Crathes Castle

Quite simply, Crathes Castle is one of the most impressive castles in Scotland. With its classic Scottish tower house design, featuring a jumble of cone-roofed turrets, ramparts, and towers, there’s something pleasantly Disneyesque about Crathes Castle, which is magnified by its faintly pink harled exterior. Admittedly, there are other castles of a similar design in Aberdeenshire, but few that offer such a comprehensive visitor experience. With an incredibly well-preserved interior and beautifully maintained gardens, Crathes Castle is a Scottish gem, promising a fantastic day out for the whole family.

Owned by the prominent Burnett family for over 350 years, Crathes Castle was constructed in the 16th century, with many of the original features still intact. Inside, the castle is a cultural maze, with painted ceilings, family portraits, and fine antique furniture providing plenty to admire.

Outside, the estate is a delightful concoction of walled gardens, woodland, marshes, ponds, and streams, with many waymarked trails to explore and a host of wildlife to observe. Younger visitors will be thrilled by the adventure playground which features rock face climbs, zipwires, sandpits, and walkways, for hours of uninterrupted excitement.

DID YOU KNOW…?

The iconic yew hedges at Crathes Castle were planted in 1702. They receive an annual trim to maintain their distinctive shape.

The Ghosts of Crathes Castle

Crathes Castle was built by Alexander Burnett in the 16th Century, where The Burnett family lived on for over 350 years. Robert the Bruce had granted them land back in 1323. Crathes Castle is made up of an intricate maze of turrets, towers, oak panels and painted ceilings, many of which survive beautifully to this day. Surrounded by its very own luscious gardens teamed with a backdrop of breathtaking landscapes, you can wander around and soak it all in. The walled gardens are particularly stunning, split into eight sections of glorious greenery and exotic flowers.

Crathes Castle looks like it is straight out of a fairy tale but it comes with a dark twist. It is no secret that this castle is haunted by a ghost referred to as ‘The Green Lady’. A publication in 1900 described it as an ‘apparition of a lady dressed in green, with a child in her arms’. It is said that ‘The Green Lady’ was once a servant girl who worked in the castle who fell pregnant out of wedlock – by who we don’t know, but perhaps is the reason why ‘she fled the castle’. 100 years later in the 1800s, workmen were repairing the castle and uncovered the skeletal remains of a woman and a child beneath the hearthstone of the fireplace.

Did you know…? 

The reason for the length of the beds in Crathes Castle, did not mean that its residents were very short. They did in fact believe that if they lay flat whilst sleeping that this was representative of how you would lay in your coffin. They also believed that if they were to lay down the grim reaper would take them in their sleep so instead they slept sitting up. You will notice this in a lot of Castles from the 16th century as this superstition caught on and even spread all over Europe.

Also, in the master bedroom you will see the bed of Alexander and his wife [insert name] – you will notice the initials carved into the head of the bed. If you look inside the roof of the bed you will notice a rectangular door. This was added, because they believed that if someone was to die whilst in this bed, they could lift the lid up and the spirit of the dead would be sent to heaven.

 

GETTING THERE AND OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Arriving by car

Situated 15 miles west of Aberdeen, Crathes Castle is easily reached via the A93 from where it is signposted.

Plentiful parking is available, which is free for members of National Trust for Scotland. Accessible parking is available adjacent to the courtyard café.

Arriving by bus

From Aberdeen or Braemar, take Stagecoach service 201 (travel time from Aberdeen, 45 minutes; from Braemar, 90 minutes).

Useful information

Crathes Castle features an extensive range of facilities, including a café, buggy access, and cycle routes. Dogs are welcome on the estate; only assistance dogs are allowed inside the property, the walled gardens, and the Wild Wood Adventure Play.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO NEARBY

  • Take a ride through history on the Royal Deeside Railway, a wonderful standard gauge heritage line that offers steam and diesel services alongside the beautiful River Dee.
  • Escape hectic life with a gentle walk to the Falls of Feugh, where a stone footbridge that spans the river is a prime position to spot salmon leaping from the water as they make their way up the falls. The ever-changing colours of the surrounding countryside make this a delightful spot at any time of the year.
  • Discover one of the country’s oldest tower houses, Drum Castle, where you can also saunter through the Old Wood of Drum where the oak trees are centuries old.

PLACES TO EAT AND DRINK

Banchory offers a selection of eating out options, many specialising in freshly cooked, locally sourced produce.

If you crave a light snack or hot drink, Birdhouse Café, Finzean Estate Tea Room, and Tease Coffee Bar are all great choices.

The Cow Shed offers fine countryside views over lunch or dinner, while Mamma Mia is perfect if you’re tempted by Italian cuisine.

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