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Castles, Castles, Castles

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Chicago, Illinois
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Castles, Castles, Castles

Greetings! First off let me say: "I am going to Scotland!!"" I've waited years and years to see Scotland. I've read all the Outlander books (Called Cross Stitch in the UK) three times or more! You get the idea, this is a life long dream.

I'll be staying in Edinburgh with my family. Four adults. We have an Ice Hockey game planned and perhaps a football game mid week, but our main objective is to maximize the number of castles we can see comfortably. I've done my research and I see there are tons of options out there. We've seen advertisements for Castle tours which look promising. But one of my questions is, are we better off hiring a driver and setting our own itinerary? We aren't going to have a car but we'd be up for taking a train somewhere, or a bus. I noticed some Castles can be explored and others are ruins. Obviously we can see Edinburgh Castle and probably Stirling Castle easily but what are the other castles we shouldn't miss? Which castles are the ones that might be too far off the beaten track. Is there a tour company that will absolutely be amazing with an equally amazing tour? Thanks in advance and I can not wait to visit your amazing country!

Maryland
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11. Re: Castles, Castles, Castles

Order online a Collins map called Castles -A map of Scotland. It has every castle indicated on the map and markers for small, med, & large castles and grades. Very useful for route planning and days out. I wish I could get one for Ireland...

Enjoy!

Sunny

Scotland, United...
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12. Re: Castles, Castles, Castles

I would recommend Falkland Palace in Fife which was the Hunting Lodge of Kings and Queens

It's not too far from Edinburgh. Falkland itself is a conservation village that is like walking back in time. The Palace is where Mary Queen of Scots stayed and played Real Tennis, the Real Tennis Courts are still there and have been played by our present Queen's son Prince Edward.

www.nts.org.uk/learn/virtual_falkland.php

A lovely small Castle is Delgatie Castle in Turriff Aberdeenshire, My daughter and son in law visited one day and where the only visitor's that day and the owner actually showed them around the place himself. My daughter was so impressed with the place she asked me to visit with her. I did and it's such a lovely place and not as famous as some castles and not as touristy. http://www.delgatiecastle.com

If you want to be in touch with our present Queen go to Balmoral Castle, again in Aberdeenshire. This is where our Queen Elizabeth and her family have their Autumn holidays. Princess Diana had her photograph taken at Balmoral when her and Prince Charles returned from their honeymoon abroad and continued the honeymoon at Balmoral. If you go to the little town surrounding Balmoral such as Ballater, you will see the Royal Coats of Arms over the shop doors, when you see one, you will know it is used by the Royal Family.

To Sunnyunlimited,

This is a list of Castles in Northern Ireland

…wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_castles_in_North…

and this is a Virtual Tour of some of the Castles which may interest you.

virtualvisittours.com/category/…

Los Angeles...
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13. Re: Castles, Castles, Castles

Phaera, we have a lot in common as I am a big Outlander and general castle fan also. In addition to the great suggestions here, you should also visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, down at the foot of the Royal Mile. It's part of the Outlander story too. Look for the portraits in the long gallery that all have the same nose. And be sure to visit the World's End Pub which is mentioned in Book 3.

You might want to consider investing in a train pass. BritRail has a Freedom of Scotland pass that would cover your train travel within Scotland.

Haddington, United...
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14. Re: Castles, Castles, Castles

Edinburgh has 4 castles, the one at the top of the Royal Mile which most people are familiar with. Craigmillar Castle which was where Mary Queen of Scots preferred to stay the night, Lauriston Castle, heavenly modified in Victorian times but wonderfully furnished and Merchiston Castle home of John Napeir who invented logarithms about 500 years ago. Just outside Edinburgh we have Rosslyn Castle beside the famous Rosslyn Chaple. Critchton Castle with its famous Italian Wall, Borthwick Castle where Mary Queen of Scots liked to take her lovers. it will re-open in May 2014 after the refurbish meant of the bedrooms, so you stay the night or great place to have dinner in the 'Great Hall'. East of Edinburgh we have Dirleton and a few miles further on Tantallon Castle. West of Edinburgh is Blackness Castle where they filmed 'Hamlet' and Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. All these places would be easily reached by hiring a car from Edinburgh, But how long have you got? Given a chance we could keep you here for months.

