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Cammo House


Cammo has a strong early-18th-century landscape structure surrounding a country seat. This provided an enduring landscape framework despite later remodelling and the lack of 20th-century management. Parts of avenues, a roundel planting and some woodland survive from the original scheme.

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

An early 18th century formal estate landscape, wilderness and gardens that were remodelled in the late 18th century/ early 19th century as a landscape park. A fine example of a strong, landscape structure, surrounding a 'Country Seat' which, once established, provided an enduring landscape framework.

Location and Setting

Cammo lies on the north-west outskirts of Edinburgh, some 5km from the city centre, on the west side of the A90. The designed landscape of Craigiehall (q.v. Inventory, Volume 5, p.35-41) lies on the northern and western perimeters of the Cammo Estate. Urban development (20th century) has grown to meet Cammo Estate on its eastern boundary and has developed along its northern edge, between the park and the River Almond.

Cammo lies on the edge of the broad, Lothians lowlands plain and is set out on the east-facing slopes of Lennie Hill, one of the many higher areas of igneous outcrops which interrupt the more gently rolling farmlands. The south park rises up to form Mauseley Hill, a more rugged area of ground. A principal vista, part of Clerk's scheme, leads from the south front of Cammo House to focus on distant Spittal Hill, within the Pentlands. Some sections of the formal lime avenue (Tilia x eurupaea), which line this vista, survive.

To the north the land falls away towards the Firth of Forth coastal plain, and from some areas there are long views of Fife to the north. There is a major view into the site from the A902 (Clermiston-North Gyle), where the view focuses on the water tower acting as an eyecatcher, glimpses of the stables and the distinct outline of Mauseley Hill with a clump on its summit. This is a familiar local landmark.

The extent of the designed landscape has changed little since Clerk's time. It is bounded by Cammo Road to the north, Cammo Walk to the east, Craig Road to the south, and farmland and Turnhouse Golf Course to the west. Roy's Survey (1747-55) gives little detail except for the avenue to the east.

The most notable change has been in the diversion of Cammo Road to the north. Knox (1812) indicates a road through the estate, north of the present entrance and across the north side of the house. In the mid 19th century this was diverted northwards to run closer to the River Almond (1853, OS 6") and still survives as a track from Cammo Home Farm. The strip of land left between the River Almond and the new route of the Cammo Road effectively separated the river from the designed landscape, and was subsequently developed for housing (20th century).

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

The ruins of Cammo House sit on a podium and consist of the south-facing façade of the ground floor including the front door and pediment. A Single-span Bridge, with dated keystone, 1762, and initials IW for the Watson family, carries the east drive to the house. To the north of this, a rustic Rubble Footbridge crosses the burn. The Stables, dated 1811, with initials IW for the Watson family, comprising a U-plan classical stable block, with octagonal tower, were designed by Robert Reid (1774-1856). The Gate Lodge, dated 1879, built by the Watsons, is a single-storey, three bay building. The central front door lintels carries the initials CW. The gateway has four ashlar Gate Piers with pyramidal caps. To the south-west of Cammo House lies a late 18th or early 19th century Walled Garden, with brick-lined rubble walls lined by the remains of potting sheds. The south-facing wall is a hot wall with flues. The eastern entrance to the garden has a pair of banded ashlar gate piers and cornice. An early 19th century circular and castellated Water Tower, formerly Cammo windmill, is situated on low-lying ground. To the south-west of Cammo House is a Canal some 140m long, running ESE-WNW. A sandstone paved platform base to the north-east may be the remains of a timber terminal pavilion with portico of considerable length. A polyhedron dial sundial has been removed from Cammo for safekeeping and is in the care of the National Trust. The shaft is dated 1795, and inscribed Charles Watson.

Drives and Approaches

The drive approaches Cammo House from the east, passes over the Bughtlin Burn and past a 19th century lodge, then along the remains of a lime avenue. Recent planting has somewhat detracted from its formality. As its western end, the drive curves northwards to reach the south front of the house. At this point there is 19th century planting of mixed deciduous and coniferous trees underplanted with cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus). The 18th century approach led through entrance gates into a walled forecourt (Clerk, 1722).

The southern drive no longer exists. By 1822, the Southern Avenue had been thinned and the principal entrance lay along the east drive. Nevertheless the axis of the Southern Avenue survives as a vista.


The broad configuration of Clerk's early 18th century landscape still forms the structure of the modern landscape, his series of regular field compartments ornamented with roundels, and woodlands set out around a formal garden approached by avenues can be clearly traced. The only actual features of Clerk's landscape to survive in themselves are the East Avenue, the South Avenue, the roundel in Sheep Park, a grove in Larch Tree Meadow and the western perimeter belt.

In the north of the estate the position of Clerk's circular clump, the north-east of the house at the junction of the North, South and West Parks survives (Clerk, 1722; Bell, 1805; 1893, OS 25") although a formal walk leading eastwards is now gone. A walk on the north-south axis of the mount extended to the River Almond, its position surviving as a track. The configuration of the park follows Clerk's layout although the planting has not survived, the boundaries alone remaining constant.

To the east of the house, the early 19th century lawns (Bell, 1805) stretched southwards from the north parks and eastwards to the entrance lodge on the perimeter of the estate. Forming these lawns involved the removal of some of Clerk's filed boundaries and planting parkland trees. This area of parkland survives. The early 19th century lawns to the south of the house were created by thinning the South Avenue, although the open vista was kept. This area has become much more enclosed as scrub and mature trees have developed.

A clump of trees, south of the South Avenue and originally planted by Clerk, has disappeared, as has a 19th century plantation that was developed on rising ground behind the clump. Four Mile Park on the south-west perimeter of the park, formed in the early 19th century, is now a golf course. Mauseley Hill, in Sheep Park, is topped by a clump as shown on Clerk's scheme, and a stone dyke also encloses this knoll.

