Taking advantage of a break in the recent snowy weather I decided to go with a friend and see one of the many ancient monuments in my area that I have shamefully never yet visited. Partly at random we picked Fyvie Castle to be the first of these to see this year.
I must admit that I have always tended to prefer ruined castles to intact ones. I think the former tend to convey more drama, more mystery, and possibly more romanticism than the ones that appear to be reasonably nice and shiny and complete. Despite dating back to the 13th Century, Fyvie Castle is one of the intact ones so you can decide for yourself how atmospheric and romantic it looks. It is also allegedly haunted by the way, so you can do some ghost-hunting if you decide to sleep there.
Fyvie Castle and grounds are owned by the National Trust for Scotland, so check their website page for opening times and prices. At the time I visited the car park was £2.00 for the day and free to members, so not really anything to complain about there. The car park was ample for a weekend in late April/early May, but if visiting at peak times you might want to turn up by 10am to make sure.
The car park sits roughly between a small lake and the castle itself. The lake is pleasant enough to walk around, especially if you have dogs and/or children. There are plenty of resident ducks and geese so take some bread if you or your offspring enjoy watching the aquatic squabbles that are guaranteed to ensue.
The grounds themselves were really only just coming to life; this is North East Scotland after all. The bluebells and wood anemones were out though which was very nice to see, but it will be a few weeks yet before the trees properly leaf up. I can imagine it will look fabulous in high Summer.
Fyvie Castle itself is suitably impressive and comes complete with requisite fairy-tale turrets. Looking more like an imposing palatial seat of power than a seriously defensible refuge it is a castle nonetheless. From the car park you can approach through the castle gardens or along the edge of the woods with the open vista and castle facade to your left. The latter is more impressive but deprives you of the gardens, so a bit of wandering about is the only solution.
If you are happy to wander, have an interest in castles, architecture and the countryside then there is much to see. On a warm sunny day a visitor could spend a good few hours here. We didn’t go inside on this occasion due to time pressures, but no doubt that would add an hour or two as well.
Visiting castles and country houses can be thirsty work so we walked around to the western side (the left in the photograph above) where the Tea Room is situated. Last orders is 4.15 pm so don’t leave it too late. Not realising, we nearly did. Guiltily slipping in just under the wire at 4.13 pm I can report the staff were friendly and we weren’t scowled at, something that does happen in some places (- this is the UK don’t forget, where customer service goes to die).
The home baking was everything it should be – catastrophic for dieters and a delight for food lovers. I had a properly moist and gooey (and generous) slab of carrot cake and my companion had vanilla and berry cheesecake. I’m no food expert but to us both were faultless. I did chuckle a bit though at the ‘Premium Tea’ advertised on the menu. Presumably the ‘Substandard Tea’ didn’t sell very well.
So all in all a very enjoyable afternoon and a recommended stop on your castle trail.