National Trust for Scotland Properties in Aberdeenshire and Angus
We spend a lot of time visiting National Trust for Scotland properties in Aberdeenshire and Angus with our two little ones. With castles a-plenty in Aberdeenshire, a local NTS property is often the meet-up location of choice when catching up with friends (fitting the requirements of many a mother – lots of space for the kids and coffee at hand). My son used to go to the Nature Nipper events at our closest NTS property, House of Dun, and we enjoy the seasonal events like the Easter Egg hunts. I love that there are always beautiful grounds and gardens, wonderful play parks, and lovely tearooms. All the properties that we have explored inside have had simple treasure hunts for the kids, like Barry Mill’s mouse hunt and a search for the characters of Peter Pan in J.M Barrie’s Birthplace.
Here are 5 NTS properties in Aberdeenshire and Angus that we love.
It wasn’t until the end of last summer that I visited Castle Fraser for the first time (and I’d love to know – why is it called Castle Fraser and not Fraser Castle?). I met a friend with her two wee ones and we didn’t get a chance to look much around the castle itself with four hungry little people in tow, but we did explore the lovely grounds and play park. The park area was just enchanting – a wooden ‘Neverending Story’ style dragon, an adorable wooden house and a whimsical fairy tower were among the highlights. I will definitely be back this spring for more exploring.
“Look mummy, it’s a sand castle!”, shouted my two year old as she looked up at the huge tower at Drum Castle. Is there anything more heartwarming than the observations of a toddler? We went to Drum Castle yesterday, which was my favourite place to visit when we lived in nearby Peterculter a few years ago. The old-fashioned style tearoom is charming and the playpark is made of natural materials, with a willow tunnel, tee-pee area and a drum set made out of bits of tree trunks. There is a lovely woodland walk and a peaceful chapel, and it’s quite something to climb to the top of the tower and take in the views.
House of Dun
Just outside Montrose, House of Dun is a Georgian mansion house with sweeping views across Montrose Basin. It has a beautiful garden, lovely walks and lots of conkers falling from the trees in autumn! (It’s our favourite conker-collecting spot). I always enjoy meandering through the woodland with the littles here and sitting in the lovely garden.
I love walking at Crathes Castle, a 16th century tower house just outside Banchory. It has one of the most beautiful castle gardens I’ve seen (you do have to pay to enter the walled garden, unless you are an NTS member). Isaac absolutely loved doing a treasure hunt around the garden during a visit last summer, searching for garden tools. The huge yew hedges, which seem Alice in Wonderland-esque to me, were planted in 1702, and the garden is just a lovely, peaceful place to wander. I also love the woodland walks and there is a spacious cafe, with a small park just outside.
We visited Barry Mill, a working watermill near Carnoustie, for the first time when I did the VisitAngus Instagram takeover last spring. It was a warm summer’s day and we started our visit with a wander around the peaceful grounds. Having bought nets in the Visitor Centre, we set off on a little circuit and a guddle in the Barry Burn. Barry Mill is one of only a few working watermills in Scotland and there has been a mill there since the 16th century. You can watch the grain being milled on a Sunday.
It was really interesting touring the mill itself but with two short attention spans we focussed mainly on hunting for the three mice hidden on each level. I’m already looking forward to warmer weather and heading back with nets in hand.
We were gifted our National Trust for Scotland family membership but I believe that the annual membership is fantastic value for money and the opinions in this post are entirely all my own. For £7.50 a month, you can have access to some beautiful buildings, gardens, castles and stately homes, with their lovely grounds and walks.