Standing majestically in spacious grounds, Scone Palace has a powerful presence. Beneath towering pines, the gardens are renowned for their drifts of bluebells and snowdrops, which put on a spectacular show in early spring. Easter activities include an egg hunt through the maze, face painting and a bunny and chick hunt in the listed house.
A Royal destination
Scone Palace (pronounced ‘skoon’) lies by Scotland’s longest river, the magnificent Tay, on the outskirts of Perth. In the grounds of this impressive late-Georgian Gothic house, peacocks and daffodils abound.
Directly in front of the palace is Moot Hill, which was one of Scotland’s most important historic centres from the mid-9th century. Here the country’s kings were crowned on the Stone of Destiny. A markedly Gothic Presbyterian chapel stands alongside a replica of the famous oblong sandstone block. The original stone was hauled to Westminster by Edward I in 1296, and was eventually returned to Edinburgh Castle in 1996, although it will travel south again for future coronations of British monarchs.
Between the palace and a wild garden and pinetum lie the lawns and formal gardens. Carefully tended over early spring, the gardens at Easter are a visual feast. One particularly striking feature is the complex Murray Star Maze, created by international maze designer Adrian Fisher. The maze is planted with copper and ordinary beech trees to create a tartan effect and forms a five-pointed star that features in the Murray family crest for the Murray family, who have lived at Scone Palace for the past four centuries.
The palace itself is sumptuously decorated and you can take a tour through a large portion of it. Highlights include the opulent drawing room with Vernis Martin collections and the venerable Long Gallery, where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were once given a curling demonstration.
Don’t miss the pinetum, where giant redwoods and other gargantuan pines loom, including Britain’s oldest Douglas fir, raised from North American seed sent by David Douglas in 1826. The botanist and explorer was born in the village of Scone and worked at the palace gardens before setting off on his travels. Douglas was a highly dedicated collector and his name is associated with hundreds of plants. On one occasion alone in Oregon, he shot down cones from a sugar pine, inadvertently attracting a band of Native Americans, whom he had to placate. That’s something to chew over as you embark on that Easter egg hunt.
The Capital Asset
26 Tay Street, Perth PH1 5LQ
Overlooking the River Tay, this spacious bar-restaurant is a good place to stretch out and relax.
New County Hotel
22-30 County Place, Perth PH2 8EE
This comfy hotel boasts a 2-AA Rosette restaurant where you can enjoy mouth-watering local beef.
FIND OUT MORE
Scone Palace gardens
Perth PH2 6BD
Open daily 1 April 31-Oct,
9.30am-5pm. Adults £9, children £6, family £26. Grounds only:
adults £5.10, children £3.50.