Scotland in the Spring
Spring officially begins on March 20th and after the dark of a Scottish winter in lockdown, we couldn’t be happier to welcome in this most favourite of seasons. Hello brighter mornings stretching out into longer evenings, hello sunshine and daffodils and April showers heard through an open window. Hello birdsong and strawberries and cups of tea in the garden and cherry blossoms blowing pink confetti petals into the air.
In many ways, Scotland in the spring is Scotland at its very finest. While the coming months are likely still to feature restrictions of one sort of another as the country safely navigates through this global pandemic, there are many things to enjoy outside this spring. On the blog this week, we are sharing some of our favourite outdoor spaces: some are open for local visitors to enjoy at the moment (government restrictions allowing), others are places we are dreaming of for the future. Lose yourself, with us, in imagining these beautiful Scottish spaces.
Right now, we are dreaming of the stunning Cambo Gardens, not far from St Andrews on the East Coast of Fife. A springtime walk here is always a balm to the soul and, for those lucky enough to live in the area, the gardens and surrounding woodlands are currently open to local visitors. Cambo is famous for its Plant Heritage national collection of snowdrops, boasting over 350 varieties of these delicate white flowers. (We recently learned the word ‘galanthophile’ means ‘an enthusiastic collector and identifier of snowdrop species’ and if you think you fit this description, you may be interested to watch some of Cambo Gardens’ recent Virtual Snowdrop Festival). While snowdrop season may be drawing to a close, the estate will soon be overflowing with daffodils, tree blossom, primroses, and other springtime flowers.
Another favourite springtime spot of ours is The Hermitage: a beautiful stretch of forest in Perthshire, near Dunkeld and we can’t wait to be walking in the shadow of its leaves again. Here you can marvel at some of the tallest trees in Britain and breathe in the smell of the pines. You can find signs of wildlife everywhere: squirrels, birds, even beavers. You can walk paths that wind along the River Braan until you find your way to Ossian’s Hall, the 18th century folly that overlooks the crashing waters of Black Linn waterfall. In mid-spring, the forest will be full of bluebells and birdsong, and we can’t help thinking that a walk in The Hermitage would be the perfect antidote to months spent indoors looking at screens.
Another woodland area that we love in the spring is Ardkinglas Woodland Gardens, found near the shores of Loch Fyne in Argyll. There are many paths through the trees for a springtime wander, and – with its charming Fairy and Gruffalo Trails – the gardens are a perfect place to visit with family. From April onwards, the gardens will be ablaze with colour and filled with the sweet smell of rhododendrons. A lovely feature of Ardkinglas’ website is their ‘Woodland Garden Calendar’ where you can find out when the various species are in bloom, so even if the Gardens are too far to travel right now due to restrictions, you can always plan ahead for another month.
Somewhere we are hoping to revisit this coming spring is Drummond Castle Gardens. Dating back to the 17th century, Drummond’s restored formal gardens are considered among the finest in Europe. Set against the backdrop of the Perthshire countryside and the spectacular castle itself, the gardens have featured in a number of screen productions, recently including the hugely popular time-travel romance series, Outlander. While currently closed, the gardens are due to reopen to the public in May, and they are high on our list of must sees.
Our final spring favourite is a little different from the others, and the recommendation comes direct from Kenneth Good, our Operations Director and one of the Tour Designers for our Luxury Chauffeur Driven Tours. Here are his words, a snapshot of a springtime outing we hope we can take sometime soon:
“One of the great things about Scotland in the spring for me is the feeling of freshness you get in the north west of the country as the days start to get longer and nature begins to waken. There is often a reminder that winter is only just behind us, as many of the mountains are still snow-capped, but the feeling that spring is in the air is a wonderful one. One of my favourite places at this time of year is the west coast village of Applecross, which sits on the other side of the Blealach na Ba (‘the pass of the cattle’). It is one of the steepest and most challenging mountain roads in Scotland. Treacherous hairpin bends and a 1 in 5 gradient will excite many a driver and terrify others, but the views from the top across to Skye and the outer isles are stunning. When eventually you reach Applecross then the gastronomic haven of the local inn awaits and again, after a long winter, when the village is often cut off, spring means that a dozen or more hot garlic langoustines can be devoured outside on the shoreline and washed down with a crisp sauvignon blanc or a couple of expertly poured pints of Guinness.”
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