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page 68 eleganceTRAVEL/TOURSelementaleleganceThe treasures of Scotland'swest coastglobaladventuresThe best of NADFAS travelaffiliates' 2011 itinerariesthisissueClassical masterpieces,exotic plants and lashings ofdrama: NADFAS-accreditedlecturer Mark Cottleexplores the houses, castlesand gardens of Scotland'sunforgettable west coastThe Round Drawing Room atCulzean Castlecould serve as ametaphor for visitors to Scotland'sWest coast and islands. The DrawingRoom has all the characteristic balance,sophistication and elegance of Georgiandesign at its best, while beyond tallwindows lie the wild, dramatic cliffs ofAyrshire and the great sweep of the Firthof Clyde. It's this juxtaposing - greathouses and castles with their artworkand furnishings, and landscape gardenswith their rich, exotic planting, setagainst a land and seascape bothelemental and austere, yet staggeringlybeautiful - which gives this part ofScotland a truly unique stamp. Dumfries Houseis a miraculouslyunaltered Georgian house with asplendid Palladian front. Designed bythe Adam brothers, it is held to be thefirst major house designed by Robert,the more talented of the brothers, at thetender age of 26. Towards 1900 it wasextended by the great Scottish Arts andCrafts architect Robert Weir Schulz. It isa time capsule with an unrivalledcollection of furniture, principally byChippendale but also the three greatScottish cabinet makers of the mid-18thcentury: Francis Brodie, Alexander Peterand William Mathie. Chippendale's

Castles & Gardens of the ClydeCoast Departing 18 March for seven nightsPrices: From £3,470 per personCastles & Gardens of the North Departing 26 April for seven nightsPrices: From £3,240 per personGardens of Argyll Departing 3 May for seven nights Prices: From £3,320 per personGardens of the North Departing 10 May for seven nightsPrices: From £3,400 per personFor more information call 01756 704704, refer to advert on page REVIEW / WINTER 2010 47TRAVEL/TOURSmasterpiece here is a breakfrontrosewood bookcase with a wide three-doored base showing off an exquisitelycrafted honeycomb pattern veneer. Further to the south-west, perched ona high, rocky promontory over the sea,is the aforementioned Culzean Castle,whose owner, Earl David Kennedy,commissioned Robert Adam in the1770s to largely rebuild his castle,encouraging him "to indulge to hisutmost his romantic genius". Drawingrooms, state bedrooms, dressing roomsand even the kitchen reflect the designand detail of Adam at his confident best.My favourite feature is the centralstaircase, modelled on the Temple ofJupiter at Diocletian's ruined palace inSpalatro. Its oval shape and colonnadedstaircase with light flooding in fromabove is exciting engineering, all themore surprising when one learns it wasthe final stage of the building, giving adynamic unity to the whole castle. The gardens were also refashioned byAdam, influenced by current notions ofthe Picturesque, and then developedaround 1790 by Thomas White senior, a pupil of Capability Brown.Further up the coast, Hill HouseinHelensburgh was designed by CharlesRennie Mackintosh for publisher WalterBlackie. Mackintosh's reputation was toquickly spread beyond his native cityand over a century later he is stillregarded as the father of the "GlasgowStyle". Hill House is considered to beCharles Rennie Mackintosh's finestdomestic creation. Not only did hedesign the house, he also created theinterior and gardens. Many of theoriginal Mackintosh furniture andfeatures remain and his use of light andshade in the interior is unmistakablyMackintosh. The interior not onlydisplays Mackintosh's genius but alsothe wonderful artistic touch of his wifeMargaret MacDonald Mackintosh, arespected artist in her own right.Inverewe Gardens, or 'the oasis ofthe north', are just that - a lush expanseof green against spectacular mountains.When you first approach the garden,large Tasmanian eucalyptus, planted inthe 1880s, give an instant sense of thesouthern hemisphere. Among a range ofexotic plants, two special collectionshave been designated National PlantCollections - olearia and rhododendron.A grove of the very rare and unusualWollemi pine from Australia has beenplanted, and bold planting of mecanopsiswhich thrives in this cool, moist climate,adds its own particular shades of blue tothe rhododendrons and azaleas. Itbeggars belief that this garden is at asimilar latitude to Moscow.Arduaine Garden, first planted byJames Arthur Campbell in the 1890s onthe Argyll coast on the Sound of Jura,justly claims to be "a plantsman'sparadise". Rhododendrons, azaleas andmagnolias abound, providing a riot ofcolour, especially in spring, butextending through the rest of the year bya rich collection of perennials. Much ofthe collection comes from East Asia:Pieris japonica, Magnolia sieboldii,Buddleja davidii and Mahonia japonicaare examples, with other more unusualplants such as Trochodendron aralioidesand Carriera calycina. From SouthAmerica comes the Chilean hazelGevuina avellana, the coniferPodocarpus salignis and Tropaeolumspeciosum, or 'Scottish Flame Flower'.All this is enhanced by an extensive ferncollection and, within the 13 ponds, amass of water plants. The gardens aretruly global, with plants from everycontinent except Antarctica. . In the spring, four Hebridean cruises willexplore a range of fascinating mainlandand island sites off Scotland's westcoast, including those described hereAbove: 'Oasis ofthe north'InvereweGardensLeft: CulzeanCastle oozesromance anddramaBelow: Georgiantime capsuleDumfries House