Experience the dramatic beauty of northern Scotland’s castle grounds and award-winning gardens - including Cawdor Castle, made famous by Macbeth

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The north of Scotland is home to some of the country's grandest and most ancient castles, where you'll experience history and beauty around every corner. The Highland landscapes provide a dramatic backdrop, and a shorter growing season means spring and summer are filled with bursts of colour the many flowers that bloom simultaneously.

On our latest five-day horticultural tour, you'll visit the stunning gardens of The Lookout at North Kessock, Old Allangrange at Munlochy, the House of Aigas, near Beauly, and Dundonnell House, as well as some of the Highlands' finest castles, including the iconic Cawdor, Dunrobin, where you'll see a falconry display, and the Castle of Mey, which was owned and restored by Her Majesty the Queen Mother.

After flying to Inverness, you'll check-in to the Glen Mhor Hotel, a handsome property right in the centre of the city. During your stay, you'll also have the opportunity to see one of the UK's most famous gardens at Inverewe, and the Inverness Botanic Gardens - the northernmost botanical gardens in the country. Your expert guide there will be Colin Crosbie, who was formerly the head gardener to the Queen Mother.

Scottish Castles

You'll visit three castles, including Cawdor, a 14th-century turreted castle, which rises majestically from the woods of the Nairn Valley and was famously featured in Shakespeare's Macbeth. Its gardens include vast herbaceous borders, a rose garden, peony walk, kitchen garden, holly maze and bluebell walk through the woods. You'll also see Dunrobin Castle, the château-style ancestral home of the Dukes of Sutherland, which has a formal 19th-century garden on terraces descending to the sea. At the Castle of Mey, you'll visit the former home of the Queen Mother, and private gardens, which extend to about 30 acres.

Highland Scenery

You'll tour the far north by comfortable coach and get a chance to see some of the most stunning vistas in Scotland. You will also visit John O'Groats, drive the northern road into Inverewe through towering mountains and see the incredible view from above Gruinard Bay. You'll also pass by Loch Maree and Achnasheen.

Fascinating Garden Visits

The small, award-winning private garden of The Lookout has 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. Old Allangrange at Munlochy, just north of Inverness, is a beautiful 17th-century lime-washed house and semi-formal garden where the gardeners have used sculpted hedges to play with perspective. The House of Aigas has an arboretum and woodland walk overlooking the River Beauly as well as rockeries, shrubberies and herbaceous borders.

Horticultural Highlights

The heritage garden of Inverewe, on the wild Atlantic coast, boasts rare species due to the effect of the Gulf Stream meeting the Highlands. At its best and full of colour in the summer when you'll visit, there are also mature exotic trees including huge California redwoods. Don't miss the ancient yew tree, which is more than 300 years old, at Dundonnell House Garden, and the sub-tropical plants and cactus house at Inverness Botanic Garden.

Stay in Inverness

You'll be based in the centre of the city, capital of the Highlands, for four nights in the privately owned Glen Mhor Hotel. A full Scottish breakfast is included each morning as is a delicious dinner in the Waterfront restaurant overlooking the River Ness each evening.

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Price includes

  • Return flights from London Gatwick to Inverness with regional flights available on request at a supplement
  • Four nights' dinner, bed and breakfast at the Glen Mhor Hotel in Inverness
  • Services of Colin Crosbie as guide
  • Lunch at the House of Aigas
  • Comfortable coaching throughout

Availability

From
Tue, Tue, Jun 30, 2020
To
Sat, Sat, Jul 4, 2020
Duration
5 Days
Price per person
£1,295*
* Price based on two sharing a room. Single supplement £300. No-flight discount £175pp. This trip is ATOL protected. This promotion is exclusive to Hearst UK and may be promoted by other Hearst UK brands. Offer is subject to availability and to the booking conditions of Brightwater Holidays.
Call now to book 01334441849
Quote ref: FAR NORTH
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Itinerary

  1. Day
    1
    Fly to Inverness
    Inverness, United Kingdom

    We depart from London Gatwick on a lunchtime flight for Inverness (regional flights available at a supplement or alternatively make your own way to Inverness). On arrival we continue to the nearby gardens of Cawdor Castle, near Nairn.

    William Shakespeare immortalised Cawdor in Macbeth as the scene of Duncan's murder, however, both the castle and its history are colourful enough without the aid of myth. A turreted 14th-century tower, protected on one side by a gully and on the other by a dry moat, rises majestically from the woods of the Nairn Valley. The magnificent gardens include vast herbaceous borders, a rose garden, a peony walk and a kitchen garden - there is also a fascinating holly maze and a romantic bluebell woodland walk.

