Inventory Garden & Designed Landscape


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
NM 99832 63570
199832, 763570

A good example of an intact 18th century parkland design that relates well to its dramatic setting. There is a notable rhododendron collection here, and Ardgour has a long association with the MacLean family.

Type of Site

18th century parkland.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Mid 18th century parkland landscape, with later additions including 19th century kitchen garden.

Artistic Interest

Level of interest

This is a fine example of an 18th century picturesque landscape, designed to exploit a dramatic setting, the site thereby has high value as a Work of Art.


Level of interest

The high Historical value of the site is based on its long association with the MacLean family and its relatively unchanged, stable layout.


Level of interest

The 18th century specimen parkland trees and Rhododendron collection give the site high Horticultural significance.


Level of interest

The designed landscape is of high value architecturally as it provides an integral setting for Ardgour House, and is part of an overall concept.


Level of interest

The archaeological importance of the site is relatively unknown.


Level of interest

The dramatic setting of the designed landscape on the shores of Loch Linnhe makes this site of high Scenic merit.

Nature Conservation

Level of interest

The site incorporates many varied habitats including pasture, woodland and ancient trees making it of high Nature Conservation value.

Location and Setting

Ardgour House is situated 2.5km (1.6 miles) west of Corran Ferry, on the north shores of Loch Linnhe. The main entrance to the policies lies at the west end of the village of Clovullin, which itself lies 0.5km off the A861.

The estate extends across a narrow low-lying plain contained between the steep loch sides and open water. Due to its narrow spatial extent within the glen, the settled edge of the loch is a major influence on the landscape character and experience of the site. The house, 1.3km north of Loch Linnhe, is surrounded by rhododendron and other ornamentals providing a lush, sheltered character.

Principal views from the house lead southwards to Loch Linnhe but important views from the site lie north-eastwards to the cascading falls of Tubhailt Mhic ic Eoghain ('MacLean's Towel'). This is formed by the confluence of the innumerable burns which fall off Sgurr na h Eanchainne (B). Sgurr na h Eanchainne (730m) directly to the north, forms the landscape backdrop to views out of the landscape.

The extent of the designed landscape has changed a little since the 18th century, primarily in the extent of parkland to the south of the House which had doubled by 1900 (Roy, 1747-55; 1871-2, OS 6"; 1897, OS 6").

Of particular note is Blàr Cladh A' Mhuilinn, to the west of the parkland, which by 1850 had been set out with a regular drainage system (1871-2, OS 6"). This was probably an attempt to provide better pasturage in the enclosures at the foot of Coille na Cuile, and may indicate a long-term intention to extend the parkland even further westwards.

Site History

Until the 18th century, the small mansion, the principal messuage of the barony of Ardgour, was known as Cùil or Coull and appears on Roy's map of c 1750. In 1763, Hugh MacLean of Ardgour obtained estimates for quarrying sandstone near Kinlochaline and then, in 1765, entered into a contract for building a new house for £611 8s. The work was undertaken by John Menelaws and David Gridwood, the latter a Glasgow wright employed by MacLean at another of his properties at Williamwood, Renfrewshire.

A fire in September 1825 gutted the House and it was reconstructed by Hugh's son, Alexander MacLean. Only the principal stair survived, so the interior was completely remodelled and flanking wings were added by the builder-architect Alexander Squair. The rebuilding was finally completed in 1830 at a cost of £4,124. Two pencil sketches of c 1850 show the House in its landscape setting, and there appears to have been little change since.

The estate remains in private ownership although, since the early 1990s, the house and pleasure grounds are in separate ownership.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Ardgour House a piend-roofed three-storey, five-bay block, was built in 1765; the interior was rebuilt 1825-30 and flanking wings added. It is harled with dressed ashlar margins and dressings.

The Home Farm, a three-sided building around a central courtyard, lies north-west of Ardgour House. It is two-storeys with a harled elevation and slate roofs. Estate cottages, called the High Houses are also located north-west of the house.

Drives & Approaches

The principal approach is from Clovullin, where an entrance drive leads north-west of the school and along the southern edge of the Allt an Àilein valley. This drive leads to the south front of the house.

A secondary drive leads from Sallachan, by the River Gour at Cama Shallachain, north-west along the foot of Coille na Cuile to the House. Other drives link the various elements of the estate including the Home Farm, Cottages and Kitchen Garden.


North of the house an area of rough pasture extends up to the foot of the hills and is scattered with mature specimen trees.

South of the house, a broad swathe of parkland forms a contrast with rougher grazed pasture beyond. The parkland trees are fine specimens of lime, oak, and horse chestnut. Some lengths of rubble retaining walls define the parkland. To the west the parkland is bounded by the Allt an t Síthein (the Fairy Burn).


The mixed woodland on Coille na Cuile forms a magnificent backdrop to Ardgour House. The extent of the woodland corresponds to that in the 19th and 20th centuries (1871-2, OS 6"; 1897, OS 6").

South-west of the house is a coniferous plantation, which at this distance has little impact on the setting of the House.

The Gardens

To the east of the House is an area of over-mature ornamental planting, surrounded to the north, east and south by the entrance drives, with the House to the west. The planting includes monkey-puzzle, and large leafed Rhododendrons. The ornamental walk continues to the Kitchen Garden, with a mature Atlantic cedar and more large species of Rhododendrons.

Lady Margaret's Cave lies in the mountainside behind Ardgour House.

Walled Gardens

A track, now abandoned, led north-east from the house, over a bridge across the Allt an Àilein through a plantation to the Kitchen Garden. The enclosure consisted of low rubble walls and now overgrown, derelict hedges.

Within the enclosure is an area of overgrown box hedging surrounding a 20th century concrete-framed glasshouse. To the south-west of this area was a tree nursery.



Maps, Plans and Archives

1747-55 General Roy's Military Survey, 1747-1755

1871-2 survey, 1st edition OS 1:10560 (6"), published 1875

1897 survey, 2nd edition OS 1:10560 (6"), published 1900

Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, National Monuments Record of Scotland: Photographic collection; (Ardgour House)


Printed Sources

Historic Scotland on Behalf of Scottish Ministers, The List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest

Bennet, D.J. and Strang, T. The Northwest Highlands, pp.35-45 (1990)

Gifford, J. The Buildings of Scotland: Highlands and Islands (1992), pp.224-5

Groome, F. Ordnance Gazetteer (1882)

Miers, M. The Western Seaboard: An illustrated architectural guide (2002)

Scottish Natural Heritage, Lochaber, landscape character assessment (1998)

About the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

The inventory is a list of Scotland's most important gardens and designed landscapes. We maintain the inventory under the terms of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We add sites of national importance to the inventory using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

The information in the inventory record gives an indication of the national importance of the site(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the site(s). The format of records has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Enquiries about development proposals, such as those requiring planning permission, on or around inventory sites should be made to the planning authority. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications of this type.

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Printed: 18/06/2024 10:56