Craigievar Tour – N.E. Highlands
A tour by Jamie, Lord Sempill
Craigievar Castle is my family’s ancestral home and is reputed to have been the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s signature “fairytale” castle.
Aberdeenshire boasts some of the finest castles in the country and this 3 day tour takes you to a wonderful cross section of medieval ruins and magnificent stately homes.
The Tour Itinerary
This tour is limited to maximum of 8 people.
Day 1. The tour will start in Aberdeen. Our first visit is to Drum Castle. An excellent example of how a castle evolved, through the ages, from an original defensive tower, into a comfortable country home. Drum has it all, from its medieval tower, through to the Jacobean mansion and the more recent Victorian additions. The real joy of a visit to Drum Castle is discovering how the work of these three very different eras, interact to produce a truly fascinating building.
In the afternoon we head north to Fyvie Castle, one of the finest castles in Scotland. The charms of Fyvie range from its 13th-century origins to its stunning Edwardian interiors. The castle contains a superb collection of arms, armour and paintings, including works by Raeburn and Gainsborough. It‘s grandeur more typical of a palace than a castle.
Day 2. We start the day with the enchanting Craigievar Castle. This was my family’s ancestral home, and is considered one of the jewels in the crown of the National Trust of Scotland. The castle was spared the extensions built on to many other similar properties, by the Edwardians and Victorians, and therefore is structurally unaltered since its completion in the 1620s.
Then we cross the Cabrach, the most desolate moor in the North East, to the ruins of Balvenie Castle, built by the powerful Comyn family, Earls of Buchan, and subsequently owned by the Black Douglases, it finally became the home of The Earls of Atholl. The significance of Balvenie was its strategic location at the head of Glen Fiddich, where these powerful families controlled one of the richest regions in Scotland. Today, the area is world famous for its distilleries, and we will tour the Strathisla distillery in Keith. This small picturesque distillery produces the malt whisky for the world famous Chivas Regal.
Day 3. The last day sees us visiting one of the great baronial homes, Crathes Castle. Apart from the wonderful interiors, tapestries and historic artefacts. A number of rooms in the castle have ceilings that are painted in complex and colourful designs and mottos. Crathes also boasts a magnificent, award winning, garden, and is an ideal place to have lunch. Finally, we head to the coast to visit Dunottar Castle, one of Scotland’s great medieval fortresses. It is probably one of the most dramatic settings anywhere in Scotland. William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II, all graced the Castle with their presence. Most famously though, it was at Dunnottar Castle that a small garrison held out against the might of Cromwell’s army for eight months and saved the Scottish Crown Jewels, the ‘Honours of Scotland’, from destruction. Crown, sceptre and sword now take pride of place in Edinburgh Castle.
We then return to Aberdeen, where the tour will conclude with a farewell dram.