Welcome to Drumlanrig Castle, affectionately called the ‘Pink Palace’ and found in the heart of Dumfries and Galloway. Drumlanrig Castle is a gorgeous example of 17th-century Renaissance architecture, with an imposing facade that dominates the landscape around it. The surroundings are as beautiful as the Castle, boasting views out to the Ninth Valley, which inspired the First Duke of Queensberry to build his ancestral home here.
Drumlanrig Castle is one of the highlight attractions within the region, filled with history, stunning scenery, and lots of hidden gems to keep an eye out for. We’ll be covering all of that and more right here, so when you arrive to see this beautiful Castle, you’ll know exactly what’s going on. Let’s dive right into it.
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History of Drumlanrig Castle
The pretty pink palace you see today is only the latest version of a castle that once stood for several centuries. Drumlanrig Castle’s history starts in 1357, being built by the Douglas family of the time. They were granted the lands by Robert the Bruce, whom Sir James Douglas accompanied.
The Castle would not last long, however, and was destroyed in 1575 because the Douglases supported Mary, Queen of Scots. The exiled Queen once stayed in the Castle in 1563, one of many notable historical figures that Drumlanrig Castle has seen.
By 1617, Drumlanrig was restored or rebuilt as James VI stayed within the Castle during the same year – an impossibility if the Castle was still destroyed. While it was slightly demolished during a Cromwellian force in 1650, the modern Castle overlooking the Nith Valley that can be seen today was built between 1679 and 1691 by William Douglas, 3rd Early of Queensberry. William held the title of Lord Treasurer of Scotland, a humourous coincidence since it is said that he placed the astronomical bills for Drumlanrig Castle within a chest and a note that read, “The Devil pick out the eyes of anyone who looks in this”. The chest has never been opened.
After it was built, supposedly after a single night of staying at the Castle, the 3rd Earl of Queensberry decided they did not like it and moved back to their home at Sanquhar Castle the following day. But Drumlanrig Castle would not remain unseated for much longer, and the Earl’s son, James, transferred his lodgings and seat of power to Drumlanrig Castle after the Earl’s death and Sanquhar Castle was left to ruin.
Drumlanrig became the Douglas family home and blossomed with people when the Douglases merged with the Buccleuch and Montagu families. Art pieces, furnishings, and artefacts throughout Drumlanrig Castle hold many bits and pieces of history involving these families and weave an illustrious history throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. During this time, Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed at this new Castle and Queensberry estate in 1745.
Bonnie Prince Charlie and his men sacked a portion of the Castle, slashing a painting of William of Orange. In 1810, the Castle was passed to Scott Dukes of Buccleuch and restored in 1827. The property is still owned by the Duke of Buccleuch, who holds several titles, including the Earl of Buccleuch, Sanquhar and Dalkeith, and Viscount Nith, Torthowald and Ross.
How to Get There & Details to Know
Drumlanrig Castle can be found in Dumfries and Galloway and sits between the bustling city of Glasgow and Dumfries. Drumlanrig Castle is open throughout the year, although specific days and weeks can be closed, so ensure you check out the Castle’s website before you book online or arrive.
The Castle is generally open from 11:00 – 15:00 on weekdays and 11:00 – 16:00 on weekends, with the hiking trails available from 7:00 – 19:00 all year round. Prices for a full tour of the Castle, entering the Gardens, the Adventure Playground, and more can be found throughout this article.
How to Get There by Car
Drumlanrig Castle and the surrounding Queensberry Estate can be found just off the A76 (Dumfries to Kilmarnock), which is 17 miles north of Dumfries.
The castle is signposted from the M74 (J14 southbound) and A702 at Abington and Elvanfoot – an hour away from Glasgow.
Once you approach the Castle, the car park is on your right. For the Gardens and Adventure Playground, please turn left and follow the road down the hill. The entrance is on your right, and a £2.50 car parking charge applies.
How to Get There by Transit
There are a number of buses which take you to Drumlanrig Castle from major towns around the castle like Dumfries, Ayr, Glasgow, and Edinburgh.
The 246 bus service from Dumfries to Ayr has one stop that drops visitors off right at the Castle’s entrance, although there’s no service to take you into the Castle itself.
The X74 bus from Glasgow takes you Cumnock, from which you can take the aforementioned 246 bus.
The 101 bus from Edinburgh takes you to Thornhill, which also connects directly to the 246 bus service line.
Attractions at Drumlanrig Castle
Dumlanrig Castle holds several fantastic attractions within the Dumfriesshire home and country estate that surrounds it. Drumlanrig is also open to hosting private events, including weddings, corporate events, and filming locations. Drumlanrig Castle has played host to series like Outlander.
Here are the main headlines and other attractions that you can expect when you visit Dumlanrig Castle.
Enjoy a Guided Tour Through Drumlanrig Castle
The best way to experience the history of Drumlanrig Castle is with a guided tour. Let Drumlanrig Castle’s experienced guides immerse you in the fascinating history of Drumlanrig, with particular attention to the world-famous items within.
A castle tour takes 75 minutes to complete, bringing all that makes the Pink Palace famous to the forefront, including the renowned art collections and grant interiors. Ticket prices for Drumlanrig Castle tours cost around £18 for adults and £9 for children. You can book online, with the last tour taking place at 16:00.
Here are the highlights of the Drumlanrig Castle tour to look forward to.
