“ Banchory, Aberdeenshire, AB31 5QJ. Tel:(01330)844525 Fax:(01330)844797 (Castle); Tel:(01330)844651 (Ranger/Naturalist). ADMISSION PRICES: castle only/walled garden only, adult £4.50, concession £3; combined ticket (castle and garden), adult £7, concession „
I grew in Aberdeenshire so have visited Crathes Castle several times. I was facinated by the stories of the green lady and her baby when I visited the castle on school trips. As a child I loved going to the play area in the grounds of the castle (which to the best of my knowledge is free, which means that you can have a day out walking around the grounds & using the play area with out having to spend a penny, it may not sound as good as visiting the castle but it entertained me & my sister on many summer days!). The walled gardens are beautiful and in my opinion they are worth the visit rather than the castle. In an area which has so many castles Crathes is definately the one that I would recommend before the others, including Balmoral Castle. We have on several occassions taken visitors to Crathes castle and they have all been equally impressed. The outdoor summer concerts which are held at the castle are amazing, great bands in a beautiful location.
This is one of my favourite places in aberdeen to walk my dog.
Im sorry I have never actually been into the castle its self but it is very beautiful to look at.
I have heard many ghost stories over the years about the green lady and her baby so when ever I walk past I cant help but look up at the windows on the chance that I will see her standing looking out. Stories have it that she had a baby and the baby was taken off her and killed and buried in the forest, she can be seen walking within the castle and down to the forrest, crys can also be heard.
Anyway the gardens and very well kept and plants are available to buy.
There are many walks around the grounds of various lenghts and also a lovely pond that can be walked around.
They have a gift shop and coffee shop which has not long been renevated and have good toilet facilities.
There is also a fantastic adventure playground for children.
Crathes Castle was completed in the late sixteenth century, by the Burnett of Leys family. It is now owned and run by the National Trust for Scotland, and is open to visitors all year round. The Castle is extremely well preserved, and in addition to the building itself, there are extensive gardens and woodlands, café and shop, plant sales, and a childrens playground.
The Castle is located near Banchory, in Deeside. You can reach it by following the Slug Road (A957) all the way from Stonehaven, or take the North Deeside Road (A93) out of Aberdeen. It is also possible to take local bus services from Aberdeen.
Currently, admission to the grounds alone costs £10.50 for adults, £7.50 for concessions and is free to members. There is an additional charge if you want to go into the Castle itself - I have been unable to confirm this charge, but from memory I believe it is around £6, and again free for members. It is quite an expensive day out, but family tickets are available from £20 (1 parent), and you can very easily spend a whole day there when the weather is fine.
The Castle itself is very interesting, but having visited the grounds numerous times over the last two decades, I have only been inside twice. I would advise thinking about whether you want to spend the extra money - do you enjoy historical buildings? The interior is in excellent condition, and largely as it was when inhabited however. The Castle is full of interesting artefacts, including some important artworks, both paintings and painted ceilings. You can also visit the Green Lady's Room - like many castles, Crathes is rumoured to be haunted by a Green Lady. When I was younger I found this a little scary, but that was soon forgotton when we got to the old times toilet - a hole in the floor several floors up!
For me, a visit to Crathes is a visit to the grounds. There is a large walled garden, which again has an additional small charge for entry, but is well worth the visit. The gardens are laid out as they were when created, and are full of mature plants and trees. There is a doo'cot in the gardens, as well as sculptures and fountains. All the plants are labelled, something which came in very handy one visit when my mum decided she wanted a wall of flowering plants (campanulas) like the gardens had, and she was able to check the name.
At a slightly higher level than the walled garden is the famous yew hedge topiary, which dates from the early eighteenth century. These hedges are impressive but I always find they are home to spiderwebs!! Also at this level is the croquet lawn and sundial.
Beyond the walled garden, getting further away from the Castle itself, there are extensive woodlands and fields which are part of the grounds. You can walk in these as a visitor, but there are sometimes special nature walks organised for children and families, especially in the summer - I went on one when I was young, and it was very enjoyable and educational.
Near the entrance you will find the collection of buildings which house the shop, café and toilets. In the building with the shop there is also a small nature centre, which is great for the kids- it's one of those places where you stick your hands into dark boxes and identify the objects within!! The shop itself is very good. I find that some National Trust properties have tiny shops, but the one at Crathes is a reasonable size. It has a selection of Crathes Castle souvenirs, and a lot of Aberdeenshire and Scotland gifts, such as silverware and china. There is also a very good book selection, again covering local and national topics, and a good choice of Scottish childrens books. I would definitely advise popping into the shop.
The café...well, several years ago they changed the café. It was once a traditional National Trust café, with tea and scones and happy elderly ladies serving. Now, it has been rehoused in another building and is a much different affair. They serve clever sandwiches, the scones are not homemade, and every time I've been there since it changed, they've run out of almost everything on the menu. When I have managed to have something to eat, it has been of good quality, but it's not somewhere I would run to again. The staff are now, on the whole, local young people - and it's good that the Castle is giving them employment, and the service is efficient, but it's not the same.
The toilet facilities are much improved in recent years, and are clean and well maintained.
Now, there is one part of the Castle which you will see a lot of if you go there with children...the adventure playground. This was built at a time when I was still interested in such things (well, I'd still love a go but I don't think I'm allowed now...) so I can report on how much fun it is! I'd be happy to state that this is one of the best adventure playgrounds I ever visited as a child. Back then, there weren't all these specialist charging places, and adventure playgrounds were found in local parks and at tourist attractions. The one at Crathes can keep kids amused for hours. There are climbing frames, slides, swings, monkey bars, tyre swings and an aerial slide, among other things. There is parents seating around the park, or there is a large grassy slope leading to it which is usually strewn with parents having a break!
