Since moving to Culter five months ago, we’ve often driven to nearby Drum Castle to walk in its woodland (I love the peacefulness of the Old Wood of Drum). On Sunday morning, however, our walk was abandoned when we discovered that the play park my toddler has gazed at so longingly over the last few months has now opened. And what a play park it is…
The Play Park
I have never seen a play park with a wooden drum set before. Or a tee-pee toddler camp. So much creativity and thought has gone into this brand new play park, it was such a joy to watch Isaac explore. Backing onto a small section of forest (which has a little path of wooden stepping stones laid out for little ones), the park is full of lovely things for children to discover. Isaac absolutely loved the camp fire (complete with wooden spoons for stirring) and the fantastic tunnel in the park’s centre, but the highlight was definitely the drum set (for Isaac and his father).
After eventually coaxing Isaac out of the park, we decided to walk round the grounds while we waited for the tearoom to open (at 11am). I left the boys to wander along the path and went to explore the small chapel.
Tucked just behind the castle, the beautiful 16th century chapel was like a beacon to me, guiding me into its comforting arms for five minutes of peace and quiet. With no one else around, I took a seat inside and sat under the gaze of a beautiful stained glass window, basking in the silence.
I love nothing more than a cafe with character (I particularly love cafes with pretty cups and saucers). The tearoom at Drum Castle is a lovely place to enjoy morning coffee or lunch, with an old kitchen display at the back of the room and wonderful little touches, like packs of cards and dominoes on the tables.
Always on a quest for photographs, I decided to climb the magnificent tower, forgetting that I actually really don’t like heights. Or narrow staircases. But despite some queasiness, I am so glad I ventured to the top.
The tower is the oldest part of the castle, built in the late 13th/early 14th century. It is said to be one of the best preserved tower houses in the country and I certainly felt that I had stepped back in time when I reached the High Hall (which would have been the laird’s private chambers). I was on my own, staring up at its arched ceiling and imagining the layers of history etched into its walls.
From the hall there is another staircase leading out to the roof top. I wondered, as my legs started to shake and I tried not to panic when peering over the tower wall, how it was possible that I could jump out of a plane during my travels in New Zealand but struggle to look over this wall… All I managed was one weak hand wave, much to my husband’s amusement.
After a morning running around the play park and grounds, we took our weary toddler home, leaving the castle’s interior to explore for another day. If you’re looking for family friendly places to visit in Aberdeenshire, add Drum Castle to your list. I have no doubt we’ll be going back very soon, especially since I’ve discovered that there are fairy houses in the castle grounds…
For more information on visiting Drum Castle, see www.nts.org.uk/Property/Drum-Castle-Garden-and-Estate.