“ Slains Castle is situated about 1 mile from the small village of Cruden Bay, which is about 25 miles north of the city of Aberdeen on the north east coast of Scotland. Slains Castle offered Bram Stoker the inspiration for his legendary Count Dracula. „
You know I'd say that even if you're not a big drinker, you should go and take a look at this bar - it's the most unusual bar I have come across. It has a mad scientist feel to it... There's lots of dkulls, things in jars and even things in cages!
The furniture is very gothic too and depending on what time of day you go it can unfortunately be a little sticky too....
There's a nice selection of drinks available, the cocktail names fit in with the mad scientist/gothic theme. Depending on which day you go there's good drinks offers on too as well.
The food is average for bar grub I'd say, burgers, lasagne etc. But if you fan a challenge they have a few man versus food challenges!! The dessert man versus food challenge looks especially tasty!
One last thing though... The toilets, good luck finding them! The doors to them have been made to look like a book case! Once you find them they're nice enough though.
Slain's Castle is an imposing ruin fronting directly onto south facing cliffs to the east of Cruden Bay.
I should however mention that because of some local knowledge I know that this is not the only Slain's Castle on the coastline. There are the remnants of the "original" Slain's just to the north east of Collieston, which was built in the 1200s but was destroyed by King James VI because of the questionable loyalties of the Earl of Errol in approx 1594.
After returning from exile in 1597 the then Earl of Erroll made amends with the King and rebuilt his fortress. However this time he used the tower at Bowness as the foundation of the new Slain's. To end the history lesson, the castle, over time had wings and courtyards added until in approx 1836 the castle gained is granite facing. In 1916 death duties forced the sale of Slain's Castle by the 20th Earl of Erroll, but disappointingly the new owner left the castle to fall into disrepair and the roof being removed in 1925.
Famously Slain's is rumoured to have been the inspiration for Bram Stoker's "Dracula" when Stoker himself stayed at the Castle.
Whilst an interesting ruin, you can't deny the general eerie air surrounding the Castle. This is further influenced by the crashing waves under the cliff, and the wind, which whips round the broken walls of the castle, many a tourist has said they've felt they weren't alone when visiting the area.
It was announced that in 2007 that Slain's Castle would be closed to the public, the first time the public were denied free access to this site. The reasoning for this being the land and ruins were to be converted to holiday homes.
When the Great North of Scotland Railway ran to Cruden Bay, some 25 miles north of Aberdeen, the village was known as the Brighton of the North. An 82-bedroomed hotel was built, and a golf course developed, for the enjoyment and relaxation of the gentlefolk of that era. And among the many visitors to enjoy the extensive sands of the bay, and the spectacular cliff scenery to the north and south, was one Bram Stoker. And on an evening visit to the awesome Slains Castle, with a storm brewing and the full force of the cruel North Sea thundering against its foundations and pummelling its eastern walls, Count Dracula was conceived . . . But there’s nothing sinister about Cruden Bay today. The old cottages of the original village – Port Erroll – cluster round the small harbour, used for a few pleasure craft and the occasional lobster boat. Landward of the old village, with hardly a break between them, is the older part of Cruden Bay, which in turn gradually gives way to the housing developments of the oil-boom seventies. Where Port Erroll gives way to Cruden Bay, there is a car park, opening on to some old woodland to the north. Find this, and you’ve found the starting point of our Dracula hunt ... er, sorry, ... our visit to Slains Castle. Follow the path through the woods and out into open fields. As you leave the woods, the castle appears before you. Right. Here’s the dry historical stuff. Stop me if I’m boring you. Originally on this site was the old castle of Bowness, already a ruin in the sixteenth century when the ninth Earl of Erroll began to construct his new Slains Castle on the foundations. I say “new”, because the old one, now unsurprisingly known as the Castle of Old Slains, lies about 5.5 miles south as the kittiwake flies. Or its bits do. It was irreparably knocked about by King James VI, to teach the revolting Earl a lesson. But I digress. Back to the poin
t. The Earl’s successors added, subtracted, multiplied and divided Slains until, in its ruined state today, it is hard to determine its original layout. The last major works were carried out as recently as 1836, and the result was less of a castle, more of a mansion. Onward through the generations. The philanthropic nature of the 19th Earl did much good for the community, but little good for the Earldom. The 20th Earl was forced to sell the estate in 1916 to an absentee landlord. In 1923 he, in turn, sold the castle to a demolition contractor. Fortunately, it was not demolished, but everything worth a few quid disappeared. So its history now remains for you to view, in the form of an empty shell. But an intriguing and complex one, and the different styles of architecture representing the alterations over the years are there if you look closely. And even roofless, it is still an imposing building. Now to return in meandering fashion to my opening theme. Slains in its heyday was one of society’s landmarks. If Madonna had been 200 years younger, Dornoch would have been a poor second choice. Slains attracted Dr Johnson and Boswell as guests in 1773. And in the late nineteenth century, it attracted a young man who was business manager to the famous actor, Henry Irving. Irving was working on a production of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, which features a battle scene based on the Battle of Luncarty (which is not far from where I sit right now), between the Scots and the Danes. Guess who won? The saviour of the day at Luncarty was a farmer called Hay, who for his efforts was rewarded with the lands of Erroll. It was therefore to research the Hays of Erroll, in the interests of an authentic production, that Irving’s business manager came to Cruden Bay. And his name? Stoker. Bram Stoker. During his research, Stoker became embroiled in the myth and legend of the area, and as a result, as well as the inf
amous Count, at least one of his short stories is based in this area. Now not many people know this . . . but when Bram Stoker retired, he spent his last years in Whinnyfold, a tiny village at the southern end of the Bay of Cruden. So on the basis of all this, and more, I say to the various other locations around our coasts, who lay tentative claims to Dracula’s origins - “Wanna take me on?” Oh, I’ve told you enough! Just arm yourself with a wooden stake and a crucifix, and go and explore the labyrinthine ruins. As you leave by what was once the main gate, and return on the coastal path to the village, observe the dovecote on your right. Did Stoker ever knaw a pigeon from its loft? This place is filled with memories. As you leave, remember North Sea gales. Remember dark lonely nights on this clifftop. Remember Bram. Remember the Count. Remember what’s at stake. Additional info: 1. There is an alternative access from a car park on the A975 north of Cruden Bay, but it’s rather less interesting. 2. Please take care, especially if you have kids. On a serious note, this castle is on a clifftop, it is not in care and there are minimal safety features. There have been fatalities here.