SCOTLAND'S castles are to open their drawbridges to the public within weeks, heritage bosses have confirmed.

Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart castles will be the first ticketed sites to reopen after lockdown under a programme announced by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

A total of 70% of its 300 sites will be open by mid-September.

All of these have been closed since March.

Access to more than 200 unstaffed sites will begin from Wednesday July 15.

This includes the grounds of Doune Castle, Caerlaverock Castle and Dundonald Castle, but not the properties themselves.

The National:

Then from August 1, HES will allow members of the public to come back into external spaces at Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle.

Entry will also include access to interior spaces “where social distancing can easily be maintained”.

It's hoped that visitors will be allowed into further inside spaces by the end of that month.

From August through to mid-September, HES plans to re-open a further 23 key sites across Scotland on a rolling programme.

These include Glasgow Cathedral, Fort George, St Andrews Castle and Cathedral and Skara Brae.

The National:

The phased approach has been put together in consideration of “the circumstances in the local area”.

Visitors, including HES members, must pre-book tickets online and use contactless payment where possible.

One-way systems will be set up in some locations and numbers will be limited.

However, more than 40 “seasonal sites”, which normally open from April to October, will remain closed to allow HES to focus on the year-round locations.

Alex Paterson, chief executive of HES, said: “We’re very much looking forward to welcoming visitors back to our sites. 

“We want to ask our visitors to help create a safe environment by behaving responsibly and following our guidance at properties, and we will be providing further information on our website for visitors to help them prepare for their visit.”