Picture Scotland and you will often think of ancient castles against a backdrop of dramatic hills and glens. Well, that’s pretty accurate! And from Gleneagles there are a number of fascinating castles within a short drive.
Just up the road from Gleneagle on the outskirts of Perth, Huntingtower Castle was originally the House of Ruthven and was built in the 15th Century. King James VI was imprisoned here in 1582 when he was fifteen. In revenge he killed the Ruthvens in1600 and their lands were forfeited. The name of the castle was changed to Huntingtower and it was given by the Crown to the Murrays of Tullibardine in 1663 and passed to John Murray, the first Duke of Atholl in 1676. Huntingtower Castle remained with the Atholl family until 1805 when it was sold and used to house workers of a nearby cloth-printing factory. Today the grounds and the castle are beautifully cared for and it is a popular venue for weddings – after all Mary Queen of Scots honeymooned here!
Carry on your journey heading north east to Scone and the impressive Scone Palace. 1500 years ago Scone (pronouncedscoon) was the capital of the ancient Pictish kingdom and from the middle ages the Kings of Scotland were crowned there on the Stone of Destiny. The palace there now was built in the early 1800’s and is set in lovely grounds and gardens which include a pinetum (a pine copse featuring varieties from all over the world) and a maze. Guided tours of the Palace and it’s treasures are available, along with a shop and informal dining restaurant situated in the old kitchens
Enjoy lunch in one of the many restaurants and pubs on the Royal Mile.
Move into the neo-classical 18th century New Town, along Queen Street and left into Dundas Street and Inverleith Row to the Royal Botanic Garden – Scotland’s national botanic garden with over 70 acres of lush and colourful botany.
Heading back across the country to the east, in Angus you will find historic Glamis Castle, childhood Home of HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Steeped in history, Glamis Castle has evolved over the years to create a stunning architectural treasure. Once inside, every room has its own story and the evolution of the castle and its legendary tales and secrets are brought to life by enthusiastic and knowledgeable tour guides. The gardens surrounding Glamis Castle are beautiful all year round and walks have been created to take in a mixture of habitats ranging from park land and policies in the immediate vicinity of the castle to the formal Italian Garden, mixed woodland and Pinetum to the North East.
Heading South again, you will by-pass Gleneagles and make for one of Scotland’s most popular visitor attractions, Stirling Castle. Stirling Castle is also of the largest in Scotland, and of great importance historically. Built in the 14th and 15th centuries, its stunning location on the promontory of a rocky crag afforded the castle a strong defensive position with panoramic views. Recently a £12 million refurbishment returned 6 of the royal apartments to how they may have looked in the mid-16th century, a real step back in time experience! Free guided tours are available or you can make your way round the castle at your own pace with personal audio tours in several languages.