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Why We Should Visit

The Morvern peninsula is one of Scotland’s great wildernesses. It covers 200 square miles of mountain and moorland, separated by a narrow strip of sea from the island of Mull and joined to the mainland by the valley that runs between Loch Sunart and Loch Linnhe.

The Ardtornish Estate’s 35,000 acres include 28 acres of formal lawns and rockeries as well as walled kitchen gardens and herbaceous borders, and the estate’s many bothies and cottages provide holiday accommodation for visitors.

Travelling to Ardtornish from the central belt involves driving or taking the Fort William train through some of Scotland’s finest scenery and the sense of arrival is heightened by the short journey across Loch Linnhe on the Corran Ferry that separates the A82 from Morvern.

Story of the Garden

Ardtornish House was built in 1856 by Octavius Smith and work on carving the garden out of a rocky hillside was started by his son, Valentine, who employed 12 gardeners and several horses to maintain it.

In 1930 the estate was bought by Owen and Emmeline Hugh Smith, who began an extensive programme of planting of rhododendrons, acers and eucryphias, which has been continued to this day by their daughter, Faith Raven and her family, many of whom have specialist plant knowledge. Today the gardens are home to more than 200 different rhododendrons and many fine trees.


Recently the kitchen garden has converted to a “no dig” regime, where compost and leaf mould is heaped onto the beds each year and vegetables are raised directly into this mix. So far results have been promising and the produce is used within the mansion house, which is an exclusive weddings and events venue.

The gardens are extensive and restoration is ongoing in order to make them fully productive once again.

Don’t Miss

Ardtornish sits in spectacular surroundings and from the gardens there are views towards Mull. From the gardens it is a short walk through woodland and heather to pristine beaches and sparkling water.

Anything Else to Look Out For?

Atlantic rainforest is one of the world’s rarest habitats and there are large stretches of it on the Ardtornish Estate. This lush, species-rich forest has ancient oaks and many different kinds of ferns and mosses that are home to otters and pine marten, with both white tailed and golden sea eagles frequently spotted overhead.

Best Time to Visit

The rhododendrons are at their best in April and May, but from the moment that spring arrives, everything in the gardens and the estate begins to wake up and the season unfolds in a rush of foliage and flowers. New plantings grow rapidly in Morvern’s mild climate.

Recommendations in the Area

Morvern abounds with wildlife, both on land and in the sea, and one of the best ways to see it is by canoe or kayak. Trips are available from the estate and there are also many secluded coves and beaches that are perfect for picnics.


Ardtornish is 30 miles from the Corran Ferry on the A884.


The gardens are open daily. Entrance is £4

T: 01967 421288


The ancestral seat to the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne since 1372, Glamis inspired William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and was the childhood home of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and birthplace of Princess Margaret. Famous visitors include Mary, Queen of Scots and William Gladstone.

The extensive grounds include a nature trail, a walled garden, a Macbeth Trail with figures from the story carved into oak and Douglas Fir trees, and an Italian garden designed by Countess Cecilia, mother to the late Queen Mother.


This weekend and next, as part of the Discover Scottish Gardens Snowdrop Festival, Glamis Castle is inviting visitors to help re-plant snowdrops, which have grown here since Victorian times and head gardener, Des Cotton, says: “Snowdrop bulbs tend to dry out really easily, so rather than planting them in the autumn as a bulb, we lift them when they’re in the green. We have a few large 100-year-old drifts of snowdrops tucked away in the woods that we lift clumps from to transfer to the public spaces in the gardens.”

The gardening team will be on site during the snowdrop planting sessions in the Nature Trail behind the Italian Garden at Glamis Castle. The Pavilion Gift Shop will also be selling potted snowdrops for planting at home.

Glamis Castle


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