On any given weekend, the grounds of Scotland’s stunning historic properties can be found teeming with dog walkers taking their four-legged friends out for a treat.
A study has now been carried out to determine which of the nation’s ancient venues are most dog-friendly, with several north and north-east attractions dominating the top 10.
Balmacara Estate, in Kyle in the west Highlands, has been named as the best of the Scottish National Trust properties.
The study took in various castles, gardens and parks and assessed them on a series of criteria.
Points were awarded for locations which permitted dogs to roam off-lead, whether bins were provided for waste or on water being supplied.
Additional points were totted up for places which allowed dogs in gardens, woodland, grounds, restaurants and restaurant courtyards.
Balmacara Estate came in first place with a total of 80 out of 100 points.
It only missed out on full marks as it has no dog waste bins or drinking stations for pooches.
Gavin Skipper, ranger for estate, said: “One of the things that is important to people when they come to stay in one of the two cottages is that both are completely dog-friendly.
“If you want to take the whole family, you don’t have to leave the dog behind.
“We’ve also got an amazing path network on our door step – there’s Loch Alsh, woodland walks, moorlands, coastal walks, harder or easier routes – and something to suit everyone really.
“There’s about 17 miles of paths, which would delight any dog.”
Castle Fraser, near Sauchen in Aberdeenshire, came second with 70 points.
Then came a draw for third between Barry Mill in Dundee and Mar Lodge Estate at Braemar with 60 points, a three-way tie for fifth between Crathes Castle in Banchory, Drum Castle near Drumoak and Arduaine Garden in Oban with 50 points.
Alford’s Craigievar Castle, Abertarff House in Inverness and Brodie Castle at Forres were seventh with 40 points.
A spokeswoman for the National Trust for Scotland explained that the body tries to be as welcoming as possible at every property, but there are restrictions in some areas.
She said: “It’s great to hear that so many of our places were found to be so welcoming to our four-legged friends.
“Dogs are part of the family and lots of visitors like to bring them on a day out – from castles to coastline, woodland to wildland, we’ve got so many beautiful locations to explore.”
To find out more about the study, people can visit www.petlandia.com