NTS USA: Scotland's Glorious West Coast Gardens

Dumfries House, Cumnock, Ayrshire, Scotland

9 reviews
May 9 - 14, 2022
Group size: 15 - 20
NTS USA: Scotland's Glorious West Coast Gardens
Dumfries House, Cumnock, Ayrshire, Scotland

9 reviews

May 9 - 14, 2022
Group size: 15 - 20

About this trip

You are invited to join The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA for five nights on the stunning west coast of Scotland. 

We will visit private and National Trust for Scotland gardens in Ayrshire, Argyll, and the Isle of Arran, experiencing the region's wild and rocky coastlines, grand houses and castles, spectacular countryside, and dramatic mountain vistas. 

Our tour takes place at peak season for some of the greatest collections of rhododendrons in the world and features:

  • A ferry ride to Brodick Castle, with its 18th-century walled garden and 74 acres of specimen plants and woodland walks 
  • Exclusive tours of private gardens at Ardmaddy Castle, with its remarkable 60-foot hydrangea, and An Cala, designed by Thomas Mawson in the early 1930s
  • A guided walk through Arduaine, a 20-acre coastal garden with a world-famous plant collection and glorious views to the Sound of Jura and the ocean beyond 
  • A visit to the gardens of Inveraray Castle, one of the most important designed landscapes in Scotland 
  • Stays at luxury hotels and country houses, including Dumfries House and Loch Melfort Hotel, once home to the creators of Arduaine 
  • An optional postlude in Glasgow, home of iconic designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh
  • All under the guidance of Scottish garden expert Paddy Scott, with special access to the National Trust for Scotland's garden team

 The west of Scotland is famous for its rugged coast and beautiful gardens. Buffeted by Atlantic gales, but warmed by the Gulf Stream, the designed landscapes feature a remarkable mix of tender and exotic plants as well as natives. 

The tour will be of particular interest to rhododendron lovers and dendrologists.  It will take us through landscapes of extraordinary natural beauty and few roads, necessitating hotel changes but offering an unforgettable experience of this remote and captivating corner of Scotland.

TIP: We encourage participants to arrive in Edinburgh prior to May 9 to explore this UNESCO World Heritage city. Of particular interest may be the Royal Botanic Garden (www.rbge.org.uk) and Edinburgh Castle https://www.edinburghcastle.scot/). There are many hotels in Edinburgh, but they do book quickly. We recommend the Kimpton Charlotte Square (situated in the New Town’s most celebrated square, which is the starting point for the tour) or the nearby Waldorf Astoria Caledonian Hotel. 


This trip will Involve walking for extended periods, sometimes over uneven surfaces. 


Paddy Scott followed a successful career in the beverage industry and consulting by becoming chief executive of Scotland’s Gardens, a well-known charity which raises funds by organizing the opening of private gardens to the public. He also was one of the founders of Discover Scotland’s Gardens, a business dedicated to marketing Scotland’s gardens to the world. For the last three years, Paddy has been using his unrivalled knowledge of Scottish gardens to organize tours for garden enthusiasts from around the world. 


Although The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA (NTSUSA), and Travel Muse Inc. and its ground operators will make every effort to adhere to the itinerary, on rare occasions it may be necessary to adjust arrangements due to circumstances beyond our control. Should any activities not be available, substitution will be made to the best of our ability and no refund will be made. Any additional costs necessitated by such changes are the responsibility of the tour member. Please note there will be significant walking and standing.


Prices are based on a minimum of 15 paying participants. Should the number of passengers fall below 15, certain program inclusions may be deleted.  All amounts quoted with respect to charges for the tour and travel services are based upon rates in effect as of August 13, 2021.  At the time of final payment, NTSUSA reserves the right to add any increased amounts arising from changes in taxes and from changes instituted by suppliers or caused by market conditions. All local/government taxes on hotels, meals, and services are included, in addition to normal gratuities to porters, waiters, and local guides. Rates are based on group participation, and there can be no refund for services or portions of the tour not taken. It is also understood and agreed that all excursions are optional, and refunds cannot be made to tour members who do not participate or complete the tour for any reason.  



