Gates reopen to famous castles and gardens across Scotland

As Aberdeenshire’s iconic Craigievar Castle, and the community-run Braemar Castle recently opened their doors following extensive multimillion pound refurbishments, visitors should make the most of the blooms and sunshine with a visit to these and many more of Scotland’s estates, walled gardens and castles as they reopen for the season. Whether an afternoon picnic amongst nature or stepping back in time to marvel at the ancient tales and architecture, find the latest gardens and castle news as well as unique events taking place across Scotland below, to inspire the ultimate day out during a break away.

Castles reopening

Braemar Castle, Aberdeenshire.

Over twenty Historic Environment Scotland (HES) sites have reopened their doors to welcome visitors, as well as several heritage locations too. This includes Lochleven Castle, which famously held Mary Queen of Scots imprisoned in 1567; Iron Age archaeology at the Broch of Gurness; dark historical tales from Hermitage Castle, Spynie Palace, Newark Castle and Scotland’s only circular castle, Rothesay Castle, following essential conservation work. For the full list of reopenings and prices for admission, please visit:

Braemar Castle, Aberdeenshire

Built by the Earl of Mar in 1628, Braemar Castle has been a hunting lodge, fortress, garrison and family home.  An iconic 17th century landmark in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. The castle’s future rests with the small community of Braemar, and over the past ten years the village has been working to raise funds and gradually conserve and restore the castle to provide even better facilities for future visitors. As a result of the communities’ efforts, Braemar Castle is opening its doors following a £1.6 million restoration programme to re-render the exterior.

Craigievar Castle, Aberdeenshire

An example of the best of Scottish Baronial architecture, Craigievar Castle fits naturally amongst the rolling hills of Aberdeenshire. The elegant pink tower of Craigievar Castle was completed in 1626 and is amongst the most loved in Scotland.  The castle is currently undergoing a major conservation project to carry out essential maintenance work, including refreshing the lime wash that gives Craigievar its distinctive and beloved pink colour.  Visitors will be treated to a grand reveal in in the coming months, when the new exterior is unveiled.

Gardens reopening

Crawick Multiverse, Dumfries & Galloway.

Kailzie Gardens, Scottish Borders

Kailzie Gardens is a renowned garden and woodland a mile east of Peebles in the Scottish Borders, with 20 acres to explore. Kailzie Gardens also boasts the popular Courtyard Café that has become a firm favourite with locals. Their seasonal shop offers local produce, gifts and plant sales, as well as a children’s nature trail and a chance to have a go on the Gardener’s 18-hole putting green, or a game of pétanque.

Amisfield Walled Garden, East Lothian

A hidden gem lying on the outskirts of Haddington in East Lothian, Amisfield Walled Garden dates back to the late 18th century and is one of the largest walled gardens in Scotland, with extensive herbaceous borders, fruit and vegetable beds, wildflower meadow, orchard and woodland to explore. The Garden is currently being restored and developed as a community garden by the Amisfield Preservation Trust and a band of volunteers, providing a venue for education and training for people of all abilities.

The Japanese Garden at Cowden, Clackmannanshire

Those looking to embrace serenity should look no further than the beautiful grounds of The Japanese Garden at Cowden. The woodlands and gardens are adorned with an array of exceptional plants and flora which are elevated by the tranquil essence of its Japanese-inspired design and structures, creating a unique and utterly authentic bridge between Scottish and Japanese culture. Numbers in the garden are restricted so that its peaceful atmosphere is not compromised, but despite that, 40,000 people still visit every year. Today Cowden has a team of full-time gardeners, a thriving cafe, and the Stewart Adventure Woodland where children can let off steam.

Da Gairdins, Shetland

This 60-acre site (of which one third is maintained woodland and gardens) is an area of outstanding natural beauty on the Westside of Shetland. Avid wildlife watchers can experience the diversity of Shetland’s wildlife as, due to its proximity to the sea and the salt marsh dividing the gardens between the sea, the area is a magnet for nesting and migrating birds. Wander around and sit on one of the many benches to witness firsthand the fact that Shetland is not a tree-less landscape like many would believe, but instead is an oasis of life, with a surprisingly mild climate, thanks to the North Atlantic Drift which surrounds this captivating location.

Carolside House & Gardens, Scottish Borders

Carolside is an 18th century mansion set in beautiful parkland flanked by wooded hills, nestling in a bend of the River Leader. Carolside is one of Scotland’s finest Private Gardens and is best known for its collection of historic roses, many of them rare today and is home to the National Collection of Gallica Roses.

Crawick Multiverse, Dumfries & Galloway

Located near Sanquhar and spanning the equivalent of over 36 football pitches, Crawick Multiverse is a unique location of outstanding artistic and historical interest and is not to be missed. Designed and constructed on the site of a former open-cast coal mine by renowned landscape architect Charles Jencks between 2011 and 2017. Feel the spiritual and astrological magic of the landforms through the striking landscape, opt to have a picnic in the Sun Amphitheatre, photograph the incredible 360 views of the site and Upper Nithsdale Valley from the Northpoint or peer inside the ‘cave’ of the Omphalos; there’s plenty to see and do.

Main photo: Japanese Garden at Cowden. Photo: Tom Langlands Photography.

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