We saw some amazing castles on our trip, but none was as majestic or gorgeous as Dunrobin Castle in the Highlands of Scotland.
Anyone who knows me or reads this blog, knows that I'm a huge Disney fan. Dunrobin Castle looked like it had to be the inspiration for something Disney. It just didn't feel real with its brilliant blue turrets, stately gardens and panoramic views of the Dornoch Firth on the North Sea. We even visited on a rare sunny day, only adding to the surreal quality of Dunrobin Castle.
Parking is free and admission to the castle is ten pounds. Dunrobin Castle was one of the best admission fees spent on our entire vacation. Photography is prohibited inside of the castle, but we took a few snaps in the entry hall.
The self-guided tour of the interiors took approximately an hour. As you can see in the above pictures, trophy animals were a big part of life at Dunrobin. We saw a ton! What was interesting, is that the animals all had plaques notating the hunter and kill dates. Many of the animals were hundreds of years old.
Dunrobin Castle has been home to the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland since the 13th century. It has suffered damage over the years, including fire damage during the first World War when it was used as a Naval Hospital. The castle has since been restored to its former splendor and it was opened to the public in the 1970's. The furniture and artifacts on display are set to reflect Dunrobin Castle during the Victorian era.
After the tour of the castle interiors, we headed out back to check out the gardens. The exteriors of the castle facing the sea make just as big of an impression as the front entrance to the castle.
My favorite picture is this one.
On our way down the castle steps to the gardens, we encountered a cat sprawled across a giant leaf enjoying the sun.
The kitty was very friendly and let us pet her.
The gardens were completed in 1850 and they were inspired by the Palace of Versailles in France. We entered through a secret side-gate.
Behind the gardens, on an expansive lawn, Dunrobin holds an afternoon falconry show. We arrived early to watching the birds prep for the show. Some of them were cooling off in sprinklers. It was a rare, very hot day in Scotland. The weather actually tricked me into thinking I was back in Southern California.
The falconry show was awesome.
Andy Hughes, the falconer has worked at the castle for many years and has raised several of the birds in the show. I've seen many bird shows at zoos and wildlife parks, but this was the very best. Hughes has an obvious connection with the birds and a love for his job. In return, the birds showed him a lot of respect and seemed to enjoy participating in the show. They were given free reign to fly across the castle grounds and would swoop over the crowds when Hughes enticed them with "chicken nuggets" (baby chicks).
Dunrobin Castle is an absolutely must-see Historical Landmark in Scotland. It's worth the drive and is easily a half-day attraction. Clink the link below for official information and current operating hours.