Castle of Mey
the Queen Mother's Caithness Residence
The Castle of Mey has been described as “the
Jewel in the Crown of Caithness tourism”. Visit Scotland has
awarded it 5 Star for quality, which certainly reflects the
enthusiasm of the staff, which adds to the experience. The
Castle has a wonderful visitor’s centre with a tearoom offering
views over to the Orkney Islands. You can also stroll in the
gardens or visit the animal centre; this is truly a wonderful
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother
bought the castle, then Barrogill Castle, in 1952 while mourning
the death of her husband, King George VI.
This was the most
northerly-inhabited castle on the British mainland and she
renovated and restored it to create a haven for her to visit
with family and friends. For almost half a century she made
regular visits thought the summer and shorter visits at other
times of the year.
Her Majesty turned a dilapidated
stronghold into a retreat that she visited until her death at
the age of 101 in March 2002. The Queen Mother established a
trust to look after the property five years before her death,
and it has carefully retained the “lived in” atmosphere. The
trust has spent £1 million on restoration work and it opened its
doors to the public in 2002 for the first time.
recent years, Prince Charles-officially know as the Duke of
Rothesay when in Scotland- has been reinforcing the royal
connection with Caithness that began with his grandmother. Since
her death, the Prince of Wales has been a regular visitor to
Caithness and it is clear that he feels a strong attachment to
the county his grandmother adored so much.
Prince Charles launched the North Highland Initiative to promote
the economic development of the area. Mey Selections is the
brand name of North Highlands Products Ltd – local farmers to
provide luxury food-and-drink products have formed this. Our
local butcher Harold Brothers sell various items of the Mey
Selections and we serve all local produce at the breakfast table
supplied by them.
The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay
annually spends a week at the Castle of Mey in August, and have
also continued the tradition established by the Queen Mother of
attending the annual Highland Games in nearby Mey.
tours through the hall, drawing room, equerry’s room, library,
main bedrooms, dinning room, butler’s pantry, kitchen and
gardens. The nearby visitor centre has a tearoom serving snacks
and meals and there’s a gift shop selling china, glassware,
books and postcards along with a variety of Mey selections
products. In 2007 a major new attraction was added to the Castle
of Mey experience with the opening of an animal centre which has
proved very popular with children and adults alike.
Admission prices vary depending on whether visitors wish to see
the castle, garden and grounds, or the garden and grounds only.
Coach parties and groups are strongly advised to pre-book.
Becoming a Friend of the Castle of Mey gives unlimited free
access to the castle, gardens and animal centre.
In 2005 Prince Charles launched the North Highland Initiative
which aims to promote the economic development of the North
Highlands of Scotland. One of the aims of the Prince’s
Initiative is to raise closer connections between farmers, fine
food producers, and consumers.
Mey Selections is the brand name of North Highlands Products
Ltd, the company formed by Caithness farmers to select and
source supplies of the highest quality farm and food products
from the North Highlands.
Mey Selections products or ingredients are sourced, wherever
possible, from within a 100 mile radius of the Castle of Mey.
The area is known for its ability to produce fine food sourced
from farmers and producers who are passionate about delivering
the natural goodness of the North Highlands to you.
They are committed to using the highest standards of food
production to produce the highest quality food. Also by
extending the range of products to include sustainable supplies
of fresh fish and shellfish through local harbours, as well as
bakery and other products, they aim to deliver only top quality
food to discriminating customers – at the same time, ensuring a
sustainable future for local farmers and food producers.