This seven-story castle with its pink-tinted facade, finely sculpted multiple turrets, ornate corbels and carved stonework is said to have been an inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle. It is currently run by the National Trust for Scotland. This post is in collaboration with Visit Aberdeenshire.
Nestled on a picturesque hillside in the eastern foothills of the Cairngorm mountains, the elegant pink tower of Craigievar Castle is spellbindingly beautiful, sure to enchant children and adults alike (and even Queen Victoria, once upon a time!). This iconic tower house is among the best preserved and the most loved in Scotland.
Construction of this castle begun in the Scottish Baronial style around 1576 and its exterior remains virtually unchanged since William Forbes completed it around 1626. Craigievar was a family home until the 1960s, creating a quirky blend of cosy interiors and rare antiquities within the ancient walls.
WHY IS CRAIGIEVAR CASTLE PINK?
In 1824, Sir John Smith inherited the castle when his older brother passed away. He had the roof replaced and the building reharled. Aberdeen architect, John Smith, suggested that they add pigments to the harling (an exterior building-surfacing technique which results in a weatherproof shield) so that it more closely resembled the pink granite colour of the stone detailing. This resulted in a distinctly pink colouration. Up until then, however, the castle was cream in colour.
INTERIOR PHOTOGRAPHS OF CRAIGIEVAR CASTLE
Interior photography is not permitted in Craigievar Castle. The place is absolutely packed full of Instagrammable opportunities, but I suppose that’s part of its charm and allure – you have to go there yourself to see it.
These interior photographs have been kindly provided by the NTS.
The guided tour really is a must-do if you’re visiting Aberdeenshire. The guide walked us room to room, telling us the history of the occupants and – much to our delight – ghost stories, and tales of murder and revenge.
NATIONAL TRUST FOR SCOTLAND
Craigievar is one of the five castles, two stately homes and one historic garden within 25 miles of Aberdeen owned and maintained by the National Trust for Scotland, which has been taking care of Scotland’s historical buildings since 1931.
From iconic castles and famous birthplaces to Victorian villas and 18th-century watermills, the NTS care for and manage 129 important historical buildings across Scotland.
As important as the castles and stately homes are, they actually only make up a small proportion of the buildings they look after. They also manage plenty of modest buildings that shine a light on how rural and working-class communities have evolved. Together, the Trust’s places celebrate the unique architectural history of Scotland.
Despite its pink colour, this castle began as a simple tower house. The main house, courtyard, and ancillary buildings were all once surrounded by an outer defensive wall. Some of that original wall remains. There is still an iron portcullis (yett) covering the entrance door.
Craigievar’s appeal is that it is largely unchanged, externally, since 1626 and that it was lived in by the same family from that date until 1963 when it was passed on to the NTS. There are steep spiral stairs to all the floors and one of the conditions of the transfer was that no electric light is to be installed above the offices in the ground floor so all the rooms, pictures and treasures are seen as they would be seen by past generations.
Access to the castle is by guided tours only on a “first come, first served” basis, with a maximum of 10 on each tour, lasting 45-50 minutes. Larger groups need to book in advance so they can accommodate them and they welcome coach tours.
CRAIGIEVAR CASTLE PRICES
- NTS Member: free unless part of a group booking; there are reciprocal agreements with some other organisations
- Adult: £13.00
- Concession: £9.50
- Family (2 adults + up to 6 children): £30.00
- One adult family: £24.00
- Group rate: contact NTS for charges
HOW TO GET TO CRAIGIEVAR CASTLE
Craigievar Castle is 6 miles south of Alford, 15 miles northwest of Banchory and 26 miles west of Aberdeen. The entrance drive is signposted off the A980 Alford to Banchory road.
Please note that some route planning sites and satnav systems will provide directions up the south drive. This is not accessible to vehicles and there is no parking available as the properties at the end of the south drive are not NTS but private.
Directions to Craigievar Castle by road from:
There are three routes:
- A944 via Westhill, Elrick and Dunecht to Alford and then take the A980 south until you see the signs for Craigievar Castle directing you to the right up the main drive.
- A944 until the major set of traffic lights before Westhill, turn left on the B9119 and follow this for approximately 17 miles to the junction with the A980. Turn sharp right and follow the A980 for approximately 2 miles until you see the brown signs directing you to the left up the main drive.
- A944 until the major set of traffic lights before Westhill, turn left on the B9119 and follow this for approximately 16 miles. About 1 mile after climbing a long sweeping hill with views of a valley and two wind turbines there is a turning to the right between the last two houses, signposted Kintochter; it is marked on the maps as “Old Military Road”. Follow this to the end and then turn right onto the A980, follow this road until you see the brown signs directing you to the left up the main drive. ( Please note the “Old Military Road” is single track with passing places and has a sharp left-hand corner just before reaching the A980 )
Follow the A93 towards Aberdeen to the junction with the B9119 on the left; follow this road, through Tarland, until the junction with the A980. Turn left and follow the A980 for approximately 2 miles until you see the brown signs directing you to the left up the main drive.
Inverness /Alford (North):
Follow signs to Alford then take the A980 south until you see the signs for Craigievar Castle directing you to the right up the main drive.
Follow the A980 from Banchory until you see the signs for Craigievar Castle directing you to the left up the main drive.
By public transport:
There is no direct public transport to the castle. There are bus services to Alford, Lumphanan and Aboyne and then a taxi from there to Craigievar; it is advisable to pre-arrange the taxi for both directions.
Ordnance Survey Ref: NJ566095
Lat & Long: 57.176575 & -2.716753 ( this is the entrance to the car park )
Post Code: AB33 8JF
Note: Some satnav directions may take you through narrow winding roads as these may be ‘shorter’ than the routes set out above.
PIN THIS SCOTTISH CASTLE FOR LATER
Craigievar Castle – Scotland’s Pink Fairytale Castle
This seven-story castle with its pink-tinted facade, finely sculpted multiple turrets, ornate corbels and carved stonework is said to have been an inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle.
OTHER PLACES TO VISIT IN ABERDEENSHIRE
- The Silver Darling, Aberdeenshire – excellent seafood restaurant
- 10 Places to Eat & Drink in Aberdeenshire, Scotland
- Aberdeen Jazz Festival
- Eat on the Green – extraordinary cuisine by the Kilted Chef
- Glen Garioch Distillery – their ‘rare pair’ tour is exquisite!
- Brew Dog Brewery – their Dogwalk tour is a must!
- Meldrum House – a beautiful hotel & golf course
- Douneside House – luxury accommodation in the Scottish Highlands
- Ballater – a Victorian village in Royal Deeside
Elizabeth was a guest of Visit Aberdeenshire for this visit to Craigievar Castle. Interior photographs provided by the National Trust for Scotland, as indoor photography is not permitted in the castle.