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Scotlands Gardens and Landscapes

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Scotlands Gardens and Landscapes Expeditions 2013.
Two Specials – Inverness to Castle of Mey – Isle of Arran.

Inverness to Castle of Mey. Monday 2nd. September to Thursday 5th. September


Fabulous gardens near the end of the season. Expansive landscapes which will take your breath away. A landscape of land and sea. Gardening in extreme conditions. At Castle of Mey on the Pentland Firth the cabbages get blown out of the soil in winter.

Cost per person £260.

Includes travel and accommodation.

Three places available – travel by car.

Synopsis. Gardens – Jack Drake's Alpine Nursery near Aviemore, Bught Park Inverness, Dunrobin Castle, Langwell Lodge, Dunbeath Castle, John O'Groats, Castle of Mey. Access to private gardens subject to owners agreement.

Accommodation – Three nights away. Two nights at Sleeperzzz Railway Carriages at Rogart and one night at Sandra's Hostel Thurso.


Isle of Arran Thursday 3rd October To Sunday 6th October

Scotland in miniature. The Highland fault line runs through Arran. To the North the Highlands in all their dramatic splendour and to the South the rolling lowlands of Scotland. Arran is a beautiful place with relics of early man. Machrie Moor stone circle is believed to have been erected 5000 years ago. Gentle walks and something more demanding if you want to tackle Goat Fell!

Cost per person £215.


Includes cost of ferry, travelling and accommodation.

Three places available. Travel by car and ferry.

Synopsis. Brodick, Brodick Castle, Blackwaterfoot, Machrie Moor and Lochranza.

Kildonan, Whiting Bay, Lamlash. Holy Island by ferry.

NB Travelling out on Thursday and in on Sunday.

Accommodation Kilmory Hostel ( west coast of Arran) or SYHA Hostel at Lochranza.


Cost of expeditions.

Included in price is travel to and from George Square, Glasgow. This includes ferries where applicable. Accommodation, low cost SYHA and Independent Hostels and the services of a Guide/Driver. Entry to gardens and food and drink are not included in price.

Catering. The Hostels have adequate facilities for self catering. We will stop at a supermarket for fresh supplies daily. If you don't want to make your own meals eating out is the alternative within easy reach of our accommodation.

Interested? Questions?

Ring me if you are interested or would like more information. If you want to go book right away. There are only three places available on each of the expeditions.

Terms and conditions on application.

Brian Sutherland

0141 633 2228.

The expeditions can be run on dates to suit clients subject to my availability and a minimum of three people wanting to go.



Our Inverewe expedition was a brilliant experience and if there is a demand I will run this again in April 2013.


Inverewe Garden Poolewe, Leckmelm Arboretum by Ullapool, Attadale Garden in Wester Ross in the The North West Highlands of Scotland. 2012.

Rua Reidh (pronounced Roo Ray I believe) Lighthouse with Skye on the horizon.


Monday 23 April

Travel from Glasgow to Gairloch and on to the Rua Reidh Lighthouse, which will be our base for our expedition. The lighthouse is in a remote and beautiful location fourteen miles North of Gairloch.

Our accommodation, the lighthouse, is a comfortable four star (STB) Independent Hostel and our hosts, Fran and Chris will serve breakfast daily if required. We can order an evening meal on Monday if required. Otherwise it is self catering or eating out for all other evening meals.

Tuesday 24 April

Visit Leckmelm Arboretum near Ullapool. Trees from North America were new introductions when they were planted in the 1870's. The garden is being restored and the setting is lovely. There will be an opportunity to spend an hour or so in Ullapool which is one of the departure ports for the Western isles.


An amazing Eucalyptus (Gum Tree) at Inverewe in Wester Ross.
Photograph: Elizabeth Milne. Coywright.


Wednesday 25 April

Visit Inverewe Garden, Poolewe. One of the best known gardens in the world. The garden was created on barren rock by boating in soil and peat by Osgood Mackenzie in and around 1862. Compare the garden with surrounding natural landscapes and you have an idea of the task he set himself.

