It’s no wonder the Kennedy family maintained a castle at Culzean from the 12th century onward. Sitting on the edge of a sheer cliff in Scotland, Culzean Castle is about as impressive as it gets.
From the cliff’s edge, Southern Scotland’s awesome parkland estate looks out over the Firth of Clyde to Arran, and Clyde is one gorgeous river! With farming flourishing next to ornamental gardens, you get a fairly good idea of how the leisure and everyday activities of life on a great country estate connect. (Culzean is one of Scotland’s first Country Parks.)
The elegant castle, after several facelifts, is a late 18th century, phantasmic dream come to life. The visitor’s center is in the updated, home farm buildings. Go there first and pick up maps, watch a video, get oriented to another way of life, and check out wildlife pamphlets. (The grounds are large, and you’ll definitely want the free maps!)
From there, walk a few minutes through the castle arch straight to the castle. Culzean overlooks a luscious lawn bordered with herbs on one side of the fountain court. High ocean cliffs are on the other side. The entire feel is deliciously medieval. The oval staircase, with its tiers to classical columns is completely unique.
Culzean’s clock tower is in front by the circular carriageway, which was originally the family coach house and stables. The clock was added in the 19th century—apparently the need for more precise time measurement occurred then. The State Bedroom and Dressing Rooms are filled with typical mid-18th century furnishings. This includes a gentleman’s wardrobe from the 1740s—quite a find.
Travelers and local Scot’s alike enjoy coming to Culzean Castle. It’s a great spot for a stroll around the grounds or a picnic in the woods. You can go to the beach and relax or have tea and cakes at the estate. If you feel like skipping the castle altogether, go for it! The Country Park is worth exploring on its own. If you want the full experience, you can stay at Culzean on the top floor where a few gracious rooms have been set aside for guests.
Just a short drive, 3 miles, from the castle grounds are the generous remains of Crossaguel Abbey, a monastery that was founded in 1250. The gatehouse is solid, and you can climb up to the top. Explore the cap house and walk right onto the battlements. It’s absolutely thrilling.
Culzean Castle is Scotland’s most popular landmark property. The country park, and its 563 acres, hearkens back to a different time, several different times, actually. To go there is to fall in love with the untamed woodlands, the trails, and the sumptuous gardens that support the castle. The walled garden, an herb garden, the deer park and flowers frame the past with perfection, and it’s all there to delight in right now.