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Golspie

THIS seaside resort with fine beaches is surrounded by lovely countryside. The village is watched over by the monument of the first Duke of Sutherland which stands on the top of Ben Bhraggie.

The Duke was a firm believer in the process of clearing crofters from the land for ‘their own good’. Rob Donn the Gaelic poet from Sutherland wrote: “First Duke of Sutherland, for your deviousness and collusion with the Lowlanders, the depths of hell are what you deserve”. Instead he got this controversial statue which many in the area believe should be pulled down.

Dunrobin Castle just north of Golspie was the Duke of Sutherland’s home. The most northerly of Scotland’s great houses, the castle is also one of the largest in the Highlands with 189 rooms. The fairy-tale castle looks not unlike a French chateau and is one of the oldest homes in Britain, with parts of it dating back to the early 1300s. The Earls of Sutherland is one of the ancient earldoms of Scotland, created in about 1235.

In 1845 Sir Charles Barry, who had just completed the new Houses of Parliament, was employed to re-model the early castle into a massive baronial residence inspired by Queen Victoria’s ‘new house’ at Balmoral. Much of Barry’s interior was destroyed by fire in 1915, and the leading Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer re-designed all the main rooms.

Commanding views over the sea, the castle boasts magnificent formal gardens. The layout of the gardens was inspired by the gardens at Versailles and they contain some of the few remaining parterres in the French style with a definite Scottish flavour.

Among the many military and ceremonial exhibits on display are the colours of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders. The 93rd was the famous thin red line at Balaclava, and was the successor of various regiments raised by the family during the Seven Years and Napoleonic Wars, later to become part of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

The principal rooms include the Drawing Room, hung with tapestries; the Green and Gold Room, where Queen Victoria stayed in 1872; the Duke’s study, with secret doors and stairways connecting to other rooms; and Sir Robert Lorimer’s sycamore library containing more than 10,000 volumes.

There are also beautiful period bedrooms, nurseries and kitchens. The formal gardens present an impressive spectacle, especially when viewed from the Castle Terrace.

The Victorian Museum in the grounds houses an outstanding collection of big game trophies, Pictish stones and other items collected from all over the world as well as locally.

Golspie Golf Course lies at the foot of Ben Bhraggie and the course was designed by James Braid.

Nearby is a purpose-built mountain bike course with trails for a range of abilities.

Also of note in Golspie is the Mill which was built in 1820s and was the largest in Scotland. It is still in use as a flour mill and not open to visitors.

 Main picture courtesy of Dunrobin Castle

 

     

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