Scotland’s landscape of more than 1,000 forts has a long history of battles, hostilities and English invasions. Some of them are just a little more than the ruined ruins or the long-forgotten mound of heather.
Others seem as sharp and predictable as the date they were built. During the Victorian era, the landowning classes in Scotland showed a keen interest in Baroque architecture, turkeys and towers, and many have settled there since their modernization. The Castle Trail, the largest concentration, can be found in the Grampian Mountains, northeast of Scotland, in the eastern mountains of Aberdeen, the “Granite City”. The 14 best examples are linked to the Castle Trail, which is a marked route for drivers. It’s like a whiskey trail of spice. In the West, palaces are managed by the public or private sector but are open to the public.
This impressive collection includes one of Scotland’s oldest, Delgarty Castle (A.D. 1030) and the ruins of 13th-century Kildare Castle. Castle Fraser, Crathes Castle, and Fyvie Castle have now been beautifully remodelled. The Grampian region is surrounded by many fascinating parks that add to the grandeur of any trip. Exploring beyond the formal Castle Avenue, visitors to the castle can enjoy the dramatic ruins of Slains Castle, and it is said that this was the place that prompted Bram Stoker to write the story of Dracula. The peaks and towers of Dannotar, chosen by Franco Zeffirelli for the 1990 film Hamlet, could be the most dramatic place of all.
Another literary mark can be found in the northwest edition of the 700-year-old Castle Cawdor, which has a famous connection with Shakespeare’s Macbeth. (Macbeth is thought to have reigned about 3 centuries before the palace was built). Balmoral Castle to the south of the region is the best known of all. It was Queen Victoria’s “dear paradise” and a private collection of British sovereigns.
Continue the theme by visiting the Castle Hotel in Huntley. Originally an old mansion, it was built near the palace for the Dukes of Gordon and has a lot of names as well as stone in the building. (Huntley Castle, another interesting ruin along the way.) For a live backdrop, turn to the 19th-century Douglas Hotel in Aberdeen, where a nearby harbour provides fishing boats from the Arctic Ocean. Departures from Orkney and the Shetland Islands.