A day trip to Fyvie Castle

It's been quite some time since we had a trip out, so I'm hoping you are free and up for it!
How about a trip to another Castle?
A 800 year old castle in fact... Fyvie Castle.
Shall we go in?
(The castle lies off the A947 just 8 miles SE of Turriff and 25 miles north west of Aberdeen).
It's a stunning historical treasure that has been beautifully looked after and now is a Scottish National Trust property. 
It really is an amazing place.
So much so in fact, that it has just achieved a five star rating from VisitScotland. 
This year the castle is celebrating it's 30th year of a visitors attraction, so it's a great time to visit.
As you can see the weather was spectacular (at last).
There wasn't a cloud in the sky and there was actual warmth in the sunlight.
How stunning is that? 
Tradition claims that the castle’s five successive families – Preston, Meldrum, Seton, Gordon and Forbes-Leith – each added a tower to this magnificent Scottish Baronial fortress.
I love the saltire (Scottish flag) flying against the glorious clear blue sky.
Shall we go inside...?
Unfortunately, as is the norm for a National Trust property, I was unable to take photo's inside, but let me tell you there is so much to see, that if you ever have the chance to visit I highly recommend that you do. 
You can also follow on their Instagram account #fyviecastle 
They post lots of interesting photo's and facts for your delight. 
Also if you want to know more about the castle, history and it's contents then click here
I couldn't possibly do it justice from my little knowledge.
As is our wont on such occasions, we 'had' to sample their afternoon tea... accompanied with millionaire shortbread. 
All enjoyed alfresco of course!
The 18th-century walled garden has recently been redeveloped as a garden of Scottish fruits and vegetables. This veggie garden is something I aspire to for my own plot... well I can wish!
We came across this incredible tree that must be so old.
Imagine what changes it has seen over the centuries. 
To finish our visit we wandered around Fyvie Loch, which was created by the 18th- century owners. Previously there had been marshland protecting the castle.
. This picturesque landscape feature now covers a large part of the estate’s 49 hectares and supports large numbers of wildfowl.
These cuties came waddling up to us obviously thinking we might have a few crumbs for them. 
I have lots more photo's, but I feel that this is probably enough for today. 
Once again here's a link if you'd like to know more about Fyvie Castle.

I'm linking up with the following...

Have a great day and thanks for visiting my place.

Crathes Castle

Are you free to visit a castle today?
How about a magical turreted castle with stunning gardens, magnificent grounds and woodland, amid rolling hills and glorious countryside? 
We couldn't resist either, especially as we had been living in a cloud of fog/haar that had stayed around for far too long. 
It was time to head inland from the coast to hopefully find sight of a little blue sky and if possible some sunshine. And what do you know?... we were lucky... we found both. 
As we drove out of Aberdeen on the A93 to Crathes Castle, the mist began to clear and the sun broke through.
Crathes castle and grounds are presently owned and managed by the National Trust of Scotland and are open to the public.
Crathes has always been one of my favourite castles to visit in Aberdeenshire. 
It's within easy reach and there's lots to see and do in and around this magnificent 16th Century tower house, that you're sure to have a memorable experience if you get the opportunity to visit. 
The land was gifted to the Burnett family in 1323 by Robert the Bruce and you can still see their badge of office, the ivory Horn of Leys, hanging in the High Hall. You can also see the horn above the large window to the left of the tower in the above photo. 
The horn symbol was added to the family coat-of-arms and it can be seen throughout the castle. It's also carved onto the Laird's bed.
The coat of arms of the Burnetts of Leys contain a hunting horn and three thistles.
The actual Horn of Leys remains in the ownership of the Burnett family and is on display at the Castle. If you'd like to read more about the Burnett family then click here.

