Only half an hour outside of Aberdeen, you’ll find the Medieval Drum Castle and its 700 years of history! It is one of the three oldest tower houses in Scotland and now owned by the National Trust for Scotland. The castle is filled with fascinating stories, from harbouring an outlaw to romance during the unsettling time of the Jacobite risings. The walls and bookcases also conceal secret passageways and hidden chambers!
When you arrive at Drum Castle, take time to appreciate the traditional stonework and structures. The original parts of the castle date back to the 13th Century. There is also the chapel beside the castle which was built in the 16th Century and is still used for some religious services.
If you are looking to climb the tower and enjoy a guided tour of the castle, tickets are available to purchase from the National Trust for Scotland.
While Drum Castle itself is very interesting, there are also lovely walks around the estate.
Length of Walk: 1 to 3 miles
Time Taken: 2 hours minimum so you have plenty of time to enjoy the grounds and facilities
Parking: Car park on the grounds of Drum Castle, costs £3
Facilities: Toilets, tearoom, shop, adventure playground
There are three main trails at Drum Castle – the Woodland Walk, Drumhill Wood Trail, and the Farmland Walk. Each of these sections are around 1 mile, and you can walk them individually or combine them all for a longer walk. This is ideal for all ages as the paths are very manageable for children and each loop leads you back to the castle.
The woodland walk is a very pleasant path through the Old Wood (Forest of Drum). This site is an ancient oak woodland dating back to the 13th Century and is home to a variety of Scottish wildlife.
From the car park, this is the first trail you will see, and it is up on your right once you pass the adventure playground. The path follows the yellow way markers and takes you in a clockwise loop around the Old Wood. It is simple to follow the path is in good condition, although it is unsurfaced so can be a little rough underfoot.
Length of walk: 2.5 miles, with options of adding on forest trails of varying lengths
Time taken: 2-4 hours for plenty of time exploring the grounds
Parking: Free parking in car park at the Milton of Crathes Complex
Facilities: Toilets and Café at Crathes Castle, Shops and Bistro at Milton of Crathes
Drumhill Trail is also a picturesque walk which winds through forest, and while it is a hill it is not a strenuous walk. The highlight of this walk is the viewpoint which gives you beautiful views over the Dee Valley.
From the car park, you keep walking straight ahead and along the road which passes the Woodland Walk. As you continue along the road there is a Y junction and you take the path which veers off to the right. Shortly after this junction, you take a left and you are on to the Drumhill Trail.
The paths are very clear to follow and take you on a circular walk round the small hill. There is a trig point you will pass before heading back down the hill and back towards the estate. The trail is in good condition although it is unsurfaced and can get muddy and slippery when wet, so you may want to take a pair of appropriate shoes for this one!
The Farmland Walk is quite different to the first two trails as although still pass through some woodlands, you get to enjoy more open spaces, countryside, and views over Deeside. Again, the paths are clearly waymarked and take you a loop around the estate. You will pass the pond which is close to the castle and surrounded by some beautiful plants.
This walk also takes you past the Garden of Historic Roses. While it is a diversion to the marked route, we do recommend you check it out!
Drum Castle’s Garden of Historic Roses
The Garden of Historic Roses is one of the most famous sections of Drum Castle Estate. There are four sections to the walled garden, and each represent different centuries which showcase different styles of garden design and rose growing! This is actually very interesting, and you can clearly see the contrasts and differences. For many years, this stunning garden has been maintained by a group of volunteers who work hard to keep the roses blooming! The roses are also complimented by a wide range of other attractive plants.
One part of the garden to check out is the wooden structure you can climb up that acts as a nice viewpoint across the sections!
The garden is very easy and accessible to get to; as you walk down the path past the pond, you will clearly see the entrance. Give yourself at least 15-20 minutes to wander round and enjoy garden.
Other Facilities and Activities at Drum Castle
Drum Castle is a great trip for families, and one of the highlights for kids has to be the adventure playground. This is described as a ‘wooden wonderland’ and even has a wooden drum kit! Kids can enter via the wooden den entrance just across from the car park (although there is a proper gate too).
Mary’s Larder is the tearoom which can be found in the courtyard of the castle. There is a great selection of drinks and snacks, and lunch is served between noon and 3pm.
Drum Castle is an interesting and exciting day out, and the options for varying lengths of walks is great for all ages. Once you have enjoyed spending time at the castle and its grounds, you are only a 10-minute drive away from the Hidden Scotland Shop at Milton of Crathes. To visit, simply head back onto the A93 and head straight in the direction of Crathes. The Milton of Crathes complex car park will be on your left shortly after passing the entrance to Crathes Castle.
Written by Anna Gill
Anna is the founder of the Aberdeenshire Walks social media blog, sharing local walks and encouraging people to get out and explore the places on their doorstep!