The East Fife Members' Centre National Trust for Scotland
The East Fife Members' Centre National Trust for Scotland
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10 September 2018Residential outing to Aberdeenshire Castles and Gardens

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Residential outing to Aberdeenshire Castles and Gardens
Monday 10 September 2018

If you would like a booking form for this outing, please contact Barbara Fotheringham


Monday 10 - 13th September 2018

We depart by coach from our local pick-up points and head north stopping en route for lunch (not included) at Brechin Castle Garden Centre.

In the afternoon we visit the Drum Castle and Gardens. The sweep of 700 years of history is stamped into Drum’s stalwart battlements, medieval square tower and sprawling extensions. The beautiful Garden of Historic Roses is divided into quadrants that show how roses have been cultivated from the 17th to the 20th century. The ancient oak forest adjoins the castle, providing a sense of continuity through the centuries and a home for red kites, roe deer, red squirrels and badgers. 

Following our visit we continue to Inverurie where accommodation has been arranged at the 4-star Thainstone House Hotel. The hotel has full leisure facilities including swimming pool, steam room and hot tub. 

Dinner will be served in the evening, in the hotel’s two AA Rosette restaurant.


Tuesday 11 September 2018

After breakfast this morning, we depart for Crathes Castle. Standing against a backdrop of rolling hills and set within its own glorious gardens, Crathes Castle is every inch the classic Scottish tower house. Inside there is a labyrinth of cultural history, from family portraits and fine antique furniture to painted ceilings. The walled garden is split into eight sections, including sculpted topiary, soft herbaceous colours and modern exotic blooms. Here we will be joined by the Head Gardener for a special behind-the-scenes tour and discover the challenges of curating and nurturing an important historical landscape. Lunch is available here (not included). 

Our afternoon visits offer a complete contrast – two small privately-owned gardens. Over the past couple of years the owners of Blairwood House have changed their, one acre garden in several ways. By re-routing part of the driveway they created space for a pond (using local stones) and a small stream. Many new flowering shrubs are used to extend seasonal interest and to provide a good backdrop for less substantial herbaceous perennials. They revamped the entire herb garden for ease of maintenance, and started a kitchen garden. The garden sits well in the surrounding countryside and provides pleasure through its plant combinations.

 The garden at Birken Cottage, Burnhervie, is smaller still, but packed with plants. It rises from a wet streamside gully and woodland, past sunny terraces and a small parterre, to dry flowery banks.  

We then return to the hotel where dinner will be served in the evening.

Wednesday 12 September 2018

After breakfast we will set off for Haddo House, which was designed by William Adam for the 2nd Earl of Aberdeen in 1732, and refurbished in the 1880s. Unusual for Aberdeenshire in that it is not a castle, the house elegantly blends crisp Georgian architecture with sumptuous late Victorian interiors by Wright and Mansfield and is noted for its fine furniture, paintings and antiques. Haddo also boasts a delightful terrace garden with geometric rosebeds and fountain, commemorative trees, a lavish herbaceous border and secluded glades and knolls. A magnificent avenue of lime trees leads to Haddo Country Park with its lakes, monuments, walks and wildlife.  

In the afternoon we set off on a circular tour that will take us to some of the picturesque fishing villages along the Aberdeenshire coast. These include Portsoy, known for its jewellery made from ‘Portsoy Marble’ (actually serpentine); Pennan, of Local Hero fame, and Cullen, home of the famous fish soup ‘Cullen Skink’. We will also see the ruins of Findlater Castle, former stronghold of the Earls of Findlater and Seafield, set on a 50-foot-high cliff.  

We return via Huntly to our hotel, where dinner is served in the evening.

Thursday 13 September 2018

After breakfast we must check out of the hotel and begin our journey home, but we have time for two further visits, beginning with Leith Hall, which has played witness to Scottish history since 1650. Ten generations of the Leith-Hay family lived here until just after World War II. They donated the house to the National Trust for Scotland along with all their furnishings and art, making it one of the most complete collections in the National Trust’s care. Leith Hall has the highest altitude garden in the Trust, at 186m above sea level – the views are wonderful. 

Our final visit is Castle Fraser, one of the grandest of the Scottish baronial tower houses. Built between 1575 and 1636 by the 6th laird, Michael Fraser, Castle Fraser is the most elaborate Z-plan castle in Scotland. The castle contains many Fraser family portraits, including one by Raeburn, and fine 18th- and 19th-century carpets, curtains and bed hangings, and even Charles Mackenzie Fraser's wooden leg! The historic walled garden features shrubs, flowers, wall-trained fruit and vegetables. There is also a shop selling exclusive gifts. 

After our visit we will resume our journey back to our original pick-up points. 

Included in the price

·       Three nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast at Thainstone House Hotel. All rooms have private facilities

·       Comfortable coaching throughout

·       Visits to the National Trust for Scotland properties of Drum Castle, Crathes Castle, Haddo House, Leith Hall and Castle Fraser; the private gardens of Blairwood House and Birken Cottage; scenic tour of the north Aberdeenshire coast

·       Services of a Brightwater Holidays tour manager

·       Porterage 

Not included (per person)

  • Single occupancy supplement            £95.00
  • Insurance                                            £28.00 (under 65); £56 (65-74); £84.00 (75-90)