NC500 East Coast: Dunbeath Gardens


Situated at the far north of the UK sits Dunbeath Castle, a privately owned easte with a castle teetering on the Caithness coastline. Either side of the long driveway, sit the two grand walled Dunbeath gardens, which I was fortunate to explore a few weeks ago!

These gardens are open to visitors who book their appointment in advance (£6 payable to the hard working gardeners who you’re bound to spot amongst the plants and flowers).

We started by wandering along the perimeter of the southern garden. Amongst perfectly manicured lawns and bushes, are flowers of all size and description.

Unfortunately, this is not a blog where you will find out names of flowers and plants – so if you are a true gardening enthusiast, you’ll be educating me!

At the end of April, the Dunbeath gardens are really pulling out the stops of pink…

Of course with the pale yellow daffodils of spring.

I do love a good greenhouse (see some shots I had forgotten about here at Glasgow Botanic gardens) and while the Dunbeath gardens greenhouses are being partially restored, I did still find opportunity to nip in amongst the white-washed walls.

I absolutely love this climbing beauty, with bright red buds really standing out against the white walls.

You wouldn’t think that palm trees would grow well in Scotland, but again I was reminded of past visits to Plockton and Attadale Gardens – two places on the West coast where we’ve seen them growing quite happily in the Scottish climate.

The grand tall walls do a good job of keeping out the pests (in this case, the rabbits who would enjoy a cheeky nibble on any of these plants). Make sure you do as the gardeners ask and shut the gated doors to the gardens when you enter/leave.

We nipped back to another greenhouse, as I had caught sight of a personal favourite…

…the stunning calla lillies.

To get to the northern garden, there is a steep staircase which meets the driveway. There’s some fabulous views of the thirteenth century Dunbeath Castle, which underwent extensive renovations and alterations in the nineteenth century.

Onwards we went, into the northern private garden, which, with it’s collection of small pools, has a much more relaxed vibe. There’s lots of space, it’s open, and therefore more exposed – opposed to the careful geometric designs and pruned ‘rooms’ of the southern garden.

We had a quick chat with the head gardener, who has overseen the creation of this garden over the past 13 years, when it was a ruin. By using ornamental grasses alongside the water features, gives a pretty appearance even in the depths of winter.

It’s a popular place for weddings, and there’s even a mini-bar  – you just have to hop across the stones!

Once we had done a few laps of the Dunbeath gardens it was time to leave, but what a place to spend a relaxing hour or two!

Dunbeath Castle Gardens are open, by appointment only, throughout the year. Check this helpful information for further details.