Our First Scottish Castles

When living in Scotland it’s basically a must to explore any and all castles possible. For the first few weeks over here, we were so busy getting everything arranged with finding a flat and getting the busywork of moving somewhere new situated that we didn’t even realize we had been here for nearly a month before going out and seeing anything outside of the city. We had to get out!!

 

Our friends, Shaughna and Garrett, texted us on our way to church one morning asking if we wanted to go to a castle with them that afternoon! We quickly replied with an automatic yes! Not really thinking about the fact that we would be in church for the time that we should be getting ready to go to a castle…but that’s part of the adventure right?! We left church and literally ran home to gather snacks, better clothing, and our camera.

 

We raced down to the bus stop to meet up with Shaughna and Garrett, and were pleasantly surprised when the bus was a bit late, leaving us with time to grab some cash from the closest ATM. The two of them then filled us in with where we were going and how long the bus ride was going to be. It was going to be a 30-minute bus ride down the coast–We were stoked!! Thirty minutes on a bus, that means we get to see some awesome countryside!! And we certainly did!! The bus ride was amazing. The bus was super fancy and we loved all the views we had! We couldn’t wait to actually get to the castle!

 

{Traveler’s Tip.. to get to Dunnottar Castle you take bus X7 out of Aberdeen towards Stonehaven. We took it from Holburn Street near Tesco and it cost about £8 for a round trip ticket. You can also take it straight from Union Square. Once getting on the bus, you have two choices of where to disembark. You can get off in Stonehaven and hike about 1.5 miles to the castle, or you can get dropped closer to the castle-but still have to walk a wee bit to get there—you will have to ask the driver to tell you where to get off though, as you won’t really be able to spot the right stop without previously being there before!}

 

Arriving to the castle, Jason and I had no idea what to expect! It was so nice going somewhere where we really had no idea at all what it was going to be like. We quickly realized Dunnottar Castle sits on top of a cliff with a gorgeous ocean front view. We walked to a lovely viewpoint to the right of the castle, before making our way up and down loads of steps to get to the castle entrance.

 

 

 

Upon entering the castle, we found out it was going to close in only one hour. The worker kindly suggested that if we were from around there to come back another day to really get to explore the ruins in the full effect. This unfortunate news turned into a great excuse to really explore the surrounding area and have a nice picnic down on the beach.

 

 

After our picnic we enjoyed the 1.5-mile walk back to Stonehaven, stopping and chatting with the sheep and viewing the war memorial on the hill. Once in Stonehaven we had some delicious ice cream, and chased down our bus to head back to Aberdeen. Our day at the castle was full of excitement and multiple pinch me moments that this is the reality of our new life in Scotland.

 

{Traveler’s Tip… Definitely do the mile and a half walk back to Stonehaven. The views of the castle and ocean are great, and it’s a pretty flat walk most of the way. The last bit of the walk, right on the edge of Stonehaven is a bit steep and slippery when wet, so definitely be careful here!!}

 

 

 

 


 

Once you go to one castle, it kind of starts a desire to see them all. The next free day we had we decided to go out to Drum Castle for a little day date. Drum Castle is worlds different than Dunnottar Castle. Drum is actually still fully in tact, and has all the original furniture and paintings in it from when the Irvines once lived there. We again had to take a bus out to this castle, and then had about a mile walk to the entrance of the castle grounds.

 

{Traveler’s Tip.. Take bus 202 from Great Western Road near the Nellfield Cemetery to get to the castle. I can’t remember the exact price for these tickets, but it was definitely under £10 round trip. You can also look into a day pass for this bus, although I’m not sure they offer one. You will get off at Drum Castle Road End and then have a beautiful walk to the castle. Just ask the driver to let you know where the stop is!!}

 

 

We marveled at the beauty of the outside of the castle and were so excited to go in and see how the Irvines used to live.

 

 

 

 

 

The little lady working inside the castle was extremely sweet and full of extremely helpful information! She explained a bit about the castle and about the National Trust of Scotland (the organization that owns the castle now). We found out that memberships for the National Trust of Scotland are only £16.50 for an entire year. Hello awesome deal!! It would cost £7.50 to get into the castle just for the day, so going twice would nearly pay for the membership alone. It was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. The great thing about this membership is that it’s not just for that one castle.. it’s for loads of them! There are hundreds of National Trust of Scotland properties to explore throughout this country, and with free parking with the membership, why not go to them all! (If you have a car that is) We were so happy to find out about this membership, and buying one made us really feel like locals around here!

 

{Traveler’s Tip.. get the membership!! The £16.50 rate is for 25 and under, but they have great adult and family rates too! Totally worth it if you’re planning on going to more than one castle in a year. National Trust of Scotland will tell you all the different properties included in the membership as well as different events at each property!}

 

After being jazzed about the membership, it was time to finally go into the castle! Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the castle, so words will have to do justice for this part! Walking into the castle was like stepping back in time. It was fun to picture living there back when there were children running around and people using the different rooms for their intended purposes. It was so interesting learning about the Irvines and seeing different paintings done by the family members. Due to us going so early in the season, a couple of the areas of the castle were closed. Normally you can climb to the top of the tower, but it was closed for the safety of the bats roosting in it. We were still able to go to the library floor of the tower and it was truly remarkable. So many books and gorgeous furniture and paintings! We learned that just a few years ago, they actually found five secret rooms in the tower itself. They have yet to actually go into the secret rooms to see what’s inside, but one can only imagine. Are they full of treasures, skeletons, journals? The possibilities are endless!!

 

Drum Castle

 

While inside the castle there was a gorgeous snow storm going on outside. It was absolutely lovely watching the snow fall from inside the rooms on the top floor! We decided to stay and get some warm soup in the tearoom before making our way out into the blizzard. The grounds were even more magnificent after the blizzard had gone through. The light dusting of snow everywhere was straight out of a fairy tale! We enjoyed the castle grounds a bit more before heading back to Aberdeen.

 

 

 


 

We’re already looking forward to going back to Drum Castle when the bats won’t be roosting in the tower and the gardens will be in bloom. With both Drum Castle and Dunnottar Castle being so close, we will be visiting them many more times!! In fact, we have already been to Dunnottar again to see the inside of the ruins.. We will be posting soon about that! So stay tuned!!

 


 

Read about our second time to Dunnottar Castle Here –>> Inside Dunnottar Castle <<–

 


 

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