This year, Blair Castle celebrated its 750th birthday, making it one of the oldest standing castles in Scotland. The expansive estate, which is part of the 145,000 acre Atholl Estate, features a stunning 9 acre walled garden, and plays host to the Land Rover Horse Racing Trials each August. Home of 19 generations of Stewarts and Murrays of Atholl, making it a frequent host of nobility form around the world, including Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Victoria, and many others through the castle’s storied history.
Location: Scottish Highlands
Address: Blair Atholl, Pitlochry,
Perthshire, PH18 5TL
Cost: £13 Adult Castle & Gardens Admission
Parking: Free Parking
Events: Land Rover Horse Trials, Hiking, Biking,
Fishing, and more on the estate
Handicap Accessible: Mostly, special activities for
differently abled individuals
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I have dreamed of visiting Scotland and walking in the footsteps of my ancestors ever since I was a child, so when we visited Scotland for our 5th wedding anniversary, it was a magical adventure to be sure. Visiting as many castles as we could fit into our itinerary made the journey even more incredible, especially considering that some of my not-so-distant ancestors visited or resided in this very castle. Aside from seeing what life might have been like in this spot hundreds of years ago, the castle itself is stunning, and 30 different rooms are on display for visitors to explore and peruse at their leisure on self-guided tours. Tours are available in more than a dozen languages including English, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, French, and more languages on audio.
We opted for the castle and garden combination tickets, because we wanted to explore both, and it was a wonderful decision. It took us about an hour and a half to walk through all 30 rooms of the castle and read the information in each, and another 30 minutes or so to stroll the gardens, which were so beautiful that I’ll be dedicating a second post to the garden soon. When visiting Blair Castle, I’d plan at least 2 hours, or more if you plan to do anything else like enjoy a meal at the castle’s Tullibardine Restaurant, which serves food daily from 10am – 5pm. The restaurant also has an extensive selection of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.
Within the 30 rooms that are open to the public, visitors can view an expansive collection of family heirlooms of immense historical and sentimental significance. Inside the castle there’s an entire floor to ceiling room dedicated to the family’s extensive china collection and embroidery crafted by the ladies of the castle over the centuries, a room displaying weapons from the various military campaigns the families of the estate engaged in to protect Scotland from conquerers and usurpers, and room after room of luxurious home furnishings like silk wall coverings, gold gilded mirrors, velvet and embroidered cushions, and so much more.
One of the coolest features of the castle is the portrait filled staircase, shown above, which highlights the 19 dukes and duchesses who have lauded over the castle over the years. These beautiful portraits offer a fascinating glimpse of the way dress, hairstyles, and art styles changed over the centuries in Scotland, and highlights the dukes and duchesses in their preferred style, whether it be at ease, on the hunt, or in a classical portrait style. If you’re a fan of art history as I am, these portraits offer an enlightening cross sectional study into Scotland’s artistic history, as well as the history of its royals.
Much of the castle is not handicap accessible, as it was built nearly 8 centuries ago, but there is quite a lot those with limited mobility can experience, such as the castle grounds, the castle’s Lucious gardens and forest paths, and the ground floor of the castle has an informational room that gives a great overview of the castle for those who are uninterested or unable to climb the stairs to explore the complex in its entirety.
Blair Castle is a stunning example of the tenacity and deep seeded desire to preserve Scottish culture and Scottish History. If you were to only visit one castle in Scotland, I couldn’t recommend visiting Blair Castle enough. It’s beautifully preserved, it offers endless opportunities to learn about Scottish history and the trials and tribulations of not only the royal families, but also of everyday highlanders throughout the centuries, and it’s a beautiful way to connect with Scotland’s storied past.
Look out for my guides to Stirling Castle, Edinburgh Castle, Eilean Donan Castle, Balmoral Castle, and many other Scottish castles and palaces in the coming weeks. Which Scottish castles have you visited? Which are you most eager to visit? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time!
See More by Annie Fairfax
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