Ballindalloch Castle: Scotland’s “Pearl of the North”

It’s cold. It’s gloomy. It’s the time of year when cabin fever starts to become a very real thing; although, I just realized the official start to spring is only 31 days away! Woop! Anyway, to cheer myself up on this gray Monday (well, this, and maybe watching a few episodes of “The Great British Baking Show”), I am going to take you guys to Scotland’s “Pearl of the North”; the BEAUTIFUL, the GORGEOUS, the OH-SO-STUNNING Ballindalloch Castle.

A tree lined gravel path leading to Ballindalloch Castle.

Expansive outside view of Ballindalloch Castle under a blue sky.
Side view of Ballindalloch Castle under a blue sky.

Located in northeast Scotland in the heart of the Speyside Valley (an area which produces many of my favorite whiskies), Ballindalloch’s architecture is a lovely representation of the Scottish baronial style. Built by the grandson of John Grant of Freuchie in 1546, the original fortification was constructed in a Z-plan, a design that consisted of a three-story tower, flanked to the north and south by two tall circular towers. Over the succeeding centuries, various changes, alterations, and additions were made, including the baronial features added in the mid-1800s by architect Thomas Mackenzie. The result is the beautiful fairy tale castle that we see today.

Ballindalloch Castle, blurred in the background with an orange flowering shrub in focus in the foreground.

Scottish Baronial is an architectural style that developed during the 16th and 17th centuries and was revived in the 19th century.  The style of the first period, the original Scottish Baronial style, was limited to small castles and tower houses in Scotland and Ulster.  It introduced Renaissance elements to buildings that preserved many of the features of the Scottish medieval castles and tower houses.  -Wikipedia

Except for a very brief period in 1645 when Royalist forces sacked and burned the castle, causing the Grants to flee, the Macpherson-Grant families have continuously occupied the castle for nearly five centuries! That the castle remains in the possession of the original familial line, and that it survived so many tumultuous and violent years almost entirely unscathed is remarkable to me. It may be one of only a handful of Scottish castles that ol’ Ollie Cromwell didn’t, in some way, get his hands on!

A turret and a yellow flag rising up from Ballindalloch Castle.
The finely carved Ballindalloch Castle crest.

Guy Macpherson-Grant, his wife Victoria, and their children are the 23rd and 24th generations to live at Ballindalloch Castle and manage the estate. Their business ventures not only include the tourism aspect, but farming, forestry, conservation and wildlife, traditional Scottish outdoor sporting endeavors, and even a whisky distillery that began production in 2014. Although the castle is their home, the family seems to have created quite a lucrative enterprise, preserving history, but also moving into the future.

Ballindalloch Castle and the estate lands are just lovely and are well worth spending a few hours.  For the price of admission, you can wander the extensive, well-kept grounds, gardens, and trails, as well as take a self-guided tour through the inside of the magnificent castle (the price is less if you don’t take the castle tour).  Because the castle still serves as the family’s home, photography is not permitted inside, but they do offer a nice little souvenir booklet for purchase for a nominal fee. The property has a wonderful tea room and gift shop as well.  May I recommend the Victoria Sponge?

Trees growing together to form an arch over a path.
This way to the tea room and gift shop.

For the remainder of my post, I simply want to share some photos we took on the day we visited. It was an exceptionally sunny day, so there were times when capturing good photos was a bit of a challenge. But I think you’ll get an idea of just how special this place is. Enjoy.

An orange red flowering vine with green leaves growing up the side of a stone wall.
Flowering garden with Ballindalloch Castle in the distance.
An arched doorway with a bell and a cross at Ballindalloch Castle.
A herd of black Aberdeen Angus cattle taking shade under a tree.
The Ballindalloch Estate is home to the oldest surviving bloodline of Aberdeen Angus cattle in the world. The herd was started by Sir George Macpherson-Grant in 1860.
The River Avon gently flowing between tree covered banks.
Ballindalloch Castle sits on the banks of the River Avon, near to where the Avon meets the River Spey.
Green shrubbery in the foreground and a hint of Ballindalloch Castle in the background.
Red, pink, orange, and yellow flowering shrubs in a well groomed garden.
Small grey house set amongst pink flowers in a wood.
Gray turreted Porter's Lodge at Ballindalloch Castle.
Porter’s Lodge
Walking trail through the woods.
A cute beige Gardener's Cottage with green trim and a green door.
The Gardener’s Cottage. Who needs a whole castle? I would be happy to live here!
A large tree leaning to the left and a llama relaxing underneath.
Marionburgh Stone Circle set amongst some trees.
Marionburgh Stone Circle, located on the grounds of Ballindalloch Castle.
Blue sky and flowering plants in a well groomed garden.
A stream with lily pads and lush green banks.
Yellow and pink flowers growing in a partially shaded wood.
Ballindalloch Castle in the distance, framed by two trees in the foreground.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post, friends. I wish you a wonderful week ahead. Until next time…

Cheers,

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