On an isthmus hugged by freshwater lochs is one of Scotland’s finest gardens with the dreamy ruins of Castle Kennedy at one end and Lochinch Castle, the family home of the Stairs (they’ve been here for generations) at the other. With 75 acres to roam, all ages will be happy here; walks ramble off in all directions. Explore land sculptures built in the 1730s; spot geese, herons, maybe an osprey, red squirrels and otters too. There are mesmerising displays of rhododendrons, azaleas and embothrium, and the ancient Monkey Puzzle Avenue is a treat. Find three charming properties. Chauffeur’s, on the top floor of a two-storey Victorian carriage house, has pretty French chateau style turrets, an open fire, long views, a large kitchen and three beautifully restful bedrooms. Balker Lodge, originally a gate house, is a cleverly revived bolthole for two. Ice House is a single-storey cottage with two pretty bedrooms, a log-burner in the sitting room and a pristine kitchen. All have their own private outside space, splendid welcome baskets with delicious cakes, and you get the run of the gardens. Why not take a guided tour with head gardener, John, who’s worked here for 25 years!