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Aberdeen City & Shire

Castle Fraser, Garden & Estate

One of Scotland’s largest tower houses, with an impressive portrait collection

Things to do

School visits

We welcome school visits at Castle Fraser. For more information, please see our Learning pages.

Venue hire

With its wonderful turrets, balustrades and gables, Castle Fraser is a perfect venue for fairytale weddings and corporate entertaining. For larger wedding receptions and corporate events, the castle’s extensive grounds offer many opportunities for marquees and outdoor activities. For more information please see our venue hire pages.

Nature spotting

Fantastic five at Castle Fraser, Garden & Estate

Castle Fraser has a long tradition of open water on the estate, dating from when the flight pond was created for duck shooting. Since those days, a wide range of species has settled in, including an important collection of damselflies and dragonflies. Here are our top wildlife species to try and spot when you’re out exploring our trails. Each has a ‘how easy to see?’ rating, a fun fact and a top tip for when and where to look.

Common blue damselfly

The common blue damselfly is found at the flight pond of Castle Fraser. It’s just one species in an assemblage of damselflies and dragonflies, which is the envy of sites elsewhere. For extra points, try and spot the northern blue damselfly – this is similar to the common blue but distinguishable by a spade-shaped marking on its upper abdomen.

Fact: Common blues eat insects from vegetation that grows alongside bogs and ponds.

How easy is it to spot? MEDIUM
Common blue damselflies are easy to see in the summer months, but can be tricky to tell apart from other blue species.

A close-up shot of a bright blue damselfly, resting on the ground.

Badger

Badgers are the great excavators of the estate. They dig burrows called setts, which can be multi-level and complex. Badger cubs arrive in April/May and soon begin playing with their siblings and foraging for themselves. At this time, or even later in summer, it’s actually possible to see them in daylight. The striking white forehead stripe can make them difficult to see in the undergrowth.

Fact: The badger is Britain’s largest land predator.

How easy is it to spot? MEDIUM
Badgers are present all year round and are most likely seen at dawn or dusk.

A large adult badger walks along a woodland leafy path, straight towards the camera.

Otter

Seeing an otter is an unforgettable experience. Perhaps because they’re semi-nocturnal and they tend to hide underwater when we’re around, we feel privileged to get a glimpse of them. Otters are playful creatures, something in addition to their cute appearance that endears them to us. At Castle Fraser they’re very much in evidence near the pond. Look for a slight movement on the water surface as they glide through it, ears flat on their head. Their eyes are set very high up on their head, so most of it can be underwater.

Fact: Otters eat frogs and small fish; in murky water, they can detect prey with their very sensitive whiskers.

How easy is it to spot? MEDIUM
Otters are present all year round – look on tussocks for their spraint (poo), which is distinctive with visible fish bones in it.

An otter sits on a grassy river bank, facing the camera so we can see its long whiskers. It has brown fur with a pale throat.

Four-spotted chaser

Because of its areas of still water, Castle Fraser’s Flight Pond is attractive to one of the most delightful dragonflies to watch. Despite its name, the four-spotted chaser has eight spots – two on each of its four wings. This grey-brown dragonfly sometimes appears gold, and likes to survey its surroundings from preferred vantage points again and again. Get close enough and you’ll appreciate the way the fore-edge of its wings are flashed yellow.

Fact: Sometimes a four-spotted chaser’s wings can rattle if it is defending its territory.

How easy is it to spot? EASY
Four-spotted chasers are often seen during the summer months.

A close-up of a dragonfly resting on a twig. Its four wings are held out to the side, and it has a fairly short black and yellow body, with a forked tail.

Long-tailed tit

Long-tailed tits add something special to our young broadleaf woodland in winter. These birds hang and pivot like acrobats. Their passage through the leafless trees can leave the viewer breathless, as groups move from tree to tree in search of scarce food. They have been known to come to bird feeders too, to supplement their diet. Thanks to their endearing appearance, long-tailed tits are often found on the winter pages of nature calendars.

Fact: In snow, they huddle together for warmth.

How easy is it to spot? MEDIUM
Long-tailed tits are present in winter.

A long-tailed tit perches on a spiky-looking branch in a tree. It has a little round body and a long black and white tail.

Walks here

Alton Brae Trail (access to Flight Pond)

Difficulty
Easy – the path is unsurfaced with some slopes.
Distance
1½ miles (2½km)
Facilities
Car park; café; shop; toilets

Miss Bristow's Trail

Difficulty
Easy – the path is unsurfaced with some slopes.
Distance
1¼ miles (2km)
Facilities
Car park; café; shop; toilets