Gight Castle in Aberdeenshire

Written by Chris Thornton | 19th of April 2024
Gight Castle

Hot on the heels of our visit to Fyvie Castle, we decided to check out a lesser-known ruin - Gight Castle (pronounced "Gecht"), the ancestral home of Lord Byron, a famous English poet.

Our visit was a little spur of the moment, and I didn't research its location much. This was a big mistake as we followed Google Maps directions, which took us to the wrong place!

Following the farmer's tracks, we eventually arrived at a farm with a small white sign saying, "Google is wrong; no access to Gight Castle". This sign would have been really helpful at the start of the farmer's track! After a quick check of Google reviews, we discovered Gight Castle has a dedicated car park, which is where we should have gone. We retraced our steps and drove the correct route to the castle car park.

Gight Woods sign
Look for this sign when looking for the car park.

Our visit to Gight Castle

Pulling into the reasonably sized car park, we walked to a nearby metal gate; this is the start of the Gight Wood Walk, which takes you to Gight Castle and, if you pass it, the River Ythan.

Gight Castle Car Park.
Gight Castle Car Park.
The start of Gight Castle walk.
Pass this gate to start the short walk to the castle.

The footpath is well maintained in light gravel and, at first, heads at a downwards incline to a bridge that crosses the Burn of Stonehouse.

Gight Woods

The Gight Wood walk is lovely; ancient woodland surrounds the path on both sides, but eventually, the view opens up on fields with grazing cows. The route seemed very popular with dog walkers. The forest is home to brown hares, red squirrels and badgers.

Path to Gight Castle. Broadleaved woodland, rowan supports badgers.
The path is well-kept and easy to walk on.
Burn of Stonehouse bridge.
The bridge crosses the Burn of Stonehouse.
Following the path. The last remnants of ancient woodland in Aberdeenshire
We continued along the path to Gight Castle.
Gight meadows.
The forest opens up and gives views over grazing meadows.
Walking to the entrance gate.
The final section of the walk to the entrance gate.

Arriving at Gight Castle

The castle is within a large, irregularly shaped field with large trees dotted around it. The field is accessed via a wooden swing gate, and then a rough path leads to the castle. We didn't spot any grazing animals in the field on this occasion.

Sliding gate to Gight Castle.
This sliding gate gives access to the field containing the castle.

Walking up to the castle, it's in an abysmal state; large trees grow from the interior areas, and smaller trees sprout from the wall heads. Fine details on the ruin point to a once extravagant home with fine arches and vaulted ceilings.

Gight Castle with large trees.
Walking to the castle.
Gight Castle east view
Our first view of the castle.
Gight Castle warning sign.
The warning sign.
Gight Castle courtyard.
The courtyard area of the castle.
Castle overgrowth.
Overgrown, but the castle features can still be seen.

Entering Gight Castle

The entire castle is surrounded by a small barbed wire fence and a warning sign placed by Haddo House Estate. We followed the path west of the castle and came to a Scottish Wildlife Trust sign.

Scottish Wildlife Trust sign. Nearby River Ythan.
There is an entrance to the castle to the left of this sign.

Just to the left of the sign is a rough path through the vegetation, where we discovered what looked like a tunnel into the castle. It was actually just a doorway, but with the overgrowth and poor light, it looked very tunnel-like!

To my surprise, Janette disappeared into the gloom of the tunnel. I was in two minds about entering, but I had to follow now!

Gight Castle entrance.
The dark and dingy tunnel where we accessed the castle interior.

The interior of the castle is extremely ruinous, but at the same time very impressive. Despite all the cave-ins, there are still many fine details to be seen within the castle. The castle interior was incredible, with many rooms, corridors, and vaults to explore, but I had a strong feeling of danger the whole time. This castle is unsafe to be inside; there is a considerable risk of masonry falling in all areas. There was a path leading perhaps to an upstairs area, but we didn't feel safe enough to attempt this.

Gight storage vault.
One of the ground floor vaults.
Gight Castle ceiling.
This amazing ceiling feature was still intact; note the swirl and heart at the centre.
Inside Gight Castle.
A corridor between rooms.
Gight Castle archway.
Looking out towards the courtyard.
Fallen walls
The damage inside the castle is extensive.
Gight room
Another room with large pieces of fallen masonry.
Gight Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Another lobby between rooms.

We exited the castle and went to the courtyard area and outbuildings. We passed through archways and investigated the southeast wall before jumping the fence and getting some southerly views of the castle.

Courtyard castle view
Courtyard looking towards the castle.
South east side of Gight Castle.
Exploring the southeast side.
South wall view.
South wall view.
Gight stair.
This stair now leads nowhere.

I really wanted to walk further on to check out the River Ythan, but time was rolling on, and it was threatening to rain, so we retraced our steps through Gight Wood and back to the car park.

A Brief History of Gight Castle

1513 - The first Laird, William Gordon, is killed at the Battle of Flodden.

1570s - Gight Castle was built in an L-shaped plan by George Gordon, the second Laird.

1579 - Alexander Gordon, son of James Gordon, was killed at Dundee.

1590 - Elizabeth Gordon, daughter of Alexander Gordon, married George Home, 1st Earl of Dunbar.

1618 - George Gordon, the 6th Laird of Gight, attacks Rothiemay Castle.

