The Castle of Mey, in the far north of Caithness, was the holiday home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. The dilapidated building – at that stage known as Barrogill Castle – was brought back to life by the Queen Mother after she fell in love with it in the early 1950s.
Originally built in the mid-sixteenth century, it opened its doors to the public in 2002 after the Queen Mother’s death, and its popularity continues to increase.
A record 29,000 visitors enjoyed tours of the castle grounds and gardens in 2007, up a quarter on the figures for 2006.
The Castle of Mey Trust believes that part of the appeal is the continuing royal connection via her grandson, Prince Charles, who spends a late-summer week at the castle in most years. “It matters to the Prince very much that we keep the castle as the Queen Mother had it when she lived here in the summers,” says James Mey of the Castle of Mey Trust. "I’m sure it helps that the Prince still comes and takes an interest in this part of the world.”
The trustees hope that a new animal centre in what was once the Queen Mother’s garage will prove to be a hands-on educational attraction, with piglets, petting lambs, chicks, donkeys and a wooden cow for youngsters to try their hand at milking.
Overall, the Castle of Mey is a must-see destination for the north.