  • First deposit of $1,000 per person is encouraged on or before November 22, 2021
  • Balance is due on or before March 11, 2022

Payment by credit card will incur a processing fee of 2.9% for Visa and MasterCard, and 3.9% for American Express.  Please read the Terms and Conditions carefully.  By registering for this tour, you consent to the Release From Liability Agreement and the Supplemental Release Regarding COVID-19 Agreement.


All cancellations must be made in writing to kbridier@ntsusa.org. The cancellation fee covers administrative and operational costs and any penalties assessed by suppliers.

Cancellation fees are per person, as follows:

  • Cancellations received prior to March 11, 2022:  $500
  • Cancellations received on or after March 11, 2022 and up until the day of departure:  Total tour cost

The cancellation fee will be waived or refunded if we can fill your place on the tour.

Travel insurance is the best way to protect your tour investment. Information will be sent to you upon receipt of your deposit.


  • Under guidelines for Americans traveling to Scotland as of October 4, 2021, fully vaccinated travellers are able to benefit from quarantine-free travel. They will need to complete a passenger locator form, take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure from the U.S. to Scotland, and take a COVID-19 PCR test within two days of arriving in Scotland. (See https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-international-travel-quarantine/pages/red-amber-and-green-list-countries/.)  
  • Guidelines are subject to change; we will provide an update 64 days prior to the tour (March 7, 2022).
  • A Supplemental Release Regarding COVID-19 requires your acceptance in order to complete your tour registration.
  • In the event the tour needs to be cancelled due to acts of God or government authorities, natural disasters, pandemics, or other emergencies, monies will be fully refunded.



The tour cost excludes airfare.  For assistance with flights, contact Meg MacDonald at 617-480-0250 or meg@travelmuse.net.


The tour cost excludes trip insurance, which covers for trip cancellation andiInterruption, baggage delays, emergency medical expenses, and medical evacuation expenses. Upon receipt of your deposit, information about purchasing trip insurance will be sent to you.

Please note that, in most situations, standard Medicare will not pay for healthcare or medical supplies outside the US. Please check with your health insurance provider should you wish to purchase health coverage outside the US through a Medigap plan or other supplemental health plan.


The tour cost excludes transfers to the meet-up point at the Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel in Edinburgh and from Blythswood Square Hotel in Glasgow at the end of the tour.


The hotels are four- or five-star properties, based on two persons sharing a queen bed (or twin-bedded room at all hotels expect Dumfries House Lodge) with private bath and/or shower. Note that Dumfries House Lodge has rooms only with a queen bed; therefore, anyone who wishes to share a room with two beds for nights other than the first night of the program will be assigned to a single room at no supplemental cost. The right is reserved to substitute hotels when necessary.  Although Travel Muse will endeavor to arrange for congenial travel companions, this cannot be guaranteed, and a single supplement will be charged when necessary.


- Dumfries House Lodge:  No upgrade options

- Stonefield Castle:  Deluxe Rooms with views over Loch Fyne and Barmore Island. These rooms are not larger than the rooms already booked.

- Loch Melfort Hotel:  No upgrade options

- Blythswood Square Hotel:  Deluxe, and Deluxe with Garden View; both are larger (40 sq m / 430 sf) than the Superior Rooms (29 sq m / 312 sf)

See hotel websites for room descriptions and photos. For upcharges and availability, please post a "Note to the Organizer," at the end of the section where you provide your Particioant Info; or directly contact Meg MacDonald at Travel Muse Inc. at meg@travelmuse.net.


For questions, please contact Kirstin Bridier (Executive Director, The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA) at 617-227-7500 / kbridier@ntsusa.org.


This Agreement is important. It includes terms and conditions and releases Travel Muse Inc. from liability.  By registering for this tour and securing your place with a deposit, you are consenting to this Release Agreement.

