Loch Lomond And Trossachs National Park Planning Authority
Whistlefield Inn, early 19th century or earlier, was important in the development of the tourist trade in Cowal in the later 19th century, when road excursions began to be popular, connecting with steamer trips to and from Strachur, Loch Eck and Ardentinny. Although somewhat altered over the years, Whistlefield remains an interesting collection of buildings, with a complex development, including a possible early date, which contributes to the landscape of the area.
Whistlefield consists of a number of conjoined buildings. The main body of the inn is made up of three gabled blocks joined back to back. The entrance elevation faces roughly SE and away from Loch Eck, on the road to Ardentinny. This is a 5-bay 1½- storey elevation with gabled dormers and a low gabled porch and a second lean-to porch. The second elevation, overlooking both Loch Eck and the main road, consisting of a short gabled block with a central double-height canted bay and a later flat-roofed block to the SW. Immediately to the NE of the hotel are three parallel gabled former outhouses.
The earliest part of the inn is the central block of the three parallel main blocks, of which only the gable and a single bay are now visible, entirely of rubble with probable 19th century windows and a low door leading to what may have been a vaulted cellar, later altered. One or more of the outbuildings may also belong to this phase.
The second phase of the building probably involved building on to the front (SE) of this block with the long block now containing the front elevation. A late 19th century photograph shows this elevation, with a symmetrical 3-bay gabled-dormer façade to the NE, and a lower 3-bay block to the SW of that. The entrance has a flat-roofed iron-crested porch. It is likely that the block facing Loch Eck also dates to around the middle of the 19th century, with a central double-height canted window and a door below.
More extensions were built during the 20th century. Most notable is the large flat-roofed extension on the W corner of c1940, reputedly built to serve the work and army camp at Ardentinny. More recently, 2 more gabled dormers have been added to the front elevation and the outbuildings to the NE have been converted to form bunkhouses.
Interior: although much of the earlier layout survives, the interior has been substantially modernised. Some timber boarding survives to the ceilings.
Materials: rubble, harled to the principal elevations and exposed to the NE gables and the outbuildings. Grey slate roofs. Predominantly replacement timber sash and case windows.
Ancillary Buildings, Boundary Walls: to the NE are three parallel ranges of former outbuildings, recently converted to additional accommodation - exposed rubble with ventilation slits, slate roofs. Rubble boundary walls to the NW and along the Ardentinny road.
Statement of Special Interest
The early history of the Whistlefield Inn is difficult to ascertain. A variety of recent sources and a thorough investigation in 1998 give the date of the inn as the later 17th century. However, the documentary evidence for the possible date of 1663 is unclear. No buildings appear on General Roy's Military survey of c1747. A single building, marked as a farmhouse appears as Taynforlin in the vicinity on Langland's map of 1801. However, it appears that the inn does lie on an older drover's route from Strachur to Ardentinny and the map drawn up for the Commissioners of Roads in 1804 does show a small collection of buildings. The first documentary evidence for an inn is the 1851 census and Whistlefield is eventually marked as an Inn on the O.S map of c1898.
Whistlefield was on a route which appears to be of some antiquity to and from Inverarary via Strachur. In c.1806 the Commissioners for Roads improved this road to provide a faster route for fish and salt between Glasgow and Loch Fyne. The area around Whistlefield began to be popular for tourists following the introduction of road trips in conjunction with the steamer trade in c1890.