Road trips are inherently American thanks to the likes of Kerouac, Route 66, and perhaps most of all, the Station Wagon from National Lampoon’s Vacation. Meanwhile, over in Scotland, road trips aren’t as common. This may be because you can drive to the most southerly point of England quicker than you can cross some states. Where is the adventure in that, you might ask?
Road trips are much more than just getting to a destination, they are about everything in between, and Scotland is teeming with sights and experiences for the savvy road tripper. That’s why here at NTSUSA we have created our Summer Road Trip Series for those planning to visit (and drive!) in Scotland.
Road Trip Series Part 2 takes you on a tour through Aberdeenshire, where you will visit a Scottish stately home and castles galore. Total drive time: 1 hr 40 min, not including the stops.
- A – Haddo House
- B – Pitmedden Garden
- C – Glen Garioch Distillery
- D – Castle Fraser
- E – Falls of Feugh
- F – Crathes Castle
- G – Drum Castle
Begin your day with a visit to Haddo House, a magnificent example of a Scottish stately home in the Palladian style. Haddo House is open to all visitors for guided tours only – the tour of the house lasts approximately 75 minutes, beginning at the following times: 11:30, 12:30 13:30 14:30 and 15:30. The tour takes you through corridors lined with ceramics and curios as you learn the fascinating stories of the Gordon family who lived at Haddo for over 400 years. There’s something to see every step of the way, as the house is packed full of period furniture, furnishings and family memorabilia – remember to look up at the ceilings too. Don’t miss the Queen’s Bedroom, where Queen Victoria stayed in 1857. Insider Tip: Haddo House is home to The Haddo Madonna, a renaissance painting that is thought to be by Raphael!
Afterwards, it’s a quick 15 minute drive towards Pitmedden Garden. The heart of the property is the formal walled parterre garden. There are also extensive herbaceous borders with an abundance of colour and scent. Don’t forget to visit the adjacent Museum of Farming Life, which boasts an extensive collection of domestic and agricultural artefacts. The picnic area is an ideal spot to stop for lunch, and you can even enjoy a game of boules on the pétanque piste (a form of lawn bowling).
Glen Garioch Distillery is next on the itinerary. One of the oldest operating distilleries in Scotland, here you can take a tour and see how they have been making their single malt whisky for the last 200 years. For a more in depth experience, why not try the tasting tour, where you can sample two different expressions of Glen Garioch Highland Single Malt Whisky and experience the exclusive distillery individual cask bottling. (Don’t forget – if you are the driver of your party, unfortunately you won’t be able to have a drink – read about the Scottish legal alcohol limit when driving here.)
It’s time to hit the road again, this time heading towards Castle Fraser, an imposing and atmospheric Scottish castle full of history. Home of the Fraser family for more than 400 years, the castle is filled with family portraits, ornaments and mementos – all of which have their own colourful stories to tell about the lairds. Discover quirky features such the Laird’s Lug, a chamber hidden above the Great Hall so the laird could eavesdrop on his visitors! Insider tip: The panoramic views from the top of the round tower are not to be missed! On a clear day you can even see the distinctive peaks of Bennachie in the distance.
Then, it’s a short trip down the road to the Falls of Feugh, Banchory. Here, salmon can be seen leaping up the apparently unscalable rocks, amidst an often raging torrent, compelled by instinct to return to their spawning grounds further up the river. The best times to see this are September to November (winter run) and February to March (spring run).
Next stop on the road trip is Crathes Castle. Explore this magnificent 16th-century tower house, with its intricate maze of turrets, towers, oak panels and painted ceilings. The walled garden is split into eight sections that encompass every green delight imaginable – a sculpted topiary, soft herbaceous colours and modern exotic blooms.
Final stop on the trip is Drum Castle, one of Scotland’s oldest tower houses. Here you can explore the medieval High Hall – on the main floor you’ll find one of the finest libraries in any Scottish castle, now home to around 4,000 volumes, some of which date back to the 1500s. Insider tip: you can actually stay in the Courtyard Cottage on Drum Castle Estate. Only 10 miles from the heart of Aberdeen, this charming 16th century apartment makes an ideal base for exploring all that the area has to offer. —> Book Accommodations
Keep an eye on our website and social media pages over the next few weeks to follow the rest of our Road Trip Series!