SLAINS CASTLE: A Journey Back In Time

On the first day of 2015 we welcomed the New Year in from the highest hill in Aberdeenshire.

On the first day of 2016 we welcomed the New Year in from the shore of Aberdeen beach.

When it came to welcoming in 2017 we travelled back in time!

How can you travel back in time, you might ask? Well, to celebrate the millennium 17 years ago, I was in a pub in Aberdeen called Slains Castle so this year I thought let’s go to Slains Castle! However, it wasn’t the ‘pub version’ of Slains Castle we went to…

What is Slains Castle?

Slains Castle is a ruined castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland overlooking the North Sea from its cliff-top site 1 kilometre east of Cruden Bay. It’s a ruined castle so it has a huge history but the most exciting part of it’s history for me is that in 1895 the author Bram Stoker visited the area, staying at a cottage near Cruden Bay, and he may have been a guest at Slains so the castle is commonly cited as an inspiration for Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula.

How exciting! Something different to do on the 1st January other than nurse a hangover and it also satisfies my newly found ‘abandoned places exploration‘.

We set off early so to try to catch the sunrise from the castle but the it became obvious quite quickly that the clouds/rain/snow/sleet had other ideas but that was fine – just being at the castle would be good enough.

It’s not too hard to find and it soon became visible on the horizon…

Slain's Castle

There’s a small car park nearby and you can just walk to the castle. There’s also a small ‘road’ that you can drive further up and it takes you up to the castle. Beware though as this road is basically one big pot hole!

Unlike other castles in the area, Slains Castle is technically a ‘building at risk’ and has no safety measures in place whatsoever so if you do go – take care! When we arrived there was a man playing with a drone – we either scared him off or pissed him off by turning up so early and ruining his fun because he left quite quickly. This was good for us though – it meant we had the entire castle all to ourselves and it was awesome!

Slains Castle

The sky was changing from blue to grey every other minute but it was quite cool seeing the sun trying to come through. I’d imagine on a really stormy day up there my imagination could just run wild.

Greg doesn’t have much of an imagination but he does a good job of looking at stuff…

Slains Castle

It’s such as shame that this once beautiful building has ever been allowed to simply go to ruin. We decided to walk around the perimeter before venturing inside. The castle literally sits on the edge of a cliff so again – take extra care!

Slains Castle

The view looking out to the North Sea was stunning and the sea was actually pretty calm too. Being able to witness the castle perched on the edge of the cliff was amazing…

It is possible to walk all the way around but Greg went up ahead, stopped, had a ponder and decided it could end in disaster if we carried on that way…

Slains Castle

He asked me – did I really want to fall down this…Slains Castle

Not really – but I was quite happy to stick my foot out and take a photo…

Slains Castle

Before we walked back around and got inside – ‘It’s Selfie Time’ I said to Greg (who hates selfies) and he replied ‘okay but first let me get one of you with the sea in the background first’. Great idea I thought…

Slains Castle

It was quite windy but I could swear he kept telling me to go further back – honestly, anything to get out of having a selfie taken!

I didn’t plunge to my death and we did take a selfie…

Slains Castle

Once we got inside there was so many areas to explore and lots of little windows to look out at the view…

Although it’s ruins, wandering inside the castle walls is quite safe and as usual it looked like a lot of the previous visitors had ‘little parties’ and decided not to take all their rubbish with them. There was a little room that was quite dark but luckily I’ve got the smarts and had taken my torch


This room that appeared to be ‘party central’ looked like it had once been some kind of pantry with a fireplace and lots of storage areas built in the walls.