Travel Muse Inc., its owners, directors, officers, employees and affiliates (collectively “Travel Muse”) does not own or operate any entity which is to or does provide goods or services for your trip including, for example, ownership or control over hotels or other lodging facilities, airline, vessel, bus, van or other transportation companies, local ground operators, providers or organizers of optional or included excursions or equipment used thereon, food service or entertainment providers, etc. All such persons and entities are independent contractors.

Travel Muse is not liable for any negligent or willful act or failure to act of any such person or entity, or that of any other third party. Without limitation, Travel Muse is not responsible for any injury, loss, or damage to person or property, death, delay or inconvenience in connection with the provision of any goods or services occasioned by or resulting from, but not limited to, acts of God, acts of government, force majeure, acts of war or civil unrest, insurrection or revolt, strikes or other labor activities, criminal or terrorist activities of any kind, or the threat thereof; overbooking or downgrading of accommodations; structural or other defective conditions in hotels or other lodging facilities; financial failure or other defaults by suppliers; mechanical or other failure of airplanes or other means of transportation or for any failure of any transportation mechanism to arrive or depart timely or safely; dangers associated with or bites from animals, pests or insects, marine life or vegetation of any sort; dangers incident to recreational activities such as swimming, kayaking, sailing, canoeing, rafting, hiking, bicycling, etc.; sanitation problems; food poisoning; lack of access to or quality of medical care; difficulty in evacuation in case of a medical or other emergency; illness, epidemics or the threat thereof or for any other cause beyond the direct control of Travel Muse. In addition, I release Travel Muse from its own negligence and assume all risk thereof. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as tour rates provide for arrangements only for the time stated.

Travel Muse may take photographs or video of its trips, and participants grant Travel Muse permission to do so and for it to use same for promotional or commercial use without payment of any compensation to participant.

Travel Muse reserves the right to change hotels or other features of the trip if it believes by doing so it will enhance the safety, comfort or enjoyment of the trip. Travel Muse reserves the right to cancel the tour prior to departure in which event the entire payment to it will be refunded with no further obligation or liability on its part. Travel Muse reserves the right to substitute accommodations, tour features, carriers or qualified tour staff; or to alter the itinerary of the program at any time when deemed appropriate or advisable without penalty or liability. Travel Muse, in its sole discretion, reserves the right to decline to accept or retain any participant whose health or actions, in Travel Muse’s sole judgment, impede the operation of the tour or the welfare or enjoyment of fellow participants.

We strongly recommend that tour participants review the destination country’s specific information at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/ and https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list, both of which contain important information.

Travel Muse is not responsible or liable for loss, damage or theft of personal baggage and belongings, nor is it liable for personal injury, accident, or illness, however caused. We strongly suggest you purchase trip cancellation insurance to guard against various contingencies.

ASSUMPTION OF RISK. I am aware that travel such as I am undertaking involves activities, some in remote areas, with a risk of illness, injury or death which may be caused by forces of nature, animals, insects or flora, the negligence of Travel Muse or other persons and/or by entities either known or unknown, or of willful or criminal conduct of third parties. I am aware that medical services or facilities may not be readily available or accessible or consistent with standards in the United States during some or all of the time during which I am participating on the trip and that, when available, may not be of the quality which exists in the United States. In order to partake of the enjoyment and excitement of this trip, I am willing to accept the risks and uncertainty involved as being an integral part of my adventure. I hereby accept and assume full responsibility for any and all risks of illness, injury or death.

VOLUNTARY PARTICIPATION. I acknowledge that I have voluntarily applied to participate on the trip designated on this application and that I have read the description of the trip as it appears in the promotional material relating to the trip, together with all information contained in this application. I am voluntarily participating in this trip with knowledge of the risks and hazards involved.

BINDING ARBITRATION. I agree that any dispute concerning, relating or referring to this Agreement, the brochure or any other literature concerning my trip, or the trip itself, shall be resolved exclusively by binding arbitration pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. §§1-16, either according to the then existing Commercial Rules of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) or pursuant to the Comprehensive Arbitration Rules & Procedures of the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services, Inc. (JAMS). Such proceedings will be governed by substantive (but not procedural) New Mexico law and will take place in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The arbitrator and not any federal, state, or local court or agency shall have exclusive authority to resolve any dispute relating to the interpretation, applicability, enforceability, conscionability, or formation of this contract, including but not limited to any claim that all or any part of this contract is void or voidable.

