You can read about Glamis Castle on our feature page about it. On this page we focus on the extensive grounds and gardens that surround the castle. These include the avenue along which you approach the castle, the Italian Garden to its east, and the pinetum and the walled garden. Full information about opening hours and admission prices can be found on our Glamis Castle feature page.
Glamis Castle dates back many centuries, and gardens were first established by Patrick, 3rd Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, in the latter half of the 1600s. A painting hanging in the castle's drawing room from this era shows it surrounded by formal walled gardens. These were removed by John, 9th Earl of Strathmore, in the 1760s, to be replaced by a large landscaped park of the sort then in vogue.
The landscape you see surrounding Glamis Castle today began to take shape with Claude, the 13th Earl, who, from about 1870, planted large numbers of trees. They included many of the very large conifers which add so much to the character of the grounds and the castle itself.
Today's visitor approaches Glamis Castle through the Queen Mother Memorial Gates, at the west end of the village of Glamis. These were funded by public subscription and formally opened in 2008. For the first time ever they allowed a view of Glamis Castle from the village of Glamis itself. It is, however, a distant view. The dead straight avenue connecting the gates to the castle is just under a mile long. It is lined with mature oak trees and provides a breathtaking approach that shows the castle set against the Angus Hills. The observant will probably tear their attention away from the castle just long enough to spot the fine doocot off to the left of the avenue.
Your final approach to the castle is between a pair of statues, of Kings James VI and Charles I. The area off to your right is known, for obvious reasons, as the front lawn. This is home to the great sundial, at 21ft (7m) high one of the largest in Scotland. It was erected in 1671 as part of the 3rd Earl's formal gardens, and has no fewer than 84 individual sundials. It was originally designed to allow the clocks in the castle to be kept to time and is still usable: if you are prepared to make allowance for the fact it has been moved from its original site and was designed with the Gregorian calendar in mind.
The lawn is surrounded by a number of notable trees, including some planted by members of the Royal Family. The two small circular towers standing on the front lawn are decorative follies erected in 1814. Immediately to the south of the castle's east wing is the forecourt and Dutch Garden. The garden comprises formal flower beds surrounded by low box hedges and was laid out in 1893. It is not open to visitors, though it can be viewed from the castle forecourt.
Following the direction signs around the front lawn leads you past the burial ground for family pets to the spectacular Italian Garden, which is open to the public. This was created in the years around 1910 by Countess Cecilia, the mother of the late Queen Mother, with assistance from garden designer Arthur Castings. It is accessed through ornamental gates installed to celebrated the Queen Mother's 80th birthday in 1980.
The garden itself is surrounded by closely cropped yew hedges and comprises a slightly raised viewing terrace running along its southern side between two gazebos. The remainder of the garden is laid out in fan-shaped parterres of formal beds and two pleached alleys of beech, plus a stone fountain. The Italian Garden also offers some interesting and unusual views of Glamis Castle.
Beyond the north-east corner of the Italian Garden, more impressive yew hedges lead to the beautiful memorial to HRH The Princess Margaret, who was born at Glamis. It was designed by the 18th Earl and completed in 2006. Nearby is a nature trail which runs for three quarters of a mile and offers the chance, if you are lucky, to view red squirrels, roe deer and a wide range of bird life.
The nature trail leads you from the formal gardens into the much more naturalistic feel of the pinetum. This was planted by the 13th Earl in about 1870 and contains many trees originally native to North America. The pinetum became overgrown after World War Two, but has been restored by the current Earl, who has also instituted a program of replanting. At the far end of the pinetum, you cross the Earl Michael Bridge over the Dean Water. This was built in 1890 and reopened after restoration in 1996 by the Queen Mother.
Having crossed the bridge, a path leads up to the gates of the walled garden. Some four acres in size, it was built between 1866 and 1868. At present the walled garden is kept under grass, but a small building just inside the main gate sets out the plans in place for its restoration over the coming years.
From the walled garden you can make your way along a path that follows the north bank of the Dean Water to a substantial stone bridge. Crossing this leads to a path through parkland back to the car parks and shops immediately to the north of the castle itself.