We chose to walk around the gardens whilst the sun shone before entering the castle. 
The famous gardens feature massive yew hedges that were planted as early as 1702. 
Every time I see these hedges I imagine them moving and dancing around like something in a Disney movie. Aren't they amazing?
The walled garden is really eight gardens ranging from the formal to the modern, so there's something for everyone to enjoy. 
It's a little early in the year to see the gardens at their best at the moment. Especially the colourful double herbaceous border in full bloom... which is quite exquisite. So I'll just have to nip back in June to capture them in all of their glory.
If you look into the photo to the left below, you will see two stick domes. These are supports for the plants. If I remember rightly they were made from willow and there are workshops to show you how to make them. I much prefer the natural look of the stakes than the plastic alternative. There are a few workshops throughout the year which some include the head gardener giving a tour of the gardens.
It looks like the weather is changing once again...
So let's take a look inside the castle shall we?
Watch your step when ascending the tower stairs because there's a 'trip' step...I'll not tell you which one as the helpful National Trust volunteer will do that when you visit. It was intended to disconcert attackers climbing the staircase. 
Amazingly, there are some rooms that retain the magnificent original painted ceilings. And if you feel a chill in the air in one particular room, then that could possibly be 'The Green Lady, Crathes' own ghost!
This view is from an upper window of the castle overlooking the crochet lawn, some of the formal gardens and greenhouses. As you can see unfortunately we've lost the sunshine. 
Further afield, the 240 hectare estate offers six separate trails to enjoy. 
If you click here you will be able to see the walk that my daughter and I enjoyed one frosty November morning. 
At the property there is a cafe, gift shop, adventure playground for the children, the North-East's only 'Go Ape' tree top adventure and the Arting Around studio.
So all the family can enjoy the outing. 

Just one point before I finish...
I'd like to state that I haven't received any remuneration for this post but when I did join the National Trust during the Easter break, my name was entered into a draw. I didn't pay much attention to the details at the time, but when the postie arrived at my door with a large parcel I was thrilled. My name had been drawn and I won a fabulous high spec pair of binoculars! 
Have a great weekend everyone

Crathes Castle...Blue Monday

When the dawn breaks to a beautiful crisp autumnal day, you can do nothing but head outdoors to appreciate it. And that's exactly what my daughter and I did.
Wrapped in our winter woolies, hats, gloves and boots plus of course our camera we headed along the River Dee towards Banchory. 
Our destination is my favourite local castle. 
Crathes Castle has fairytale turrets, gargoyles and the ancient Horn of Leys given in 1313 by Robert the Bruce are just a few of the features of this historic castle. 
The gardens of Crathes and estate are ideal for walks, picnics, or just to relax and enjoy. There are six separate trails to explore. 
A delight at any time of year, the famous gardens feature great yew hedges which never cease to amaze me. There are also colourful herbaceous borders. 
So are you ready for a walk? 

The Crathes Gate House appears in the background.

This photo is for everyone who visited yesterday for Silent Sunday and wanted to take a further peek through that gate...don't worry I'm going to revisit in the spring, when there will be so much more to see. I hope you don't mind me just showing a fraction of it today. 
Here's another gateway...which has 'Rebuilt in 1810' engraved over the top. 
You can also see the castle in the background. 
It was a perfect day to appreciate the autumn colours.
Still waters...
The metal structure on the right-hand side in the photo below is a fish ladder. This allows salmon to continue swimming upstream to their spawning grounds where they themselves were born. Salmon are capable of swimming against extremely strong currents and leaping up large waterfalls. Autumn is when the salmon are most prolific but unfortunately we didn't see any this time.

And so onto the castle...
Okay, so I've teased you enough... here is the majestic Crathes Castle.
I adore the ancient topiary hedges of Irish yew dating from 1702 which separate the garden's eight themed areas. 
They remind me of Walt Disney's 'Alice in Wonderland' don't you think? 
I wouldn't be surprised to see them dance around. 

Because we were wanting to stay outside, we didn't go into the castle but don't worry I will take you in soon. 
But we did stop for a much needed cuppa and a scone of course
(as one does after walking the forest trails
plus a visit into the art and craft wee shops and gallery.

Here's my daughter perusing all of the fabulous artwork...
(Don't worry the boys were having a great time too...in the pub watching their football team win).  
Just look at that blue sky!
 Wow, it was such a fantastic day and who would think that we're in the middle of November.

Which is why I'll wish you all a Happy Blue Monday.
Don't forget to pop across to see more of the Blue Monday posts at Smiling Sally's blog.