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A lake and the early-19th-century kitchen garden are surrounded by mid-19th-century shrubberies. A terrace and formal gardens are associated with the early-20th-century house. Ardkinglas is famed for the collection of conifers in its woodland garden around the River Kinglas, which contains several champion trees including a silver fir dating from around 1750.

The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

Type of Site

Within the spectacular setting of the mountains and sea, the late 18th and early 19th century parkland and woodlands of Ardkinglas host woodland trails, an outstanding collection of specimen trees and a woodland garden with a fine collection of shrubs and trees and Edwardian formal gardens and terraces close to the house.

Location and Setting

Ardkinglas House is situated on the east shore of Loch Fyne, about 1.5 miles (2.5km) off the A83 at Cairndow and about 10 miles (16km) east of Inveraray. The designed landscape was made in a large and relatively flat triangular area at the foot of Glenkinglas, partly formed by the estuary of the Kinglas Water. Lying at the headwaters of Loch Fyne, the policies nestle beneath the hills which rise to about 2,625' (800m) to the east of the house. The soils are acid/sandy loam and peat over old metamorphosed rocks. The site is sheltered from the prevailing winds by woodlands except on the exposed west side where the fjord-shaped loch acts as a funnel for the wind. There are extensive views down the loch and across to the Clachan Hill range and there is an outstanding view of Dunderave Castle. The mountains and sea provide a 'picturesque' setting for the house. The policies and woodlands provide variety to the surrounding upland scenery.

The present house is situated on a terrace above the east shore of Loch Fyne. The core of the designed landscape is laid out on the flatter land along the shore and it includes the extensive woodland covering the steeper shoulders of the hills below the A815. Beyond this road the ground rises steeply onto grazed moorland. Documentary evidence of the development of the designed landscape is provided by General Roy's map of 1750 which shows several enclosures around the former castle in the north of the present policies. The present designed landscape was laid out in the late 18th century and has remained similar in extent since then despite destruction of the mansion by fire in the 19th century. A new house, terraces and gardens were constructed from c.1906 by Robert Lorimer. In recent years the ownership of Strone House has been separated from Ardkinglas and this is the subject of a separate report. There are 517 acres (209ha) in the designed landscape today.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Ardkinglas House, listed category A, was built between 1906-8 by Sir Robert Lorimer. It is a large rambling mansion in the Scottish style around an open court. It has three storeys with a higher tower. The small octagonal Gate Lodge listed category B, lies at the eastern entrance and is early 19th century. The Stables and Outbuildings are contemporary with the earlier house.


The parklands were laid out as part of the designed landscape in the late 18th/early 19th century. Some of the specimen hardwood trees, particularly oak and sycamore, were retained as part of the design from the woodlands shown on General Roy's map. Other parkland trees were planted at this time. A beech behind the house has been recorded as the biggest in western Scotland since 1904. At the end of the 19th century, specimen conifers were also planted, including some fine Abies and Wellingtonias. Within the parks to the north of the house are set the lake and kitchen garden surrounded by the shrubbery. Several burns run through the parks from the hills to the loch. The policies extend southwards along the loch shore and are enclosed on the other three sides by large blocks of woodland. An early garden railway was put in from the house along the shore to the pier, although this has since gone.


Extensive woodlands extend along the shoulder of the hill up to the south shore road (A815). These woodlands include the woodland block shown on General Roy's plan. The woodlands around the house are mixed broadleaf and conifers and were planted in c.1790, c.1820,c.1870 and finally c.1910-20. The broadleaf beech, oak, lime, and sycamore date from the earlier periods. The majority of large conifers were planted c.1870 and these are magnificent, particularly along the Kinglas Water bank. In 1969 Alan Mitchell measured over 30 of the tall specimen conifers that grow here. The high rainfall and humidity with good shelter gives Ardkinglas very favourable growing conditions for many species of conifer, and some of the tallest trees in Britain are recorded here and at Strone (q.v.). The estate has recently embarked on an ambitious project to renew much of the woodlands surrounding the house with an arboretum/pinetum containing as many examples of temperate species of trees as possible.*

* A national collection of Silver firs and spruces is being established at Ardkinglas.

Water Features

A pathway leads from the house down to the lake and shrubberies. The lake appears on the 1st edition OS but not on Roy's map and was probably created in the late 18th century. The whole area around the lake and the walled garden was planted up as a shrubbery by the time of the 1st edition map of c.1860. By the 2nd edition of 1898 a boathouse had been built; this is now derelict. The lake margins and the attractive walks have become overgrown. The path leads to the rose and Azalea walk, which lies to the south of the kitchen garden, where there is a central pond and fountain.

