Dunrobin Castle


Dunrobin Castle is the most northerly of Scotland’s Great Houses and is one of the most majestic, looking like a French château with its fantastic gardens. It is the largest house in the Highlands of Scotland with 189 rooms, and one of Britain’s oldest inhabited houses, dating in parts from the early 1300s. It was home to the Dukes of Sutherland, and it is now occupied by the Earls of Sutherland who are their descendants.

The falconry display is excellent and takes place in the gardens at 11.30am and 2pm daily from 1st April to 30th September.

The personal museum of the Dukes is also worth visiting for its unusual collection of hunting trophies and other curious items from around the world.

As you might expect with such a long history, Dunrobin Castle claims to have a few ghosts. One room, the “Seamstress’s Room” , is said to be haunted by the ghost of an imprisoned young maiden who fell from a window whilst trying to escape. Maybe just our imagination, but the room does have a “feeling” about it.

Dunrobin is one of our favourite castles. We love the entrance hall with its grand staircase and portraits which will remind you of a Harry Potter movie. The gardens also deserve a visit and you will get your best photographs of the castle from there.

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Dunrobin Castle, The Mound & Dornoch

Set high on the cliffs just north of the village of Golspie, Dunrobin Castle is a beautiful 189 room historic house inspired by the design of the classic French Chateau. It is one of the oldest constantly inhabited houses in the UK, dating back to the 1300s, and is the seat of the Earls, and latterly the Dukes of Sutherland.

It will take you about an hour to drive north to Dunrobin Castle from Inverglen Guest House, but it really is worth taking the trip if you have time whilst you are staying at our Inverness B&B. The castle is open daily from early April until early autumn, but please check the website at Dunrobin Castle for current opening times and entry prices. The entry cost includes a self-guided tour of the castle, although there are a lot of knowledgeable volunteers available throughout who are happy to answer your questions and point out interesting artefacts. You also have access to the castle gardens and a museum in the grounds, but you should time your visit to be able to attend one of the two daily falconry shows (at 11.30 am and 2 pm) which are included in the ticket price. Allow at least an hour for the tour of the castle itself, and longer to take in the falconry and beautiful gardens.

Just off the A9 north of Dornoch, you can stop and take in the fabulous views across Loch Fleet from The Mound, where you may see anglers in the sluice basin, or during the summer, you may see ospreys fishing in the Loch. On the return journey to Inverness, take the scenic route to Dornoch (signposted via Embo), where you will take a short detour along Loch Fleet past a ruined castle on the hilltop. At low tide you may see a colony of seals basking on the sandbanks, and you can stop in the historic town of Dornoch to visit the cathedral, for a spot of shopping at the Jail, or maybe to pop into Cocoa Mountain for a delicious hot chocolate made with chocolate handmade in the far north of Scotland.

Dunrobin Castle

Worth the Price of Admission – Dunrobin Castle and Gardens

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A fine line of clipped topiary whitebeams and a maturing line of red hawthorns in wooden tubs are recent developments, which echo the garden’s Italianate origins. Nearby a new garden in the style of a 19th century French potager and featuring 20 giant wooden pyramid plant supports is the boldest project to date and frames a new vista across the garden.

Despite its location so far north, the Gulf Stream of warm sea water that flows from the Gulf of Mexico across the Atlantic brings sub-tropical conditions to western gardens from the Isles of Scilly to the North West Highlands goes on to sweep round Cape Wrath and John o ’Groats making its final influence felt at Dunrobin. The sheltered gardens are able to support a surprising range of plants, including at the foot of the steps leading to the garden, a huge clump of giant rhubarb, Gunnera manicata, a native of South America. This plant attracts much attention as its leaves measure eight feet. A native of Brazil and Colombia, it thrives in the mild winters and shelters between the Castle and the sea. Fuchsias too thrive. Previous head gardeners raised their own varieties and Fuchsia ‘Dunrobin Bedder’ may still be seen in the borders as well as bold clumps of Fuchsia magellanica var. miolinae with its flowers of palest shell pink and great banks of Fuchsia magellanica ‘Riccartonii’ with masses of small crimson and purple flowers.

Three box-edged parterres of ascending antiquity carry a succession of colourful floral displays round the garden as the season progresses. April sees early tulips in the lily fountain beds and week by week spring bedding then summer bedding schemes interspersed with displays of perennial geraniums and lilies take the season through to the finish with a blaze of late summer dahlias. Backed by the retaining wall of the Castle terrace the Duchess Border, dating in its present form from the 1920s, is a majestic sight. Long summer days so far north make for exceptionally tall herbaceous plants and between the buttresses of the wall, Californian lilies flower with early 20th century climbing hybrid tea roses, now rarely seen. Also enjoying the warm influence is Choisya ternata the Mexican orange blossom forming clipped evergreen mounds in a sheltered corner, its heavily-scented white flowers attracting butterflies and moths on summer evenings.

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