Culzean Castle and Country Park in South Ayrshire has long been a popular destination for tourists since it passed into the ownership of the National Trust for Scotland after the Second World War.
Although nearly a quarter of a million people visited the cliff-top castle last year, the Trust has now unveiled plans to “massively boost” tourist footfall at the estate, near the village of Maybole.
At a time when the charity faces a squeeze on its income, it regards Culzean as one of its “priority properties” and ripe for investment.
Under the proposals, the entrance area at the estate will be redesigned to let people know they are entering “one of Scotland’s grandest heritage treasures”.
The trail network surrounding the Robert Adam-designed castle will also be expanded in an attempt to attract more outdoor enthusiasts.
Elsewhere, swathes of the historic landscape will be reinstated and A-listed buildings will be preserved so as to be “better appreciated”.
Simon Skinner, NTS chief executive, said: “Nowhere can compare to Culzean Castle and Country Park – its location, the stunning castle and collection, abundant wildlife, woodland walks, glorious gardens and coastline all combine to create somewhere outstanding and irreplaceable. It is a place that simply has to be experienced.
“This is the first instalment in a series of developments that will put Culzean back in its rightful place as one of Scotland’s heritage superstars, attracting visitors from near and far.”
Mr Skinner added: “Putting money into our properties and attracting more visitors is a key focus for the trust over the next few years.”
The plans have a strong commercial element. Improvements will be made to the estate’s Fountain Court area so that it can host large-scale events and concerts. The funding will also go towards a new treetop play area for children in the castle grounds.
The trust is investing £17m to improve facilities and the visitor experience at Culzean, Newhailes and Brodie Castle. Its plans for more properties are set to be announced in the coming months.