Set among the wooded countryside of Aberdeenshire, the 16th-century Crathes Castle is known for its ties to Robert the Bruce. The tower house’s interior features original painted ceilings, portraits, and antique furniture, while the 593-acre (240-hectare) estate encompasses walled gardens and parkland threaded by marked trails.
You can prepurchase an admission ticket and take a self-guided tour through the castle, admiring the Jacobean painted ceilings and the antiques, and watching for the so-called Green Lady—a ghost who is rumored to haunt the house. Admission to the castle also includes access to the gardens and grounds, where you can see sculpted topiary or spot wildlife on lovely nature trails. Alternatively, upgrade and purchase a Discover Ticket, a sightseeing pass that grants holders free entry to more than 90 National Trust for Scotland attractions. A Go Ape high ropes adventure course is also situated on the castle grounds, but requires a separate admission ticket.
Things to Know Before you Go
- Crathes Castle is a must for families, art lovers, and nature enthusiasts.
- The ground floor of the castle and most of the walled gardens are accessible to wheelchair users, though the castle’s upper levels and the waymarked trails are not.
- Drinks, lunches, and snacks are available in the courtyard café.
How to Get There
Crathes Castle is a 30-minute drive from Aberdeen via the B9077. Turn onto the A93 after Durris and look for signposts. Alternatively, ride the Stagecoach bus routes 201 or 202 from Aberdeen. Buses stop at the entrance, which is a 1-mile (1.6-kilometer) walk from the ticket office.
When to Get There
Crathes Castle is open on weekends only in January, February, March, November, and December; and daily April through October. Go in summer when warmer, drier weather makes exploring the grounds more pleasant.
The Horn of Leys
Among the many historic items on display at Crathes Castle, the Horn of Leys is perhaps the most legendary. It is thought that this 14th-century horn was a gift from King Robert the Bruce, who gave the land of Leys to the Burnett family in 1323 as recognition of their support for him. The horn is on display in the castle’s great hall.