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Children will relish giving vent to their inner knight or maiden fair, and following the nature trail that winds around the moat and into the woods. A coastal fortification has stood on this site since the late medieval period, although the extant building is largely a late 18th-century neoclassical mansion.

The visitors’ centre has more on the castle’s turbulent history; there’s also a small tearoom, open daily in summer and on winter weekends. Surrounded by ornamental gardens and a country park, it has remarkable views out to sea towards Arran, the Mull of Kintyre and the volcanic remnant of Ailsa Craig.

Whether you want to camp in the wilds or unwind in a country house hotel, bag a Munro or indulge in some leisurely island-hopping, there is no finer place to do it than here.

There’s an open fire in the drawing room, fresh flowers in the lounge, and a sterling line-up of whiskies behind the wood-panelled bar.

There are ten individually decorated rooms, each with their own charms (Bay has a Victorian half-tester bed, while Churchill is the largest).

Sculptor Antony Gormley is to receive a knighthood, Met Office chief scientist Professor Julia Slingo will become a dame and broadcaster Nicholas Parsons and actor Michael Crawford will both receive CBEs. For services to Cartography and voluntary service to the National Autistic Society and the Boys' Brigade. Life president, Federation for Detached Youth Work, Leicester and Chair of Trustees, Belvedere Community Activity Centre, Liverpool. (Liverpool, Merseyside)Professor Robin Anthony Jeffery Eady. For services to the Unemployed and the community in Epsom, Surrey. General Practitioner and Medical director, Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People.

Other women on the list included entrepreneur Karren Brady, NHS campaigner Julie Bailey and 1969 Wimbledon winner Ann Jones, who will all receive CBEs. Head, London 2012 Games Team, Health and Safety Executive. For services to Palliative Care for Children and Young People.

Then there are the urban centres, headed up by Edinburgh, with its stately castle and famous festival; snapping at its heels, though, is bold, forthright Glasgow, whose cultural reinvention continues apace.

Attractions run from turreted castles to weathered standing stones; polished art galleries to remote nature reserves.

Finally, there are cottage industries surrounding two of Scotland’s iconic literary figures, Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott, both of whom have important links to the region.

A broad moat surrounds this impressive medieval stronghold, with its unusual triangular shape, twin-towered gatehouse and crumbling red sandstone battlements.

Miss Keith, who has already received an OBE and a CBE, added: ‘I sort of feel elated, exhausted and thrilled. I don’t know what is better than the icing on the cake, but this is.’ ‘To accept such an award after only a decade of service to music and charity comes as a wonderful surprise,’ she said. Librarian and director general, Information Services, House of Commons. For services to International Development and Humanitarian Assistance in Pakistan. For services to Mediation in the Workplace and to the community in West Lothian. Lead Professional Dietician and Allied Health Professions Lead for Hospital Services, South Eastern Trust. Senior Adviser, Verde Xchange Institute and Member, Board of Governors, Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, USA.

‘I share this award with the charitable bodies I am so privileged to work with, especially to those brave servicemen and women who risk so much for us all on a daily basis.’ Away from the world of showbusiness, two of Margaret Thatcher’s long-serving aides will be knighted for their support before the former prime minister’s death: her private secretary Mark Worthington and the director of her private office Julian Seymour. Professor of Economics, UCL and director, ESRC Centre for the Micro-Economic Analysis of Public Policy IFS. For services to Parliament and voluntary service to the community through Great Culverden Park Ltd. For services to Dietetics and Healthcare in Northern Ireland. Watch manager, Urban Search and Rescue Team, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service. Staff Officer, Urban Policy Review Team, Department for Social Development, Northern Ireland Executive. For services to DWP and to the community in Merseyside through Wallasey and District Disabled Persons and Social Swimming Club. Deputy Faculty manager, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Lancaster University. Member, Academie Francaise and Professor, the Study of Literary Creation in the English Language, Colle-ge de France, Paris, France. For services to British business interests in the USA. Consultant, UK/Falkland Islands Trust and head of Branch, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

By Time Out editors For many, the epic peaks, sweeping glens and heather moorland of the Highlands are the classic Scottish vista.

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