Please understand that by agreeing to these terms and conditions, you (and we) are waiving our right to a trial by jury.

KNOWING AND VOLUNTARY EXECUTION. I have carefully read this Agreement and fully understand its contents. I am aware that this is a release of liability and a contract between myself and Travel Muse and/or its affiliated organizations and agree to it of my own free will.

Supplemental Release Regarding COVID-19

 By registering for this tour and securing your place with a deposit, you are consenting to this Release Agreement. 

This Release is supplemental to the Booking Conditions, Release of Liability, Assumption of All Risk and Binding Arbitration (Agreement) which I previously executed for the tour organized by Travel Muse Inc. and client. In the event of a conflict between that Agreement and this Supplemental Release, the terms of this Supplemental Release shall prevail. In all other cases, the Agreement remains in full effect. In addition, both the Agreement and this Supplemental Release relate to any postponed or replacement trip.

I am aware that while on or traveling to or from my trip, I might be exposed to COVID- 19 from other people, animals or objects. I assume all risk of any such contacts, including sickness, incapacity or death and agree to hold harmless Travel Muse Inc. from any such developments. In addition, I recognize that the U.S. Department of State as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may have warnings concerning same. See

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/ and https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list/

I also accept the following risks of participating on this trip including, without limitation:

  1. All other risks associated with coronavirus (COVID-19) including preclusion from public or private buildings, land or areas, inconvenience, limitations and closures, etc.;
  2. Risk of my travel insurance not covering COVID-19 related claims;
  3. All risks regarding transportation problems including, without limitation, entry into or exit from any country and/or entry into the United States and/or difficulties with or closure of transportation systems or the unavailability of other features or attractions within the country where my trip takes place;
  4. The likelihood that at some or all destinations or facilities and/or on cruises, motor coaches or at hotels or restaurants I may be required to undergo a temperature check, wear a mask while in public and observe social distancing requirements and/or produce evidence of a vaccination against COVID-19;
  5. The potential for being quarantined, even if I am not symptomatic and/or do not have COVID-19 and/or the possible requirement that I have a negative COVID- 19 test immediately before or on or after arrival at my destination;
  6. Any expenses incurred, including but not limited to medical expenses, testing fees, quarantine and evacuation expenses as a result thereof are to be borne by the participant.

What’s included

  • Accommodations
    5 nights as indicated in the program: one night at Dumfries House Lodge, one night at Stonefield Castle Hotel, two nights at Loch Melfort Hotel, and one night at Blythswood Square Hotel; including tax
  • Meals
    Scottish breakfast daily, three tea / coffee breaks, five lunches, one pre-dinner drink reception, and five dinners
  • WiFi
    WiFi is included at all hotels
  • Land transportation
    Transportation by private coach throughout
  • Group activities
    Entrance fees and donations for all sites featured in the itinerary
  • Gratuities
    For included group meals and for guides
  • Membership
    A year’s membership of The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA
  • Tour leadership
    Accompanied throughout by Paddy Scott, co-founder of Discover Scotland’s Gardens; and Kirstin Bridier, Executive Director of The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA
  • International travel
    Airfare and/or train fare to and from Scotland
  • Airport transfers
    For both your arrival and departure
  • Accommodations on May 8
    Please book on your own
  • Other
    Any non-group meals, beverages, and activities
  • Alcoholic drinks
    Including wine with dinners (to be charged to each guest when ordered each evening)
  • Gratuities
    Drivers, housekeeping and other hotel staff who may provide extra services
  • Personal items
    Items or services such as telephone calls, room service, valet service, a-la-carte orders, specialty wines and liquors, laundry service, travel extensions, or tour deviations
  • Entry or departure fees
    Passport and visa fees, and fees levied by local governments
  • Insurance
    Personal coverage for health, baggage and tour cancellation/interruption
  • Credit card fees
    2.9% for Visa and MasterCard; and 3.9% for American Express for tour payments

