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Castles with no Crowds

Posted by Heliocentrism on March 20, 2018

September 27th – 28th, 2017

After the Orkney Islands, Mark and I went on a castle bender. We drove from Inverness to Aberdeen and saw just about every castle in our path. After we left Scotland, Mark never wanted to see another castle again. I could still go for another round. I might be a castle-o-holic…

Here are some of the reasons I’m so obsessed with old Scottish Castles.

I sat down after posing for Mark for 20 minutes

1. No one else is.

Looking through my photo album of this time, you will find only Mark and me. There were no huge crowds to negotiate through. I didn’t have to patiently wait to take a photo of anything. I could sit in a corner or stand in the middle of the room and not bother anyone. This was great for Mark because, although he is in denial about this,  he is one of those tourists who take forever to “frame a photo”. Without the crowds, he could take all the time he needed.

2. No more walking for miles in muddy sheep fields.

I like hiking up hills for miles through muddy fields filled with sheep and their “presents”. But I have to admit, I liked driving up to castles with paved non-muddy parking lots a lot more. It was nice to not have to search for the cleanest puddle to wash the mud off my shoes and then wipe them off on the driest patch of grass before getting back into the car. Instead, I could have tea and cake in the cafe when one was available like a civilized person who isn’t constantly stepping in what one hopes is just mud.

in the Price of Wales bedroom

3. The staff love to answer questions.

There were a few castles where we stayed way longer than we had planned to because we started chatting with the staff. These men and women who take care of these castles are very knowledgeable and will chat your head off. They are more than happy to answer any and all questions you might have about the castle, the past, the town, the best place to get ice cream… I really enjoyed my trip to Scotland and the staff at these sites made everything that much more pleasant.

4. I got to learn a lot about Scotland.

I was taught absolutely nothing about Scotland in school. Well, there was a map of the world and Scotland was on it so I might have casually learned where Scotland was. But, that was just happenstance. Before this trip, I could not name one Scottish monarch that wasn’t also an English one. But now I know something about Jacobites and the weird things rich people got up to in castles back in the day…

5. These castles are beautiful.

I’m no great photographer and I’m only using my phone to take pictures. So, it might be hard for you to tell how wonderful the Scottish castles look. Some of them function as museums now. Some of them are partial ruins. A few of them are not intact enough to be used for anything, but they look beautiful none the less.


The United Kingdom

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land via an underwater tunnel, air, or sea.

Check with your local UK embassy for visa information.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance

Website:

Data:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • If you’re going to do a lot of travel by train or bus, looking for a Rail card or bus pass before you buy your first ticket.
    • Railway Cards
    • Oyster Card
    • Even getting a day pass on a bus could be cheaper than getting 3 single passes, or a return ticket and a single pass.
  • If you’re going to travel around the United Kingdom, you might want to get membership at one of the following:
    •  English Heritage – £54 / year for 1 person
    • National Trust England – £64.80 / year for 1 person
    • Scottish Heritage –  £49 / year for 1 person
      • All of these are a little cheaper when getting a group or family membership.
      • Many come with discounts for other things, like:
        • The Scottish Heritage gives you 20% off at all of their gift shops and cafes.
        • English Heritage gives you free parking at many of their sights.
      • As a bonus, it helps you when planning what to do and see in the country.
  • If you are going to stay in hostels, join Hosteling International, or any of its subsidiaries.
    • YHA – England & Wales
    • SYHA – Scotland
      • Membership at any of these will get you the discounted rate at any of the other hosteling organizations.
      • These hostels tend to be better than most hostels.

Spynie Palace

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • £5
  • Free for Scottish Heritage Members

Hours:

  • 1 April to 30 September: Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 5.30pm
  • 1 to 31 October: Monday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm
  • 1 November to 31 March: Closed

Note:

  • Built in 1150AD.

Elgin Cathedral

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • £7.50
  • Free for Scottish Heritage Members

Hours:

  • 1 April to 30 September: Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 5.30pm
  • 1 October to 31 March: Monday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm

Notes:

  • Built in 1224AD.

Duff House

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • £7.50
  • Free for Scottish Heritage Members

Hours:

  • 1 April to 31 October: Monday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm
  • 1 November to 31 March: Thursday to Sunday, 11am to 4pm

Notes:

  • Built in 1740.
  • The Duff House has a lot of art on exhibit.

Tolquhon Castle

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • £5
  • Free for Scottish Heritage Members

Hours:

  • 1 April to 30 September: Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 5.30pm
  • 1 October to 31 March: Closed

Notes:

  • It’s pronounced “toh-hon”.
  • It was built in the early 15th century.

Huntly Castle

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • £6
  • Free for Scottish Heritage Members

Hours:

  • 1 April to 30 September: Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 5.30pm
  • 1 to 31 October: Monday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm
  • 1 November to 31 March: Daily except Thursday and Friday, 10am to 4pm

Notes:

  • Built in the 12th century.

Balvenie Castle

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • £5
  • Free for Scottish Heritage Members

Hours:

  • 1 April to 30 September: Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 5.30pm
  • 1 to 31 October: Monday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm
  • 1 November to 31 March: Closed

Notes:

  • Built in the 12th century.

Kildrummy Castle

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • £5
  • Free for Scottish Heritage Members

Hours:

  • 1 April to 30 September: Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 5.30pm
  • 1 to 31 October: Monday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm
  • 1 November to 31 March: Closed

Notes:

  • Built in the 13th century.

Don’t Miss:

Map:

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Posted in Aberdeen, Banff, Dufftown, Elgin, Scotland, United Kingdom, The | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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