The East Fife Members Centre
National Trust for Scotland
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02 September 2020Highland and Island Gardens visit 2 – 5 September 2020

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Highland and Island Gardens visit 2 – 5 September 2020
Wednesday 02 September 2020

Please note that the booking form for this trip is on this site under Documents

From £675.00 per person (based on minimum 25 paying passengers)


Day 1 Wednesday 2 September 2020

We depart by coach from our local departure points and head for Wemyss Bay where we will catch the lunchtime ferry to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. Our first visit will be to the spectacular house and gardens of Mount Stuart, which is one of the largest, most spectacular High Victorian Gothic houses in Britain and yet one of the least known. The gardens were only opened to the general public for the first time in June 1995. These 300 acres of stunning woodlands and gardens are a real treasure trove for the garden enthusiast. The temperate effect of the Gulf Stream on Bute ensures that there are always many exotic plants, palm trees and Mediterranean blooms to be seen here. There is a pavilion glasshouse in the grounds which nurtures rare species from the tropical rain forests of south-east Asia while native British plants thrive in the fertile soils and mild climate.

We continue to Ascog Hall Fernery. In the secluded and long neglected gardens of Ascog Hall a sunken fernery with beautiful rock work and water pools was found. Even in its dilapidated state the potential was spotted and it has now been carefully refurbished with an impressive collection of ferns researched by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. Open to the public only recently after a change of ownership this unique fern house is a joy to behold. It offers a rare opportunity to glimpse a bygone era and is a tribute to the imagination and ingenuity of Alexander Bannatyne Stuart, a former owner of Ascog Hall in Victorian times, whose passion for collecting exotic ferns inspired him in his endeavour to replicate a tiny fragment of sub-tropical jungle on a small Scottish island.

Later we catch the ferry from Rhubodach to Colintraive and continue to our accommodation at the 4* Loch Fyne Hotel and Spa overlooking Loch Fyne and the Cowal Hills. The hotel has an indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi. Dinner is served in the evening.

Day 2 Thursday 3 September 2020

This morning following our full Scottish breakfast we will depart from our hotel in time to catch the late morning ferry to Gigha. Gigha is a small and beautiful island lying just off the Kintyre peninsula. Here, Sir James Horlick (of bedtime drink fame) came in 1944 and started to make a woodland garden. His new plantings were protected by evergreens and old broad-leaved trees. We will visit Achamore Gardens. Although there is an element of faded glory here, efforts are being made to restore the garden to prime condition. Lunch facilities are available at the comfortable Gigha Hotel (not included). We will return to the mainland on the late afternoon ferry and continue to our hotel, where dinner is served in the evening.

Day 3 Friday 4 September 2020
This morning we will visit the National Trust for Scotland's garden at Arduaine. The garden here was started in 1897 by James Arthur Campbell, a tea planter, and a friend of Osgood MacKenzie, the maker of Inverewe. It is a splendid site, full of the most magnificent plants. It is most rewarding to keep going to the viewpoint which gives an exquisite panorama of the calm waters of Loch Melfort below.

Our afternoon visit will be to the small and private garden of An Cala on the Isle of Seil. This is a quaint garden very much on a domestic scale, which relies for its impact on its situation looking out to the sea with the islands of Luing, Scarba, Mull and the Garvellachs in the distance. Dinner is served back at our hotel in the evening.

Day 4 Saturday 5 September 2020
This morning we will check out of the hotel and visit the nearby House at Ardkinglas, known to be one of architect Sir Robert Lorimer’s masterpieces. Following a private tour of the house there will be time to look around the Woodland Gardens. Here huge conifers planted in the nineteenth century provide a high canopy for rhododendrons and other shrubs. Highlights include five of Britain’s tallest or largest conifers.

Our last visit is to Benmore Botanic Gardens, the country annexe of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. You are free to explore this splendid garden, with its magnificent mountain backdrop. The garden has a history dating from the 1820s with the first plantings of conifers, and today, superb old specimens of Douglas fir, larch, Scots pine and a magnificent avenue of Wellingtonias make a wonderful background.

We continue to Dunoon to catch the ferry to Gourock before continuing our journey back to Fife, before we arrive back at our original departure point in the evening.

Included in the price:

  • Three nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast at the 4* Loch Fyne Hotel and Spa

  • Comfortable coaching and all ferry transfers

  • Visits to the house and gardens at Mount Stuart, Ascog Fernery and Ardkinglas;

    Achamore Gardens on Gigha; the gardens of An Cala, Arduaine and Benmore Botanic Gardens

    Not included (per person):

  • Insurance £40.00 (under 65yrs); £80.00 (65-74yrs); £120.00 (75-90yrs)

  • Single room supplement £75.00