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The Out About Scotland complete guide to Duff House
Category: Art gallery, Forest or woodland, Gardens, Historic building, Walk or cycle route
Suitable for ages: 5 to 10 years, 11 to 18 years, 18+ years, 65+ years
Ideal for: Couples, Families, Groups, Solo travellers
I rate it: 8 out of 10
About Duff House
The historic coastal town of Banff in the north-east of Scotland is becoming increasingly popular with tourists who visit in their droves to explore the rugged coastline and secluded coves and beaches that this part of the country is famous for.
But the Banff and Buchan area is also a firm favourite with visitors who want to see the huge number of historic buildings and castles that dot the landscape.
Aberdeenshire has long held the nickname ‘Scotland’s castle country’ and you’ll find a surprising number of formidable fortresses and grand stately homes along its east coast.
The northern coastline is also rich in history and if you head that way you’ll find a real gem of a country house that should definitely be on your list of places to visit if you’re a fan of Scotland’s history.
Duff House is an impressive stately home that’s totally unexpected to be found in a quiet coastal town like Banff, but it offers a fascinating walk through its maze of rooms and the outside grounds are lovely – especially in spring when the wildflowers start to bloom.
You can wander through the house on your own and there are plenty of information panels in each room to answer any questions you might have, and there are also Historic Environment Scotland guides in most rooms to answer any questions the information panels don’t tell you.
If the weather holds out I recommend you take the time to visit the Duff House gardens because they’re the highlight of the entire estate in my opinion.
The walk through the grounds passes through landscaped lawns and ornamental follies before branching off onto a path that runs for around two miles towards the Bridge Of Alvah, and along the way you’ll pass a couple of curiosities including the Duff ice house and the family mausoleum.
Read on to find out more about this attraction.
Things to do at Duff House
Built as a giant status symbol by William Duff, the First Earl of Fife, Duff House never fails to impress visitors who come not just to admire the architecture of the building but who also come to view the collection of national treasures on loan from the official collection of the National Galleries of Scotland.
The entire estate is jointly run with Aberdeenshire Council and Historic Environment Scotland, and the artworks have been included as a way to open up Scotland’s national collection to audiences who might not be able to visit the main collections in the Edinburgh Galleries.
While the mansion-house is a peaceful place today its beginnings were surrounded by in-fighting between William Duff (the owner) and William Adam (the architect), which meant that the grand carved east and west wings of the original design were never completed.
However, the house is stunning in its current form and visitors will enjoy seeing the baroque architecture and exploring the 18th-century decorated rooms with their meticulously restored furniture.
Although William Adam died before he could receive the debt owed to him for building Duff House, he would no doubt be proud to see modern-day tourists enjoying the salon and drawing rooms, the fine art, and the Dunimarle library with its collection of more than 4000 rare books.
Externally, Duff House is surrounded by landscaped grounds with paths leading past several ornamental follies as they make their way alongside the River Deveron, before finishing at the gothic Duff family mausoleum hidden deep inside the woodland.
The walk back through the grounds will probably work up an appetite for the on-site cafe and its mouth-watering selection of home-baked food, while children will no doubt be entertained by the well-stocked gift shop at the main entrance.
All-in-all, Duff House is a highly recommended attraction for visitors exploring this part of Scotland.
What I liked about this attraction
- The house is interesting to explore. There’s a lot to discover during your visit
- The food in the cafe is top-notch
- The walk through the nearby woodland is lovely and a nice surprise after walking through the house
My top tips
- After you’ve visited Duff house head into Banff and walk the Banff Heritage Trail
Photos and video
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Address and directions map
Prices and opening times
Special offer! Click this affiliate link to purchase a Historic Environment Scotland Explorer Pass from Viator. Your 5-day or 14-day pass allows free entry to more than 77 castles, cathedrals, distilleries and more throughout Scotland. With passes starting at just £35 (as of 2019) it’s an absolute bargain!
- Member/Explorer Pass holder: Free
- Adult: £9.00
- Child aged 5–15: £5.40
- Child under 5: Free
- Concession: £7.20
- 1 April to 31 October: Daily, 11am to 5pm. Last entry 4.30pm
- 1 Nov to 31 Mar: Thursday to Sunday, 11am to 4pm. Last entry 3.30pm
- 25 and 26 December
- 1 and 2 January
- Telephone: 01261 818 181
- email: NA
- Website: Historic Environment Scotland
Getting there: Car park on-site
Getting around: Easy-access paths, Disabled access, Pushchair access
On-site conveniences: Gift shop, Hot drinks, Picnic area, Restaurant, Snacks, Toilets