Craigievar and Brodie – Visiting the Trust’s Baronial Castles
In this edition of Saltire Scholar Eilidh’s blog series, she describes her experiences at two of the Trust’s Castles in the North-East of Scotland.
After the long car journey to Culloden Battlefield, I camped overnight nearby in Findhorn on the north coast of Scotland. The following day, my eventual destination was my home back in Glasgow, but I planned to visit a few National Trust for Scotland properties whilst driving back down through Aberdeenshire. After packing up my tent, I embarked first thing on the next leg of my trip to Brodie Castle.
Brodie Castle is just a 30-minute drive away from Culloden and was the ancestral home of the Brodie clan for over 400 years. Whilst in their care, the Castle underwent several alterations, leading to the varying stylistic elements from the 16th and 17th centuries that you can see in the Castle’s architecture today. Inside, the Castle is home to an impressive collection of artworks for visitors to enjoy. The Castle exterior certainly is marvelous – the grand architecture, combined with the pale pink walls that stand out against the summer sky, make the Castle like something out of a fairytale.
Whilst walking up to the Castle, I noticed that the Estate was eerily quiet for a warm day – it was at this moment that I realized I was visiting on a day that the Castle itself was closed. Top tip: make sure to check online the opening times of Trust properties before visiting (especially if you’re visiting on a weekday)! Nevertheless, there were plenty of things to explore in the Castle grounds. Brodie Castle is home to one of the UK’s National Daffodil Collections, and there was something magical about walking through the Estate grounds surrounded by daffodils in full bloom, stretching far and wide. If there’s a perfect time to visit Brodie Castle, it can’t get much better than in the summer months!
That afternoon, as I drove through the Aberdeenshire countryside, I came across Craigievar Castle. My young adult membership gave me the flexibility to visit properties spontaneously, so I decided to stop off at the Castle as it seemed like a nice, secluded spot for lunch. Craigievar is hidden amongst the trees, and as soon as I reached a clearing, I was taken aback by the Castle. Craigievar is one of the best-preserved examples of Scottish Baronial architecture from the 16th and 17th centuries and is renowned for its pink harled walls. I can see why legend has it that Walt Disney was inspired by Craigievar in his designs for Cinderella’s Castle!
Once again, I was visiting a Trust property on a day it was closed (another reminder to check online before visiting!), but fortunately Craigievar Castle’s grounds are perfect for exploring and relaxing in. The woodland pathways near the Castle led me to a clearing, offering scenic views of the surrounding countryside and Grampian hills.
Visiting Craigievar was one of my favorite moments of my road trip adventure: I didn’t expect to stumble upon this hidden gem, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the grounds of this picturesque, beautiful castle. It’s safe to say that Craigievar Castle is on the top my list of properties to revisit once I am back in Scotland.
Scotland’s castles are well-known for their grandeur and heritage, and Craigievar and Brodie Castle are no exceptions. From exploring their eccentric interiors, to getting lost in their expansive, mysterious grounds, you’ll never know what you discover when visiting a Castle, but it is certain that you’ll gain a rare insight into the past and experience an extraordinary piece of history.