Fingask Castle —perched on a Perthshire hillside with views of the River Tay and Carse of Gowrie —dates from the 11th century, and boasts gun-loops and shot-holes. Its 240-acre estate is magical —with skew-whiff topiary, a reclaimed red phone box, and Chinese bridge. Plus tinkling burns (streams) and enchanting walks midst ancient ash, oak and fir trees. It offers self-catering accommodation in the onetime stable-block cottages, erstwhile 19th century laundry (restyled as a bright holiday home), a haunted castle room with four-poster bed, potting sheds (with ensuites) beside a walled garden, and a loch-side boat house (complete with rowing boat and sauna).
Book your stay to coincide with a garden pavilion performance of the marvellous, very un-PC revue, The Follies, which author Alexander McCall-Smith says, ‘add to the sum of human happiness’. Go for composer Peter Cowdrey’s birdsong event — think guided warbler walk, recording session of twitterers in the castle’s ‘studio’ (aka its 16th century library),and a birdsong concert in its Long Gallery. Or simply swim al fresco in a pool beside forever-grazing Shetland ponies; play billiards in the games room; and ramble or shoot pheasant on the neighbouring estate with its waterfall and 360-degree views.
You’ll also feast like a laird. George Campbell & Sons, Perth, sells Michelin-restaurant quality smoked salmon and Argyll oysters. At Guardswell, you’ll select biodynamic radishes and lettuces grown by moon cycles, displayed in the back of a horsebox. Or buy local kombucha and venison sausages from the farmer’s market in the 18th century courtyard of nearby Megginch Castle.
Don’t forget to commission a bespoke wooden piece —from chess set to unique bedhead —from the estate’s talented cabinetmaker, David Young. When you’re done, relax with a hot-stone massage by Anna Saari in your cottage. Later, if you can pull yourself away from Fingask for sightseeing, there’s nearby Perth Museum, Scone Palace, and Tentsmuir Beach with its grassy dunes and endless sands. Och, you’ll love it all. By Caroline Phillips
BOOK IT: fingaskcastle.co.uk