Many people would argue that Crathes Castle is one of the most beautiful National Trust for Scotland buildings in Aberdeenshire. Not far outside Aberdeen you’ll find this spectacular castle which looks like it comes straight out of a film! It is nestled among beautiful forest trails filled with Scottish wildlife, and there are activities around the castle for any age. This makes for a lovely walk with varying lengths of paths.
This walk begins at Milton of Crathes which is just off the A93 and close to the castle. This is a picturesque complex made up restored 17th century stone buildings. Within the complex you will find the new Hidden Scotland Shop, so make sure you pop in to say hello and browse the wide range of curated Scottish goods.
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
Once you are at the castle, you can either walk round and head back along the road to Milton of Crathes. However, we suggest extending your walk with one of the six waymarked woodland trails.
The walk to the castle and the trails are all well maintained, reasonably flat and accessible.
The trails are filled with wildlife and it is not uncommon to spot some of the animals around the estate! There is a newly opened wildlife hide by Coy Burn where you can spot kingfishers, herons and buzzards. Then in the woodland habitats, you will often be lucky enough to see Scottish red squirrels, roe deer and pine marten.
The longest trail is the Ley Way, also known as The Red Squirrel Trail. The waymarked path is 6.5km and takes you through the woodlands and passed the countryside, giving you a great variety of views. If you enjoy walking, this path is a great way to extend your route.
If you prefer a shorter walk, the other waymarked trails are significantly shorter yet still beautiful. They often follow smaller sections of the longer Ley Way trail. The maps are all available from the estate.
While the trails give you some great walks, there is a lot more to do on Crathes Estate.
Spending time wandering round and admiring the beautiful castle is a must! There is plenty to be enjoyed outside, but if you want to take a look inside the castle you can purchase a ticket from the National Trust for Scotland.
In 1323, the land Crathes Castle sits on was given to the Burnetts of Ley family by King Robert the Bruce. The castle itself was built between 1553 and 1596, with an additional wing constructed in the 1800s.
To this day the castle has been well preserved and there is a lot of historic information available. With painted ceilings, antique furniture and family portraits lining the interiors, you can find out a lot more about the rich history of Crathes Castle through visiting.
But beware – legend has it that Crathes Castle is haunted! ‘The Green Lady’s Room’ is named after a mysterious and ghostly woman whose spirit lives there. Many are said to have encountered the ghost including Queen Victoria, however nobody knows her true identity. But whenever people see her, she is wearing a green dress and sitting by the fireplace with a young child in her arms…
Crathes Castle Walled Garden
The iconic walled garden is internationally renowned and is bursting with colour! If you visit in summer, you will be hit with the incredible aroma of the flowers which fill the garden. The walled garden is also home to famous Topiary Yew Hedges, the oldest of which date back to 1702! These are the neatly shaped hedges you can see from the front of Crathes Castle.
There are 8 sections of the walled garden for you to explore with some of the collections displayed being extremely rare. Wandering round the paths between the plants will take you around 20 minutes, although you could easily stay longer to relax and enjoy the garden!
Other Facilities and Activities at Crathes Castle
Along with the main highlights of Crathes Castle, there is lots more for you to do!
The Wild Wood Adventure Play is super for children. It is an imaginative play area all created out of wood which will keep them entertained. But older children and adults don’t need to miss out on the fun either! Crathes Castle is the home of Go Ape Tree-Top Adventure in Aberdeen.
The Café 1702 at Crathes is lovely if you are looking for a food stop before walking back to Milton of Crathes. It is also dog friendly and gives you the opportunity for a toilet break.
Crathes Castle is the perfect day trip for visitors of any age. There is so much to do and explore, you’re guaranteed to find something new on every visit. The walk from Milton of Crathes to Crathes Castle is a great way to explore the area and enjoy the outdoors.
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!