To view Brightwater Holidays’ supplier’s terms and conditions click here.
See the castles and gardens of the Scottish Highlands
For up-to-date advice on travel and COVID-19, see our homepage.
The gardens of Scotland are famous for their clear air and dramatic landscapes plus, due to the shorter growing season, a profusion of flowers in spring and summer. On this exclusive five-day holiday, you'll visit wonderful gardens such as 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.
You will fly to Inverness and stay at the atmospheric Glen Mhor Hotel in the centre of the city for four nights on a half-board basis. You'll also visit Inverewe, one of the most outstanding gardens in the country, and the Inverness Botanic Gardens, in the company of expert horticulturalist and guide Colin Crosbie, formerly head gardener to the Queen Mother.
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.
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.
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.
Reasons to book
Inverness hotel stay
Comortable coach travel
Tour Scottish Castles
- 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
Day1Fly to InvernessInverness, 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.
Day2Dunrobin, John O'Groats and the Castle of MeyJohn 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.
Day3Dundonnell House Garden and InvereweInverewe 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.
Day4Old Allangrange and Inverness Botanic GardenInverness, 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.
Day5House of Aigas and returnInverness, 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.
Glen Mhor Hotel
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.