The following morning, I’d never been more grateful to have the heated seat the lady at Avis gave use with our 4×4!
The temperatures had plummeted overnight and, hopping back into the car, I can’t tell you how nice it was to not be sitting in freezing leather seats as we made our way up towards Aberdeen.
We had really only one stop on the way and that was in Crathes castle. Having the Avis car though meant having flexibility and so we made a quick pitstop (it was on the way, to be fair), at Fettercairn (which is a small village we were introduced to the night before at the hotel).
Over at Crathes castle, we decided to make the most of the castle ground by Go-apeing through it. 😀 I’d always considered Go Ape to be something of an adult playground (even though clearly bigger kids can get involved too) but it always starts off as something of a reminder that I need to exercise more. 😄
I’d only ever done Go Ape once in the past for a friends birthday but very quickly seemed to get the hang of things (for instance when you’re climbing up, push yourself up with your legs – don’t pull yourself up with your hands, which is ironically the same rule for doing Italy’s many Via Ferratta and even ice climbing in Canada).
We swung from tree to tree, crawled in nooks and ziplined through the castle grounds, all the while competing against each other to see who could complete it all with great finesse! (*Spoiler alert – neither of us did, you can check out our Instagram stories to see what we were like 😀 ).
Go-Apeing in Crathes castle turned out to be a really great way to have fun and work up quite the appetite so once we were done, we headed over to the café for a quick bite to eat before making our way to the castle itself.
Crathes Castle is a Scottish beauty and not least so because of its beautiful colour themed gardens…
We started off our visit with a quick jaunt around the garden, weaving through rather delightfully smelling flowers, making the most of the last of that summer sunshine before winter set in.
You could already see as you wandered through the gardens though that autumn was slowly starting to set in as the colours changed and made the gardens even more whimsical.
The castle grounds and gardens are definitely worth setting aside the extra time to explore when you do visit!
Eventually, we made our way inside the castle to go check it out properly.
There’s sooooooo much history behind the castle – something you’ll have no problems exploring as the volunteers and staff here regale you with tales from the castle’s centuries-old history while you make your way through the rooms.
From the outside, the castle looks somewhat unassuming, kinda like it would be bare inside but don’t let that fool you for a second, there’s so much going on inside and it’s a beautiful labyrinth of stunning Scottish architecture, design and history.
^ Recognise anyone in that photo above? 😉
Again, rather than regaling you with the long history of the castle (I wouldn’t be an expert on it anyway), check out the official National Trust Scotland website for the castle here for more details. The castle is also about 30 – 40 minutes away from Aberdeen so be sure to visit when you’re in or around the city.
We spend a fair bit of time here, wandering and taking in every single view available from the castle before finishing up with a dram of Scottish whisky in the ‘main living room’ of the castle. (None for Lloyd though – who got to take his home instead as he was on driving duties that afternoon! 😁)
With that, we hopped into the car and headed over to Aberdeen, where we’d initially planned on spending a bit more time in but having thoroughly enjoyed Crathes castle (and being totally enthralled and carried away by it), we actually ended up arriving in Aberdeen late in the evening with very little time to do much else but head out for dinner and drinks.
To be fair, I’d visited Aberdeen before so there wasn’t as much pressure to explore this time but I’d happily head back up north again anyway to explore the city’s many sights. 😀
Our hotel in Aberdeen was the brand new Sandman Signature hotel and was my favourite hotel of our trip thus far.
Even from the main reception area alone, I just fell in love with the design of the place.
Then you’ve got the rooms and their huge ceilings (which I absolutely love), which make you at home straight away!
As you might already know, I’m also a sucker for exposed brick so the bathroom was just right up my street, especially with that gigantic shower (thanks to the rather high ceilings in this hotel).
For dinner, we headed over to the adjacent Chop Grill & Bar, a restaurant/bar that’s very unlike what I’d ever seen in Aberdeen before.
In the past, the restaurants and indeed bars I’d seen or visited in Aberdeen were a lot less ‘shiny’ and this spot looked like it would be perfectly at home with the shiny bars of London or Manhattan.
Shiny or not though, the main thing you’re here for is the food and it did not disappoint at all. We started off with some hard lemonades (cocktails) and a charcuteries board, before really starting with Tennessee Hot chicken (remember these?) for Lloyd and buffalo wings for myself (I have a reignited obsession with buffalo wings these days).
For mains, I went for a steak, while Lloyd went for the chicken and ribs (which I insisted on tasting, strictly for research, of course… 😉)
I moved on to Caipirinha cocktails while Lloyd stuck to the tart but refreshing ‘hard lemonades’ before finishing off with a sticky toffee pudding for myself and a white chocolate cookie for Lloyd.
And with that, we decided to call it a night and indeed, a wrap on our little road trip across this part of Scotland!
Mini breaks like this exploring places that felt familiar (like Scotland) but have so many amazing hidden gems are trips I absolutely love. It’s so great mixing the familiar with something new and having the flexibility that comes with having a car is why road trips are increasingly a feature of how we travel more and more these days! 😀
Plus, with that relatively short Flybe flight back home, we were back in London by 9am the very next morning (we left Aberdeen for London the very next morning – the airport is like 14 minutes from the city centre and the drop off with Avis literally took seconds 😁 – gonna miss those heated seats though), leaving the whole day free (which is not something I’m used to on our return flights back home) so this was a huge bonus! 😀
If you’re heading up this way, feel free to message us on Instagram or even via email to ask any questions you might have about doing any of this or indeed, about road tripping in Scotland. 😀