Blair Castle

Top choice in Highland Perthshire

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Scotland, magnificent Blair Castle – and its surrounding estates – is the seat of the Duke of Atholl, head of the Murray clan. (The current duke visits every May to review the Atholl Highlanders, Britain’s only private army.) It’s an impressive white heap set beneath forested slopes above the River Garry. Thirty rooms are open to the public and they present a wonderful picture of upper-class Highland life from the 16th century on.

The original tower was built in 1269, but the castle underwent significant remodelling in the 18th and 19th centuries. Highlights include the 2nd-floor Drawing Room with its ornate Georgian plasterwork and Zoffany portrait of the fourth duke's family, complete with a pet lemur (yes, you read that correctly) called Tommy; and the Tapestry Room draped with 17th-century wall hangings created for Charles I. The dining room is sumptuous – check out the 9-pint wine glasses – and the ballroom is a vast oak-panelled chamber hung with hundreds of stag antlers.

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