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Aberdeen area and Glasgow for November

Me and my two 30s aged son and daughter are flying into Aberdeen 7 Nov 2023 and departing via Glasgow 16 Nov. We will visit Braemar Castle area, but looks like the management has been renovating it for some time now. Has anyone in the area learned more about when they will take visitors? We are going to honor my late husband’s wishes to see the castle which was locked when we (a family trip) stopped there in 2014. His grandfathers ancestors are connected to the Farquharson clan. We will rent a car in Aberdeen for a day to go there. Our prior Scotland trip was all over the Highlands and Skye and a stay in Edinburgh, so we want to explore other areas this time.

We stay 3 nights in Aberdeen, then take a train to Glasgow and spend 6 nights there. A few questions:

What train routes do you recommend Aberdeen>Glasgow central city where we will stay—close to central station? Mind you this is mid-November. I’m concerned about limitations the season will bring. Timing of trip has to do with my kids work schedules.

I want to take a couple day trips from Glasgow (been to Oban and Loch Lomond) without renting a car. What sorts of historical sites might be open? My son is interested in attending a football game so some tips about that for foreign visitors will be appreciated too.

Tips, comments, advice are much appreciated!

Posted by
1376 posts

Hi, Shannon travels,

If Braemar Castle is still closed later this year, had you thought about the possibility of visiting Invercauld House, which is a large castle about two miles outside of Braemar. It is the current seat of the Farquharson family. I don't know if it's open for tours, but the gardens are.

If you contact the house and explain your ancestry, they may be willing to give you a tour. It doesn't hurt to ask.

All of the trains from Aberdeen to Glasgow Central or Glasgow Queen Street travel through Dundee, Perth, and Stirling.

If your son is planning to attend a football match (it's a match, not a game), he should avoid wearing sectarian colors if the match is in Glasgow. That would be blue for Glasgow Rangers and green for Glasgow Celtic. Matches are on Wednesday nights and Saturday mostly during the day.

Daylight hours are pretty short in November, especially as it gets later in the month.

That is wonderful that you are honoring your late father's wishes. My mother's ashes are scattered in Aberdeen.

Very best wishes for your travels.

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
260 posts

According to the Braemar Castle website the plan is to open in July of this year. The best thing to do is contact the castle management direct and ask them. If the castle is not open perhaps someone may do you a special tour. Who knows?

www.braemarcastle.co.uk

You might want to think about staying in the Royal Deeside area if your interests are Braemar, rather than fifty miles away in Aberdeen. It's an easy drive along the A93 and you could stay in nearby Ballater or even in Braemar itself. The area is very pretty even out of season and a car would give you access to some fine walks and any tourist attractions open at that time of year, such as nearby Royal Lochnagar Distillery

https://www.malts.com/en-row/distilleries/royal-lochnagar

Some smaller accommodation providers may be seasonally closed but a trawl on a site like Airbnb would give an idea of availability. There are a couple of hotels which might suit as well.

www.crerarhotels.com/balmoral-arms

www.thefifearms.com

Posted by
1620 posts

It is probably worth contacting the castle to see if they can accommodate a visit. There is a possibility of this given the circumstances but is no where guaranteed as October is the end point of the season for most places outwith the central belt.

For the football match, if your son wants to attend in Glasgow the Old Firm tend to sell out (Celtic and the other one) quickly and have a lot of season tickets. They can also be uncomfortable places as a neutral to attend. If he does want to attend, I would suggest a match that involves neither of them, and definitely avoids Old Firm derby matches. Queen's Park, Partick Thistle, St Mirren, possibly out to Motherwell, Greenock Morton, or Hamilton Academicals is probably better. Or switch to rugby as Glasgow Warriors play at Scotstoun and the stadium is relatively easy to get to.

Posted by
1376 posts

Hi, MC,

"Celtic and the other one." Love it!

Your mention of the other teams reminded me of that Billy Connolly line where he said that for years he thought that Partick Thistle Nil was the name of the team.

Do the Spiders still play their home matches at Hampden? If so, that would be a great place for Shannon's son to not only see a match, but also to visit the Scottish Football Museum.

A' the best,

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
26484 posts

I don't know what things will be like in November; mine was a summer trip. I enjoyed these two side trips from Glasgow:

Inveraray Castle: Actually, I liked the gardens (iffy in November, I would guess), but my travel mate spent most of her time inside and was impressed. There's bus service that gets you perhaps 1/2 mile from the castle. I bet the castle website is more precise. The buses aren't frequent, even in the summer, so check the schedule carefully.

