Dates back to 1596 and a little ghost tells me it's haunted. Surrounded by 240 acres of woodland, walks and countryside.
Address: Crathes, Banchory, Aberdeenshire. AB31 5QJ
Phone: 0845 643 9215 (local call rate)
Castle Fraser is an atmospheric baronial castle dating back to the 15th Century and was the ancestral home of the Fraser family. As you venture through the castle and up to the round tower, with its panoramic views of the gardens and estate beyond, you get a sense of life from the medievel to the Victorian period.
Although the main castle was completed around 1636, there were several 18th and 19th-century alterations. To a large extent the story of Castle Fraser is the story of its lairds. It retains the atmosphere of the family home with portraits, furniture and momentos.
Highlights include the Great Hall dating back to the 1400s, a library filled with family books, and the grand Worked Room featuring 18th-century embroideries. The estate has two easily followed trails taking you through a mixture of parkland, farmland and woodland, opening out to give views of Bennachie.
Address: Castle Fraser Garden and Estate, Sauchen, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire. AB51 7LD
Phone: 0844 493 2164 (Local call rates)
Craigievar is an iconic tower house, amongst the best preserved and most loved in Scotland. The Forbes family lived in the castle for 350 years and when a group of benefactors (including members of the family) bought the castle and presented it to the National Trust for Scotland, it came complete with the vast majority of the contents, collected and lovingly presented over the centuries by the family.
The large estate features woodland, parkland with magnificent specimen trees, and farmland with extensive views over the surrounding countryside to Bennachie.
Address: Craigievar Castle, Craigievar, Alford, Aberdeenshire. AB33 8JF
Phone: 0844 493 2174 (local call rates)
Leith Hall Garden and Estate
Built in 1650 by James Leith, Leith Hall was very much a family home, lived in, used and altered to meet the family’s needs for nearly three hundred years.
During World War I the hall was used as a military hospital. The hall, gardens, wider estate and much of the original collection came to the NTS in 1945.
Never having been sold and remaining in the same family for ten generations, it offers a rare glimpse of the changing aspirations, needs and tastes of the middle-ranking gentry and a fascinating insight into the Leith-Hay family.
A typical Scottish laird’s residence brimming with family treasures, Leith Hall is set in a scenic estate containing a beautiful garden that overlooks some of Aberdeenshire’s finest rolling countryside.
Leith Hall can be visited by guided tours only. Tours depart approximately every 45mins during opening hours.
Address: Leith Hall Garden & Estate, Huntly, Aberdeenshire. AB54 4NQ
Phone: 01464 831216
In the stunning Great Garden, thousands of colourful annual bedding plants make up an elaborate summer spectacle.
The adjoining Museum of Farming Life brings the agricultural past to life. Visitors can also enjoy woodland walks and a fascinating herb garden. It's hard to imagine a garden today being planted on such an extravagant scale. The heart of the property is the formal walled garden originally laid out in 1675 by Sir Alexander Seton.
In the 1950s, the Trust set about re-creating the gardens following designs dating from the 17th century.
Today, Pitmedden features over 5 miles of box hedging arranged in intricate patterns to form six parterres. These parterres are filled with some 40,000 plants bursting with colour in the summer months.
Address: Pitmedden Garden, Pitmedden, Ellon, Aberdeenshire. AB41 7PD
Phone: 01651 842352
Fyvie Castle & Grounds
The charm of Fyvie ranges from its 13th-century origins to its stunning Edwardian interiors. The castle is home to a superb collection of arms, armour and paintings, including works by Raeburn and Gainsborough.
Stroll around the picturesque loch, or visit the restored 1903 racquet court and bowling alley.
Ghosts, legends and folklore are all woven into the tapestry of Fyvie Castle’s 800-year history. Tradition claims that the castle’s five successive families – Preston, Meldrum, Seton, Gordon and Forbes-Leith – each added a tower to this magnificent Scottish Baronial fortress.
You can see their influences today among the medieval stones and the lavish Edwardian interiors, and imagine what castle life must have been like for the families and their royal guests – among them Robert the Bruce, Edward I and Charles I.
Address: Fyvie Castle, Fyvie, Turriff, Aberdeenshire. AB53 8JS
Phone: 01651 891266
Designed by Scottish architect William Adam in 1732, Haddo House near Aberdeen is a magnificent example of an historic Scottish stately home.
Originally Palladian in style, the house now has late Victorian interiors after a 19th-century refurbishment and is renowned for its stunning decorated ceilings.
It also has impressive collections of period furniture, ceramics and art, including paintings by Sir Thomas Lawrence and James Giles.
The house is open for guided tours only but the grounds are open all the time. These include the formal terrace garden and Haddo Country Park, with its lakes, monuments, woodland walks and deer park.
Address: Haddo House, Methlick, Ellon, Aberdeenshire. AB41 7EQ
Phone: 01651 851440