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Private Gardens of Caithness and Sutherland

From £595.00
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castle of mey
Departing by Coach
Duration 4 Days
Available Now

The spectacular seascapes and wild lands of Caithness and Sutherland, right at the very top of Britain, are home to a surprising number of stunning gardens – from formal gardens that surround grand castles with heaving and colourful herbaceous borders, to small and homely gardens tucked away in neat little villages.

Travelling amongst the jagged headlands and shining white sands on the Northern coast, our visits include two gardens both protected from the wind by high walls – Bighouse Lodge by Melvich and The House of Tongue in a spectacular setting on the Kyle of Tongue. We could not go to Caithness without including a visit to The Castle of Mey, the former summer retreat of the late Queen Mother, and we also tour the fine gardens that surround Dunbeath Castle. Further visits include the private gardens of The Auld Post Office and The Lookout, the semi-formal garden that surrounds a beautiful 17th century house at Old Allangrange and Inverness Botanic Garden which provides a sub-tropical oasis in the heart of the Highlands.

NC500: Please note that this itinerary features part of the North Coast 500, the highly scenic coastal route which begins and ends in Inverness.

What You’ll Love

  • The late Queen Mother’s favourite rose gardens at the Castle of Mey
  • Two private gardens
  • Spectacular views on the North Coast 500 route
  • Scots Baronial style at Dunbeath Castle
  • Exotic plants and trees in the Highland capital
  • Accommodation
  • Services of a professional tour manager
  • Comfortable coach travel throughout
  • Meals – as per the itinerary

Single Supplements apply. Subject to availability.

Itinerary

Day 1

We depart from our designated pick-up points and travel north to Old Allangrange at Munlochy, just north of Inverness. A beautiful 17th century lime washed house is the backdrop to a semi-formal garden with many fine old trees including an ancient stand of yews. The gardeners have used sculpted hedges to play with perspective. There is an ice house, vegetable garden, a mound, orchard and two large polytunnels where vegetables are grown bio-dynamically.

Following our visit we will continue north by the scenic coastal road to Thurso and our accommodation. Dinner is served in the evening.

Day 2

After breakfast we will travel along the coast, past the pioneering nuclear power station at Douneray, to Bighouse Lodge, situated at the mouth of the River Halladale. The two acre, recently restored, walled garden, originally laid out in 1715, consists of a central axis leading to a charming bothy with lawn, herbaceous borders, a sunken garden and four separate conceptual gardens behind the hedgerows. Each garden contains a sculpture to reflect the aspects of the Bighouse Estate, namely the River, the Forest, the Strath and the Hill.

We continue to Tongue, the name of which has old Norse origins, though fairly obvious: it comes from “tunga”, a tongue of land projecting into the loch.

Here we visit the House of Tongue, a 17th century house located on the Kyle of Tongue with a walled garden, herbaceous borders, old fashioned roses, vegetables, soft fruit and small orchard.

We return to our hotel for dinner.

Day 3

This morning following breakfast we will visit The Castle of Mey the former holiday home of the late Queen Mother. Originally Barrogill Castle it was first seen by the late Queen Mother in 1952, while mourning the death of her husband King George VI. Falling for its ruined, isolated charm she declared she would save the castle from ruin. Having acquired the most northerly castle on the British mainland, she renovated and lovingly restored it and for over half a century she spent her summers here and created the beautiful gardens you see today.

This afternoon we visit the privately-owned garden at the Auld Post Office south of Thurso. Surrounded by eight acres of Alaskan Lodgepole pine trees, this secluded garden has a variety of beds and borders containing evergreen plants, shrubs, grasses and perennials. The fish share their pond with grasses and lilies, and the garden walk continues beneath 20-year-old pine trees, under-planted with shade-loving perennials. Planting has been chosen to encourage bees, birds and butterflies, and hens potter in their woodland enclosure.

We conclude today at Dunbeath Castle, home to the private garden of Sir Archibald and Lady Edmonstone, one of the finest ornamental walled gardens in Scotland. The extensive gardens feature mature and new plantings, with a landscaped lake, water and bog gardens, a formal garden, rhododendrons and a woodland walk.

We return to our hotel for dinner.

Day 4

This morning after breakfast we head south with two further visits en route, beginning with the private garden of The Lookout at North Kessock. This small, award-winning garden enjoys lovely views over the Moray Firth and is created out of a rock base with shallow pockets of ground, planted to encourage all aspects of wildlife. There is a small sheltered courtyard, a raised bed vegetable area and a pretty cottage garden. Further features include a scree and rock garden, a rose arbour and a lily pond with waterside plants.

Our final visit takes us to Inverness Botanic Garden, a sub-tropical oasis in the heart of the Highlands with greenhouses, cactus house, landscaped gardens, tropical fish pond, sensory raised flower beds and cafe. The floral hall, gardens and cafe is a unique visitor attraction that offers a tranquil break amidst beautiful floral displays. It was opened in 1993 by Prince Edward and has been inspiring local gardeners and visitors from every continent ever since.

Following this we return to our original departure points.

Day 5

We depart from our designated pick-up points and travel north to Old Allangrange at Munlochy, just north of Inverness. A beautiful 17th century lime washed house is the backdrop to a semi-formal garden with many fine old trees including an ancient stand of yews. The gardeners have used sculpted hedges to play with perspective. There is an ice house, vegetable garden, a mound, orchard and two large polytunnels where vegetables are grown bio-dynamically.

Following our visit we will continue north by the scenic coastal road to Thurso and our accommodation. Dinner is served in the evening.


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