Edinburgh Castle is often lauded as the city’s greatest tourist attraction, pulling in thousands of international visitors through its centuries-old gates.
But now, a New York Times travel blog has recommended a different fortress for Americans looking for their Scottish history fix.
Craigmillar Castle was listed among the Capital’s top attractions by the paper’s popular ‘36 hours in . . .’ travel blog, which recommended the castle to tourists seeking a less busy and slightly cheaper slice of heritage.
Travel writer Nell McShane Wulfhart described the 14th-century fortress – which serves as a backdrop to widely acclaimed TV drama Outlander – as “surrounded by grassy fields and refreshingly low on visitors”.
She wrote: “It’s a beautifully preserved castle whose original incarnation was built in the 1300s – it grew over the centuries with each resident family making changes. Ramparts and arrow-slit windows offer fabulous views all the way to Edinburgh Castle.”
The blog featured Nell spending 36 hours in the city, taking in some of its best-known attractions as well as some of its best-kept secrets and endorsed The Sheep Heid Inn in Duddingston Village for a post-visit tipple, alongside more established tourist attractions, including the National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish Parliament.
When asked about her choice, Nell told the Evening News that the secluded setting of the castle – which can count Mary Queen of Scots among its past guests – meant it was the perfect off-the-wall attraction for visitors.
“I don’t think anyone needs to be told to visit Edinburgh Castle – it’s already the biggest tourist spot in the city,” she said.
“I always like to include things that are off the beaten track and I’d heard about another castle in Edinburgh before so I’d decided to go and explore it. It’s a beautiful area that’s only just on the outskirts of the city, so it’s an amazing opportunity for tourists to get out of the centre and get some fresh air while exploring part of Edinburgh’s past.”
The castle was built in the 14th century and is suspected to be the place where the murder of Lord Darnley – Queen Mary’s second husband – was arranged in the late 1500s.
It fell into ruin in the late 18th century and has been under state care since 1946.
A spokesman for Historic Scotland, which operates the castle, said he was delighted with the international recognition.
“It’s great that Craigmillar Castle’s praises are being sung by the likes of the New York Times,” he said.
“The feedback we get from visitors to the 700-year-old castle is always the same: that it’s a ‘magical’ place, which offers a unique countryside retreat feel, even though it’s just a few miles from Edinburgh city centre.
“Of course, we’d always encourage visitors to the city to explore both of its castles and whilst in Edinburgh they may also want to visit some of our other great sites such as Holyrood Abbey, Trinity House Maritime Museum, and even Holyrood Park.”