Armadale Castle



Isle of Skye

IV45 8RS


Trees From Around The World Flourishing on Skye

Ruined castles add a sense of drama and romance to the landscape and that’s definitely the case on Skye where the once impressive Armadale Castle, which was abandoned in the 1920s after partial restoration following an earlier fire, sits at the heart of a 40-acre woodland garden.

While the building itself may be smothered in ivy and other climbers as it is slowly reclaimed by nature, the gardens themselves have suffered no such neglect.

Spread across the grounds are many exotic trees as well as ponds filled with water lilies, a rockery and herbaceous borders that are all beautifully maintained while, set around the museum in the grounds, which is home to the Clan Donald Centre, are prairie-style plantings made up of grasses and spiky-leaved phormiums and a terrace walk lined with planted urns.

Many of the trees in the gardens were planted in the Victorian era, but others are more recent additions, part of an important conifer conservation project that is growing endangered species in locations across Scotland in order to preserve them for future generations.

There are hundreds of deciduous trees too and while the bluebells that grow below these are now going over, around the woodland edges wild orchids are appearing in the long grass.

The four miles of nature-trails that criss-cross the gardens allow visitors to explore quiet corners and to discover the wildlife that inhabits the wider estate, which is home to roe and red deer, otters, adders and golden eagles.

Parts of the garden date from the 1780s, others were designed in the 1820s when plants were starting to arrive from America, the Himalayas and beyond. Many of these, including rhododendrons and species from Chile, flourished in the Sleat peninsula’s microclimate, where high rainfall levels and mild winters allow them to grow unchecked by frost. In early summer the speed of growth is dramatic, making the garden both lush and intensely green.


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Things to do

The Castle holds regular events throughout the summer including Herbal Walks on Fridays when medical herbalist Jeanette Taylor identifies beneficial plants growing in the gardens, explains their preparation and recalls the folklore associated with them.

And there is also a monthly marketplace where stallholders sell locally-made crafts and produce.

Also throughout the summer, naturalist Phil Knott will be leading regular moth forays, identifying the different species that can be found on the estate. Bookings for these and for the Herbal Walks can be made at

The garden has an adventure playground for children and a picnic area.

Accommodation for those who want to extend their visit to Armadale Castle includes cabins, a cottage and a heritage apartment.


Humans and Nature in Harmony

The gardens and the 20,000 acre estate that surrounds them are owned by the Clan Donald Trust who maintain the landscape for crofting and conservation.

The estate is rich in biodiversity, with populations of white-tailed sea eagles and pine marten, and parts of it are covered in native oak and hazel woods.

The Sleat Peninsula on Skye has been shaped by nature and by small-scale farming and hundreds of years of coexistence have created a delicate balance that the Trust is working to maintain.



The gardens are open daily, 9.30am-5pm. Tickets are available from the Stables Cafe – £13/£11/£7 (underr-fives free). The main routes around the garden are wheelchair and pushchair accessible.

Armadale Castle is situated at the southern tip of Skye, close to the Armadale ferry terminal.

Tel: 01471 844305