The Bughtlin Burn forms the eastern boundary of the park. Its banks are lined with stone revetting, and it was planted up within a perimeter belt by 1805. a walk along the burn probably survives from this scheme and, by 1805, it extended through Buflan Glen and then along the south banks of the Almond. Housing development now lines the Cammo Road in Buchlan Glen and along the riverside.

The Gardens

No formal gardens or walks survive and the site is managed as a country park, with informal meadows and woodland walks. The area occupied by Clerk's parterres and their enclosing bank can still be discerned on the ground, to the north of the mansion. The 19th century gardens were a development of the 18th century layout and mainly consisted of walks to the south-east of the house, a formal walk leading along the north side of the canal and through the plantation sheltering the walled kitchen garden. A cobbled walk leads from the east end of the canal past the 19th century stableblock.

Areas of the shrubbery survive alongside conifers from the 19th century pinetum to the north and south-west of the house. North and north-west of the house there is an area of 19th century planting including copper beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea'), Chamaecyparis sp., and Abies sp. And the remains of a formal yew hedging.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

Cammo Park is open all year round. The visitor centre has restricted opening times.


Cammo Park is accessible by bus.


City of Edinburgh Council

City Chambers High Street Edinburgh, EH1 1YJ

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

An early 18th century formal estate landscape, wilderness and gardens that were remodelled in the late 18th century/ early 19th century as a landscape park. Although somewhat neglected, a strong, landscape structure can still be made out.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Early 18th century formal landscape, late 18th/ early 19th century landscape park.

Site History

Lands at Cammo belonged to the Abbey of Incholm until c.1400 when Robert de Cardney, Bishop of Dunkeld, acquired it. He sold it in 1409 to John de Nudre, and thereafter the estate passed through a series of owners until owned by the Menzies family. John Menzies of Coulterallers (Lanarkshire) either built or remodelled Cammo House in 1693.

In 1710, the estate was sold to Sir John Clerk (1676-1755), later 2nd Baronet of Penicuik, for about £2,800 (Clerk, 1892). It was of a modest size with only 'a few firs on the east side of the house', Clerk noted. A member of the last Scottish Parliament and of the first of Great Britain, he became a commissioner for the Union in 1706-7 and then a Baron of the Court of Exchequer. An amateur architect, he worked with William Adam in the 1720's at his home at Mavisbank (q.v. Inventory, Volume 5, p.160-4), and translated his pastoral and poetic into the landscape design of the family estate of Newbiggin in the early 1700s (q.v. Inventory, Volume 5, p.186-92).

Clerk's The Country Seat, a long poem in blank verse that presents his theories on architecture and landscaping, was written after he had sold Cammo. Although he carried out extensive work at Cammo from 1711 to 1719, his work there does not seem to reflect these principles. Clerk kept a memorandum of his landscape work at Cammo, although exact locations are not always clear. A surviving pre-scale sketch plan of 1722 shows a typical, regular enclosure layout with parks. The landscape design consisted of a framework of axial paths, avenues, vistas and roundels centred on the house and formal gardens. Plantations were located on either side of the house and South Avenue, a double avenue of oaks, was a particularly prominent feature (Hogarth, 1999). Survey and analysis of the modern Cammo landscape has shown that Clerk's structure largely survives and formed the framework for subsequent landscape development.

Following his father's death in 1722, Clerk became 2nd Baronet and sold Cammo as it was inconvenient to live at when the majority of his estates lay 'on the South side of the Pentland hills'. Furthermore his 'father wisht and expected that he should for the most part take up his residence at Penicuik' (Memoirs, p.113). Cammo was bought by John Hog, an Edinburgh tax collector and a relation of Clerk's, who commissioned William Adam to remodel Cammo House. Adam may also have been responsible for designing the formal canal there in the late 1720's. Following financial embarrassments Hog was forced to sell the Cammo estate to James Watson in 1741.

Watson, who had married Lady Helen Hope, daughter of Charles 1st Earl of Hopetoun in 1737, renamed the estate New Saughton and it became their principal residence. Either James Watson, or his son Charles, who succeeded in 1778, was responsible for remodelling the estate in the late 18th century 'landscape' style. The south avenue was thinned, the house was surrounded by open parkland scattered with parkland trees and enclosed by perimeter belts. The formal gardens were removed, a ha-ha was constructed to take advantage of wide, open views of the surrounding countryside and a separate walled garden and glasshouses were constructed.

The layout for the landscape was rather typical and unremarkable for its period, but Clerk's scheme of improvements determined its main structure (Bell, 1805). The main elements of Clerk's design, field lines, boundary plantations and East Avenue were incorporated into the parkland.

The estate remained in the Watson family until 1898. Late 1800's development included a pinetum, planted to the west of the house. After 1898 the Maitland Tennant family owned the estate and there were few new developments. The northern and eastern policies were leased to the Cramond Brig Golf Club from 1910 to 1929. Following the Club's relocation to Dalmahoy the course became farmland. In 1980 the estate was acquired by the National Trust for Scotland and is now managed in association with the City of Edinburgh Council.

Associated People
Features & Designations


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

  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: Cammo Estate gate lodge and gate piers
  • Grade: B
  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: Cammo Stables
  • Grade: B
  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: Cammo walled garden
  • Grade: C(S)
  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: Rubble bridge
  • Grade: B
  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: Single-span bridge
  • Grade: B


  • Sundial
  • Tower
  • Avenue
Key Information





Principal Building

Parks, Gardens And Urban Spaces


Part: standing remains



Open to the public





  • Historic Scotland