Kelburn Castle and Country Estate, covering over 3500 acres, is the family home of the Earls of Glasgow. Itís based around a 13th century castle, thought to be the oldest castle in Scotland continuously inhabited by the same family. Originally the family name was de Boyville but was changed over the years to Boyle. They were a Norman family who came to Britain in 1066 and to Kelburn in 1140.
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There is no record of the first construction of a stone building on the site. The Norman keep was built c1200. In 1581 a larger castle was built by David Boyle, the laird at the time. It had two towers, still standing, on opposite corners. More recent additions include those added in 1700 by the 1st Earl who doubled the size of the building adding a William-and-Mary style mansion house onto the castle at a slight angle and a Victorian wing added in 1879-80.
The estate has lots of attractions for families. Thereís a secret forest with woodland paths, a rope bridge, raised walkways, a crocodile pit and lots of surprises. An adventure course has high walkways, a wire crossing, and rope swings. A fortress style stockade has a 20 foot high tower, slides, and swings.
For the little ones thereís a pets' corner and a playbarn complete with a maze, slides, and dens. Pony rides in a paddock and riding treks for children and adults can be enjoyed. Riding lessons are on offer as well.
Walks take in Kelburn glen with its waterfalls and gorges, woodlands, wildflowers, and views over the islands of the Firth of Clyde. Three walks in the glen are on offer with one having a series of wood sculptures. The gardens are home to interesting shrubs and trees, including 1000 year old yews and weeping larch. A walled garden is another feature in the grounds as is a waterfall pool at the bottom of the glen. Roe deer, voles, peregrine falcons, hen harriers, badgers, otters, and minks inhabit the grounds.
Rangers provide themed guided walks and childrenís activities. The Rangerís Centre has information and displays on Kelburnís natural history. Special events are held throughout the opening months. A falconry centre and museum are also at the site.
Kelburn Castle, Country Centre and Estate
Fairlie, on the A78
Ayrshire and Isle of Arran
Tel. 0 1475 568 685
Open: year round, 10am-6pm except closes at 4pm in winter; check website for up to date information; shop; cafť
Historic Houses Association property
Web: Kelburn Castle, Country Centre and Estate
Visit website for full location details.
Photos as follows, all courtesy Geograph Britain:
Kelburn park entrance by Thomas Nugent
Kelburn Castle by wfmillar
Sanham bridge, 1000 year old yew tree, and castle building in secret forest by Lairich Rig
Walled garden by Railbeart MacAoidh
Kelburn castle gatehouse by Railbeart MacAoidh