate ceilings and ancient sculpted yew trees Crathes has something for the whole family. And, if you’re looking for added adventure as part of your visit, within the grounds of the castle you will find a Go Ape trail where you can fly down zip wires, take on the Tarzan swing and negotiate the tree-top crossings.