Helensburgh: This attractive town is probably visited primarily for The Hill House, a Charles Rennie Mackintosh masterpiece; check to be sure it's open before heading out. There's train service from Glasgow. Check Google Map; I think one of the stations is quite a bit closer to The Hill House, though there's still something of a walk. The other station is closer to the center of the town. It seemed a nice place to have lunch. I think The Hill House was available on a 2-for-1 deal at the time of my 2019 visit; you had to fill out a form and show a train ticket to Helensburgh.

I used nationalrail.co.uk for train schedules and travelinescotland.com for buses. I saw some inconsistencies in the travelinescotland rail schedules.

If you're not sure the Mackintosh architecture justifies an out-of-town trip, you can see several examples of it in Glasgow. These are three of my favorites:

  • The Hunterian Art Gallery has a recreation of the family home.
  • The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has an extensive exhibition
  • The House for an Art Lover is another example of a large residence designed by Mackintosh (and his talented wife). There's a 2-for-1 deal for this sight if you can show train tickets to Glasgow. You have to print out a paper voucher ahead of time to take advantage of it. I think that's a general requirement now, so it would be a good idea to take a look at the list of 2-for-1 sights before the trip and print any vouchers you might possible use.

I have a vague recollection of getting a 2-for-1 deal at a Scottish sight that wasn't on the published 2-for-1 list--perhaps The Hill House. So it wouldn't hurt to hold on to our inbound train tickets and ask.

Posted by
4999 posts

All trains from Aberdeen arrive at Glasgow Queen Street. It's only a short walkable distance from Central, or there is a free inter station bus. There are a number of hotels on George Square straight outside Queen Street.
Both stations are very, very central.
Everywhere is walkable.
Buchanan Street Bus Station is just up the hill from Queen Street.
For Hill House Helensburgh Upper (on the West Highland line) is much closer. That has infrequent service- there is one about 0820, 1035 (to Oban) and 1220 ish from Queen Street. The other two are to Mallaig.
The afternoon trains back are 1440 and 1700.
All tickets to either station are valid to both. So the best advice is go to Upper, then walk back down the hill to Helensburgh Central for the half hourly train back afterwards (a 1 1/2 mile walk, give or take). That train goes all the way to Edinburgh and drops you at the Low Level platforms at Queen Street.
Upper is a basic unstaffed halt, Central has all facilities.
There are taxis at H Central, but not at Upper.
Its a steep hill so definetly walk down it, not up it!

Posted by
1620 posts

@mike, lol

Queen's Park used to play at Hampden, they used to own Hampden until 2020 when the Scottish FA bought it. Before that Queen's Park were the owners and the SFA the tenant.

They now ground share with Falkirk whilst Lesser Hampden next door is developed as a new stadium for Queen's Park. At the time the SFA bought Hampden there had been some talk of them sharing the SRU's national stadium at Murrayfield in Edinburgh. This however likely just to get the price knocked down, or to get Glasgow City Council or the Scottish Government to dip into their funds for a 'donation' to keep football's national stadium in Glasgow.

Posted by
1620 posts

Cheers. Only been to Hampden once and that was not for the football. I can speak football, but my national stadium is Murrayfield.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you all for these very helpful suggestions. I’ve emailed the Braemar Castle info link last week. Hope to get a response. If I don’t get one in a couple more weeks I will email the Invercauld Estate to see how best to make contact. I’ve purchased our airline tix $962 each with seat selection. That was multi-city from and back to Detroit, MIchigan. Thought I better snare that rate now from my typical airline.
I do appreciate the advice about the football matches. I’ve shared with my son to do more research.
When do you suggest purchasing football tickets and when to book train tickets?

The advice about day trips is helpful @acraven. Thank you!

What sort of footwear do you recommend for November in Aberdeen area? We are unlikely to do rugged trail hiking, but would enjoy some gently non paved walks. And into gardens, etc in city and towns.

Posted by
4999 posts

Book Train Tickets 11 to 12 weeks out, when bookings open. So in your case that's the 2nd or 3rd week in August. If they aren't open for some reason (most likely a weekend) keep checking. But there seems to be more synergy between Network Rail and Scotrail than in England, so engineering is usually better planned than in England.