My fortnight’s holiday is drawing to a close so today I made the most of the spring sunshine to visit Culzean Castle (pronounced ’Cul-layn’). It was still sunny, but quite cold and fleece jackets and hats were required. In the last fortnight we have had temperatures in Scotland which have been higher than Rome and Athens. But not today, unfortunately.
Today my visit was a round trip of 134 miles. I have covered a large number of miles in the last two weeks but it has been worth the effort for the amount of enjoyment I have received.
Location of the Castle
Culzean Castle is situated on the A719 Ayr to Girvan road and can be reached by bus using the Stagecoach no 60. If going by bus, there is a walk of about one mile from the bus stop, but it is not too strenuous. It can also be accessed by Cycle on Route NCN 7.
There is a well stocked souvenir shop, cafe and plenty of car parking areas. The menu in the cafe was very varied and at very reasonable prices. The Castle is open from 29th March until 28th October, 2012.
Kennedy Family and National Trust for Scotland
Culzean Castle was owned by the Kennedy Family until 1946 when ownership was transferred to the National Trust for Scotland to avoid death duties. It is off the main Ayr to Girvan road and involves a one mile walk to the castle, if using public transport. However it is an easy walk and very pleasant.
President Dwight Eisenhower
The Castle is situated on a cliff top and is part of Culzean Country Park which has an extensive network of paths for walking and mountain-biking. President Dwight Eisenhower had an apartment gifted to him after the Second World War in recognition of his role as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe and he stayed there on a number of occasions.
Designed by Robert Adam
Culzean Castle was developed from a basic tower house to this fine castle by the 10th Earl of Cassilis. He instructed the architect Robert Adam to build the castle as the seat of his earldom.
The castle was built in stages between 1777 and 1792 and includes a grand oval staircase, a circular room which overlooks the sea to the Isle of Arran and well-appointed apartments. Photography inside the Castle is not permitted so I cannot include any photographs of the interior.
I particularly liked the circular room, as the views of Arran were excellent today. Arran is a place I am familiar with as many of my family live there and I spent a large part of my summer holidays on the island when I was younger.
As well as the Castle there are extensive woodland and gardens on the estate. One type of tree many visitors may be puzzled about are the palm trees. These are common on the West Coast of Scotland as it benefits from the warm temperatures of the Gulf Stream, which originate in Florida.
The Isle of Arran was very clear and the mountains of Goat Fell, Beinn Nuis and Cir Mhor were in evidence. The Holy Isle, off Lamlash, could also be seen.
In the picture below (taken at 12x zoom), Goat Fell has the highest peak and Holy Island is on the left. The photograph is so clear that the green of the grass can be seen. I will be going to Arran in May and look forward to the visit.
The grounds of the estate are so big that it would take a few more visits to get round all the footpaths. There was time to get down to the beach to visit the Gas House which supplied the castle with town gas until 1940. It now houses a museum explaining the history of gas.
The tide was out and this allow a walk on the beach to view the Castle from below. The sun was directly over the Castle so it was difficult to view it and also impossible to photograph.
The Castle was used to make the film ‘The Wicker Man’ starring Christopher Lee in 1973.
I managed to walk along some of the paths before making my way back to catch the bus back to Ayr. It had been another enjoyable day.
Ayrshire KA19 8LE
Ordnance Survey – OS Ref: NS232103
Stagecoach No 60 bus from Ayr or Maybole.