At this time of year there will be many fine Rhododendrons in flower. Many other forest floor plants will also be in flower.


Rhododendron at Inverewe Garden 2009.


Visit the Garden Cottage Nursery, Poolewe to see the substantial stock of well grown plants. Why not buy a trophy to take home? We will find a nook for them!


There will be an opportunity to explore the sea around Garloch in a glass bottomed boat. This one is special. It was designed by the owners so that you can enjoy the scenery and seascape and look down at the bottom of the sea when you want to. Enjoying both worlds at the same time.

Thursday 26 April

Return to Glasgow by a scenic route to remember. Torridon's dramatic mountains and glens are stunning. Visit one of the most attractive water gardens in Scotland, Attadale Garden in Wester Ross.



There will be a few breaks in the journey down through some of the most scenic landscapes in Scotland including a stop at Eilean Donan Castle, Dornie, to stretch your legs and take a few pictures.

Home to Glasgow in the evening and you will be dropped of at or close to your home.


Please contact me if you are interested in this expedition.

Brian Sutherland 0141 633 2228.




4th. To 8th. June 2012 – five days- Orkney Islands. Based on the Orkney mainland in Kirkwall Youth Hostel SYHA and visiting many sites of archaeological interest e.g. Scara Brae. Visiting the islands of Hoy and Shapinsay to enjoy wonderful scenery where the sea is never far away. Many interesting places to visit including Maeshowe.


Rousay in the Orkney Islands.


Western Isles aka Outer Hebridies.

18th. To 24th. June 2012 - seven days. A world away from the Scottish mainland. Using Independant hostels including a traditional Black House, owned by the Gareinan Trust (subject to availability and cannot be booked in advance), we will explore islands from Lewis in the north to Barra and Vatersay in the south. The Machair should be a wonderful sight at this time of year. Be prepared to combat the midges. Accommodation - be prepared to rough it from time to time in basic hostels. Maximum of seven clients for this expedition.


Thatching a Black House on Berneray


Gardens of Banffshire Aberdeenshire. September 10 to 13 2012 (four days)

Based in the cosy Cullen Harbour Hostel IH explore the countryside, sea side and magnificent gardens of this beautiful part of Scotland. See the great garden of Pitmedden, the winter gardens in Duthie Park, the inspirational gardens of Crathes Castle, Balmoral Castle is closed at this time of year. We are fortunate we will see the Dolphins of the Moray Firth. We saw four or five pass across Cullen Bay last year.

Great rock formations make the beach at Cullen, Banffshire, quite outstanding.


It is a lovely beach for swimming. One of our Sunday School picnics brought us from Keith Town Station to Cullen by steam engine. We climbed from the train and down the embankment to the beach and climbed back again when it was time to go home!

If you would like a full programme please contact me using the information on this web site.

This expedition is available subject to demand – four days – Inverness to Castle of Mey. See many fine gardens with the option of visiting castles associated with them.



Whisky Distillery - Usqube the water of life.


See what can be achieved in the gardens in a hostile climate. Dunrobin Castle, gardens and probably the best birds of prey display in Scotland.

Visit to a Distillery optional.


Dumfries and Galloway 2012. Scotland's Gardens and Landscapes.

Monday July 16 to Thursday 19 July 2012.


Shambellie Garden, New Abbey, Dumfries and Galloway. 


Four days in one of Scotland's most beautiful and peaceful landscapes. Three nights in the Haugh of Urr Hostel. A comfortable Independent Hostel near Castle Douglas in Galloway.


Depart from George Square Glasgow at 9 am.

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Portrack near Dumfries.

Shambellie Walled Garden, New Abbey. An old walled garden restored within the last five years. Glenkiln Estate where we will see sculptures by well known artists in rural settings near Shawhead. For example, King and Queen by Henry Moore.

Self catering at our hostel or eating out. It's your choice.