1787 - Catherine Gordon Byron, the mother of Lord Byron, sold Gight Castle to George Gordon, 3rd Earl of Aberdeen, to pay her husband John Byron's gambling debts.

1788 - Poet Lord Byron was born in London.

1791 - George Gordon, Lord Haddo, son of the 3rd Earl of Aberdeen, died, marking the last period of habitation in the castle.

1965 - Gight Castle was designated a scheduled ancient monument.

Who was Lord Byron?

Lord Byron, formally known as George Gordon Byron, was a leading figure of the English Romantic movement, born on January 22, 1788, in London. A distinguished poet and satirist, he was celebrated for his eloquent command of the English language and his astute observations of society.

His most acclaimed works are "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" and "Don Juan." Byron's vibrant lifestyle, marked by numerous love affairs, made him a prominent societal figure. He was not merely a man of letters; his dedication to the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire attests to his enthusiasm for political and humanitarian causes.

Sadly, his spirited life was cut short at the age of 36 when he died of illness in Greece on April 19, 1824. Despite his brief life, Byron's literary legacy has endured, solidifying him as one of the most influential poets in English literature.

Although Gight Castle was his ancestral home, he did not live there, as his mother, Catherine Gordon Byron, sold it a year before he was born.

The Ghostly Piper

The eerie ruins of the castle are believed to be haunted by a spectral piper. Legend tells of his mysterious vanishing while venturing into an underground tunnel. Moreover, the castle is enveloped in a tale of a curse. The Scottish seer, Thomas the Rhymer, ominously foretold,

"At Gight, three men by sudden death shall fall, and thereafter, the land shall become desolate."

Adding to the lore, whispers speak of a concealed treasure in the river adjacent to the ruins. Rumour has it that this treasure, hidden by the 7th Laird at the bottom of a deep pool, is protected by none other than the Devil himself.

You have to love Scottish castle ghost stories!

The ruin of Gight Castle.
Gight Castle was an impressive ruin, sadly left to rack and ruin.

Visitor Information

The castle is accessible via a track from Gight Woods Car Park, also called Braes of Gight Woods.

The path to the castle is excellent and not too challenging, but not very suitable for wheelchairs. The gate to the castle field is inaccessible for wheelchairs.

Gight Castle is an incredibly unsafe ruin and should not be entered as we did in this article. There are collapsed rocks throughout the castle's interior, and it feels like it could cave in at any moment. Much can be seen by walking the perimeter of the boundary fence.

The castle is free to visit but should only be viewed externally from the boundary fence.

There are no toilets, gift shops or any other tourist facilities.

FAQs on Gight Castle

Here are a few frequently asked questions on Gight Castle:

How to get to Gight Castle

As mentioned above, we initially went the wrong way to visit Gight Castle; here are the correct directions below:

From Ellon (12.8 miles):

  1. Leave Ellon on the B9005 travelling west.

  2. Remain on the B9005 and drive to Methlick.

  3. Leave Methlick travelling northwest still on the B9005.

  4. Look for a left turn to the "Braes of Gight Wood" car park.

  5. Park here for the castle. Note the gate to the left of the car park entrance; this is the start of the walk through Gight Woods to Gight Castle.

From Huntly (25.1 miles):

  1. Leave Huntly, travelling east on the A96.

  2. Look for a left turn shortly after Morgan McVeighs down the A920.

  3. Turn left off the A920 to Rothienorman.

  4. Turn right up Main St of Rothienorman and onto Fyvie Road.

  5. Stay on Fyvie Road, crossing the A947, until you reach Fyvie.

  6. Now, on the B9005, pass through Fyvie travelling east.

  7. After some distance on the B9005, look for this right turn to the "Braes of Gight Woods" car park.

Gight Castle Car Park on Google Maps
What3words: ///afraid.constants.blueberry

Ensure that if you are using a sat nav, enter "Gight Castle Car Park" and not "Gight Castle" directly, as you will end up in the wrong place.

Who owns Gight Castle?

Gight Castle is currently part of the Haddo House Estate.

How do you pronounce Gight Castle?

"Gight Castle" is pronounced "Gecht".

What else can be seen near Gight Castle?

Here are some suggestions:

Gight Castle south view. Built by the Gordon family.
The view looks south.

Videos of Gight Castle

Here are a couple of video clips from our visit to Gight Castle.

Gight Castle from the north side.
Inside Gight Castle.
Another interior video.
South side.
Castle and grounds.
Castle and grounds looking south.
Burn of Stonehouse.

Key information on Gight Castle

  • Gight Castle is a very ruined castle found 11 miles northwest of Ellon in Aberdeenshire.

  • The castle was built in the 1570s.

  • There is a lovely walk through Gight Wood to reach the castle.

  • It is unsafe to explore the interior of the castle.

  • DO NOT follow Google Maps to "Gight Castle"; instead, follow the directions to "Gight Castle Car Park".

Gight Castle and grounds.
Castle and grounds.


The forest walk to Gight Castle was lovely, and we enjoyed exploring this impressive ruin. Given more time, we would have loved to walk along the River Ythan too... and maybe find that hidden treasure!

We highly recommend visiting the castle, just don't enter it as it is incredibly dangerous.

All information was correct at the time of writing, please check things like entry costs and opening times before you arrive.

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