About three weeks after the big move to Scotland, T’s dad was in town and he said he could drive us on a day trip since we had planned to visit some castles. It was the perfect time because it was early enough in the semester that work wasn’t too crazy yet. On the day, everyone bailed so it ended up being just me with T and her dad. The day was beautiful and so we had high hopes! We left early in the morning to drive up to the region of Angus, drive across the Firth of Tay and then north to reach Glamis Castle (pronounced Glams) near the town of Forfar.
The castle is absolutely beautiful, and so were the grounds that lead to the castle. It has been the home of the Earls of Strathmore since the late 14th century. It is famous because the Queen Mother spent her childhood there, it is the birthplace of Princess Margaret and is even more renown for being featured in Shakespeare’s Macbeth (you can spot the lit nerd from afar when literature moments are more important than real history).
We went on the tour of the castle and it was amazing! To be honest, this was the first castle I ever visited and I was not disappointed. There were lavish dining rooms and dark rooms that led to the kitchen downstairs. It had stories of ghosts and hidden rooms. It mixed art with history. Sadly, we were not allowed to take pictures inside so this will stay a mystery for those who have never been.
It was the first time I saw highland cattle and I fell in love! They are magnificent creatures! If you want to see some for sure, I can highly recommend to go visit at least the grounds of Glamis as they have loads of them there. The grounds in themselves were wonderful and so were the two gardens (Italian garden and a walled garden) and what I saw of the Nature Trail (as we did not take the time to go hiking).
After the morning spent visiting Glamis, we went on our way to head towards Perth. After a quick stop to have lunch in Dunkeld, we arrived in Perth where we got slightly lost before finally finding our way to the final stop of the day, Scone Palace (pronounced Scoone).
We arrived and were greeted by a bunch of peacocks. That is a very lavish welcoming when you see one!
Scone is famous for being the crowing place of the kings of Scotland, including Robert the Bruce and Macbeth, and where the stone of destiny laid for hundreds of years.
We went in for a visit of the palace and again, we were sadly not able to take pictures inside. Upon our arrival, we were quickly told how Scone is pronounced – we eat a ‘scone’ but we go to ‘scoone’. The visit was a peculiar one. There were no guided tour offered (although I’ve just seen on their website that you can arrange for a tour guide, but to an additional fee), but in every room in which we stepped there was a person there who could discuss everything and anything involving Scone. As this was the middle of the day in the middle of the week, we were the only one at the palace. So we could ask questions and discuss with the guides as much as we wanted. As we went from room to room, we were greeted very nicely by all the people who worked there and told everything about the palace.
The weird thing about Scone was that it is also the home of a family and it really does have that feel. On one of the pianos, there were literally pictures of the inhabitant’s children… To me it took the feeling of grandeur and amazement away. It felt like someone’s very expensive and historic sitting room.
After the visit, we headed outdoors to have a look around the grounds. There was a beautiful and old chapel/crypt. I also just learned there is the Murray Star maze and I’m so sad that we did not see it when we went on our visit! I just love mazes. There were also some beautiful sculptures of deers made out of wires.
It is also the place where the stone of destiny used to be – which makes sense since it is the stone that was used for the coronation of Scottish kings. There is a replica on the grounds, but the original is now at the Edinburgh Castle, along with the crown jewels of Scotland.
We ended our day quickly thereafter as we had to make our way back into St Andrews before 6pm to go attend some other event. It was such a lovely day out. The Scottish weather was in our favour and since we were at the very end of the touristic season, the attractions we wanted to visit were almost empty, avoiding us crowds and queues.
In the end, I highly recommend Glamis Castle ! I think it is worth the detour toward the north to go see it. I was a bit disappointed by Scone, but if you are ever in Perth, I would make the stop to see this historic landmark.
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Glamis Castle is open between April and November from 10:00 am each day. To have access to the castle (with guided tour), gardens and grounds, it is £10.90 for adult and £10 for students. While you can probably access it by bus, I highly recommend going by car, as it seemed a bit in the middle of nowhere.
Scone Palace is open between April and October from 9:30am. Admission is £10.50 per adult £9.80 for students. This includes access to the palace and the grounds.
I have mentioned before that getting a Historic Scotland membership can be worth it when you go to Scotland to be able to go to a lot of historic monuments on a good deal, which also allows to skip lines and get discounts for guide books and souvenirs (it is really worth it!), but sadly, these two places were not part of HS.