Get hitched or honeymoon in a Scottish castle

Get hitched or honeymoon in a Scottish castle

Always dreamed of living happily ever after as lord and lady of the manor? Well never fear, that fantasy can be more reality than you think with these romantic Scottish castles…

Ackergill Tower

Unspoilt, untouched and exclusive, Ackergill Tower - overlooking the coast of Wick in the Scottish Highlands - is like a venue straight from a fairytale, complete with its own private beach. And for those wanting to get the full Monarch of the Glen experience, this former stronghold is for hire - all 17+ bedrooms of it! Ideal for a wedding, wedding party and honeymoon wrapped up in one neat package. It's even accommodated for celeb guests, such as former Take That heartthrob Gary Barlow, Top Gear presenter James May and our personal fave: Professor Brian Cox. Well, if it's good enough for them…

Doubles from £249pn. To hire out the entire venue for 24 hours, prices vary dependent on numbers. Visit www.ackergilltower.com to enquire.

What else to do? Between Easter and the end of October, head to the Wick Heritage Museum - a must-see for any rainy day. Here you'll discover all there is to know about the surrounding Neolithic/Bronze Age settlement. Opening hours are 10am-3.45pm, Monday to Saturday.

Dundas Castle

Once a frequent stopover for Oliver Cromwell, Dundas Castle is now an intimate stately home, available for private rental. Built in 1818 by the renowned Scottish architect, William Burn, it is now owned by Sir Jack and Lady Stewart-Clark who are more than happy to share its delights with newlyweds. And it's just a stones-throw from Edinburgh, meaning you can also take advantage of the city's many offerings. When you're sick of the hustle and bustle, the castle will still be waiting for you at the end of the day.

Exclusive hire of the 15th century auld keep, the main house and the pavilion marquee starts from £4,600 per day. For more information on packages and discounts, see www.dundascastle.co.uk

What else to do? See the best of the big city in one fell swoop with Edinburgh Bus Tours. There are six different routes to choose from and prices start from just £13pp. 

Balfour Castle

Never mind having a bog-standard castle: how about having your wedding or honeymoon in the world's most northerly island castle? The Balfour Estate, on the tiny isle of Shapinsay, Orkney, is a fortress filled with romance and mystery - bursting with hidden corridors and secret passageways, masked by ancient bookcases. Take a stroll around the castle grounds and you can see four seasons in one day across a seemingly never-ending sky. The island is renowned for its sheltered bays that once gave safe harbour to Viking long-ships, but now accepts private charter vessels that will ferry you and your beau from the mainland.

Balfour Castle is only for exclusive-use, for dinner or overnight stays. Prices are available on request via www.balfourcastle.co.uk or 01856 711 282.

What else to do? Get in a flutter at Mill Dam, an RSPB centre on Shapinsay. This wetland reserve not only gives sweeping views across the Orkney Islands, but is also home to breeding birds such as pintails, waders, black-headed gulls and the enigmatic water rail. Entry is free but charitable donations are welcomed.

Duns Castle

If it's grand architecture, secluded surroundings and Celtic authenticity you're after, then this Scottish hideaway should do just the trick. Located in the parkland of south-east Scotland, the 14th century Duns Castle is as traditional as it gets. It even has an in-house bagpiper! The estate doesn't shy away from the modern either, with outdoor activities including croquet, tennis, falconry, fishing, archery, clay pigeon shooting and off-road driving - all on offer for you and your new spouse.

Castle bedrooms start from £95pppn and include a full Scottish breakfast. Visit www.dunscastle.co.uk to book. Wedding packages are available from £800.

What else to do? Head just 16 miles east to Berwick-upon-Tweed, a quaint seaside town. Despite its close proximity to the castle, it is actually just over the Scottish border in Northumberland. Its sandy beaches are still long and beautiful though - regardless of which country it's in.

Aldourie Castle

Turrets, towers and tranquility. You and your new spouse are free to roam 500 acres of land at Aldourie Castle, or even scour the shores of Loch Ness for the mythical beast supposedly hiding within. The opulent stronghold is just five miles from Inverness but seems to exist purely in a world of its own, nestled on the south bank of the famous loch. With its tree-lined driveway, orangeries and bridges - not to mention the opportunity to go sailing on the calm waters it overlooks - Aldourie is the embodiment of a magical, romantic getaway.

Prices are available on request from www.aldouriecastle.co.uk

What else to do? Chase dolphins in Moray Firth. The Scottish bay is one of the best spots in the UK to see bottlenose, as well as harbour porpoises and even minke whales. To find out more, see www.moraydolphins.co.uk

Balmoral Castle

Can't afford to stay in a castle? Why not visit one instead? Aberdeen City and Shire, or "castle county" as it's known, is home to over 300 stone fortresses meaning there's plenty to choose from: from arresting cliff top ruins to grand strongholds. And one thoroughly sumptuous bastion is Balmoral Castle - one of The Queen's Royal residences. Set among 49,000 acres, it has abundant flower and vegetable patches, as well as forests that conceal red deer and other wildlife.

The Royal holiday home is open from 1 April until 31 July, 10am-5pm. Entry is £11 for adults; www.balmoralcastle.com

Where to stay? The charming Mill Cottage in Kirriemuir - around 53 miles from Balmoral - offers a cosy self-catering option with a private garden and waterfall from £85pn. 

Image courtesy of VisitScotland/ScottishViewpoint. See www.visitscotland.com

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