At Lickleyhead Castle we stand for green tourism and protecting the environment. We are working to improve our sustainability and we have partnered with Visit Aberdeenshire to achieve this.
We maintain a rich and biologically diverse estate which, though relatively small ( 11 acres), contains a variety of habitats. The majority of the land held by us is native woodland. Locals and guests are welcome to walk through the woods. We have spotted many species among the trees, including the threatened red squirrel. Closer to the castle is a wildflower meadow; a riot of colour during the summer months. Butterflies and bees can be seen in great abundance, fluttering and buzzing respectively. At night time the pipistrelles come out to catch insects and owls hoot in the near distance. Even where it is inconvenient to us, such as when we were re-slating the roof, we have tried not to disturb nests, roosts or hives. With a burn (stream) running on either side of the castle, the estate also has small stretches of wetland. Endangered amphibians can be seen jumping around these. In addition, we have also had deer, eagles and even evidence of a wildcat!
In the garden we are very sparing with chemicals and prefer to do everything by hand, even if it takes a little longer. We also prefer to use the rechargeable electric mower to manage the lawns where possible. We have adopted 'No Mow May' to encourage insect populations.
Inside the building we have done our best to be energy efficient and green while maintaining the character of this Grade A listed property. The roof spaces have been well insulated to minimise energy wastage. The number of open fires has been reduced (to 1) and the defunct chimneys have been blocked to further reduce heat loss. The fuel we use for our remaining fires (including one wood burning stove) is dried for a minimum of 2 years to reduce local air pollution. We have installed modern heating and hot water boilers which are more efficient than the systems that were in place when we arrived in 2019. We encourage guests to turn off lights, close doors and close shutters to reduce energy consumption. We strictly adhere to Aberdeenshire Council guidelines for disposal of waste. Please follow the recycling instructions in the castle.
Heritage is one of our core values. We are committed to preserving this magnificent historical building for the benefit of future generations. When we first arrived at Lickleyhead Castle it was in a sorry state of neglect. It has taken a huge investment in time and money to bring the castle back to its former glory.
There were many rotten timbers in the roof and in order to reach these we had to put up scaffolding to the very top (5 storeys in places!). The roof then needed to be re-slated. In some places the gutters also needed replacing and we made sure to use cast iron guttering to maintain the exterior aesthetic of the building.
Internally, some of the rooms were very damp and rotten boards were a danger to ourselves and any visitors, so in numerous rooms we needed to replace the floorboards or joists. Every single room has been redecorated, usually to take it back to how it would have looked in the castle's heyday. New carpets have been laid to replace the threadbare remnants of the castle's last renovation in the early 1990's. Ceilings have been painted, walls have been papered and original features such as the beautiful floorboards or the original panelling have been exposed to the light of day. It took about 18 months of labour, most of which we did ourselves, before we were ready to receive guests.
Our work did not stop at the doorway. Many of the gardens in the grounds had been allowed to turn into jungles of weeds. The rose garden, a lovely feature near the main gate has been restored. Its star pattern (rediscovered buried under layers of grass and moss) has been maintained. The roses growing in there now are mostly all survivors from the old garden, painstakingly separated by hand from the surrounding nettles and thistles. Similarly the long yew hedge garden has been cleared of an infestation of bishop's weed. The driveway has been relaid with the same pink gravel that we found when we arrived.
We know that keeping Lickleyhead Castle in good condition will be an ongoing and long term job and we will continue our maintenance efforts. Please take care not to damage any of the castle's features and fittings during your stay.
This really is an amazing part of the world and here at Lickleyhead Castle we aim to promote all things Aberdeenshire. From the beautiful coastline with its soaring cliffs and long golden sandy beaches to the beautiful mountain scenery of the Highlands and everything in between, Aberdeenshire has so many places of natural wonder to explore. For food and culture too, Aberdeenshire is so instantly appealing. This is the birthplace of the Aberdeen Angus, sits at the start of the whisky trail and is the home of the Highland Games. The first games were held here over 900 years ago and this part of Scotland has some of the best known games in the world.
Here at Lickleyhead Castle we have supported local businesses and causes in various ways. We encourage our guests to buy local food so they can sample the quality of the meat, vegetables and other food stuffs in this area. We have partnerships with locally owned businesses including florists, roofers, photographers, laundry services, activity specialists and a whisky shop to name but a few. We recruit primarily from the local village when looking for staff to ensure money generated by ourselves goes firstly to local young people. Finally we support a local charity by volunteering weekly. Home Start, the charity we support, is based in nearby Banchory and gives financial and other kinds of assistance to families with children under five years of age. We would encourage guests to support this charity. https://www.homestartdeeside.org/
At Lickleyhead Castle we believe in being inclusive of everyone regardless of race, ability, gender, sexuality or other characteristic. We are an equal opportunities employer and while our workforce is generally small, we do not discriminate when finding staff. Similarly we welcome guests from any background or region who wish to stay at the castle.
We have made an effort to make the castle more accessible by converting a downstairs living room into a bedroom, meaning guests who find stairs difficult can potentially stay. Please be aware however that we are limited in the steps we can take given the castle's Grade A status. Lickleyhead Castle contains numerous twisting staircases and low doorways. Guests with accessibility issues should consider when booking whether the castle is suitable for their needs.