Walk from Rockcliffe to Kippford on the Solway coast.

Threave Gardens Castle Douglas. NTS. Threave is as good a demonstration garden as you will find anywhere. A walled garden, glasshouses, rock garden, fruit and vegetables and the list goes on. Threave has been a practical training garden for Scotland's gardeners for over fifty years.

Threave Castle (Historic Scotland) is on an island on the River Dee. A stronghold of the Douglas clan in days gone by. Take a boat ride to explore the imposing castle.

Self Catering or eating out. Your choice.


The walled garden at Threave, Castle Douglas.



Broughton House Kirkcudbright. NTS. EA Hornels house, studio and garden

Logan Garden, near Port Logan. This garden is an outstation of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. It is blessed by warm air from the North Atlantic Drift which is also known as the Gulf Stream. However this did not prevent recent winter weather from damaging important plants. Lets see how the garden is recovering.



Scottish heather clad Mull of Galloway is further South than Newcastle, England.


The Mull of Galloway. The most southern point in Scotland and a wild place. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Bird sanctuary and an important Light House. On a clear day you can see England, Ireland, and the Isle of Man. Lunch.

Glenwhan Water Garden, Dunraggit. Water, water everywhere and a beautiful garden. Compare the adjacent moorland with the garden. Proof that you can create and enjoy a garden in your own lifetime.


The Garden at Glenwhan is over thirty five years old and looks as if it has been here for ever.


Return to Glasgow during the evening.

Note: It will be possible to vary the gardens visited on request.

NTS = National Trust for Scotland. HS = Historic Scotland.

Four days away for (price under review- ask and I shall cost it expeditiously!). The price includes a full time guide/driver, accommodation and transport. A deposit of £75 secures a place on this expedition.

Cost of entry to the gardens/properties and of food is met by the individual.



Note Torosay Castle Garden, Mull, is not open to the public. The property is up for sale (June 2012).



Mull Iona and Skye - four days.

One of the most picturesque expeditions which includes a visit to the most Westerly point on the Scottish mainland and a walk to Iona Abbey where I was delighted to hear Corncrake for the first time in my life. This has in the past been the most popular tour in my portfolio. And yes it is really over the sea to Skye. We sail from Mallaig to Skye.


General Information.

Excursions include the services of a full time Driver/Guide, transport and ferry journeys, accommodation in SYHA Hostels or Independent Hostels. Pick up and drop off in the centre of Glasgow. Prices for the 2012 programme will be published no later than 1 February 2012.


If you are interested in three day excursions to 1. Dumfries and Galloway and or 2. Angus or any other expeditions contact me to discuss further. I will be very happy to discuss your individual requirements and to provide further information.

Brian Sutherland. 0141 633 2228.

Garden and Landscape Expeditions with Green Alba in 2010
All tours on offer can be run at other times to meet the needs of clients.

Following the successful holidays in 2009 with expeditions to Mull Iona Ardnamurchan and Skye, Aberdeenshire and Banffshire and Inverness to the Castle of Mey I am delighted to offer you another opportunity to explore Scotland with me. The only thing over which we have no power is the weather. We were fortunate most of the time. My knees acquired a good tan. We must however be ready for anything the weather throws at us! Bring walking boots and wet weather clothes. Be happy. Make the most of it.

I am offering new destinations with longer stays. As before the accommodation is based on Scottish Youth Hostels and Independent Hostels which are proving to be worthwhile and popular.

The accommodation is basic but low cost compared to bed and breakfast and Hotels. We self cater and live relatively inexpensively which keeps the overall cost down for. You can choose to eat out if you preffer.

Individual parties can upgrade to more expensive accommodation if there is a demand.

1. Orkney Islands. (Five days)

Listen to local folk talking to each other. You could be in a different country .... in a Norse country. The Orkneys are a treeless landscape and very different from mainland Scotland. An ancient landscape where there are many things to see. Standing stones – the Ring of Brodgar and the neolithic village, Skarra Brae are examples. St Magnus Cathedral, in Kirkwall is a sight to behold, towering above the town and was started in 1137. It is not a ruin! It was built by the Vikings and has seen many historic events come and go.



