I have to be honest – I’m insanely jealous of the people who own Cawdor Castle. I first went there with friends in 1995 and from the moment I walked inside, I felt comfortable – it’s one of those places, where you feel that you could just slip off your shoes, and curl up in a chair with a good book and a mug of tea.
We went back there this year, on the return leg of our Scottish Odyssey, this time taking our daughters too.
My youngest daughter has promised to buy it for me, so that when we’re very old, we can retire there – how thoughtful of her!
The husband thinks it’s more of a house than his idea of a castle, and I suppose you could think of it that way, but for me, it’s simply divine.
Now I don’t propose to give you a room by room description of the interior – the late Earl Cawdor, did such an excellent job with the room guides, that it would spoil the surprise. Suffice to say that if you go there, buy the guide-book, you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re studying country house style, then Cawdor would be a perfect place to visit. It seems to sum up everything you’d need to know, if you were wanting to re-create the style. I just love soaking in the atmosphere.
Cawdor has a very good restaurant, (although don’t expect things to happen quickly, just relax and read the guide-book while you wait for your lunch). And just next to the restaurant, is a rather nice little book shop.
The gift shop is definitely a cut-above the average stately home offering. Last time I went there, we bought a plush bat, which now hangs (upside down), in the bell tower at our local church.
This year, we couldn’t find any bats to add to the collection, but there were lots of other lovely things to tickle your fancy. Be strong – or give your wallet to someone else to look after for you – or you’ll find it difficult to get out empty-handed.
Whatever you do, don’t miss the gardens. As with the rest of the castle, the gardens are gorgeous – the sort of thing you’d just love to have at home. Full of inspiration for the gardener. There’s a maze, but they won’t let mere mortals go round it – sad really, but it’s still impressive.
It’s also one of those gardens, designed to have hidden places, you come upon by surprise.
Perhaps best of all, are the walks outside the gardens through the woods. They’re graded and signed, so you can choose the distance that seems right to you, but they’re not difficult, so if you have time, go for a stroll. Some of the trees are huge and there’s a river running through, which you cross and re-cross by a variety of bridges.
If you’re hoping for a Macbeth experience, it’s probably going to disappoint you. The castle wasn’t built for years after Macbeth died, and it doesn’t really go over the top on the connection at all.
However, if you’re interested, there are some fascinating pieces of artwork, dotted about the place. I think the late Earl must have been a collector – I admire his taste.
So, Cawdor Castle remains an enormous hit with us and we’re looking forward to our retirement there!