We depart from our designated pick-up points and continue to the gardens of Dunrobin Castle - the château style ancestral home of the Dukes of Sutherland. The castle is a wonderful early 19th-century fantasy castle with a touch of the Loire and a dash of Bavaria. Below the castle is a magnificent example of a formal nineteenth century garden. The gardens are laid out on terraces which descend to the sea.
Following our visit we will continue north by the scenic coastal road to Thurso and our accommodation at the St Clair Hotel. Dinner will be served in the evening.
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 the hotel where dinner is served in the evening.
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 will visit Dunbeath Castle, home to the private garden of Sir Archibald and Lady Edmonstone. These extensive gardens feature mature and new plantings, with a landscaped lake, water and bog gardens, a formal garden, rhododendrons and a woodland walk.
Our final visit of the day will be to the private garden Langwell, a beautiful old walled garden with spectacular borders situated in the secluded Langwell Strath. Following our visit we will return to our hotel for dinner.
This morning after breakfast we shall head south breaking our journey at House of Aigas, near Beauly, just west of Inverness. Around the picturesque, high Victorian country house an arboretum and woodland walk with a sizable collection of specimen trees - all named - overlook the River Beauly; there is also an extended garden of rockeries, shrubberies and herbaceous borders.
Following our visit we will return to our original pick-up points.