Commerce, Texas
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15. Re: Castles, Castles, Castles

We will be traveling by train from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh to stay on Skye for a couple of days. We do want to see Eilean Donan Castle. We were thinking we would see it before we went over to Skye- know we could take a bus or taxi.....what could we do with our luggage because we would then head to our accommodations likely in Portree. Need some ideas on how to best work this castle in.

linlithgow scotland
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16. Re: Castles, Castles, Castles

historic-scotland.gov.uk/propertyoverview…

Enjoy Scotland!

Georgia
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17. Re: Castles, Castles, Castles

Woody, ABS,

Thanks for your kind word. You both along with many others were a great help!

Phaera,

My 1st questions would be,...

- what time of year are you coming?

- how long is your planned visit?

- can you be convinced to rent a car?

- what else to you hope/plan to do beyond castles?

I agree w/most of the advice you've gotten already. Time of year is important because the hours/days vary depending on season. Best to double check everything online.

How long and what else, get to priority setting. No sense suggesting Royal Deeside, if you are in country for 5 days and hoping to see Edinburgh and Isle of Skye.

I'd never suggest a tour, but that's me. I like to set my own pace and prefer my own company (JK - sort of). I guess renting a driver would be a decent compromise.

I'd suggest scouring over the following website and also checking some of my prior comments in my profile. We had a real good discussion about castles right at the beginning 3 years ago. I've also replied to many other posters, often with the same info. So easy for you and easier for me if you look that over first. But, check this site out...

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/

OK, castles come in all sorts and sizes. Some really ancient, some new (circa 1600, actually 1800s if you consider Balmoral). Some fantastic palaces, some prototypical castles, some semi-ruined, ruined and some falling down piles of stone. Some will have tours, some self-touring, some private and some Nat'l Trust. Some castles are on huge estates, some on a postage stamp in the middle of a town, some beautiful gardens, some beautiful landscapes. Some very historical, some not as much.

With a bit of planning, you could reasonable tour as many as 3 castles/day, assuming you visit the 1st at opening and the last till closing. Also, though the organized tour of the castle would have hours between 9-5+/-, many have their lands open to the public from dawn to dusk.

I've never seen outlander, so I can't talk to that.

In Edinburgh, definitely see the Castle and Holyrood. I didn't get to visit Craigmeier or Louriston (sorry-sp on both?).

I can really talk to public transportation and ease of access. Again, I couldn't recommend renting any higher if at all possible. Some castles are way off the beaten path, which makes them all the more attractive. We saw something like 25-28 castles (depending on how you count them) over 11 days. I'm happy to comment about the ones we visited and to rank them. I'll even comment on some that I spent a bit of time researching.

I hope this is helpful and if you ask a question, I'll try to comment.

Kevin

Chicago, Illinois
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18. Re: Castles, Castles, Castles

Thanks to everyone for the prompt and informative posts! You guys are the best. I'm going to read through them and answer questions.

I can say that we are going to be in Scotland from March 21st and leaving on March 29th. We have an ice hockey game on the 22nd, a possible football game mid week and beyond that, nothing is carved in stone…(going with the Castle theme). I know we'll want some down time, or time to just hang out in Edinburgh. We won't have a car because I think we are all too cautious to drive on the left side but we wouldn't be opposed to hiring a car.

Edinburgh...
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19. Re: Castles, Castles, Castles

For information, Merchiston Castle is surrounded by the buildings of Napier Uiversity, and although sort of accessible, isn't a spectacular scene.

And not to be confused with Merchiston Castle School, which has little to do with Napier, and is in fact a private school, in its own private grounds, and not a castle.

To add to your near-Edinburgh hitlist: Dirleton Castle - in the village of Dirleton near North Berwick. SO from North Berwick, you've got Dirleton in one direction (look up the Open Arms hotel as well), and Tantallon Castle in the other.

Haddington, United...
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20. Re: Castles, Castles, Castles

Don't be scared of renting a car, just make sure it is 'Automatic' gear box because if you are not used to 'Stick Shift' ( we call it manual) that is the only hard part. Most now come with SatNav and they even show you how to go round a roundabout the correct way and which lane to be when on the motorways. But while in Edinburgh keep to using buses, Unlimited day ticket costs £3.50 and Edinburgh has the most frequent, best & safest public bus system in Europe