Few people can say they unwind in a grand ballroom or breakfast overlooking the Carron Water.
But it’s par for the course when you wake up every morning in a 14th Century castle.
James Stuart, or rather the “Old Pretender”, was unofficially crowned in the courtyard of South Range at Fetteresso Castle, near Stonehaven, in 1715, and was proclaimed King James III by the Earl of Mar.
The castle has repeatedly changed hands as the centuries have passed, and even risen from the ashes after it was destroyed in a fire.
From the grand battlements to the idyllic setting, there is something rather romantic about the castle despite its turbulent past and it was previously known as Fetteresso Palace.
Fiona and Stephen Collinson fell in love with the fairytale when they moved to South Range almost 20 years ago, having travelled the world due to Stephen’s job in the oil industry. Although he continued to work abroad with a stint in Russia, South Range has always been patiently waiting.
The castle looks particularly beautiful in the depths of winter, the lawns a white blanket of snow and mist rising above the water.
South Range is one of seven properties contained with the castle, after it was renovated and turned into individual abodes in 1993.
The past has been carefully preserved however, and the couple regularly walk past the doocot which dates back to the 15th Century and was originally used for hanging meat.
“We wanted the country life and South Range has more than delivered,” said Fiona.
“When I take our two dogs, Finbar and Rosy, for a walk, it’s just lovely. We previously lived in Alaska and Norway, so our two boys were used to having wide open space.
“I’ve always thought of South Range as a magical enclave, yet you are so close to the A90.
“It’s just beautiful; when the light is low and there are sheep in the field it looks for all the world like a Farquharson painting.”
South Range is tucked away to the side of the castle and as its name would suggest, offers wonderful south-facing views. The long entrance hallway boasts a hand-painted wall in keeping with the historic feel.
There is also a large laundry room and cloakroom, the latter of which has been used as an office by Stephen and a playing area when the boys were young.
Tucked away behind a door is a vaulted cellar, which Stephen believes was used as a wine store when grand dinners were held.
“I’m a very keen historian and I think you have to possess some sort of interest to truly appreciate South Range,” said Stephen.
“You can definitely feel the past as you wander about, and that’s very evident in the cellar.
“We haven’t done any renovation work but it would make a fantastic project for someone.”
The sense that the corridors have been well trod comes as no surprise, considering the fact that the castle was first recorded in the 16th Century.
It was set on fire by the Marquis of Montrose in 1645, as part of reprisal to the Earl Marischal who refused to leave nearby Dunnottar Castle and join Montrose during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.
It was then rebuilt as a fortified house and some of the gun slots can still be found in the cellars.
“The castle has played a part in so many people’s lives, it’s well loved by locals and was part of their childhood,” said Fiona. “People often stop me to say they remember coming for afternoon tea with grandparents when the castle was a country house.
“Or they played in the ruins after a farmer took the roof off to avoid paying rates.”
You’d never know that the drawing room of South Range was once open to the elements.
Extra tall windows enable you to take in the countryside views, where you’ll spy the doocot and ice house.
A beautiful fireplace completes the look and the room is complemented by elegant light colours. “It wasn’t until the boys left home that we decided to redecorate, as there were previously a lot of dark colours which didn’t do South Range justice,” said Fiona.
The gloomy stereotype of castles can be cast aside as you enter the dining room, where sunlight streams through the window.
Also on this floor is a spacious landing complete with window seats, and a modern kitchen.
On the upper floor is the en suite master bedroom and three remaining bedrooms.
You could while away the day exploring the grounds of the castle where there are seven acres of ground alongside the formal lawn.
South Range offers its own exclusive garden where Fiona and Stephen have created an orchard.
“In the spring the garden is a carpet of daffodils; some of the bulbs have flowered for decades,” said Fiona.
“We sit outside in the courtyard in all weathers just taking in the views.
“When the apple blossom and daffodils flower, it’s glorious.”
Price on application. Contact (01224) 971-111.