Places to Visit in Scotland
- Culzean Castle, Ayrshire
Understandably one of the most popular properties of the National Trust for Scotland, Culzean (pronounced Cul-lane) Castle and Country Park is above a cliff on the Ayrshire coast overlooking the estuary of the river Clyde. The Kennedy family established a tower there from the 12th century and an L-shaped tower house was built in the 1590s. But it was not until the 18th century that the wealthy family, now known as the Earls of Cassillis, engaged Robert Adam to design a splendid castle, both inside and out. And to add to the wonders, a 565 acre parkland surrounding the castle was designed by Alexander Nasmyth and two pupils of Capability Brown.
The castle was built in stages between 1777 and 1792. It incorporated a large drum tower with a circular saloon inside (which overlooks the sea), a grand oval staircase and a suite of well-appointed apartments. The National Trust have retained a large selection of beautiful furniture, armour, weapons and paintings and although photography is not allowed inside the castle, a conducted tour is well worth while.
When Culzean Castle was given by the Kennedy family to the National Trust in 1945, they asked that part of the castle should be given to General Eisenhower for his lifetime, as recognition for his role as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. There is an exhibition showing his connection with Culzean and his visits to the castle.
Outside, sheltered by the castle, there are extensive gardens with a wide range of plants and shrubs. The Adam-designed home farm has been converted into a Country Park visitor centre with a restaurant and shop and the woodlands are a maze of pathways which take you to cliff-top walks, a Swan Pond, a walled garden, a deer park, an old ice house and drifts of wild flowers. You can also get down to a beach, overlooked by the castle. It is little wonder that many people make return visits to this enchanting location.
For a longer description of Culzean and its country park (including lots of video slide shows!) see Scottie's Diary
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