Brodie Castle has been deprived of visitors roaming its corridors for what seems like forever.
Last year, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) property, located between Forres and Nairn, missed out on vital summer trade.
Tourist attractions across the country remained closed as the nation faced the coronavirus crisis.
The castle attracted 17,637 people in 2018 and 20,537 in 2019.
Last summer, 3,810 people visited the Playful Garden for some escapism while the castle remained closed.
Brodie Castle hopes for summer success
But now bosses are hoping the return of visitors over the weekends this month can breathe life into the castle.
Brodie Castle operations manager James Dean is feeling optimistic about visitors coming back during the summer.
He said: “It is great to get the castle open now and it has been a long time coming.
“We saw around 75 people on the first Saturday and around 100 on the Sunday which is great but lowish numbers compared to what we are used.
“But in this Covid-safe world it is ideal numbers.
“It was really strange from the collection point of view not having visitors.
“In a way it was nice to have a rest but when you are walking around the castle before visitors were allowed, it did feel a bit sad and empty.
“We are running guided tours in 10 minute intervals which gives good space.
“We have guides in each room and give groups the chance to ask questions that they wouldn’t have the opportunity to ask in a larger group setting.”
Brodie Castle history
In 1331, Robert the Bruce granted the Brodie clan the castle.
The castle was the ancestral home of the Brodie clan for more than 400 years.
In 1980, Ninian Brodie of Brodie, the 25th chief placed the castle into the hands of the National Trust for Scotland.
It came as a result of maintenance costs spiralling.
This ensured the castle and its contents were kept together.
For years, Ninian often took tourists around the castle on the tours until he died in 2003.
‘Every business has had to think outside the box’
Like many businesses and organisations, the castle have had to create innovative events to generate vital revenue.
Brodie Illuminated light shows attracted around 5,000 people over November and December.
Mr Dean said: “If we hadn’t been able to run our outdoor events like Brodie Illuminated it would be really easy to forget that we existed.
“Every business has had to think outside the box, throw away the rulebook and think of new exciting ways of generating income as the usual streams we rely on haven’t been possible.
“We are looking at doing driving movie nights, Halloween events and Christmas events.”
‘Our mission is conservation’
Collections care assistant Jamie Barron, who showed the Press and Journal around the castle, was a fountain of knowledge and enthusiasm.
He said: “It is delightful that the castle is open once again.
“The National Trust’s mission is conservation and ensuring people can see the historic items on display.
“We couldn’t do anything without the help of volunteers.
“We are always looking for new volunteers, which is a lovely way to meet new and different people.”
The castle are hoping to put a 700-year-old letter written by Robert the Bruce back on display in early July in a specialist case.