An important strategic place during two World Wars the Churchill Barriers are a lasting feature of modern Orkney. The Italian Chapel is a triumph of man over adversity. Sea dominates this great landscape which is unforgettable. We will visit some of the islands by boat and maybe you can visit by plane if you decide to take the shortest scheduled flight in the world which is an unforgettable experience.

When:Monday 31st. May to Friday 4th. June.


2. Outer Hebrides – Lewis, Harris, North Uist, Berneray, Benbecula, South Uist and Barra. (Seven days)

Drive and walk through time to see the land and sea which has not changed much in thousands of years. Live in a Black House hostel which has been modernised. Visit the Black House at Arnol and see what domestic life was like up until not so long ago. Not only were the houses black. The people who lived in them tended to be black too because of the effects of burning peat in a poorly ventilated space. Peat was and in some cases still is the fuel of choice.

Islands where both modern and old ways of life can be seen side by side.

Every island is different. The moorland and agricultural land of Lewis gives way to the rugged inhospitable mountains of Harris. Huge beaches of white sand grace the west coast on the southern islands and rarely a soul to be seen. A different landscape which makes a lasting impression.

Here we are a world apart from our daily lives on mainland Scotland. Aeroplanes and Ferries are the lifelines to our world. Enjoy many hours of sailing to and from the islands.

When: To be determined in the future. 


3. Inverewe Garden and the Hydroponic Garden, Auchiltibuie. (Four days)

The North West of Scotland is one of the most dramatic landscapes on mainland Scotland. Our exploration will take in Auchiltibuie and Inverewe and Durness. Big country with big landscapes and seascapes.

Inverewe Garden is one of the best known gardens in the world and was created on barren rocks by Osgood Mackenzie who brought tons of soil in by boat to create this great garden. A wonderful spectacle of Rhododendrons awaits the visitor in May and June and many other exotic plants from around the world can be seen flourishing far north thanks again to the North Atlantic Drift (Gulf Stream).


4. Banffshire and Aberdeenshire (Four Days)– Wonderful castles and gardens in a big landscape. Seascapes and beaches to satisfy any coast lover. Visit Penan of Local Hero. See the spectacular indoor displays in Duthie Park Aberdeen ... Royal Deeside and Balmoral Castle and more.


5. Mull, Iona, Ardnamurchan and Skye(Five Days)– Island hopping through some of the most spectacular landscapes in Scotland. The grandeur of Mull and the dignity of Iona. On Iona the opportunity to hear Corncrakes rasping away in the long grass. Tobermory is to children of a certain age “Ballamory”. The wild beauty of Arnamurchan and the lighthouse at the most westerly point on the British mainland which happens to have a nice wee tearoom. The ancient untouched mountains of Skye and the opportunity to sail out to islands on Dunvegan Loch to see seals who are so used to visits that they idle their time away resting. Speak or sing and they come to life and show great interest in you. Interesting hostels along the way and a view to die for at Uig Hostel.


6. Inverness, John 'O Groats and Castle of MeyCaithness (Four days)

This is an eye opener. Grand design, horticultural excellence and hidden gardens make this a spectacular journey.


Dunrobin Castle seat of the Sutherland Clan.


 See Dornoch Cathedral and walk the vast beach. Visit Dunrobin Castle and view some of the most outstanding garden design in Europe which is ranked alongside Versailes

The late Queen Mothers garden at the Castle of Mey is a triumph of man over nature in mid to late summer. Set overlooking the Pentland Firth the growing conditions are among the most hostile in Britain.

Full details, terms and conditions and costs of the expeditions are available on application to

Brian Sutherland

Green Alba Enterprises

661 Clarkston Road


G44 3QL Tel. 0141 633 2228. Or email