Crathes Castle, Garden and Estate
Crathes is a magnificent 16th-century tower house standing on an estate granted to the Burnett family in 1323 by King Robert the Bruce. He presented them with the ancient Horn of Leys, which you can see today in the Great Hall. The horn symbol was added to the family coat-of-arms and you’ll see it throughout the castle – on the painted ceilings and carved onto the laird’s bed.
Watch out for the ‘trip’ step, intended to disconcert attackers climbing the staircase. Imagine being a member of court walking up and down the extravagant long gallery, or picture Lady Katherine and her friends playing music, sewing and chatting in the Muses Room. Feel a slight chill? It could be the Green Lady, Crathes’ own ghost who is said to have first appeared in the mid-18th century.
The walled garden is really eight gardens, ranging from the formal to the modern. The massive yew hedges were planted as early as 1702, while the Golden Garden was introduced by the Trust in 1973. Most famous of all are the June Borders, two lavish beds of herbaceous colour with the castle itself as a backdrop.
Follow one of the waymarked trails out into the surrounding countryside. There are woodland, farmland and freshwater habitats where you may see roe deer, red squirrels, woodpeckers, buzzards, kingfishers and herons. And if you’re very lucky you may catch a glimpse of an otter. There are exciting plans ahead for Crathes over the next two years, with the opening of a new shopping and catering complex. Coming soon – SkyTrek at Crathes. Are you ready for a completely new view of the North East’s favourite destination?