A Culzean Castle Guide

culzean 

moneysaving tip: If you find the entrance fee a bit expensive, consider upgrading to National Trust annual membership, or visitor passes - both can be good value if used well. Another idea would be to buy entrance for just the castle grounds and not the castle itself, as the grounds will keep you pretty busy for most of the day. Bring a picnic - there are picnic tables and plenty of grassy areas to lay a picnic rug.

A movie location for 'The Queen'  this stunning Scottish National Trust property is in South Ayrshire near the ancient town of Maybole. For more information please check this forum thread: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-...

Twenty minutes drive south from the ancient market town of Ayr on the West coast of Scotland is Culzean Castle and Country Park (pronounced cullayn). It is a true gem in the crown of the National Trust for Scotland. You can easily spend the whole day here and not get bored for a moment.

The castle itself clings precariously to a cliff, has amazing vistas out across the firth of Clyde towards Arran and looks stunning. Budding photographers will be salivating at the sight of it. Visit for family picnics, barbeques, feeding the ducks and swans in the swan pond, beachcombing and stopping to poke about in the rock pools and caves.

Great fun can be had at the regular summer events, such as battle re-enactments, Shakespeare on the lawn, silver bands, jousting, classic car rallies, open-air concerts, craft fairs, pond dipping and nature walks with the rangers and more. The Burns and a’ That Gala Concert and festival,  which in 2005 was headlined by Lou Reed and the Scottish Symphony Orchestra, was top class and an unforgettable experience in the fountain garden, topped off with a breathtaking fireworks display organized by the same people responsible for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay effort. The Burns and a' That Festival takes place at various venues in and around Ayrshire each spring and is a showcase of local, Scottish, British and International talent in music and the arts.

This year 2008 (Aug 21-24th) sees the inaugural International Heritage Motor Festival Culzean Autoclassica - http://www.culzeanautoclassica.com/7....  

There are also a few good quality gift shops, a restaurant, cafes and ice cream booths dotted around the estate, where you can buy many local Scottish delights, including haggis to take home and try if you dare!  Currently doing a roaring trade is their second-hand bookshop, which originally had a wee corner in the Home Farm buildings, but has expanded to the degree that it now has a dedicated premised all of its own. For those of you interested in collecting books, there are often some gems to be unearthed in this Aladdin's Cave.

The castle has an interesting history, and houses an apartment that was gifted to General Eisenhower as a ‘thank you’ from the British people following World War II. Originally build for the Kennedy’s, it maintains strong links with both the Eisenhower family and the Kennedy clan. Culzean’s other attractions include an adventure play park near the beach, lake walk, aviary, deer park, ice house, gas house, orangery, ancient vinery, walled garden, home farm, tea shop, plant sales, and an audio visual guide about the castle and geology of the area (with stunning views of Ailsa Craig, the huge volcanic plug just off the coast).

Many people will be familiar with the building as it has been used as a location for quite a few movies and TV dramas, a famous example being the original ‘ Wicker Man’ where the castle was used as the grand residence of Lord Summerisle.

In summer there is a refreshment kiosk at the swan pond, where you might like to linger a while, and perhaps sample the local speciality Arran Ice-cream with flavours to make your mouth water, before heading up the hill to the fabulous castle and further to the deer park and home farm centre. Don't forget to bring a camera.  Whatever time of day it's photographed, and in whatever light, the castle makes an impressive picture for your holiday album.

Most people will prefer to drive into this vast property and enter at the main gate, where you can also get a map to the vast estate, though it is possible to get there by bus from Ayr  - There is a combined ticket for entrance to the castle grounds and the castle itself, or you can just pay for the castle grounds only.  The annual Scottish National Trust membership is good value and well worth considering if you are likely to visit more of their properties during the year, or the properties of the National Trust of England and Wales, all which can be entered free of charge by members. If you are coming to Culzean, then really would recommend you bring a picnic and make a full day of it.

Check out the website: www.undiscoveredscotland.com for more great tips!

Oh, and be sure to visit the Home Farm Courtyard for its lovely cafe (tea and scones!), plant sales, gift shop, and the nearby second hand book shop which is fast becoming something of a mecca for book-lovers and has been moved to much larger premises. 

Home Farm Courtyard 

Culzean Castle Home Farm Courtyard 

Culzean Castle through the ruined arch 

Culzean Castle through the ruined arch