Available Packages

Tour Price, based on double occupancy
Sold Out
Deposit: $0
Tour Price, based on single occupancy
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Deposit: $0

Your Organizer

“…curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
9 reviews
Mūse, n. [L. musa; Gr. mousa] 1. In Greek mythology, any of the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne who presided over the fine arts and science. 2. The spirit regarded as inspiring a poet or other artist; source of genius or inspiration. Travel Muse has 30 years' experience creating tours to inspire, including Director’s and President’s Circle Tours; Connoisseur Tours; and Study Tours. Tours of the highest standard are designed for fine and decorative art organizations, botanic gardens, historic societies, & culinary groups.


We had a wonderful time. Scotland is breathtakingly beautiful.
By Karen K for NTS USA: Scotland's Glorious West Coast Gardens on 16 May, 2022
Delighted to hear! We share in our hearts that special place!
Once again I was delighted to sign up for a trip offered by the Chilton Club in Boston under the direction of Meg MacDonald. From the very start, i.e. the initial outline and information, I could tell that this would be well planned and organized and indeed, as the details arrived, I could tell that every stop and destination was well considered as were all the details of getting there, being transported and guided would be excellent. Times allotted for meals and rest, for seeing as much and as many places as possible was carefully calibrated. Information at each site was sufficient and not overly detailed. The local guide and driver who assisted were most welcome. I felt I learned a lot and yet I was in welcome company with other ladies who too were interested in gaining greater appreciation of the sights of a city that I did not know that much about. Meg MacDonald has this amazing way of arranging and organizing without seeming commanding. I believe everyone on this trip enjoyed all the sights (and sounds at the Concert) they were hoping for and there was a sense of camaraderie among all the participants throughout the week. Another welcome experience thanks to the Chilton Club and Meg MacDonald! Rosmarie Scully
By Rosmarie S for Chilton Club: Spring Fling to Philadelphia on 12 May, 2022
Thank you, Rosmarie! You are a treasure, and I am so glad your radiant presence graced this tour.
Wonderfully organized, terrific activities, comfortable and convenient accommodations, great meals, safe and efficient transportation with outstanding driver, tour organizer and local guide were superb
By Gene D for Chilton Club: Spring Fling to Philadelphia on 09 May, 2022
Thank you, Gene, for the five-star review! I really appreciate how succinctly you covered all the bases.
Meg is a fabulous tour leader.. Extremely organized and on top of every detail. The trip was well planned but there were a few things that could have been improved. The hotel didn't have free internet. I thought it was a good, but not great, place but I do not know the options we had. The weather was unseasonably cold. the indoor events were great and we could have used more time in the Museums which were the highlight for me. I could have completely skipped the jail; a description from the outside would have been sufficient. I did not go to a few of the locations so I cant comment fully. While we all love gardens, touring extensively in chilly weather was less than ideall. The visits to the Union League Club and the Acorn Club were excellent as were the meal venues overall. It was fun to have a local expert with us and the group was very congenial although we turned out to have shared COVID with each other This website is incredibly difficult to use so I will stop now..
By Laura M for Chilton Club: Spring Fling to Philadelphia on 08 May, 2022
Hi Laura, Thank you so much for taking the time to write a review. Much apprecaited the high rating despite shortfalls regrding the Eastern State Pen visit and the hotel. (I thought we got your internet fee removed from your account, ssd the hotel realized it had made a mistake. Please let me know if I need to refund you any internet charges.)
We had a great trip! Everything was fun. Great museum visits, great restaurants, very comfortable and quiet hotel. Delightful breakfast each morning. A wonderful and careful bus driver. And our delightful host, Meg, who was very kind, helpful, empathetic, full of energy, beautiful, and always available. Thank you!
By Claudia Q for Chilton Club: Spring Fling to Philadelphia on 01 May, 2022
Claudia, I am so touched, especially coming from a former Philadelphian! I wish I had had more time to talk with you. Here's to hoping our paths cross again! Happy summer to you, Meg
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