    Later we will continue to Inverness to our accommodation at the Glen Mhor Hotel in Inverness, where dinner will be served in the evening.

    Meals - Dinner
  2. Day
    2
    Dunrobin, John O'Groats and the Castle of Mey
    John O'Groats, United Kingdom

    Enjoy your full Scottish breakfast. This morning we travel north and visit 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. A display of falconry is included here, offering some excellent photo opportunities of superb birds of prey.

    We later continue to John O'Groats before having an afternoon visit to the private gardens and former home of Her Majesty the Queen Mother, at the Castle of Mey. In 1952, HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother saw what was then known as Barrogill Castle while staying with Commander and Lady Doris Vyner at the House of the Northern Gate on Dunnet Head, a short distance to the west. Despite its poor condition, Her Majesty purchased the castle that year and set about renovating and restoring both the castle and its gardens and parklands, which extended to about 30 acres. She also restored the castle's original name changing Barrogill Castle back to The Castle of Mey. Since her death the gardens have been open to the public, carrying on a tradition that Her Majesty began.

    Dinner will be served on our return to the hotel.

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  3. Day
    3
    Dundonnell House Garden and Inverewe
    Inverewe Garden, United Kingdom

    After breakfast we have a long but most rewarding day as we drive across the north of Scotland to visit Dundonnell House Garden. The house was completed in 1769 by the Mackenzie's of Dundonnell, who lived in it until the 1940s. Since then it has had a number of owners, including the late Alan Roger - rumoured to be in MI5, but known locally simply as a plantsman and bonsai expert. The current owner, has added delightful new borders for year-round colour, centred on an enormous and ancient yew tree over 300 years old. The main part of the garden lies within very old walls and is divided into distinctive compartments, adding greatly to the interest here; other highlights include riverside walks in the fine arboretum and a restored Victorian glasshouse.

    Our final visit of the day is to Inverewe gardens, unquestionably one of the most outstanding gardens in the country. The northern road into Inverewe is spectacular - towering mountains and breathtaking vistas - and the view from above Gruinard Bay has to be seen to be believed. Famous gardens do not always live up to their reputations but it would be hard to imagine anyone failing to be excited by Inverewe, when at this time of year it will be at its most colourful. The balmy Gulf Stream Drift Climate promotes luxuriant growth and today it is a jungle of mature exotic trees and shrubs laced with winding walks, rising and falling, giving sudden glimpses of shimmering water through the foliage.

    We will return to Inverness via Loch Maree and Achnasheen, another spectacularly scenic journey. Dinner will be served on our return to the hotel.

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  4. Day
    4
    Old Allangrange and Inverness Botanic Garden
    Inverness, United Kingdom

    This morning, after breakfast, we will visit 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.

    We continue 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. Tea or coffee and home-made cakes are included here.

    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 our visit we will return to our hotel for dinner.

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  5. Day
    5
    House of Aigas and return
    Inverness, United Kingdom

    This morning after breakfast we depart for the 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. Here we will enjoy tea/coffee and shortbread on arrival then a guided tour of the garden followed by lunch using produce from the estate.

    In the afternoon we transfer to Inverness Airport in time to check-in for our later afternoon flight back to London Gatwick.

    Meals - Breakfast, Lunch

Accommodation

Glen Mhor Hotel

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Inverness, United Kingdom

Riverside hotel and restaurant in the centre of Inverness

Accommodation compromises 111 bedrooms set across 10 beautiful Victorian buildings, 11 self-contained apartments and a four-bedroom River View Townhouse.

The Waterside Restaurant provides contemporary dining in a variety of popular, home-cooked, quality dishes and served in a modern restaurant with a stunning view of the River Ness. Nicky Tam's Whisky & Wine Bar offers a range of whiskeys in the effortless comfort of the traditional wooden bar.

Brought to you by

Brightwater Holidays
This tour is operated solely by Brightwater Holidays
Brightwater Holidays is an award-winning tour operator specialising in garden and special-interest escorted tours worldwide.

To view Brightwater Holidays’ supplier’s terms and conditions click here.

This tour is protected by the following:

Availability

From
Tue, Tue, Jun 30, 2020
To
Sat, Sat, Jul 4, 2020
Duration
5 Days
Price per person
£1,295*
* Price based on two sharing a room. Single supplement £300. No-flight discount £175pp. This trip is ATOL protected. This promotion is exclusive to Hearst UK and may be promoted by other Hearst UK brands. Offer is subject to availability and to the booking conditions of Brightwater Holidays.
Call now to book 01334441849
Quote ref: FAR NORTH