Aberdeenshire Castle Trail
Step back in time through the last millennium of our country's heritage and experience Scottish castles at their best on Scotland's only Castle Trail.
A selection of thirteen of the world's most unique castles ranging from the fairy tale magic of Craigievar, to the rugged splendour of Kildrummy Castle ruins, to the elegant timelessness of the country house grandeur of Leith Hall.
Aberdeenshire is matchless in the richness of its castle tradition and Scotland's Castle Trail brings together some of the most splendid examples of castellated architecture on a clearly sign-posted tourist trail.
A superb cluster of 13 famous Scottish castles features...
Duff House (1735 - 1742), the magnificanet Baroque mansion built by William Adam for William Duff M.P., Lord Braco and later Earl of Fife, has undergone complete refurbishment as a Country House Gallery operating as an outstation of the National Galleries of Scotland.
The home of the late Captain Hay of Delgatie it has painted ceilings dated 1592 and 1597. The turnpike stair of 97 treads measures over five feet in width.
Mary, Queen of Scots, stayed here for three days in 1562. Displays of fine paintings, armoury, Victorian clothes combined with the atmosphere of a lived in home makes Delgatie Castle well worth a visit.
The five towers of Fyvie Castle enshrine five centuries of Scottish history, each being named after the five families who owned the castle. The oldest part dates from the 13th century and is probably the grandest example of Scottish Baronial architecture.
This magnificent house stands on the grounds of an ancient castle and is steeped in history of the great Gordon family. Although grand and luxurious it still has a very 'homely' feel and is surrounded by a beautiful rose garden, lawns and country park, shop, plant sales, tearoom, play area and events.
This castle, now a ruin, was started in the 15th century when the Preston Tower was built. In 1420, the Tower was passed to the Forbes family and after this date, William Forbes, the seventh laird, built a large quadrangular mansion.
His stately tomb at the parish church of Tarves is known as the Tolquhon Aisle and is situated in the church yard.
Known also as Strathbogie Castle, this glorious ruin stands on the bank of the River Deveron. It is in itself a history lesson in the development of the Scottish castle from the earliest Norman fortress to the palace of the 17th century.
This beautifully restored castle with its star shaped ramparts is set amid spectacular scenery. It dates from 1537 and has seen very turbulent times. It played a prominent part in the Jacobite Risings of 1715 and 1745 and was converted into a barracks for Hanoverian troops in 1748. Its last military use was to house the English Redcoats who had the unpopular task of combating whisky smuggling.
These are the ruins of a 13th century stone courtyard castle which was dismantled after the first Jacobite rising in 1715. The complete layout of domestic buildings is still intact - hall, kitchen and chapel. It has been described as the noblest of Northern castles and a stronghold of the Earls of Mar.
This unusual and attractive mansion house was begun in 1650, and subsequent additions have resulted in a house built around a central courtyard. The House is a fine example of a Scottish family home and is regarded by many as one of the National Trust for Scotland’s hidden gems
Not part of the official Castle Trail but another NTS property well worth a visit. The original 13th century keep has an adjoining Jacobean mansion house and additions made by Victorian lairds. There are woodland trails and a garden of historic roses in the grounds.
Not officially part of the Castle Trail, Crathes Castle near Banchory is justly famous not just for the building itself, but for its spectacular gardens and unusual topiary. Crathes is in the care of the National Trust for Scotland (NTS).
This fairytale castle is an example of the best of Scottish Baronial architecture. It was built by William Forbes in 1626. Rumour has it that Disney's famous castle was modelled on it!
Built between 1575 and 1636 by the 6th laird, Michael Fraser, this magnificent building contains an array of historic furnishings, paintings and embroidery. The castle is set in extensive parkland.
Not on the official castle trail but well worth a Visit is:
Set amongst the magnificent scenery of Royal Deeside, in the shadows of Lochnagar is the Balmoral Estate. Purchased by Queen Victoria in 1848, the Estate has been the Scottish Home of the British Royal Family ever since. The Estate covers about 20,000 hectares (just over 50,000 acres) acres of heather clad hills, ancient Caledonian woodland, policies and of course the beautiful River Dee is nearby.