The winter months provide the perfect time to plan a holiday, in one of our fantastic campervans of course, to explore Scotland! Over the next few months we will showcase, through our blog, some of the best routes, places and sights to see in Scotland.
Our camper van fleet is updated yearly to provide the very best facilities and comfort whilst you are on the road exploring the beauty of Scotland. With a Tartan Camper Company campervan - 5-Star campervan hire in Scotland - you can go where you want, when you want! You can experience the freedom of the open road, get to beaches, mountains and glens during your journey, and there are many top-rated campsites that welcome campervans and provide outstanding facilities.
In this month's blog we explore the very best castles to visit whilst your are in Scotland and touring with your campervan. Here are our top five recommendations for castles to explore.
1. Braemar Castle.
Currently undergoing a £1.6 million restoration, to be completed by July 2023, Braemar is situated in the Cairngorms National Park. In 1628 the second Earl of Mar built the castle as a place to base hunting excursions from. But, in 1689 it become a focal point of the Jacobite uprising. By the second Jacobite Uprising in 1715, the Earl of Mar had mistakenly changed sides, the Jacobites were defeated, and the 6th Earl fled abroad and the Crown took control of the estate, and was later sold to the Farquharsons of Invercauld.
For the last 10 years the castle has been operated by the local community who are fund-raising to restore the castle and bring it up to standard for visitors to fully enjoy the castle and it's grounds. Among it's many features, the castle boast 12 authentic rooms, furnished in the style that would have been enjoyed by the Chief of the Clan so you get a real glimpse into it's past.
2. Balmoral Castle
Yes, when the monarch is not in residence you can visit Balmoral and see exhibitions in the castle ballroom, and enjoy the sumptuous gardens and grounds. It is near the village of Crathie, 9 miles (14 km) west of Ballater and 50 miles (80 km) west of Aberdeen.
The castle was bought by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria in 1848, and the land surrounding the castle was purchased in 1852. Prince Albert decided to build a new castle, as the original was not large enough for the Royal Family, and this was completed in 1856.
Walks can be undertaken to Albert Pyramid and along the Cairn Walk on the estate.
There are also “Expedition Tours” a two hour drive through the estate in one of the estate Land Rovers. These take you through the gardens and grounds before heading out through the Caledonian Pine Forest, to the mountain of Loachnagar, and then returning to historical building of Easter Balmoral.
3. Glamis Castle
The Ancestral seat of the Earls or Strathmore and Kinghorn since 1372, it was also the childhood home of the late Queen Mother – Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon – and once was host to Queen Mary, Queen of Scotland. It is approx. 12 miles north of Dundee, and southwest from Forfar. You can visit both the castle and it's grounds, experiencing the inspiration (it is believed) for Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
The castle is well worth a visit just for the gardens and landscapes. Within the grounds are a walled garden, and Italian Garden, west and east towers, as well as play and picnic areas, and a walk along the river Dean, which borders the grounds.
4. Dunnottar Castle
Dramatically situated on a 160 foot rocky outcrop on the Aberdeenshire coastline, it is an unforgettable sight. Once a castle, and fortress, to the Earls of Marischal, it is now deserted and abandoned, but gives echoes of it's glorious past beauty.
It’s history starts in 400 Ad when St Ninian established a place of worship where the castle now stands. In 900AD King Donald of Scotland is killed at Dunnottar by the Vikings. Later in around 1297 William Wallace attacked the English garrison at Dunnattor, taking back into Scottish hands, by driving English soldiers off the cliff and burning the remaining men in the Chapel where they had sought refuge.
It's is also know where the "Honours of Scotland", the crown jewels of Scotland, were buried and hidden from Oliver Crowell's invading army in the 17th century
Dunnottar remained at the centre of the battles between the Scots and the invading English armies, but in 1717 when the Earl of Marischal forfeited his title and lands it was sold by the government to the York Mining Company, who stripped it, sold anything of worth, and left the bare stones.
It is now owned by the Cowday family, who bought it in 1919, and have maintained the grounds and the remains of the castle ever since.
5. Eilean Donan
Said to be the most photographed castle in the world it sits on an island at the head of Loch Duich. It is found high on the west coast of Scotland, along the A87, set in stunning scenery of Scottish mountains, lochs and rivers.
It was first built in 13th century to protect against invading Vikings who had control over much of northern Scotland from 800 AD to the 1300s. In the medieval times the castle grew to its largest in size, but in the 14th century it was reduced to about a fifth of its size, as the number as the men needed to defend the castle was reduced. Like other castles listed here Eilean Donan changed hands during the Jacobean uprising, which eventually lead to its destruction when it was bombarded by three frigates sent to quell an uprising supported by 46 Spanish soldiers who were fighting for the Jacobites. Following the defeat of the Spanish force the English found 343 barrels of gunpowder, which were used to blow-up what remained of the castle.
Where ever you travel when you drive through Scotland, you'll never be far from one of it's historic castle. Take the time to delve into it's rich history you won't be disappointed.