“ Sauchen, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, AB51 7LD. Tel. Sauchen (01330) 833463. ADMISSION PRICES: castle, garden and grounds, adult £6, concession £4.50, adult group £4.80, child/school group £1, family £16.50. Garden and grounds only, adult £2, concession £1.3 „
Recently we spent a lovely holiday on Royal Deeside in Scotland and one of the places we visited was the beautiful Castle Fraser. This is owned and run by the National Trust for Scotland and as members of the national trust we were able to get in for free.
Where is it
We found it easy to find as it is just 4 miles North of Dunecht and only 16 miles away from Aberdeen. There were plenty of brown signs as we approached. There is a good amount of car parking there you do have to pay a parking fee of £2 if you are not a Trust member displaying a badge in your car so make sure you have your car badge with you if you are a member of the change handy. There is some disabled parking next to the Castle itself as it is a bit of a walk down a steep hill to the castle and grounds. We had our trusty pushchair with us and it coped well with the terrain but be warned it is a push back up the hill.
The grounds are quite extensive and there are several walks around it one of which my husband and eldest son did which was a mile long walk in the woods which they really enjoyed and seeing all the autumnal colours. As this walk wasn't really suitable for a pushchair I looked round the walled garden with my youngest son. The walled garden you can actually visit without going to the castle and in the glory of summer I think it would be magnificent. In the autumn however there was little to see really bar some of the planting that they do and some of the herbs and winter vegetables. There are lots of fruit trees here to and I imagine that the many seats in the garden are often occupied in the better weather as it had a lovely relaxing atmosphere. Some of the park land around the castle was suitable for walking with a pushchair and there were plenty of grassy slopes for our 5 year old to roll down which he loved.
We decide to treat ourselves to a hot sandwich and soup in the café. This was table service which would have been great if it wasn't for a surly waiter who appeared to disapprove of everyone in the café disturbing his peace. He barely stayed at the table to take the order which meant we had to ask him several times for things he didn't wait for. The food when it did arrive was delicious and lovely and hot. The homemade cakes that we had for pudding were absolutely amazing and I would recommend them. As well as the surly waiter the other issue with the café was you had to leave a pushchair outside and inside there was only one chair suitable for a young child and this was a booster style seat attached to a chair rather than a highchair so you got the feeling that they really were discouraging families from eating there. It also would be impossible I think for a wheelchair user to get in there was a back entrance from the castle to the café rather than the main café entrance but I think it may be a tight squeeze to get through.
This is frankly amazing there are lots to see in the castle and with its turrets and tower with battlements it fitted my 5 year olds view of how a castle should look like. The member of staff at the door was friendly which after experience in the café was a welcome change to see. The castle is not accessible above the ground floor to wheelchairs or pushchairs but they were more than happy for us to leave our pushchair in the lobby. There is a children's trail to do and find birds around the castle which our son enjoyed. There are lots of twisting spiral staircases to go but they are definitely worth climbing as a lot of the rooms a filled with lots of interesting pictures and items. Some of the rooms have being modernised a bit and one of the rooms was given over to the family and their history in the war. There were several standout bits for us as a family. Both boys loved the lairds Lug which was a hidey hole where the laird would listen to people in the main hall. This closet in a bedroom was something that they loved walking in and out of and to try to see if they could hear people. The other bit was the peep hole that the laird would use to spy on people in the great hall. Again they both loved peering down it and there was a bit of pushing and shoving as they both tried to get a view. In the library we got talking to a lovely lady who was in charge of the room as she told our 5 year about the laird who had being shot in the head and leg in a battle but had survived and had a wooden leg for riding and another cork leg for dancing. He had kept his hat with the hole in for them to see which she pointed out to them. The guide was really friendly and answered his questions with patience and her telling of the story really gripped my son and she was one of the best guides we have met in a property. You can get out on to the top of the tower to see the views but having two curious boys we decide against this! But they did love going past the door which said quite for the bats.
The adventure playground
We were expecting a climbing and swing style adventure playground but this wasn't the case. It was a secret garden really with a large wooden glockenspiel and things carved out of wooden and a large wigwam. These amused our 5 year old greatly but held no interest for our 18 month old at all bar wandering in and out of the wigwam so I think if you have really little ones this isn't the best playground for them but school age children I think would love exploring some of the bits there.
There are toilets in the courtyard these were lovely and clean and the baby changing facilities were great nice and clean with plenty of room and warmth and a nice big bin for dirty nappies.
This is a great castle to visit there are lots of things to do in the grounds with various walks and the walled garden. The castle itself is full of history and the guides are friendly and informative to talk to and can answer questions from adults or children well. The only disappointment for us was the poor service in the restaurant despite good food and because of this I am reducing the stars from 5 to 4. If you are up in the area it is well worth a look.
Opening times can be found on the national trust website at the following address
Prices are as follows
1 Parent £17.50
A lot of visitors are attracted to the North-East of Scotland because of the long, sandy beaches which are amongst the best in the country. When the weather occasionally permits, they are superb and you can even see dolphins a few hundred metres out from the shore if you are lucky. But take a trip inland, and you will be pleasantly surprised by the scenery and historic attractions which await you. The Castle Frase and its gardens are one such attraction. This is one of the grandest Castles of Mar, which are a group of famous and spectacular castles situated in this area. The building itself was built towards the end of the 16th century but was not finished until 1636. It has an interesting and extensive history. The famous Fraser clan lived here right from when it was built until the early part of last century. The Frasers were an influencial family from the North-East. Simon Fraser was an important figure in the Scottish War of Independance against England and was an avid supporter of William Wallace (Yes, from the film Braveheart). He was also captured by the English and killed in much the same manner to Wallace. Perhaps the most interesting piece of history from the castle is that a princess was murdered here towards the end of the Frasers inhabitance. It is rumoured that she still haunts the place, and the ghost story in the castle may leave you a little jumpy! The building itself has a huge attractive hall, with fine antique furniture and some lovely paintings. You can even see a traditional 'Lairds Lug' which literally translates to 'Lords ear'. i will leave you in suspense on that one. The castle is situated near to the River Don, 16 miles West of Aberdeen, in the Grampian hills. The scenery is magnificant and this is Scotland at its very best. The grounds are extensive, and there are numerous, worthwhile woodland walks which take in most of the impressive grounds and worth taking some
time over. There is a glorious walled garden which is well-kept and an absolute must for gardening enthusiasts. You can also brouse the garden shop which sells a number of attractive plants. For the kids, there is an adventure playground which can keep them amused for hours! Once you get tired of exploring the castle and/or the grounds, you can relax in the tearoom, which sells a good selection of hot and cold drinks, as well as cakes and other tasty snacks. As you would expect, this is quite expensive. As is the shop, but you can pick up some good souveneirs to remind you of your visit. If you are ever up in the Aberdeen area, I highly recommend you devote a day to this attraction. It has just the right blend of history, magic, beauty and fun!