After a very restful night at the Croft Elgin (recommended), our day needed to get us to Kildrummy by nightfall for dinner at the castle. The original intent was to check out another couple distilleries, but the two we saw the day before were really all that was needed.
Because we had no set plans other than final destinations for the days, we decided to mix it up a little. Elgin is close to the Northern coast, and there is a coastal trail which follows the shoreline. We decided to take a couple hours and check out the villages that fronted the North Sea, and it turned out to be one of the best moves of the trip.
The villages, not surprisingly, are active fishing ports. We even drove through Cullen, home of the famed Cullen Skink. The towns were picturesque, and the scenery was breathtaking.
The roads we were on were tertiary or worse, meaning they were narrow, windy, and bordered by dropoffs. Karen had way too much fun driving, although I will begrudgingly admit they were pretty darn fun as a passenger, too. A movie will follow.
We stopped at the Northeasternmost point of Aberdeenshire for lunch, and headed South back into castle country.
Castle Fraser was our next stop along the castle trail. Castle Fraser was originally built in the 15th century (possibly earlier) as a keep, and had been modified over the years until it was a full castle and residence. It’s in remarkable condition, and is open to the public, inside and out. The interior is huge, and is fully furnished, as it was used as a residence until the late sixties of this century. We had the fortune of talking to Bryce, one of the many National Trust of Scotland volunteers, who gave us a tour of the library, and showed us books from the 16th century and Fraser’s wooden riding leg from after the Crimean war.
It’s nice to meet people like Bryce, who are passionate about their work, and the history of their country. Highly, highly recommended.
By the end of our tour, it was time to head to our final overnight stop, the Kildrummy Castle Hotel. Situated on the grounds of the Kildrummy Castle, the hotel is a luxurious blend of 19th century furnishings and architecture blended nicely with modern creature comforts.
Our stay included a five course dinner that required me to follow the “work from the outside in” cutlery rule. Dinner consisted of a vensions sausage with mash starter, lime and butter crab claw with prawns, and a main course of crusted salmon and hollandaise. Dinner was followed by creme brulee and coffee. It was luxurious without being decadent, and was a great way to finish the day.
The hotel was simply amazing. It overlooks the ruins of the castle, and the room had a great view. There were no room numbers, only room names, and the service was first-rate, with friendly staff, bed turn-downs while we were supping, and attention to detail that was so fine you almost didn’t notice it.
A phenomenal day. The view from our drive and accompanying scenery captured the feel of Scotland, the castle Fraser the history, and the hotel the hospitality.
A truly amazing day.