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Classic Castles! A tour of some of the finest castles in Scotland, crafted for the Wallace Award® live auction!

Craigievar Castle

Aberdeenshire boasts some of the finest castles in the country and this 3 day tour takes you to a wonderful cross section of medieval ruins and magnificent stately homes.

The castles reflect the fortunes of Scotland's most powerful families and provide a living backdrop to the history of this important region. The tour is made all the more interesting by staying at Terpersie castle, probably the smallest habitable castle in Scotland, recently restored to its former glory by a friend of mine.

This tour has been created for 2 people and is being offered as a prize at the live auction to be held at the 2014 Wallace Award Dinner in New York.

The Tour

Day 1. We meet at a pre-arranged rendezvous in Aberdeen at 10.00am. Our first visit is to Drum Castle, one of Scotland's oldest Tower houses. Here we will meet David Irvine, Chief of the Irvines, whose family were given the lands of Drum by Robert the Bruce in 1323.

The afternoon will be spent at Fyvie Castle, probably the grandest castle in Aberdeenshire. The charm of Fyvie ranges from its 13th-century origins to its stunning Edwardian interiors. The castle is home to a superb collection of arms, armour and paintings, including works by Raeburn and Gainsborough. Then to Terpersie Castle, the smallest habitable castle in Scotland. The home of my aunt, Kirstie Forbes Daranyi, where we will be staying for two nights.

Day 2. The morning is taken up with a personal tour of Craigievar Castle, which was my family's ancestral home, and is considered one of the jewels in the crown of the National Trust of Scotland. There is something truly unique about Craigievar. It is widely recognised as one of the best preserved and most authentic tower houses in Scotland.

We then cross the Cabrach, one of the most desolate moors in the North East, to the ruins of Balvenie Castle. For over 500 years, it was the formidable stronghold of the great lords who ruled over this part of north-east Scotland. The immensely powerful 'Black' Comyn earls of Buchan built it in the 13th century. When they were forfeited in the early 14th century, because of their alliance with the ill-fated John Balliol, the stronghold passed to the mighty 'Black' Douglases. And when the Douglases too were wiped out around 1455 by James II, the victorious Stewart king entrusted it to a kinsman, John Stewart, Earl of Atholl. It remained with his descendants for the next 250 years.

As no trip to this part of Scotland can be undertaken without a visit to a distillery, we will have a tour of Strathisla distillery in Keith. This is a small picturesque distillery which produces the malt whisky for the world famous Chivas Regal.

Day 3. We start our final day at Crathes Castle, an enchanting property and home of the Burnetts. It boasts wonderful interiors. The furniture is magnificent. Wonderful examples of tapestries and wood panelling. But what really sets Crathes Castle apart are the strikingly painted ceilings. A number of rooms in the castle have ceilings that are completely painted in complex and colourful designs and mottos.

It also has an award winning garden and is an ideal place to have lunch.

Dunottar Castle

To the grand finale. Dunottar Castle, a great medieval fortresses, and the original home of the Keiths, Earls Marischal to the crown.

Scotland has some magnificently located castles. Think no further than Stirling Castle or Edinburgh Castle, both built on top of rocks that allow them to dominate the landscape for miles around. But if we had to pick just one to trust with our lives in a time of great danger then it would without any doubt be Dunnottar Castle. No other Scottish castle comes close in terms of a sense of sheer brooding impregnability. This is a castle which looks across to the nearby coastal cliffs and whose presence, even today, conveys a very simply message: "Don't mess with me."

We then head back to Aberdeen where we bid our farewells with a dram or two!

- The Lord Sempill