In Early 2017, Aldourie Castle and Estate underwent some renovations, always looking to add to the exclusive use experience of our private guests and beauty of the Castle and Estate. We coated the exterior of the Castle with a limewash harl (we’ll cover this more in the next post), revitalised the old walled gardens and carried out further landscaping around the Castle. But there’s a lot more meaning behind reviving this 17th Century exclusive use Estate than initially meets the eye.
The gardens design team
The plan was to develop the gardens to create a fitting, high quality setting for the Castle. We employed a head gardener Duncan Hall, who is passionate about innovative landscaping for historic settings. Duncan and his dedicated team have been thrilled to work alongside landscape architect, garden designer and writer Tom Stuart-Smith, an inspirational leader in his field. Aldourie Castle Estate feels privileged to have Tom designing the revised estate including the four main garden areas (detailed below).
Formal Garden: on the Castle’s doorstep
The main Castle Garden (to the west) creates a formal setting for Aldourie whilst hinting at playful associations with the property such as the turret-inspired topiary trees, and historic references like the planned fortress-inspired bastions. This is an already impressive space combining order with fun to heighten the exclusive use experience; we want the garden, though formal, to be used and enjoyed by private guests.
Walled Garden and Glasshouses: for ‘living off the Estate’
Restored to a very high standard, this by comparison to the Castle garden has a rugged feel and features attractive dry walls made with a local stone. Walking into it you definitely feel as though it belongs in the highlands. Its central area is primarily for vegetable and fruit production (including high value crops and soft fruit) to supply the castle kitchen as well as the other Wildland properties. You may remember the glasshouses being restored in 2016. These stunning creations, originally dating from the mid-18th Century, are also growing fruit and veg and open for exclusive use guests to wander through.
Arboretum: historic discoveries through hard work
This has been a major renovation job and along the way was the discovery of a fine tree collection dating back to the 19th Century which Aldourie is committed to nurturing. Any added design element has been carefully planned; for example the winding paths and interweaving patches of plants at the foot of the trees will in effect guide Castle guests from one garden to another and be designed so that not one part of the arboretum goes undiscovered. The burial ground is also a significant historical feature and so work was carried out to tidy this area and preserve its ornamentation and archaeological relevance.
Parkland: keeping it green
There are further plans afoot to create a landscape of wild meadow and Highland cattle but for now the parkland starts to rejuvenate with new trees whilst an Estate railing has clearly separated the Castle setting from the wider park.
Head Gardener, Duncan, comments on the parkland design; “The new trees have breathed some life into the park, which is the first part of the estate that guests will experience as they enter the main drive. Enticing views of different parts of the estate are revealed encouraging guests to explore, as well as stunning views across the wider landscape of Loch Ness.”
Focus is on the exclusive use experience
The landscape of Aldourie Castle and Estate is of outstanding scenic value so it is vital that the design and gardening work serves to enhance its beauty. It forms an archetypal Scottish Baronial scene highly visible from the northern shores of Loch Ness. One of the key reasons for revitalising the Castle and grounds was to compound the feeling, during an exclusive use experience, of staying in such a historically valued, spectacular location.
The initial warm welcome at the Castle now extends to the entirety of the 500 acre Estate. Guests are now encouraged to really discover the gardens, to explore and play, and feel the heritage beneath their feet. Regular pruning of tree branches in the walled garden will offer glimpses of the estate and wider landscape enticing them to go further afield.
The ‘farm to table’ aspect of this particular garden will also transcend to the guests’ experience with the opportunity for them to pick their own fruit and veg for the Castle’s chef to cook that day. The idea is to reinforce the exclusive use experience at every opportunity so that exploring the beauty and history of Aldourie Estate becomes an integral part of their stay.
Look out for our next instalment of the Revitalisation of Aldourie Castle & Estate. For more information on exclusive use of Aldourie please visit our Private Hire pages or contact the main office through our online contact form.