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Plans for ‘Hanging Gardens of Carbisdale’ unveiled by castle owner

by Staff

A new attraction inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon is being planned by the owner of Carbisdale Castle in Sutherland.

Samantha Kane, known as Lady Carbisdale, aims to start work this summer on the three-year project which is being done as part of the landmark’s restoration.

She says the £18 million project to establish a major members’ club will create 90 jobs.

Carbisdale Castle members’ fees halved

Last week it was revealed Lady Carbisdale had bought a 7.4-acre plot of land surrounding the castle from Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS).

She says the gardens will add to the attractions at the castle where she plans a three-storey spa complex and cinema as well as 23 en-suite bedrooms.

This will form the Duchess Club, where membership for the first 100 members is now being offered at £5,000 – half the original fee.

The club is named after the Duchess of Sutherland, who had Carbisdale Castle built between 1905 and 1917.

Lady Carbisdale has set out to recreate the castle in the style of her predecessor. The duchess died before the building was completed.

Lady Carbisdale says she has been inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Described as a remarkable feat of engineering with an ascending series of tiered gardens containing trees, shrubs and vines.

According to one story, they were built in the ancient city of Babylon, in present day Iraq, by the king whose wife missed the green hills and valleys of her homeland.

Drawings for the Carbisdale gardens show a four-tier layout with water running through the centre from the top to a bridged pond at the bottom.

Will the gardens be open to all?

Lady Carbisdale said: “My father was born in Babylon and I used to go there when I was a kid.

“It has a romantic story and is really inspirational.

“The beauty of the Highlands is our main export and I really want to do something to enhance that.

“The investment here will create 90 jobs and will be good news for the Highlands.”

Asked if the gardens will be accessible to non-club members, Lady Carbisdale said: “This castle needs to earn its keep like any other castle and people must respect that.

“They should not expect it be free of charge.

“I have not seen anywhere where people don’t contribute to the very expensive upkeep of a facility like this.”

A digital illustration of the ancient Babylonian towers and castles and the garden. Image Shutterstock

The land bought from FLS was the subject of an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of Ardgay and District Community Council in November.

The community council voted against the proposal due to doubts over the local benefits from the purchase.

Ahead of a meeting last week to discuss the fallout, four of the five community council members resigned. This forced the group into abeyance.

It left Lady Carbisdale as the only remaining member of the community council. She had joined in October and became its vice-chair.

‘There are a few opposed, but the majority support me’

She said she will continue with the development despite some people locally being opposed.

“I thank all the wider community who supported me and supported Carbisdale.

“It is very regrettable that some people couldn’t see the benefit the project will bring to the area.

“There are a few opposed, but the majority support me. I’ve had hundreds of letters of support sent to the castle from all over the world.”

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