The birthplace of Princess Margaret, the childhood home of the Queen Mother, also (less peacefully) the home of Shakespeare’s character Macbeth, Glamis Castle in the Angus countryside is a grand destination. It’s now a tourist attraction privately owned by the Strathmore family. I wasn’t sure if it was cut out for two preschoolers so we set off to put it to the test.
On the approach the first thing that strikes you is … well… the approach. Mr Tot Snr exclaimed, ‘Wow, this is amaaazing’, which is a comment usually reserved for the aisles of Toys R Us. Arriving at the castle we joined a tour, the only way to see the interior. That Saturday it was really busy and it was suggested we join the next tour so that we could ‘enjoy’ it more, to which I looked at my three year old and two year old and laughed – as if any parent of preschoolers gets the opportunity to ‘enjoy’ guided tours. There were about four other kids on the tour, all schoolchildren, so we weren’t alone. A tour is only ever as good as its guide, and our guide Greg was fantastic. He frightened all the kids into silence in the crypt with tales of ghostly card players, he had them counting hundreds of lions in the dining room (cunning) as he explained to the adults how the name Bowes-Lyon came about – when the slightly skint 9th Earl of Strathmore married the wealthy Mary Eleanor Bowes part of the deal was that he took her name. Money talks. Girl power. Meanwhile as we digested this our innocent kids were still counting lions, Greg knew how to trick em!
When we entered the Drawing Room my two made a beeline for a pair of tiny chairs by the fireside which weren’t cordoned off. To little ones they simply screamed SIT ON ME. We instinctively dashed after them to remove our darlings from the seats, instinctively feeling they must have some important historical relevance, only to be told that when Her Majesty the Queen and her sister Princess Margaret visited as children they sat on these very seats. Little royal bottoms perched in Glamis!
In some of the rooms, such as the Sitting Room, it did feel quite homely, as if time had stood still. Images of the Queen Mother were dotted around. After an hour of the tour Mr Tot Jnr began to kick off. Overall we felt he’d done well though we didn’t realise we were in the penultimate room so Greg radioed for an assistant (as you can’t wander around the castle unaccompanied) and we were set free without any shame. Overall I rated our experience as Greg entertained kids, informed and engaged adults, and released those with tiny tots who’d hit their limit. The older children seemed to easily handle things.
The cafe had a children’s menu including Mull cheddar sandwiches, sausage and mash, and penne pasta with tomato sauce. Service was quick and we had a casual lunch before hitting the grounds.
The estate is vast and elegant. Whilst the little ones ran off energy, myself and Mr Husband had a relatively civilised walk in the sun. The Italian gardens were immaculate. Then we passed through mature woodland till we reached one of the largest walled gardens I’ve experienced. The gates to the walled garden alone looked like gates to another castle, it’s huge.
The day ended with an solid forty minutes play at the castle’s wooden playpark. With a flying fox and apparatus for mixed age groups, it’s a great wee outdoor kindergym for mini tourists. To see our YouTube video about the playground click here. Whilst visiting a castle is always a bit of treat we spent most of the day there so I’d consider it a good investment.
THE LOWDOWN – We drove from Aberdeen for an hour to reach Glamis, just south of Forfar. Ticket prices can be found here.
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