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This post is an ultimate guide to visiting Ballindalloch Castle, including Ballindalloch Castle History and Ballindalloch Castle Opening Times.

Ballindalloch Castle 

You've got over 2,000 castles that you could possibly visit in Scotland and here's why Ballindalloch Castle should be one of them.This beautiful castle is located in Banffshire on the shores of the River Avon in Scotland. With almost 500 years of history and lovely gardens, Ballindalloch castle is often referred to as 'the pearl of the north'.The castle is situated just off the North East 250 route, so whether you're visiting as part of your NE250 road trip itinerary or whether you're only coming to visit the castle, you will find all the information you need right here.This post covers all the need to know information about Ballindalloch Castle before you go, allowing you plan your own trip to visit the castle.

This blog post covers:

Where is Ballindalloch Castle and how do I get there?

Ballindalloch Castle is located in Banffshire in Scotland; 14 miles north-east of Grantown-on-Spey, and 21 miles south of Elgin. It is situated between the Cairngorms National Park and Elgin.

The easiest way to get to the castle is by car. If you don't have a car, I would highly suggest renting a car, especially if you want to do the North East 250 or do more sightseeing around the area.

  • By car - From Aberdeen city centre, it takes around an 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to the castle by following the A96. From Inverness, it also takes about an 1 hour via the A9 and A95. From Glasgow or Edinburgh, it takes approximately 3 hours via the A9.

There's no option to go by bus or train as there's no bus stops or train stations near the castle.

Ballindalloch Castle in relation to Aberdeen, Elgin and the Cairngorms National Park.

Ballindalloch Castle History

  • The Ballindalloch and Glencairnie grounds were granted to John Grant of Freuchie by King James IV in 1498.
  • John's grandson, also named John Grant, built a castle on the grounds in 1546. During this time, the north of Scotland was rife with clan feuds and oppression by the Scottish and English Monarchs. Therefore, the castle was originally constructed as a fortress and also, a family home in the shape of a 'Z' plan. The Rivers of Spey and Avon created a natural moat and the entrance was guarded.
  • In 1645, royalist forces under the command of the Marquis of Montrose looted the castle, set the interiors on fire and caused the Grants to flee. However, within the year the royalists were defeated and the castle restoration work started.
  • In the 1700s, additions were made to the castle, gardens and grounds including alterations to the rose garden, a two storey southern wing was added, and a further wing to the north was added.
  • In 1829, a large thunderstorm sweeped across the Cairngorms, causing the normally stable rivers to burst their banks. The garden wall did a decent job at protecting the castle from the flood for a little while but it eventually gave way and water rushed against the ground floor of the castle, filling the vaulted passages and the gardens were covered in four feet of sand.
  • The impact of the thunderstorm caused the Macpherson-Grants to make changes to the castle. Between 1848-1853, work began on transforming the castle from a tired fortress to a modern Victorian mansion.
  • In the 1960s, Sir Ewan Macpherson-Grant added bathrooms and the north wing was taken down due to dry rot. Furthermore, Sir Ewan's daughter, Clare Russell modernised the public rooms in the 1980s.
  • To this day, the castle still remains the family home of the latest generation of Macpherson-Grants.
Ballindalloch Castle.

Ballindalloch Castle facts

1. Ballindalloch Castle has been home to the same family, the Macpherson-Grants, since it was built in 1546. Twenty-four generations of the family line have now lived in the castle.

2. Ballindalloch is the place where Aberdeen Angus cattle were first bred. You can see the cattle grazing in the fields on the castle grounds.

3. The owners of the castle built Ballindalloch distillery on the estate and production started in September 2014. You can visit the distillery and go on tours.

4. Apparently, the castle was meant to be built in a different location, one with more of a defensive positioning. However, anything that was built on the site during the day was knocked down at night. The laird heard a mysterious voice saying "Build in the cow haughs, and you will meet with no interruptions." So, he moved the castle to the position it's currently in and there was no further problem with the build.

5. The dining room at Ballindalloch is said to be haunted by a ghost known as "the green lady".

Ballindalloch Castle Opening Times

For the castle, gardens and grounds, the opening times are as follows:

  • 4th April to 28th September, open Sunday to Thursday from 10am to 5pm (last entry is 4pm). Please be advised the castle, garden and grounds are closed on the Friday and Saturday.
  • The castle is closed from the 29th October through to the end of 2023.

No prebooking for the castle, gardens and grounds is required.

Ballindalloch Castle Prices

If you have a Historic Houses membership, then admission is free. For a Historic House annual membership, it is £65 for one adult and £103 for two adults but it will get you access to over 300 historic houses all over the United Kingdom. Definitely a worth while investment if you are going to be doing a lot of exploring around the UK.

However, if you do not have a Historic Houses membership, then to visit the castle and grounds costs:

  • £14.50 for an adult ticket (16-64 years)
  • £12.50 for a concession (65+ years and unemployed)
  • £8.00 for a child ticket (7-15 years)
  • Free for child under 6 years old
  • £30.00 for a 2 adults, and up to 3 children family ticket

To visit just the grounds costs:

  • £8.00 for an adult ticket (16-64 years)
  • £8.00 for a concession (65+ years and unemployed)
  • £5.00 for a child ticket (7-15 years)
  • Free for child under 6 years old
  • £17.00 for a 2 adults, and up to 3 children family ticket

When is a good time to visit?

The castle, gardens and grounds are only open from the start of April through to the end of September. Any of these months are a reasonably good time to visit as hopefully the worst of the Scottish weather should be behind us by April.

There's pros and cons for visiting in Spring, Summer or Autumn. In April, May and September, the weather should be starting to get a bit better and it'll be less crowded. In June-August, it'll be busier but the weather should be hopefully quite a bit warmer and sunnier. The gardens and grounds will also be full bloom at this time.

Rock garden at Ballindalloch Castle.

Should I visit as a day trip or as part of the North East 250 route?

If you live in or close to Aberdeenshire or the Cairngorms National Park, then you could visit Ballindalloch Castle as part of a day trip. However, if you are going to be travelling from further afield, then you will probably want to stay over and spend a couple of days here exploring the area as it's a long way to come to just visit Ballindalloch Castle.

If you have at least 4 days, you could also consider doing the North East 250. The North East 250 is similar to the North Coast 500 but as the name suggest it's half the number of miles. The North East 250 is a 250-mile circular route, typically starting and ending just outside Aberdeen. However, you can start and end wherever suits you best. There is loads more to see on the route from hundreds of castles, whisky distilleries and lovely little seaside towns. The route is one of Scotland's best road trips.

North East 250 route.

Where to stay around this area

  • Budget (£0-£75 per night)
★★★★ Haus Alba, Grantown on Spey, UK
Haus Alba is a townhouse located in the centre of Grantown on Spey. Free WiFi access is available. Each room here will provide you with a seating area.
  • Mid-range (£75-£150 per night)
Cardhu Country House, Aberlour, UK
At the heart of the Whisky Trail, Cardhu Country House has leafy gardens and traditional bedrooms with free Wi-Fi.
  • High end (£150+ per night)
Tullich House, Keith, UK
Situated 25 km from Huntly Castle, Tullich House features accommodation with free WiFi and free private parking.

Have you already visited Ballindalloch Castle or did this blog post help you plan your trip? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog post. If it has helped you, please consider subscribing to my blog to be kept up to date with new posts or sharing it to help others!

Kirsty x

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