This has got to be one of our most amazing finds. I haven’t seen any pictures of this in guidebooks or social media, and when we went, we didn’t even know what we were about to see.
We parked up in the Glen Grant Car Park and saw there was a sign for gardens, so we were expecting some floral arrangements. We’d not long been to Glenfiddich where there are some well-tended and colourful flower beds, so loosely expecting similar.
Access is through the visitor centre where there is a special room for whisky tasting, however we headed straight along the wooded path that leads to a very well-kept green with loads of trees.
It definitely would have made a nice picnic spot, but we weren’t sure whether it was allowed, plus, we had no sandwiches! Plenty of apples hanging from the trees though! Hmmm. We didn’t pick any, honest.
Follow the yellow brick road…
The path winds through the perfect lawn like the yellow-brick road in the Wizard of Oz, and probably the reason why we didn’t pick the apples!
As well as the trees, there are beautiful plants, flowers, rhododendrons, azaleas, and magnolias. There are also a number of water features, including a tranquil pond and a babbling brook that runs through the centre of the garden.
It comes to a stop at the ‘Dram Pavilion’ a rustic roundhuse with perimeter seating, where I imagine many nocturnal whisky tastings might have taken place.
If you thought the gardens were beautiful, what comes next is spectacular. If the dram pavilion is a stopping point to partake, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve flipped through into another world.
Into the chasm…
The passive sloping green lawn carpet is replaced with a winding, jagged dark alleyway hewn into the inner rock face of a small gorge.
OK, so they’re both ‘winding’ but that’s where the similarity ends.
The sign declares a steep path, slippery underfoot, sensible footwear essential, visitors use at their own risk, etc.
It’s not that bad! Although you should not ignore the advice to wear sensible shoes! I managed it, including the steps, holding a gimbal. (Oh yes, my friends, there’s a video in the making). In wet weather, it could indeed be slippery, but there is good fencing, and it’s a relatively easy walk all told.
Get a good look at the sign before you venture in, because it highlights some points of interest.
Major Grant’s Dram Hut and Whisky Safe sounds like it might be similar to the pavilion just passed, with a lock and key to keep drams from sticky fingers – It’s not clear from the map, but there’s a small wooden cabin with a seat, which we think is the hut, and there’s a separate padlocked cave with iron bars – with a barrel inside – the safe?
Google searches for Major Grant’s dram hut show pictures of the pavilion. It was built in 1996, so may be a replacement for the cabin halfway up the gorge.
Next on the map is the ‘Faerie Croft’. I have to say, I missed this so can’t report, but it’s about here when you cross the burn, and continue up the hill a little bit before starting your descent.
It’s a slow, downward path winding back to the dram pavilion. Yes, even more winding, but there are terrific views over the countryside. It’s not the most ergonomic descent, in fact there’s a bench on the way ‘DOWN’ and we used it.
Back at the base, there’s a lower bridge over the burn which leads to a green space, rather eerily echoing back the sounds of the water rushing through the burn.
The Glen Grant gardens cover over 2.5 acres and are an oasis of tranquillity. As I said earlier, I have never seen this attraction listed anywhere, and it’s one of the most photogenic.
The gardens were first created in the 19th century by James Grant, the founder of the Glen Grant Distillery, and have been lovingly maintained ever since.
Oh yes, whisky
For those who are interested in whisky, the Glen Grant Distillery offers tours that provide an in-depth look at the whisky-making process. Visitors can learn about the history of the distillery, as well as the different types of whisky that are produced here.
But even if you’re not a fan of the amber nectar, the gardens and gorge walk are well worth a visit. Just make sure you don’t have whisky legs before you go.
Access is through the visitor centre, open Monday to Saturday 9:30am to 4pm and 11am to 4pm on Sunday. Dogs aren’t allowed, with the exception of guide dogs. The gardens are accessible for all abilities, but the gorge is definitely not. There are toilets at the visitor centre.
We’ve been twice. The first time there was a cafe operating from a small window in the side wall. Curiously, it also reminded me of the door to the Emerald City (Wizard of Oz) where the gatekeeper would stick his head out and slam it abruptly. We waited ages for service, and eventually went home without. On our second visit, we were looking forward to refreshments on the way out, but sadly the wizard was not at home this time either.