Why we should visit
The far North West of Scotland is far from it all, but reaching it is worth the trip as the scenery is breathtaking. The further north you venture, the more wild the landscape becomes until it feels like the world has been reduced to the basic elements of water and stone.
The lighthouse at the end of this road is The Torridon, a five-star resort that offers luxury and comfort amidst the grandeur of a landscape where the mountains are formed from some of the oldest rocks in the world.
This grand Victorian design, located on the edge of Upper Loch Torridon, has turrets on the exterior and interior styling that combines original features and contemporary flair.
History of the garden
The Torridon Garden sits a bit away from the hotel itself and has been a productive space since the magnificent mansion was completed in 1887 as a hunting lodge for William King-Noel, the first Earl of Lovelace and husband of Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, who is now recognized as the world’s first computer scientist.
Creating a garden in this extreme landscape involved bold measures and therefore the Earl of Lovelace brought the land by boat from Ireland, but even today the bedrock still poses problems for the head gardener. Bryony Doig, who took over the garden in February.
Previously, she ran a vegetable garden in Edinburgh which supplied produce to three upscale restaurants and, under her responsibility, the garden increased the amount of fresh produce it now supplies to the famous hotel restaurant.
The garden covers two hectares and includes two tunnels where fruits and vegetables are grown all year round.
There is an orchard and a large area devoted to red fruits, as well as a wet garden that Bryony intends to develop.
Alongside the rows of fresh vegetables and the apples, cherries and quinces currently ripening in the orchard, one of the most decorative parts of this productive space is the Gin Garden, which showcases botanical ingredients, picked from the hills. around the Torridon Resort, which made it possible to create the hotel’s own label, Arcturus Gin.
Gin takes its name from a giant red star visible from Earth to the naked eye. It is at its peak that it encourages the annual rut of the deer and it is said that the hinds cannot conceive until the rising of Arcturus.
In the Arcturus Garden, with its star-shaped basin, guests can pick their own cocktail herbs.
Do not miss
Tomatoes in the tunnel. They grow to an extravagant size thanks to the long daylight hours at Wester Ross. Here in the height of summer it never gets really dark and the result is that the plants act as if they are on steroids, growing bigger and faster than they would further south.
And it’s not just the vegetables that get carried away, the flowers that are grown as cut flowers for the hotel produce an unbroken succession of flowers.
Something else to watch out for
The gardens are part of the larger estate which includes the Torridon farm, which also produces food for the resort. The Highland Cattle herd eats the kitchen fruit and vegetable peelings and produces a supply of manure that helps fertilize the gardens. The farm is also home to Tamworth pigs, a rare breed loved for its flavor.
Meanwhile, trails that start from the garden lead along the shore and up into the surrounding hills.
Best time to visit
In summer, when the days are long and the northwest is frequently bathed in sunshine, the garden is the most beautiful and productive. It is a time of plenty, the raspberries and currants ripen in the sun and the fruits begin to swell in the orchard.
All recommendations in the region
Follow the narrow road that winds west along the crenellated shores of Loch Torridon until you reach the Atlantic coast and the sandy beach of Applecross. This magnificent stretch of golden sand is not only a perfect place for a picnic or snorkeling, it is also an important archaeological site and evidence of human habitation suggests that the local population collected seashells on this beach there. over 7,500 years ago. .
The beach is also a lookout post for the Royal Navy and in addition to the seals, porpoises and, occasionally, whales that can be sighted in these waters, you can occasionally spot a submarine sneaking through the channel between the mainland and the island of Raasay.
From Inverness, cross the Kessock Bridge, then head west 60 miles, past Conon Bridge and Achnasheen, until you reach Upper Loch Torridon.
The gardens are open daily and are free to visit.
Phone. : 01445 791242
In association with Discover Scottish Gardens. See www.discoverscottishgardens.org.
Despite the Atlantic storms and rocky terrain, the northwest of Scotland is home to a unique collection of remarkable gardens and the most famous of these is Inverewe, which sits on a rocky promontory overlooking Loch Ewe.
Famous for its lush plantations and curving walled garden, Inverewe was the vision of one man, Osgood MacKenzie, who 150 years ago began planting important soils and trees.
Today, these trees form the vital shelterbelt that protects the garden from the almost incessant wind, allowing all kinds of rare and tender plants to flourish.
Tree ferns, palm trees and a huge collection of South African natives thrive in the mild climate and clean air, and the forests are filled with moisture-loving species such as Astilbe and Ligularia.
From one of the densest parts of the garden, visitors emerge onto a vantage point overlooking the loch and from there it is possible to get a glimpse of the 15-year efforts it took to establish a huge garden on what was a treeless outcrop. The soil was transported by boat to provide the foundation on which the plants would grow and throughout his life Osgood MacKenzie continued to refine his vision, with his legacy being carried on by his daughter Mairi Sawyer, who added her own cachet to the garden before finally passing it on to the care of the National Trust for Scotland.
With the lapping water on its edge and the mountains as a backdrop, Inverewe enjoys one of the most spectacular settings of any garden in Scotland.
Look for red squirrels in the trees and sea eagles in the sky, and take time to visit the Sawyer Gallery, adjacent to Inverewe House, with its beautiful collection of contemporary art. There is also a cafe and visitor center which can provide up-to-the-minute information on events in the garden and a guided walk with the gardeners.
Poolewe, Wester Ross IV22 2LG
Phone. : 01445 781200