The Traquair Maze was planted in 1981 and is one of the largest hedged mazes in Scotland, covering over half an acre. It is 1/4 mile to reach the centre.
Planted originally with Leylandi Cyprus trees, the maze suffered from an extraordinarily harsh winter in 1983, when over two thirds of the trees died. It was decided to replant with the hardier Beech trees, which has added colour and interest to the maze.
The maze is located at the rear of the house, where the terrace walls provide an excellent vantage point for parents to try and direct their children out of the maze, as there are no dead ends and the visitor must reach four sub centres before coming to the centre.
Through the years, the maze has been a popular location used by film, TV and for advertising campaigns, including a Bollywood production. Other unusual uses for the maze have been as a romantic location for weddings, or the annual Easter Egg Hunt for children far and wide as over 6,000 mini eggs are planted in the maze.
Brewing at Traquair originally took place in the kitchens of the house, but in the early 1700’s the present brewery was established in one of the new wings built in 1694.
The ale produced was either a strong dark ale or small beer, which was made without using hops. The recipe has not changed and ingredients are sourced locally where possible. The exception is the hops which are East Kent Goldings, a rare and old fashioned variety.
The original ale produced was The Traquair House Ale (ABV 7.2%). This has now been joined by the Traquair Jacobite Ale (ABV 8%), which is spiced with coriander and based on an eighteenth century recipe. Traquair Bear Ale (ABV 5%), which is the lightest in the range, and is also sold on draught locally and in Edinburgh.
Demand for the ales continued to grow both in the UK and overseas and, in 1993, the brewery was expanded into the adjoining stable block which doubled the production capacity.The brewery now produces around 250,000 bottles each year and approximately 60% is exported to the USA, Canada, Japan, Italy, Denmark, Finland and Sweden.
The natural beauty of Traquair’s grounds are a perfect complement to the intimate nature of the house. There are no formal gardens here, but a designed landscape of over 100 acres, including woodlands and grounds.
Traquair was originally built in part of the Ettrick Forest and today it continues to be surrounded by ancient woodlands and more recent plantings. Some of the oldest Yew trees in Scotland can be found on a woodland walk, as well as striking examples of Scots Pine, Douglas Fir, Horse Chestnut, Limes, Ash and Beech.
There are woodland trails around the house, including Lady Louisa’s Walk, which takes you past the Quair water and on to the River Tweed.
The old walled garden is now mainly grassed over, but with some surviving apple trees and a herbaceous border, which has been developed here. It is situated next to the 1745 Cottage Restaurant, where you can eat outside in the summer. There is also a small pond and fountain, making this a popular venue for weddings and events.
At the west side of the house you will find Cupid’s Garden tucked away, where the planting theme is whites and greys. Near Cupid’s Garden there is the croquet lawn, where a heather hut still stands, built in 1834. Croquet sets can be provided on request.
The woodlands are rich in birdlife, as well as other wildlife, including otters, deer and other small mammals. Red squirrels have been sighted in the local area.
The grounds at Traquair are a natural wonderland for most children, with acres to run around and magical woods in which to roam. An attractive mini adventure playground is situated at the back of the house, with equipment for all ages. In addition there is a toddlers' play area, swings, a play house, some natural willow tunnels and, in the woodlands, there is a Yew sound sculpture suitable for all ages.
For those children that are animal lovers, there is plenty of wildlife at Traquair. From peacocks, duck, swans and rare breed poultry, to pygmy goats and kune pigs, not forgetting Daphne and Delilah, Traquair's two King Charles Cavalier Spaniels, who are usually around to say 'hello'.
Scavenger hunts and activity sheets for children can be picked up at the Gift Shop and, if you are visiting the house, there is an excellent Children’s Guidebook in which Daphne and Delilah take your on their very own tour of Traquair with puzzles and games.
For those that enjoy bug hunting and pond dipping, the 'Go Wild' programme at Traquair should provide plenty of fun and the Forest School Workshop, held in the grounds of Traquair, provides fully-qualified leaders, to inspire children to make dens, play team-building and environmental games, cook by an open fire and enjoy creative art activities.
The Museum is a room on an upper floor which probably dates from the 14th century. It has a fascinating collection of old letters, illuminated books, glass and objects used by the family over the years, and very rare wall paintings from circa 1530.
When completed in the 16th century, the High Drawing Room ceiling was decorated with painted beams and panels; typical of Scottish painted ceilings at that time.
The fragments which you can see today were discovered and restored in 1954. In the middle of the 1700s, the 5th Earl of Traquair, who had visited Italy as a young man, covered the beams and panelled the walls in the classical style which remains today. Above the doors he had cartouches painted which symbolise drama, music, painting and architecture.