How do you like your castles? A Dracula spectacular, fairy-tale sweet, ruined Royal or romantic, perhaps? Or maybe on the edge of towns or hidden in the middle of a creepy forest each with its own green, grey or white ladies as resident ghosts?
No matter what you prefer you'll have no hassle finding a castle because here in Aberdeen you are on the very fringe of Castle Country with over 300 to choose from and many less than an hours’ gentle drive from the centre of Aberdeen.
There’s plenty of information available on this website but be warned though: castle bagging can be addictive so be sure to set aside plenty of time to explore.
Bring a packed lunch, or look out for inviting country pubs selling delicious meals or enjoy afternoon tea in some of the quaint restaurants dotted along the route.
The must see castle of course is Balmoral Castle on Royal Deeside which was brought by Queen Victoria 1852 after a romantic break in the area with her beloved Prince Albert. Successions of Royals have made the castle their summer retreat-a single decision that has done wonders for the coach party industry! The building you see today is not the original. Victoria and Albert had it pulled down and a bigger one erected in its place. Queens can do that …
Five miles south of the small town of Alford, near Turriff is Craigievar Castle which inspired Walt Disney to create the castle we see in his famous films. The pink coloured seven storey building with its turrets, gargoyles and elaborately carved chimneys would not be out of place in Disneyworld.
You'll also be charmed by the delightfully eccentric Delgatie Castle near Turriff, which was restored by the equally eccentric and stubborn Captain John Hay late of the Indian Army in a 40 year labour of love. Mary Queen of Scots slept there in 1532-Queens could do that too-and her bedchamber is on view to visitors. You’ll find a terrific tea room and excellent home baking courtesy of Joan the Castle custodian.
On the outskirts of Stonehaven sits the spectacular and gloomy ruins of ancient Dunnottar Castle surrounded on three sides by the sea and a cliff top fortress for two thousand years.
It was here in 1562 that the Scottish crown jewels were smuggled to safety under Cromwell's army by, legend says, the wife of a local minister. Known as the Honours of Scotland they were buried under the altar of nearby Kinneff Church and are now on display in Edinburgh Castle.
These are just a fraction of the castles waiting for you to explore-what’s keeping you?
*Please remember when planning your visits that properties belonging to the National Trust for Scotland are open between May-September with some opening at Easter and weekends in October. Their gardens and grounds are open all year. A few of the Historic Scotland properties are open all year.
Download the Aberdeenshire Castle trail leaflet here.