The Gardens

Attractive curved steps lead down from the loggia of the house on the first floor to a simple terrace marked out with a stone path. The bank is retained by a 1.5m stone wall topped by a balustrade. Steps designed around a summerhouse lead down to two deep grass banks. Two more flights of steps are set into the banks. No planting has been allowed to mask the view along Loch Fyne. The top terrace opens out towards the south where a large lead fountain of a statuesque Mermaid stands in an oval pool. The pond is edged with heavy stone coping and the paved garden is enclosed by a clipped yew hedge. The fountain has recently been restored. Further lawns lead south to a shrubbery planted in the 1930s with Rhododendrons and Azaleas.

Walled Garden

The walled kitchen garden is horseshoe-shaped with the curve at the northern side. The garden is thought to have been built in the early 19th century for the Campbells. The greenhouse was built c.1910 and is now used by Plus Trees and Fyne Trees as a nursery to raise conifers from seed, but it is in poor condition. The beautiful wrought- iron entrance gates were possibly designed by Lorimer. Except for a small area of standing out ground, the garden has been laid down to grass.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts


01499 600261

Access contact details

The house is not open to the public. However, a private tour of the house can be booked.

The Woodland Garden is open dawn until dusk everyday.


Ardkinglas Woodland Garden is in the village of Cairndow off the A83 Loch Lomond to Inveraray road. See


Ardkinglas Estate


The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

Reason for Inclusion

Home to some of Scotland's mightiest and finest trees, the designed landscape at Ardkinglas is an outstanding work of art, as well as providing the setting for a category A listed building and some important wildlife habitats.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Late-18th/early-19th-century with woodland plantings in c.1790, c.1820, c.1870 and finally c.1910-20 and terraces and formal gardens in 1906.

Site History

The present designed landscape was laid out in the late 18th century for Sir Alexander Campbell. The design is similar to that drawn up for him in 1791 by James Playfair. The terrace and formal gardens were designed by Sir Robert Lorimer in 1906.

A castle at Ardkinglas can be traced back to the late 14th century when Sir Colin Campbell, ancestor of the present Dukes of Argyll, gave the land including the 'heaths and woods' to his son. There are records of the repairs of the castle in 1586. Little is known of the gardens of the early castle but by c.1750 it is shown surrounded by a formal landscape. A line of trees bordered the park and one large and two small blocks of woodland protected the Castle from the prevailing winds.

The grounds were laid out in the late 18th century by Sir Alexander Campbell. The old castle is described in the memoirs of Sir James Campbell of Ardkinglas, published in 1832:-

"At the time of my birth, my father and mother were on a visit to my great grandfather, Sir James Campbell, at his baronial seat of Ardkinglas on the banks of Loch Fine. It was a fine old mansion, built in the form of a quadrangle, with a considerable court-yard in the centre. At each corner was a tower of sufficient dimensions to make it the residence of some cadet of the family. I have often regretted that the late Sir Alexander Campbell should have thought of demolishing this noble pile, for the purpose of raising in its stead a great square mass of masonry, which has nothing to recommend it but its conformity to the more modern ideas of domestic comfort and accommodation."

"The 'great square mass of masonry' referred to by Sir James was in fact a house of seven bays, built around 1800, and destroyed by fire in 1831;" (Lost Mansions of Argyll, 1984, M.C. Davis) only the cellars of this house remain today.

Several schemes to improve the estate were commissioned at this time; in particular, one by James Playfair in 1791 which included a massive pavilion to be sited near the present kitchen garden. Another scheme drawn up in c.1801 was for a large Scots Jacobean building by William Burn, and a third scheme was proposed by A.M. Binning around 1832 for a Baronial front. Even by 1822 the new mansion was half derelict as noted by Dorothy Wordsworth on her tour of the estate. After the fire in 1831 the stables were converted for use as the family home.

In the mid-19th century, the estate passed by marriage to the Callanders of Craigforth. In 1905 it was sold to Sir Andrew Noble and he commissioned Sir Robert Lorimer to design a completely new house. It was built between 1906-8. On Sir Andrew's death the estate was left to his three sons jointly and his third son, Sir John Noble, lived at Ardkinglas, having bought out his brothers. In 1937 Sir John left it to his three sons. The estate was divided in 1966 with the third son, Michael (Lord Glenkinglas), having Strone and the Cairndow portion, and the second son, John, having Ardkinglas. The present owner of Ardkinglas is John's son, John Noble.


  • 18th Century (1701 to 1800)
  • Late 18th Century (1775 to 1799)
Associated People
Features & Designations


  • Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland


  • House (featured building)
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Lake
  • Description: A late-18th-century lake by the house surrounded by shrubbery.
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  • Gazebo
  • Description: The gazebo in the woodland garden designed as a 'scriptorium' filled with literary quotes.
  • Gate
  • Description: Wrought-iron entrance gates to the early-19th-century walled kitchen garden, possibly designed by Robert Lorimer.
  • Kitchen Garden
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  • Shrubbery
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


18th Century (1701 to 1800)





Open to the public





  • Historic Scotland