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Castle of Mey

The stunning seascapes and wild lands of Scotland’s northernmost counties are home to a surprising number of stunning gardens.

These 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 the castles of Dunbeath and Dunrobin, whose turreted structure and formal gardens certainly would not look out of place in the Loire Valley.

Our hotel: we are based at the St Clair Hotel in Thurso.  All rooms have en suite facilities with TV, telephone and tea/coffee making facilities.

Available departure dates and prices


The stunning seascapes and wild lands of Scotland’s northernmost counties are home to a surprising number of stunning gardens.

Day 1

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.

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 the hotel where dinner is served in the evening.

Day 3

This morning following breakfast we will visit The Castle of Mey the former holiday home of the late Queen Mother.  OriginallyBarrogillCastle 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 privategarden ofSir 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.

Day 4

This morning after breakfast we shall head south breaking our journey at the intriguing private garden of Old Allangrange. This is a lovely old property with surrounding garden set in the heart of the Black Isle.

Following our visit we will return to our original pick-up points.


Included in the price

  • 3 nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast at the St Clair Hotel, Thurso (or similar). All rooms have private facilities
  • Comfortable coach travel throughout
  • Visits to the gardens of Old Allangrange, Bighouse Lodge, House of Tongue, Castle of Mey, Dunbeath Castle, Dunrobin Castle and Langwell
  • Services of a Brightwater Holidays tour manager


Not Included (per person)

  • Single room supplement            £75.00
  • Insurance                                 £18.50 (under 65); £37.00 (65-74); £55.50 (75-90)

Rail/air connections are available at a supplement. Overnight accommodation can also be arranged before or after the tour – please contact us for more details.


Departure points Depart Return
Glasgow (Millennium Hotel) 0700 2030
Edinburgh (Edinburgh Marriott Hotel) 0815 1915
Dunfermline (Outside Carnegie College) 0845 1845
Kinross (Moto Services, M90) 0900 1815
Perth (Canal Street) 0915 1800
Inverness (Jury's Inn Hotel) 1300 1500
Subject to minimum numbers, the following pick-up will be served by feeder coach and passengers will join/leave in Perth:
Dundee (Discovery Point) 0845 1830


Please note all timings are approximate and may be changed. They will be confirmed when the joining instructions are sent out, approximately ten days prior to departure.


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We thoroughly enjoyed the archaeological tour to the Outer Hebrides, the driver and guide made the holiday a great success

Mr and Mrs Sutherland, Dundee

A superb holiday - thanks Trish the Tour Manager was very helpful and knowledgeable - the free day was a great idea.

Mr and Mrs Somerville

Pauline our Tour Manager was a wee star, her personality and knowledge make the Highlands come alive.

Mrs Wilson
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