Culzean Castle & Country Park
Culzean Castle and Country Park is a 260 hectare estate located on the south west coast of Scotland in the county of South Ayrshire. With a large castle, gardens, beaches, wildlife, woods and trails to explore, Culzean offers so many gorgeous photo opportunities which is why I wanted to write this blog post to show some of my favourite photo spots I have found there.The castle itself is perched right on the edge of the cliff with some beautiful views across the sea towards the Isle of Arran, making this one amazing spot to watch sunset.
I’ll start off by giving you a short version of the castle history. The Castle was built by order of the 10th Earl of Cassilis in 1777. Instructing architect Robert Adam to build a fine country house to be the seat of his earldom. Former President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower has stayed here 4 times, once as president after being given the top apartment of the castle in recognition for his role as Supreme commander of the Allied Forces during World War 2.
So now that I have given you a brief history of the castle I will now like to share with you my favourite photos I have got after a full day of exploring Culzean. I must warn you tho, take some food and water with you as it takes a good bit of time to walk around the grounds and don't make the mistake I done by forgetting food and water, I was exhausted when I got back to the car.
One of the most iconic shots you can get of the castle is to frame it with the old gate wall. This is one of the first spots you will come across during the walk.
Deer and Llamas
Walk 10/15 minutes past the old castle gate wall towards the swan pond and you will come across the deer and llama enclosure on your left hand side.
The Camilla House
The Camellia house was built in 1818 possibly by James Donaldson (pupil of Robert Adam, Culzean Castle’s architect and designer). Originally planned as an orangery with an underfloor heating system, it failed to produce fruit and so simply acted as a conservatory. Camellia flowers were very successful though and gave the house its later name. I read an article on how the building used and old form of underfloor heating, here is a segment from that article. You can read the full article here if interested.
"This original system was a hypocaust system, one of the most ancient forms of heating systems introduced by the Romans more than 2000 years ago.
The NTS excavated Camellia House in 1994 and 1996. They discovered the boiling system was powered by heat from 2 external fires to create warm air which was then distributed underneath the stone-slabbed floor in the house. At the back of the house you can see the steps leading towards a brick arch which would have provided access to the two boiler chimneys.
"How did the steam underfloor heating system work?"
In the late 1800s or early 1900s a steam heating system using cast iron pipes was installed to replace the old system. Steam heating systems were invented by William Cook in 1745 in England. The system that was removed here contained a furnace to create the steam in the boiler house and cast iron pipes which would have been used to distribute hot steam under the flooring. In the 1994 excavation diagram shows the area a boiler house at the back where the fire arch is and a water collection area can also be seen because to make steam we need water."
The Monkey House / Pagoda
Situated along from the swan pond is the Pagoda.
At the top of the tiered pagoda the Cassillis family would have taken tea, while various creatures would have lived beneath sort of like a zoo/exhibition. At one time it was an aviary, at others it was lived in by swans, but the most exotic inhabitant was a monkey- it is known locally as the Monkey House.
Stairway to the Beach
After about a 10 minute walk from the back of the pagoda you will come across a stunning wooden stairway that takes you down to the beach. The best time to see the sunset from this location would be in October where the sun will line up perfectly with the stair.
The beach at Culzean is very clean with nice soft fluffly sand and a good few rocks that can make for some interesting foreground. The shoreline is pretty rocky and can be fun to explore, I walked along the shoreline and found some Oyster Catcher birds and the Culzean Castle Dungeons/Caves.
Culzean has a wide variety of wildlife to see, but one in particular that caught my eye was the oyster catcher, mainly because it kept swooping and circling my drone, but also because they look slightly similar to a puffin, and i was thinking that was going to be the closest I would get to a puffin this year. But thats going to be a whole other blog post.
The Culzean Dungeon/Caves
The Culzean Castle caves tucked under the foundations pre-date the fortress above and, staggeringly, likely have origins from the 9th Century, the caves are cut into the rock directly beneath the castle and still stand in hauntingly ever-lasting condition. The following is from an article by Travelswithakilt.com:
"What appears certain is that the Culzean Castle caves were used as a smuggling hideaway in the 1700s, whereby contraband from the Isle of Man was brought ashore and clandestinely stored along the Ayrshire coast. It seems unlikely that this carry on could be conducted completely unbeknown to the castle occupants and there may have been some dodgy deals done to the benefit of all. Tax avoidance at its best. Dubious as it may be though, this is a positively cheery period in the caves’ history compared to its other, darker, presumed chapters."
drone shot of the coast looking towards Ailsa Craig. I have a video on youtube of me and some friends sailing out to Ailsa Craig and climbing to the top of it. Click here to go watch it.
So that brings me to the end of my blog post. This took me quite a time to try and write, I'm very new to writing blogs so I hope you guys take it easy on me haha, if you have any recommendations on how to improve my blog posts please drop me a message on instagram.