The Buccleuch Collection
The crown jewel of Drumlanrig Castle is undoubtedly the Buccleuch Collection. This outstanding collection features several fantastic historical artworks, tapestries, and furniture.
The art collection even includes Rembrandt called “An Old Woman Reading”, one of a kind and stunning to behold. The paintings offer a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the history of Drumlanrig Castle, but that’s only some of what the Buccleuch Collection has to offer.
The collection is renowned for its French furniture and silver as well, particularly a pair of silver cabinets that were made by a 17th-century French master by the name of Andrew Charles Boulle. The Grand Drawing Room brings the spirit of Louis XIV to life, along with a number of incredible tapestries, fabrics, and porcelain. The art collection is unrivalled in Scotland and one of the best things to look out for during your tour – if only they had Robert the Bruce’s silver casket amongst them!
Walk Through the Castle Gardens
Dumlanrig Castle boasts over 40 acres of perfectly manicured foliage, with exquisite garden features that will brighten up your day. The country park is ideal for both people who are significant horticulture fans or want to explore the expansive gardens.
The Castle Gardens contain a rich diversity of plant life, each offering an olfactory or visual experience to enjoy, especially in Spring and Summer. The gardens also feature a number of splendid attractions to visit, including a 183-metre Long Terrace Walk, restored Victorian glasshouses, a restored Victorian Rock Garden, and the stunning Rhododendron Collection.
Entrance into the Victorian gardens of Drumlanrig costs £8 per adult and £6 per child (although children under the age of 5 have free entry.
There’s just as much to look forward to within the large Castle Gardens as there is within Drumlanrig’s interior, so remember to pay it a visit.
Play on the Adventure Playground
If you’re planning to visit Drumlanrig Castle with children, then make sure to stop by the Adventure Playground. This activity-filled part of the castle grounds has many things to do; your kids will be spoilt for choice!
From climbing on top of the wooden structures, sliding down slides, and even zipping across the Adventure Playground on a zipline, this is the perfect end to a tour of Drumlanrig Castle – especially if your children need to let off some energy after a 75-minute tour.
The Adventure Playground costs £8 for adults and £6 for children, and children under 5 can enter for free! And if you plan to visit multiple times during your holiday, Drumlanrig Castle also offers a seasonal pass to get your money’s worth!
Take a Hike Around Drumlanrig Castle
The 40 acres of grounds that are located around Drumlanrig Castle are ideal for hiking and walking, and Drumlanrig has laid out many superb trails for you to undertake — here are our favourites:
Follow the yellow markers down Arwen’s Trail, a 3.2-kilometre trail that takes you along the path carved from the 2021 Storm Arwen. Arwen’s Trail is one of the more strenuous waymarked walks visitors can take from Drumlanrig Castle and climbs up Mount Malloch. Trailblazers can see the first of the Douglas firs, a giant Sequoia tree, and Andy Goldworthy’s “Leaping Arches” along the way.
The trail ends with spectacular views of the Castle and gardens, making the arduous climb all the more worthwhile.
A Turn Along the Marr Burn
Blue waypoint markets mark the Turn Along the Marr Burn and take you along the picturesque waters of the woodlands. The sounds of rushing rivers and streams are everpresent along this trail, with lovely historical attractions.
Keep an eye out for the Victorian-built St Geoffrey’s Bridge, Andy Goldsworthy’s set of sandstone arches, and the turbine house, which used the flow of the waters to produce electricity – fascinating! This is the lengthiest trail at Drumlanrig Castle, spanning 4 kilometres of magnificent woodlands.
To Beech Loch and Back
As the trail describes, this short excursion covers 2 kilometres to Beech Loch through shaded woodlands. While all of the trails at Drumlanrig Castle are dog-friendly, this is perfect for pups who want a bit of casual exercise before tagging along for the next big attraction.
The trail leads past the intimidating Montagu Bridge and heads along the Beech Loch, with distinct views of the fantastic mountains that surround Drumlanrig Castle.
Pick up a Souvenir at the Gift Shop
It’s easy to fall in love with the grandiosity of the Pink Palace, and short of coming back to visit this prestigious building, the next best thing is to pick up a souvenir from the Castle’s gift shop! The gift shop at Drumlanrig Castle has a number of things for sale, including local food, precious jewellery, Scottish arts and crafts, and gifts to take home with you.
The gift shop is open to all visitors of the Castle, so take advantage of the opportunity to grab your next favourite souvenir here.
Indulge at the Castle Tearoom
Walking around the Castle courtyard, hiking through trails, and taking a through Drumlanrig can leave visitors hungry and thirsty. Luckily, the Drumlanrig Castle tea room is open for business during Castle hours and provides a wide selection of tasty foods and drinks.
Much of the food served has been made from local produce, offering a culinary trip through Dumfries and Galloway that you can’t enjoy anywhere else. Throughout the afternoon, visitors can enjoy a tea shop that serves small hand foods like cakes and sandwiches along with local teas on offer. Complete your trip to Drumlanrig Castle with a bite to eat at the Castle Tearoom.
Visit the Castle Stableyard Studios
Drumlanrig Castle is home to a number of small, artisanal businesses that reside on the premises. Located in the Castle Stableyard, where there were once bakers, poultry, and a plumber to service the Douglas family, now sits various adorable local businesses just waiting for customers.
Visitors can rent a bike to explore the Castle Gardens, enjoy a class of yoga, or buy a number of bespoke items, with the full knowledge that they’re supporting local businesses, too!