Sunday, May 10, 2009

Holiday journal : 10-20 April - Castles of Royal Deeside

We visited two castles in the ten days I was on Deeside, and I almost made it to a third.

Balmoral Castle

Here you can only go in to the old ballroom, where there is an exhibition, but there are extensive grounds to be visited, including The Queen's kitchen gardens in season, and more exhibitions in the stabling behind the gatehouse, not to mention a substantial cafe and gift shop. The Queen also has her own letterbox on the estate. The public car parks are a long walk away, but all the oldies piled into one car and got permission to drive up much closer to the castle before disembarking.

The gatehouse and the castle

Crathes Castle

It is worth following the link in the title to see pictures of the inside of this ancient castle, built in the last half of the 1500s. It has a worn circular stone staircase giving access to the upper rooms and I began to make my way rather nervously up these. My son's strong arm seemed to have disappeared at this point but the first staircase had a rather thin metail handrail so I managed. The staircase to the next floor had only a rope hold, and when I found that the one above that had no rail at all I got discouraged. Even then I was grateful to pass my heavy handbag to one of the guides, who bravely offered to preceed me down the stairs again, to give me confidence. I was really sorry to miss the top floor.

There was an Easter treasure hunt on offer for the children. They were given a sheet of paper and had to find one item in each room. If they came back with them all ticked off, they got a chocolate egg - which of course they all did (with the help of their parents). They then ran around letting off steam in the gardens, before we made for the inevitable cafe and gift shop.

The castle, and a fine specimen of
Prunus Lusitanicus, or Portuguese Laurel

More garden scenes

The entrance gate for this castle is right on the main road through the village of Aboyne, just opposite the cafe we visited frequently. That is why I decided to look for it when I found myself alone that morning. But it was not a short walk by any means: after I had followed the long drive for 20 minutes the fairytale castle had come into view, but I reckoned there was still at least 10 minutes' walking to do. I had to walk back again to the village, get some lunch then walk back to my b&b, so I decided to settle for some photographs of the castle and then withdraw. But I did not feel I had missed anything, as the castle is not open to the publicanyway, and the walk through the wooded estate on a warm sunny morning was a delight in itself.

The castle drive and the castle

Aspects of the castle grounds


1 comment:

annie said...

I know it was a disappointment to miss the top floor but I would have been just like you re those stairs. Balmoral Castle is a place I would love to visit.