Castles to visit by train this autumn

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Castles provide a dramatic backdrop whatever the time of year but when they’re accompanied by autumn colours, it makes a visit even more special.

Usually situated on high rocks or dramatic clifftops, they’re great vantage points to get a view over the surrounding areas too.

To celebrate the history and stories behind our Scottish castles, we’ve teamed up with Floris Books to give away six copies of An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Castle Legends by Theresa Breslin and Kate Leiper.

The beautifully illustrated book takes us on a journey to ancient castles across Scotland to uncover some of the myths and legends. Some of the castles visited include Edinburgh, Stirling, Eilean Donan and Castle Urquhart. Each story fires up young imaginations and the illustrations bring each tale to life.

For your chance to win a copy, simply have a read of the blog post and tell us at which castle has its own railway station? Click here to enter.

Edinburgh CastleEdinburgh Castle

Let’s start in our capital city. No castle blog would be complete without talking about Edinburgh Castle. Nestled right in the heart of the city, the castle is a great spot to enjoy the autumn colours. The views over Edinburgh and the surrounding areas including the River Forth and Pentland Hills are incredible.

Once inside, there is a lot of history to uncover. Wander at your own pace or join a free guided tour to delve into the stories that the castle walls hold.

Closest station: Edinburgh Waverley

Image credit: Visit Scotland / Kenny Lam

We’ll hop on the Borders Line to Tweedbank Station.

Abbotsford HouseAbbotsford House

While not technically a castle, this grand house has a prominent place in Scottish history. The grand house was home to Sir Walter Scott and is noted to have influenced Scots Baronial architecture. During autumn, one of the real draws here is to explore the beautiful gardens and surrounding woodlands. Scott was passionate about planting trees so there are plenty of colourful woodland walks to enjoy. For families, wrap up warm and follow the playtrails to discover more about Abbotsford. The house is open until 30 November but the woodland walks, café and visitor centre are open all year round.

Closest station: Tweedbank – a one mile/ 20 minute walk away

Image credit: Visit Scotland / Kenny Lam

Stirling CastleStirling Castle

Standing proud in the middle of Stirling, the castle sits 250ft high, atop a huge volcanic rock where the highlands and lowlands of Scotland meet. With a location like that, it’s no surprise that the views are incredible, and even more so when the surrounding landscapes turn vibrant reds, oranges and browns.

Inside the castle walls, there are lots of colourful stories to be discovered including battles, murders and tales of Scottish royalty.

Closest station: Stirling

Image credit: Visit Scotland / Kenny Lam

Heading away from our cities to Scotland’s east coast, brings us to our next castle.

Dunrobin CastleDunrobin Castle, Sutherland

As famous for its gardens and woodlands as it is its castle, Dunrobin Castle is open until 31 October and is a wonderful place to enjoy the autumn colours. It’s the most northerly of Scotland’s great houses and overlooks the Dornoch Firth. Dating back to the 13th Century, the castle has been home to the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland and is still a family home.

Dunrobin’s Garden is a fine example of a formal Victorian Garden and the surrounding woodlands provide a gorgeous place for a leisurely stroll.

Closest station: Dunrobin Castle – the castle has its own private station that the family built back in 1902. Very handy!

Image credit: Visit Scotland / Paul Tomkins

We’re heading south east for our next castle, and this one’s a stunner!

Dunnottar CastleDunnottar Castle, Stonehaven

Prepare to be wowed! The views at Dunnottar Castle are stunning. The ruins of the castle, dating back to the 15th century, sit atop a cliff on the edge of the North Sea. In autumn, on a clear, crisp day it feels other-worldly. The castle is open all year round but check their website for opening times after 1 October as they vary each month.

Closest station: 50-minute walk from Stonehaven Railway Station, 40 minutes of which is along the Coastal Tourist Route with stunning views.

Image credit: Visit Scotland / Kenny Lam

For our next castle, we’re heading into Highland Perthshire, where autumn brings a fantastic array of colours.

Blair CastleBlair Castle & Gardens, near Pitlochry

If you’re a fan of the ITV show Victoria, you may already be familiar with Blair Castle. It was used in Season 2, episode 7 to tell the story of one of Queen Victoria’s stays at the castle. Once you set eyes on the castle and its grounds, you’ll understand why the she in love with this part of the Highlands.

As well as the 30 rooms of the castle to explore, the gardens and surrounding woodland are well worth spending time in. Take a wander through the walled garden, the grove, the ruins of a kirk and spot red deer wandering around. The castle is open until October 30, perfect for catching the autumn colours.

Closest station: 5-minute walk from Blair Atholl Station.

Image credit: Visit Scotland / Paul Tomkins

Wherever you choose to explore this autumn, be sure to share your photos with us on twitter @ScotRail. We love seeing all the adventures you get up to on Scotland’s Railway.

And remember, our Off-Peak tickets mean you get access to great value fares when you travel at less busy times.

Taking the whole family along? Our Kids for a Quid ticket means up to four children (aged 5-15) travel for just £1 each with a paying adult.

Fancy visiting these castles?

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