Located in the heart of Speyside, Ballindalloch Castle “The Pearl of the North” is one of the few private castles in Scotland that has been lived in continuously by the family who founded it, the Macpherson-Grants.
The lands of Ballindalloch and Glencairnie were granted to John Grant of Freuchie by King James IV in 1499 in reward for his: ‘Good faithful and thankful service in peace and war’. John’s grandson, also named John Grant, started building a castle in the 1540s. The castle was formed in the shape of a ‘Z’ plan, with the living quarters, flanked to the north and south by two high circular towers, each protecting two sides of the rectangle, the Rivers Avon and Spey forming a natural moat to the north and west.
Driving up to the castle, we were wondering, just like many before us, why John Grant did not build his castle upon higher grounds. If there is a reason, then, we have not been able to find it. However, there is a legend that could deliver an explanation:
“John Grant ordered his stonemasons to construct a castle upon the hill, but more than once a new dawn would find the foundations turned to rubble and lying across the bed of the River Avon. Eventually John Grant determined to keep a night time vigil upon his fledgling castle, only to find himself and his stonework swept off the hill by a mighty gust of wind sweeping down from the rocky tors of Ben Rinnes, accompanied by a demonic voice imploring him to build his castle “on the coo haugh”. So it was that Ballindalloch Castle came to be sited upon the ‘cows’ meadow’ running alongside the banks of the River Avon.”
The Gardens in Ballindalloch are magical. The Rivers Spey and Avon run through the estate, where fishermen from all over the world enjoy the “Fisherman`s River”. The cattle that graze in the grounds are descended from the herd first started by Sir George Macpherson-Grant in 1860, and are now the oldest surviving bloodlines of Aberdeen Angus in the world - truly majestic animals.
On 16th April 2015, Ballindalloch Distillery was officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay. The distillery follows traditional distillation principles, which means that there is a lot of skill involved and that touring the distillery takes us as close as possible to the fine art of producing Scotland’s gift to the world.
The tearoom offers delightful light refreshments and we were given a warm welcome by the very friendly staff throughout the estate. Visiting Ballindalloch Castle & Gardens is a wonderful and personal experience for the whole family.