CLIFTON HOUSE Gordon Macintyre runs this thoroughly eccentric inn that overlooks the stunningly expansive Moray Firth (bay). Besides being an expert chef and wine connoisseur, Gordon periodically transforms the hotel into a theatre, and his masterfully directed plays draw audiences from all over England. Even when out of production, the house still hums- it’s not uncommon to have Gordon lead an impromptu round of Scottish reels after dinner.MUCHALLS CASTLEFour years ago, Glenda Cormack bought this 16th century Laird’s Fortress and, with promising young chef Michael Acklom, refurbished it into a delightful inn. The castle boasts wonderful antiques, including some of the finest decorative plaster-work in Great Britain, and the bed of King James II. Glenda and Mike take us for a walk in an old smugglers’ cove, and to visit the nearby fishing town of Stonehaven. CASTLE FORBESDating back to 1815, the castle housed a branch of the expanding Forbes family. A successful American Forbes offered a blank check to the current Lord Malcolm Forbes and his wife Jinny for the castle, but they refused to part with their family home. Richly endowed with antiques and surrounded by a huge estate, the inn is also the site of Stonehenge-type rock formations. Another Highland highlight is a feast prepared by Jinny, where guests wear kilts and address the haggis.Regional Highlights: Scottish TartansWe visit Clare Macpherson-Grant Russell in Ballindalloch Castle, and learn how the Highland clans

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