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Garden of the week – Cambo Gardens

January 14th 2022

Cambo Gardens

Why We Should Visit

Cambo House and Estate, which lie on the east coast of Fife, 7 miles south of St Andrews, is one of the most exciting gardens in Scotland.It mixes high end horticulture and atmospheric woodlands, with a busy calendar of craft fairs, moonlight walks and artistic events. Now run as a charitable trust, the garden provides opportunities for volunteering and training, while the house is run as a successful wedding and events venue.

Story of the Garden

The present day estate, which has been in the Erskine family for over 300 years, dates from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It was laid out as a ‘model’ estate, with stables, carriage house and mausoleum. Its reputation as a garden grew from the 1980s onwards when Catherine and Peter Erskine brought in pigs to clear ivy from the 70 acres of woodland and allow the snowdrops that grew there to flourish. They also built up a collection of rare and specialist snowdrops and they started selling bulbs ‘in the green’ to other snowdrop lovers.

It was from Cambo more than a decade ago that Catherine Erskine launched the Scottish Snowdrop Festival, which has grown to be an annual event and now involves dozens of gardens and estates around the country.


The 2.5 acre walled garden, which was part of Cambo’s original designed landscape, has been developed into a show-stopper. From summer until late in autumn, bold drifts of perennials and grasses dominate the design, while flowers and edibles grow cheek-by-jowl in the potager. Vibrant colours are mixed skilfully in the borders to create drama, while the seedheads that are left standing late into winter add interest at the coldest part of the year.

Don’t Miss

Cambo has an extensive network of footpaths that crisis-cross its woodland and link to the Fife Coastal Path where it crosses Cambo’s two-mile sea border. There are paths with disabled access and a badger trail.

The woodland at Cambo is managed to promote a healthy eco-system for the estate’s extensive wildlife and there are always birds and woodland creatures to be spotted.

Maps of where to explore are available from the Tack Room.

And after a walk on a chilly day, pop into Cambo’s cafe for home-made vegetarian and vegan soups, tortillas, filled focaccias, salads, flatbreads and treats.

Anything Else To Look Out For

Cambo has lots of creative outdoor spaces and the Lost Elf Village is aimed at younger visitors. There are dens, huts, bug hotels and tree platforms as well as pine cones, shells, bark and bamboo for inventive play as well as a chance to spot ‘fairy houses’ in the wider woodland.

Best Time To Visit

This weekend and next Cambo is holding Makers Markets, when talented craftsmen and women will be selling a whole range of beautifully-made homewares, jewellery and foodstuffs.

Their garden has a year-round calendar of events but a peak time for visitors is February and March when snowdrops carpet the woodland floor.

Any Recommendations In The Area

Kingsbarns Distillery is housed in a restored Georgian farm steading that was once part of the Cambo estate. Today it produces lowland single malt whisky and gin and visitors can tour the distillery and gin cottage and sample the products that are made on-site.

Some of the botanicals used in the production of the gin are grown around the distillery.


Cambo Gardens sit off the east side of the A917, one mile south of Kingsbarns in Fife.


Cambo Gardens are open daily 10am – 4pm

Tickets: £6.50/Free

Tel: 01333 451040

[email protected]

Courtesy of The Herald