The first two stops on this section of the trail from Aberdeen are Tolquhon Castle at Tarves and Haddo House near Methlick.
Tolquhon is one of the most picturesque of the castles in the Grampian countryside. Largely built in the late 16th century by the Forbes family, it houses the Tolquhon Tomb, one of the best examples of Scotland’s so-called Jacobean ‘Glorious Tombs’. Don't forget to look for the secret compartment in the laird’s quarters where he hid his valuables.
Haddo is an elegant mansion house boasting sumptuous Victorian interiors beneath a crisp Georgian exterior. Noted for fne furniture and paintings, including artworks by Sir Thomas Lawrence and James Giles, the historic home designed by William Adam also has a terraced garden. Explore the grounds and adjacent country park with its lakes, walks and monuments.
Around 10 miles further west, Fyvie Castle at Turiff is an outstanding example of Scottish baronial architecture. Begun as a simple castle in the 13th century, five powerful families each added significantly to it until it reached its present form. Inside, the magnificent sweeping staircase is the most dramatic feature while many treasures are on display including a superb collection of arms, armour and paintings. You can also stroll around the loch or visit the racquets court and bowling alley.
Heading north on the A947, you encounter a series of enticing properties. Delgatie Castle at Delgaty dates from the 11th century and is steeped in Scottish history yet still has a surprising lived-in atmosphere. It has some of the finest painted ceilings in Scotland. A Best Visitor Experience award winner, the castle also boasts an award-winning restaurant and coffee shop.
Using Banff as your base for the evening, your last stop must be the town's Duff House, one of Scotland's architectural masterpieces. This Adam-designed historic house is a treasure house and cultural arts centre operated by a unique partnership of Historic Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland and Aberdeenshire Council. With extensive grounds and woodland walks by the river Deveron you'll find a day is not enough.