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Castles

Georgia
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Castles

We are planning a trip to Scotland with three main interests, castles, geography and distilleries, probably in that order. We’ve done a bit of research (heck a month ago I couldn't name 3 castles). The challenge is which ones are “must sees”, “nice to see” or probably even a few “if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.”. Tough, if you've never been, maybe tough if you've lived in Scotland your whole life?

Now given schedule (our schedule and castle hours), travel distances and interests, there are lots of trade offs.

I’ve found out there are castles and then there are castles. Everything from ancient ruins and rubble to fantastic palaces. Private estates to Nat’l Trust of Scotland to for profit (or just upkeep) castles. We plan to see as much as possible. I like the idea of exploring old ruins (like the Balvenie or Dunnotar), the palaces (Like Glamis, Blair Athol, Scone) and also some of the fantastic gardens and estates.

I have seen some other posts with questions along the same lines. Be it, where do we start, what to see if you’ve got 2 days, 5 days, 11 days (like us) or longer. What to see near Edinburgh, Glasgow or elsewhere.

Anyway, I thought I’d start a thread focused on castles to see when traveling to Scotland.

I’ll start with a couple straight forward questions…

1) what is your list of castles that just can’t be missed (must see’s) and why?

2) What is your list of really worth seeing, if you’ve got the time?

3) And how should I put this? If you’ve seen “A”, “B” and ‘C” and had your fill, then skip “X” and “Y”?

4) Anyone planning a trip, a good question might be: We’re planning to be in for example, Inverness, what castles are close by?

5) Another question I have is, just how long should you plan (at a minimum) if you go to for example Castle Frasier.

Hopefully this will be useful and we get a good wide ranging discussion going.

Anyway, I’ll add my list so far as a reply.

Thanks in advance and best regards,

Kevin in America

(I’ll see you all in June!!!)

Georgia
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2,742 posts
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41. Re: Castles

Hi Bridies, SOWNACK,

Surprised to see the Castles thread revived.

Yes, we had a great time.

I've been meaning to do a writeup but have gotten really busy since returning. I guess the other question I have is what is the most effective way to do a review?

Should I just start a thread with all my feedback, or do a bunch of one-offs, meaning an individual review for each hotel or attraction, etc...?

What are most people likely to find?

Advice?

Kevin

Newport, Oregon
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42. Re: Castles

For me, it would be really nice when accessing a thread like this to have a paragraph about the places you did go and if you really loved something include a link... I wouldn't spend hours, although you and I seem to have verbosity in common:-) But any relevant really good or really bad sites would be appreciated.

Also, driving times. Having just returned from leading a coach tour to Ireland with 24 women, and knowing how much time we spend on the go, I was AMAZED at the plans that you had made, so how much you were able to actually accomplish, as compared with what you set off to do would be of interest to me as well... an inch on an Irish or Scottish map can mean hours on the road!

Hope you loved it!

Susan

Georgia
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43. Re: Castles

Thanks Susan, that's helpful.

BTW, I don't envy your task of planning a trip for a group of ladies. Tough to satisfy everyone?

As for mileage and time estimates, I really relied on GoogleEarth, Googlemaps and mapquest and a number of other sites are pretty useful and fairly accurate.

Verbosity? Yeah!

It's tough. Do you write up a rreal quick reviews, so as to not waste a lot of time. My fear is whether it's so brief its useless? Or write up a really nice review and lots of advice. Seems a lot of trip planners could really use some help, but do I want to invest hours writting something useful, if only a few will ever read it?

????

Kevin

Georgia
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4 reviews
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44. Re: Castles

BTW, our final tally was 25 castles.

Newport, Oregon
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45. Re: Castles

What were your top five favorite castles...

Virginia
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915 posts
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46. Re: Castles

Kevin, what you write is up to you. I know in the Hawaii Forum, you'll find lots of really detailed trip reports. I know I wrote a few like that during a visit a couple of years ago (you can search for them if you like to read the ramblings of a tipsy guy enjoying his holiday), posting something every few days. In reading them, some people will get overloaded with information, others will enjoy every step of your journey. I know I enjoyed writing them, so it was worth it, and if (or when) I go back, I'll have a pretty good record of that trip to refer back to.

In this forum, I see very little of that type of detailed trip report. I did write up something, more a bare bones summary, after a trip to Scotland for golf last spring, but never posted it. Now I have a good record for my own reference, and something I've shared with other friends who are thinking of planning their own trip. Seeing your post, I'm thinking I may put it out there. It may be interesting to some people, as we spent the entire week in St Andrews, so were able to compare restaurants and pubs, and some clear favorites did emerge.

In conclusion, my suggestion is to write what YOU want to write, long or short. Post it, and if you get questions or comments or requests for more detail, people are interested. If you don't get much, you've still got a great record for yourself.

Newport, Oregon
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47. Re: Castles

I would love to hear the St. Andrews report! I'm looking for small Scottish villages with a hotel large enough for a group of 30 women...

Virginia
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915 posts
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48. Re: Castles

Bridies, I'll be glad to post my St Andrews report. I'm not sure that it will help you a lot, as we stayed in small guesthouse, but perhaps you'll get a laugh at something in there. Look for it tomorrow or Friday, I'll want to review it to make sure its written clearly enough to post.

Georgia
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49. Re: Castles

Can't narrow it down.

We liked both Edinburgh and Stirling, though preferred Stirling. Very similar, but Stirling had more green areas. Holyrood was very nice too.

We loved Kilchurn Castle. A ruined castle about a 20 minute walk out to the end on the peninsula. We arrived there (as planned) early around 7:30am. No one out there except a couple teens camping nearby/ We had the place to ourselves. Lots of stairs and platforms constructed to give you access, including to the top of a 50ft +/- tower. Great views.

Huntly Castle is another ruin with platforms and such. very nice ruin to explore. Nice grounds to picnic on.

Should also add Tolhuquon (sorry-sp?). This was a late add and well worth it. We had the place to ourselves for over an hour. We had a big gale blow up that day, which added to the allure of the place. Very complete ruin with lots of stairs, rooms, corridors, etc... to explore.

Also enjoyed Doune Castle. The site for filming Quest for the Holy Grail. Very complete ruin, many floors and an awesome curtain wall. We could get to the roof top which was neat, though were chased back under cover by a T-storm. Not much in the way of grounds.

Blair, Glamis, Crathes, Drum and Frasier were all equally fantastic. Great tours of baronial palaces/estates. Nice grounds and gardens. Craigievar, as well, though no gardens. We also visited Fyvie Castle, but after closing. Had a very nice walk around, but no tour. Caught the Highland Games at Glamis. I should also add Falkland Palace to this list. Great castle, very historic, right in the middle of town.

Balmoral not so great unless you are a big fan of the House of Windsor. Could sort of say the same for Holyrood.

Dunnotar was absolutely beautiful. We were there just before opening and had the place to ourselves for 20min or so. Stunning location, however a bit tough on the nose.

Inchmahome Priory was almost a complete ruin, very atmospheric, sitting on a small island. Beautiful setting.

Lochlevin Castle, historic prison for Mary Q of Scots. Another island and a fairly complete ruin. Beautiful setting.

Also, Drummond Castle Gardens - perhaps the most stunning sight of the whole trip!!!!

Some of the places that I might give a pass on are Balvanie, Corgarff, Breamar Castles and Ruthven Barrick. Not that your shouldn't go, but if it comes down to one of these and somewhere else....

OK, that's my quick castle review.

Kevin

Scotland
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for Scotland
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50. Re: Castles

Bridies - St Andrews is a major tourist destination and has lots of hotels big enough for your group