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Who needs a disney fairytale- this is the real deal
Crathes Castle (Grampian)
Member Name: yellowroses
Crathes Castle (Grampian)
Date: 23/02/09, updated on 24/02/09 (178 review reads)
Advantages: Where di i start - something for everyone, the atmosphere
Disadvantages: Pay for parking
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.
Summary: Place where dreams exist