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REVIEW of ATTRACTION 2001
Easter is traditionally the time when Scotlands flowers burst forth into bloom and its tourist attraction's doors burst open to welcome the visitor, from their own self imposed winter hibernation.
The National Trust for Scotland is no different from the others in participating in this annual ritual played out across Scotland. So, it was with this in mind that I took the oportunity of travelling down to Ayrshire to see how Culzean Castle and Country Park had fared over the winter months.
The answer to that simple question/wonder is undoubtedly, very well indeed. This attraction in split into two distinct areas and you can elect at the entrance gate how you wish to spend your time and ultimately your money. The grounds or country park are not free to enter but cost approximately half of a combined ticket if you wish to enter both them and the castle. However, I would lay my cards on the table now and say that you really must try and visit both.
The parklands were one of the first to be designated a country park in 1969 and consist of approximately 560 acres of woodland, formal gardens and areas of historical built environment. There are literally miles of woodland walks and this will let you explore areas such as the Viaduct, the restored Camellia House and a striking Pagoda. In addition to this built environment you can explore the formal gardens with the well laid out fountain court gardens
which lie in front of the castle and the walled garden, which despite it being early spring was already starting to promise for the year ahead.
The other area of the attraction is the castle itself. The property is owned and managed by the National Trust for Scotland who for various reasons do not allow photography of the internal parts of the castle which is a real shame as some of the exhibits are truly magical.
The castle started its life not as a castle but more as a fortified tower which was converted by Robert Adam on behalf of the then Earl of Cassilis late in the 1700's. A lot of Adam's original work was restored by the Trust when the castle was gifted to them in 1945 by the Kennedy family.
Upon entering the castle, I am glad to say you are met by many smiling and knowledgeable guides. The very first room you enter has an unbelievable collection of weapons of bygone days consisting of muskets and swords. The rooms following all have either a different theme or are almost "in situ", where they are laid out as they would have been in bygone days. The most striking room is probably the saloon room, which whilst being one of the barest in terms of exhibits has a superb panoramic view across the Firth of Clyde towards the Island of Arran.
The castle also has quite an extensive exhibition on General D Eisenhower, the allied supreme commander from world war two. The whole of the top floor of the castle (which is now a hotel with six bedrooms), was given to Eisenhower for his private use during his lifetime, in recognition of the nations gratitude to him for his wartime exploits.
There are many other interesting rooms to the castle and combined with the grounds the best part of a day can be spent here by all the family. Once you are bored or its time for the castle to close then you can head for the main town of Ayr, which is approximately 12 miles away, where you will find a large selection of shops, bars, restaurants, hotels etc.
If I was only allowed to recommend one place in Scotland for you to visit during your stay, I would be hard pushed to come up with a better suggestion.
Culzean Castle and Country Park