Aberdeenshire is the land of plenty when it comes to castles and guests can choose to follow the Castle Trail.
The most famous, and summer retreat of the Royal family, is Balmoral Castle at Crathie which is a short drive up the Dee valley. Please note that it is only open from April to July as the Royals are in residence throughout August and September. This is a stunning castle with beautiful grounds and gardens although do bare in mind you only see the Ballroom inside.
A little further on brings you to Braemar Castle, a community owned and run fortress with strong links to the Jacobites.
The National Trust for Scotland has eight properties throughout Aberdeenshire. Crathes Castle, near Banchory, is a real jewel in their crown boasting a stunning tower house, spectacular walled garden and woodland trails. A little further on and Drum Castle with its beautiful interiors, tower and rose garden is also a must. It would also be remiss not to mention the lesser known Craigievar Castle towards Alford in Donside which according to myth is the first castle to inspire Walt Disney’s princess castle.
Should your interest lie in more ruinous affairs, then those in the care of Historic Scotland are for you. Again there are numerous throughout Aberdeenshire, ten to be precise, but those closest to the house include Corgarff, Kildrummy, Huntly and Tolquhon. Our own family visits to these have often involved wooden swords/dirks and helmets and a wild imagination.
The only one left to mention is the privately owned and superbly dramatic Dunnottar Castle, perched on the clifftop south of Stonehaven this has often been used in films and showcased around Scotland. There is an amazing walk from the fishing village of Stonehaven, along the beach board walk, round the harbour, up onto the clifftop and a mile long track along the coast.