Wandering around further inside I couldn’t help but wonder about all the history contained within the walls…

When then discovered a little spiral staircase that went up and also down. I imagine if you went up it would take you up the tower but have no idea where it would take you if you went down. A cellar? A dungeon? A crypt? Either way judging by looking out the nearby windows at our current position…

…going further up or down in the dark while we were so close to the edge of the cliff wouldn’t have been my best idea ever so I just took a photo of the stairs instead…

Slains Castle

So, it was back outside to take more external photos of this amazing location…

I’ve mentioned a couple of times already that if you do visit here that you need to take extra care while near the edges as there’s been various incidents over the years – made apparent by the floral tributes…

Slains Castle

It’s also a known fact that you can’t be inside an old castle without having your picture taken whilst waving from behind a little window…


…or why stop at a photo when you can have a video…

As a parting shot before Greg left to go back to the car as he couldn’t feel his face anymore I got under the arch of the ‘house that I will buy and renovate when I win the lottery’…

Slains Castle

…well I can dream can’t I? Greg liked this idea and so we got a selfie in front of our new home…

Slains Castle

I’m a bit selfish and needed a selfie of just me and the castle…


I then went back to the car to discover Greg was reading up about all the history of Slains Castle so he could fill me in on the way home – isn’t he kind?

Slains Castle

Me – on the other hand, I wanted a final photo with some crows on it so started screaming and kicking up the stones on the ground making the crows fly away (and Greg almost shit himself)…


Finally, once he let me back in the car and we began to drove off we stopped the car and I got out (willingly, not asked to leave) to take one last photo…

Slains Castle

This was a fantastic experience and a great way to spend the 1st January 2017!

What about you? Have you ever visited Slains Castle or any other abandoned places? What did you do on the 1st January to welcome the New Year?

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31 thoughts on “SLAINS CASTLE: A Journey Back In Time

  1. Hello Steve,
    Just ran across your blog. Great photo’s. I have been researching Slains Castle ever since my wife read the book Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. Very good read because lots of it takes place in the castle during its hay days. One interesting fact is that rhe reason it is in ruins is that the owner took the roof off so he wouldn’t have to pay the taxes on it. I guess that was the law in Scotland at the time. I guess it was abandoned at the time and if the building had a roof, you had to pay the tax. We live in the US and have visited several places in Scotland but not Aberdeenshire where my ancestors came from
    but we plan to visit Cruden Bay in the future. Thanks again for the photos. If you havent looked, there are lots of video’s on YouTube of Slains Castle.


  2. Hi Steve, wonderful share! My first day of the year spent being sick.

    By the way I notice you are using headings for your body text, which is design wise is a bad thing. You should use paragraph p tags and then increase the font size, thanks.


  3. What a great way to start the year! Great pictures, I like places like this one, that have something mysterious.


  4. What a great place to visit. Could have sworn I saw something eerie in some of those photos, but it’s probably my blurry vision. 👀
    Happy New Year to Greg and you. Looking forward to reading more of your adventures in 2017.


  5. Great images. That place looks like it has some atmosphere.
    I spent most of New Year’s Day waiting for my son to show up so we could watch Rogue One. Turned out he was too wrecked from the previous night to even text me to let me know he couldn’t make it.


  6. Looks very cool, great photos! Love that the arch and towers are virtually still intact. Can’t believe you didn’t venture down a few steps though! (Clearly I’m not as sensible as you!!)


    1. Thanks. I’ve not even fannied about editing them yet to make them look all dark and scary yet. Now, imagine I’d went down the stairs and there was a big hole down to the cliffs and boom no more photos lol

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Those pictures are beautiful! It looks like such an awesome place. I wonder what kind of pictures the guy with the drone got, because i bet they would look amazing as well.


    1. Thanks, yeah I felt bad for him. For like a second then I got over it lol. I’ve always fancied a drone thing and now they seem to be cheaper and easier to manage. Maybe Santa next year will bring me one 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My husband keeps saying he wants one, but they are rather pricy. We got a go pro last year and that has been fun.


      2. I’m sure there lower priced ones at under 100 quid these days but that’s still quite pricy if my past flying is anything to go by I.e. Crashed after first attempt 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Looks like an amazing place to visit, Steve, and a great way to start your year. I love your photos. Atmosphere reeking from them. 🙂 Happy New Year to you and Greg. And all the best for 2017.



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