Beside the car park is the Crathes Plant Sales. If you are interested in gardening, this is worth a visit as they have a good selection of plants, including a lot of what you can see in the walled garden. It was here that my mum found her campanula which she had seen in the garden.
All in all, Crathes Castle is one of Aberdeenshire and Deeside's premier tourist attractions, and well worth a visit for locals and visitors alike - I have no idea how many times I've been there, but while writing this I find myself wanting to go back! It can be a slightly expensive day out if you choose to go into the Castle, but it is free to National Trust members and the family tickets offer good value
I used to go camping in the grounds of Crathes Castle with the guides when I was younger and the grounds are extensive and beautiful. I had never actually been inside the castle (despite visiting the grounds over a dozen times) until October last year when I went with my sister and our children 5, 3 and 1.
Situated around 15 miles to the west of Aberdeen and 3 miles east of Banchory it is easy to get to. It is just off the A93 the main road from Aberdeen to Banchory and Royal Deeside. Ir is accessible by car with ample parking facilites, although it is pay and display (£2) or by bus which stops on the A93 and will involve a fairly long walk through the grounds to the castle although the grounds are lovely.
There is a disabled car park next to the visitor centre. They have tried hard with disabled access, accessible trails etc but of course there is no access to the upper storeys of the castle (spiral staircase)
******* Opening Times *****
The castle is open all year round from 10.30 till 3.30 or 5.30 in the summer months (April - September) with the last admission 45 minutes before closing time. 45 minutes in my opinion doesn't give you enough to explore properly.
The Gardens are open all year round from 9am till sunset.
The cafe and shop is open 10.30 till 4.00.
******Admission Fees ******
1 parent family £20
Entry to the estate and facilities is free, you pay to enter the castle and if i remember rightly the gardens too.
****** The History *****
The castle construction began in 1553 ( some people believe it was earlier than this) but wasn't completed till 1596 with the East wing added later in the 18th Century. It was owned by the Burnett family. Alexanders Burnett was awarded large grants of land along the banks of the River Dee for Loyal services to the King of Scotland, Robert the Bruce. The castle stayed in the Burnett family until when it was presented to the National Trust for Scotland.
***** The castle *****
The castle is in an L-shape and is six storeys high. I love this building. It is how I imagine a fairy tale castle to be. With turrets and detailed shape. The interior of the castle however is no let down. On entering a spiral staircase leads you through the floors of the tower. This castle is absolutely exquisite in my opinion. The furniture is truly magnificant especially items such as the four poster bed. Some of the painted ceilings remain and cannot be left unadmired. Complex designs and motos in detail and with a huge variety of colour the castle is worth a visit for these alone. Some of the ceilings were touched up in the 18th century but this doesnt make them any less awe inspiing. It is likely the walls were painted like this too but perhaps it is a good thing someone painted them with more subtle colours.
Tapestries, orignial documents about the castle and personal items allow you to really capture the family story behind the castle. It is rumoured that a ghost haunts this castle (but isnt there a rumour about every old building) I can't say I have ecperience ghost like activity but the castle does have a lot of atmosphere. The atmosphere changes also later in the day, around closing time.
***** The estate *****
I love it here (in case I forgot to mention that) It has everything. Woodland, marsh, ponds, streams and a fabulous collection of trees planted in 1860 by Sir James Horne Barnett. These trees are maybe treasured as much as the castle itself. You can stroll around the estate at ease and often find yourself in a deeply atmospheric and peaceful place surrounding by idyllic scenery and not another person in sight.
A ranger service offers guided walks in the summer months and there are easy to follow trails too.
***** The gardens *****
I didnt go into the gardens on my last visit as we had the children to entertain but have visited them before. They are walled gardens covering nearly 4 acres. Guided tours are available and they are definately worth a look. The ancient yew hedges frame the upper part of the garden and stay green all year round. The rose garden is probably my favourite as I love roses and the scent is divine. The fountain is beautiful also. As with all gardens it changes its appearence over the course of the seasons but if you are they definately have a look even if gardens aren't really your cup of tea.
Te shop, cafe, restaurant and visitor centre are situated in what was originally the horse mill and the what was formerly the Quuen Annes wing before a fire in the 1950s. All the facilities are everything you would expect from the national trust. The shops sells the usual souveniers but also prints of the castle and sometimes books by scottish authors.
A park, the children loved this although it was very wet - as you would expect for scotland in October. The park is set well away from the castle so kids can be kids. It is set in woodland with woodchippings on the ground, so if you are going to take kids dress them appropriately. Wellies if the ground is wet.
For the more adventurous visitor there is the sky wall. A giant wall to climb up and abseil down. Too high for me. The sky trek was being constructed while i was there too.
***** Extra information ******
If you are travelling to Crathes castle from Aberdeen watch out as you cross the bridge just outside Peterculter. On the right hand side there is a statue of Robert the Bruce who apparently jumped the river and escaped the english.
***** Overall opinion ****
A must see! I promise you will not be disappointed. The children love the castle, the boys being the princes or strong knights rescuing that damsel in distress or the girls as princesses. They also loved the freedom to run around outside and of course the park. For me Crathes Castle and Estate ticks the boxes in all the right places. The atmosphere although hard to describe must be experienced. Although the tickets are relatively expensive they are definately giving you your moneys worth and the money is for national trust for scotland so hopefully we are saving more treasures.
It has something for everyone.