Welcome to the ancient seat that the Scottish Dukes and Earls of Atholl called home, nestled in the verdant expanses of Perthshire. Blair Castle is one of the most beautiful castles you can visit in Scotland, with stunning architecture and manicured gardens.
There are several fascinating historical stories associated with Blair Castle, involving notable figures like Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie – but those are only the tip of the iceberg. The Castle itself is a bounty for exploration, offering 30 rooms on display that are filled with period furnishings, artwork, and architecture that take you back to the 18th century.
Outside, the peaceful wooded grove surrounding Blair Castle is a magnificent option for a picnic or to explore, with plenty of local wildlife visiting the high arce walled garden at Blair Castle. We will be breaking down the history of Blair Castle, how to get there, and the attractions you need to watch out for!
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History of Blair Castle
In the late 13th century, Blair Castle started as a lone tower built by the Lord of Bachenoch, John I Comyn. Its location in the Grampian Mountains made this estate especially beautiful and ideal as a hunting lodge, a fact that can be today with nearly 175 pairs of antlers spread throughout the Victorian Ballroom.
The estate and lone tower were passed over to the Early of Atholl, who incorporated the tower into a castle. The Earldom of Atholl and Blair Castle, along with it, was handed to several earls throughout time until 1457, when the title was passed to John Murray. The Earldom has remained within the Murray family ever since.
During the 17th century, when the Murrays supported the Royalists during the War of Three Kingdoms, the Castle was assaulted by Oliver Cromwell in 1650 for a time. Once Charles II was restored, the Earl of Atholl was elevated to a Duke instead. This fascinating history continues and includes the Jacobite Cause in April of 1689.
The Castle was a staunch player in the Jacobite Rebellions, with Castle being besieged during the later portions of the Rebellions. As the story goes, Blair Castle was held until the historic house members of the Castle were close to starvation, when the Jacobites had to tackle the Battle of Culloden and left the siege unsuccessful.
Cutting to the mid-1800s, Queen Victoria visited the Castle with Prince Albert. After this visit, she gained permission for Blair Castle to establish the Atholl Highlanders, a private army that would defend Blair Atholl and Blair Castle.
Since then, the Castle has been handed over to a Scottish trust and remains a beautiful attraction with an intricate history. Undoubtedly, Blair Castle is one of the most exciting Scottish castles you can visit during your trip here.
How to Get to Blair Castle
Blair Castle was frequently called the gatekeeper of the Highlands thanks to its prominent location within the Grampian Mountains, but don’t let that title fool you – the Castle is highly accessible and easy to reach via car or public transportation.
If you’re travelling by car, driving up the A9 from Perth is the most direct route to Blair Castle and should take you about 45 minutes, depending on how busy it is.
You can expect a similar travel time if you’re using public transportation, with ScotRail directly connecting Perth and Blair Atholl, from which it’s a short jaunt over to Blair Castle itself.
Attractions at Blair Castle
Blair Castle is a beautiful attraction in Blair Atholl at the foot of the Cairngorms National Park, with surprising activities to enjoy during your visit. If you want a detailed guide on what to do while exploring Blair Castle, you’ve come to the right place! But first, here are some important details to know before you arrive:
Entry into Blair Castle costs about £5 per booking, and opening hours are from 10:00 – 17:00 (last entry is at 16:00). Blair Castle is open during April – October when the Scottish summer shines.
Now that’s complete, here’s what you can look forward to while exploring this sublime attraction in Blair Atholl.
Explore the Castle Grounds
Blair Castle’s beautiful bleach-white walls are certainly eye-catching when contrasted with the picturesque green landscape that surrounds it. Ensure you take advantage of the opportunity to visit Blair Castle Gardens and the surrounding grounds.
The Hercules garden features a beautiful 9-acre walled garden, complete with an orchard of fruit trees, a vegetable patch, and several 18th-century statues that give the area a genuinely Gothic feel – the Gothic folly does help give that impression.
Walking along the grounds and across the Chinese bridge is a fantastic way to pass a sunny Scottish day.
Enter the Cairngorms National Park
Blair Atholl is at the southern tip of the magnificent Cairngorms National Park. This famous nature reserve is home to some of Scotland’s very best Munros, wildlife centres, and many other attractions. The Cairngorms offers plenty for everyone, from those who want to enjoy a night or two of wild camping or to see the surrounding towns.
While the Cairngorms National Park’s main attractions are a round trip from Blair Castle, there are still many incredible places hidden away in the nooks and crannies of the park that warrant exploration, including waterfalls, wildlife parks, and hiking routes.
Visit the town of Blair Atholl
The nearby town of Blair Atholl is ripe with activity for those who want to dive into the culture and history of Perth and Kinross. Guests can look forward to visiting the Atholl Country Life Museum, which records how those who lived in Blair Atholl survived and thrived before the Industrial Revolution. There’s also the Falls of Bruar for nature lovers, a picturesque waterfall that concludes a hike through the Grampian Mountains.
If you plan to explore more of the Scottish Highlands, of which Blair Castle has been the gatekeeper since ancient times, then a visit to Blair Atholl is worth it.
See the Adventure Playground & Red Deer Park
A portion of the Castle Grounds we haven’t mentioned so far is the adventure playground and Red Deer Park since they require a separate honourable mention for visiting Blair Castle as a family. The adventure playground is perfect for your young ones to tucker themselves out while the grown-ups savour a delicious dram of whisky looking over Blair Castle.
The extensive deer park is also a notable attraction, with a herd of Scottish red deer that families can enjoy as they rush through bountiful grasses within the National Park.
Stop by St Brides Kirk
The ruins of St Brides Kirk are among the finest that grace the Castle Gardens. St Brides Kirk serves as the final resting place of Bonnie Dundee, who was one of the fiercest leaders of the Jacobites. Bonnie Dundee is based on the 1st Viscount Dundee, who was integral in leading the Jacobite Rebellion against William and Mary.
You can find the Castle slightly northeast of the Castle itself, and the mighty ruins you see are likely a reconstruction of the site that was made in the 1500s, with the original St Brides Kirk’s history going back much earlier in Scotland’s history.
Enjoy Blair Castle’s Interior
Last but certainly not least is the very interior of Blair Castle. Entrance to Blair Castle’s interior comes with the ticket office purchase you made to enjoy its grounds, so take advantage of it. From the classic Georgian styling to the building itself to more than 30 rooms that are on display within, you can honestly spend an entire afternoon immersed in the history that Blair Castle has to offer.
One favourite highlight within Blair Castle is its Victorian Ballroom, which boasts over 170 deer antlers from when the Castle was used to entertain as a hunting lounge for aristocratic Scottish and English royalty. The Entrance Hall of Blair Castle stands one of the most impressive and features weapons that were used at the Battle of Culloden.
Walking up the steps of the Picture Staircase, which boasts more of that Georgian styling we mentioned earlier. Also, remember to stop by the majestic Drawing Room, Tapestry Room, and State Dining Room, too – they’re some of the best highlights of the Castle.
Accompanying you on this journey through time is Blair Castle’s audio tour, which immerses and informs about the fantastic history of the site.