The Castle of Mey was originally known as Barrogill Castle, it was in a semi-derelict state when the estate was purchased by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, in 1952, who undertook to restore the castle and develop the walled gardens. The original castle and lands of Mey belonged to the Bishops of Caithness with the original castle built around 1566-72. The Queen Mother loved the castle and especially the gardens, and regularly visited the castle until her death.
The castle and estate was managed by the Castle of Mey Trust and has now been passed to The Prince’s Foundation. The president of the Foundation is Charles, Prince of Wales. The Foundation stated its intention to retain the Trust's goals: "the preservation of buildings and monuments; the promotion of historical and architectural education; the preservation of the Aberdeen Angus breed of cattle, and the championing of wider benefits to the community, while the Duke of Rothesay and The Prince’s Foundation is certain to make the continuation of his grandmother’s legacy a priority" (from Wikipedia).
The castle and gardens are open to the public during most of the main tourist season and the profits from this activity goes towards looking after the estate. A café and gift shop are open to the public, there is an entrance charge for the castle and gardens. Also on site is the The Granary Lodge B&B, a 10-bedroom bed and breakfast on the Castle grounds. See official Castle of Mey website www.castleofmey.org.uk for more details.
The entrance area at the castle has a free car park. If you have dogs with you in your car you can use the small alternative car park within the castle grounds that is in the shade under trees. You need to drive up to the main castle entrance for this parking area.
The castle has a small animal farm for visitors to get close to animals that children and most adults will enjoy seeing. The last time we visited there were newly hatched chickens under heat lamp within the visitor centre, outdoors there were pigs, sheep and goats, as well as chickens.