Any visit to the Isle of Skye is incomplete without savouring the wealth of history and clan legend on offer at Dunvegan Castle & Gardens.
Built on a rock in an idyllic loch side setting, Dunvegan is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years.
On display are many fine oil paintings and clan treasures, the most famous of which is the Fairy Flag. Legend has it that this sacred banner has miraculous powers and when unfurled in battle, the clan MacLeod would invariably defeat their enemies. Another of the castle's great treasures is the Dunvegan Cup, a unique 'mazer' dating back to the Middle Ages. It was gifted by the O'Neils of Ulster as a token of thanks to one of our most celebrated Chiefs, Sir Rory Mor, for his support of their cause against the marauding forces of Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1595.
Visitors can enjoy tours of an extraordinary castle and Highland estate steeped in history and clan legend, delight in the beauty of its formal gardens, take a boat trip onto Loch Dunvegan to see the seal colony, charter one of its traditional clinker boats for a fishing trip or Loch cruise, stay in one of its charming holiday cottages, enjoy an appetising meal at the MacLeods Table Cafe or browse in one of its four shops offering a wide choice. Dunvegan Castle's five acres of formal gardens began life in the 18th century. In stark contrast to the barren moorland and mountains that dominate Skye's landscape, the gardens are a hidden oasis featuring an eclectic mix of plants as you make your way through woodland glades, past shimmering pools fed by waterfalls and streams flowing down to the sea. Having experienced the water garden with its ornate bridges and islands replete with a rich and colourful plant variety, you can take a stroll through the elegant surroundings of the formal round garden featuring a box-wood parterre as its centrepiece.
In what was formerly the castle's vegetable garden, the walled garden now features a diverse range of plants and flowers that compliment the attractive features including the stone worked MacLeod Clan parliament seating, a water lily pond and a larch pergola. A considerable amount of replanting and landscaping has taken place over the last thirty years to restore the gardens to their former glory and provide a legacy which future generations can enjoy.