Inchmarlo residents and homeowners are spoiled for choice when it comes to history, heritage and culture, because Aberdeenshire is known to have more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK. From atmospheric ruins to elegant interiors, there’s a castle that will fascinate and intrigue you within a few miles’ drive. Our Community Liason team organises trips to local sightseeing and cultural destinations throughout the year, so take a look at where you, or your relative, might be exploring.

Crathes Castle

Aberdeenshire Castles

Crathes Castle courtesy of VisitAberdeenshire

Only five miles (10 minute drive) from Inchmarlo is the elegant Crathes Castle. Built in the 16th century, this castle is known for its decorative painted ceilings, and even a ghost! A Green Lady has been sighted over the centuries so Crathes certainly has atmosphere, but visitors tend to focus on the rich tapestries, smart furnishings, musical instruments and artworks.

The Walled Garden and grounds are worth visiting, especially in the summer. Keep an eye out for pools, water features, themed borders, roses and topiary. The grounds can be a riot of colour when the rich rhododendrons are in full bloom.

Kids can run free in the Wild Wood Adventure Playground, alternatively  get the little monkeys to ‘Go Ape‘ in the Crathes tree canopy. Grab lunch, drinks and cakes at Café 1702, and try their signature Extreme Hot Chocolate. This café is notably dog friendly, with water bowls and complimentary dog biscuits – not to mention doggy ice cream!

Explore the opening hours and prices for the National Trust for Scotland Crathes Castle here.

Drum Castle

Another distinguished Inchmarlo neighbour, only 10 miles away (20 minute drive), is the handsome Drum Castle, set in expansive grounds with a stunning Walled Garden.

Visitors can climb to the top of the castle’s medieval tower – one of the oldest of its kind in Scotland. A guided tour reveals more about the Irvine clan, who once called Drum home, and fought alongside Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) at Culloden.

A distinguished highlight is the extensive library, home to around 4000 books. Look out for temporary art exhibitions held regularly on the castle’s second floor. And take time to discover Drum’s distinctive chapel that dates back to the 1500s.

Those with an eye for gardening will find the Walled Garden memorable. ‘Formal knot gardens, box parterres, symmetry and topiary are typical of the 17th and 18th centuries, while more informal, flower-rich planting schemes represent the 19th and 20th centuries.’

For families, the wooden playground, featuring willow tunnels, teepees and a flying fox, are a hit.

A tearoom, called Mary’s Larder, serves refreshments and light lunches. Or nip to nearby Mains of Drum for dining, gardening and gifts.

Drum Castle is under the stewardship of the National Trust for Scotland – for prices and opening hours click here.

Dunnottar Castle

Aberdeenshire Castles

Dunnottar Castle courtesy of VisitAberdeenshire

Dunnottar Castle is twenty miles away (35 minute drive), but it’s worth the effort. This clifftop ruin is sublime. Perched on the raw North East coast, with the North Sea thrashing at the rocks, Dunnottar is a photographer and artist’s dream.

This castle was also a hiding place for the Scottish crown jewels (or Honours of Scotland) when Cromwell marched through the country and, later, many Covenanters ended their days in the castle’s dungeon. Mary Queen of Scots and James VI of Scotland have both visited too.

This vast complex of ruins is so expansive that there’s still a lot to see. There are many buildings that visitors can walk inside, and staggering views to take in. Explore lodgings, gatehouses, the Whigs Vault and the Palace itself, and leave steeped in Scottish history.

For details about visiting Dunnottar click through to their website.

Balmoral Castle

Aberdeenshire Castles

Balmoral Castle courtesy of VisitAberdeenshire

Although Balmoral is a 40 min drive (30 miles) from Inchmarlo, it’s the jewel in the crown. The Queen’s holiday residence, it’s put the ‘Royal’ into Royal Deeside. Visitors can explore the stables, grounds and grand ballroom, as films, display boards and artefacts bring the story of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert alive. Nearby, royal enthusiasts can also visit Crathie Kirk, where the royals attend church, Crathie’s graveyard, the resting place of Queen Victoria’s loyal servant John Brown, and The Carriage, the restored railway station and carriage used by the Royals when they visited Balmoral.

Craigievar Castle

Craigievar Castle Courtesy of Visit Scotland/Kenny Lam

This pink beauty of a castle is said to have inspired Walt Disney’s iconic Cinderella castle. Fifteen miles (27 minute drive) from Inchmarlo, it’s home to Raeburns and rare antiquities. Step outside and lucky visitors may even spot a rare pine marten.

Other Castles for your Consideration

Slains Castle courtesy of VisitScotland/Kenny Lam

Castle Fraser – Half an hour’s drive towards Inverurie. 17 miles from Inchmarlo.

Braemar Castle – 37 miles from Inchmarlo, 53 minute drive, near Braemar.

Fyvie Castle – 38 miles from Inchmarlo, one hour drive, near Alford.

Slains Castle – 50 miles from Inchmarlo, one hour 5 minutes drive, near Peterhead. These ruins are said to have played a part inspiring Bram Stoker to write Dracula.

At Inchmarlo we love the history and elegance of our very own B-listed country house, but we’re delighted that our residents and home owners have such excellent sight-seeing opportunities on their doorstep.

Today Inchmarlo consists of over 190 houses and apartments and a 52 bed care home designated Grade 4 by the Care Inspectorate. If you or your relatives have any questions about Inchmarlo please contact Dawn Ronaldson on 01330 824981. We’d happily give you a guided tour, send a brochure or answer any queries.

The appeal of Inchmarlo Retirement Community is often its location…