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Candacraig House


The policies at Candacraig House comprise woodland, early-20th-century informal gardens laid out with ponds, and ornamental shrubberies. The early-19th-century walled garden houses a plant nursery, which is not open to the public. The house can be hired for private family celebrations.

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

Mid-18th-century parkland and shelter woodlands make a distinctive scenic contribution to the locality and 20th century rock and water gardens and informal gardens created in the early 19th century walled garden host an unusual collections of shrubs, roses and water plants.

Location and Setting

Candacraig House is situated in the valley of the River Don in the Grampian Mountains, some 18 miles (29km) north of Ballater and 9 miles (14.5km) south- west of Rhynie. It is 46 miles (72 km) from Aberdeen. Until recently it was part of the Candacraig Estate which stretched for 13,500 acres (5,468ha) and borders the River Don for some 16 miles (25km). The site is bounded to the south by the River Don and enclosed by the B973 to Strathdon, one mile to the north. A minor road to the south of the river affords splendid views of the house in its setting. The Grampian Mountains are important to the extensive views obtained from the house.

Since at least the 1st edition OS map of 1865, the parkland at Candacraig has been confined to a fairly narrow strip south of, and between, the lodges on the B973 and extending in the south to the north boundary of the riverside fields. The better quality riverside fields have been utilised for crops and the hills planted up for forestry and game management. The extent of the designed landscape remains similar today to that shown in 1865 but three ponds have been constructed within the designed landscape to the south-east of the house. The house is set above the river valley on a flat terrace and faces south to take advantage of the fine views along the river valley. There are no old plans available at the house. There are 42 acres (17ha) in the designed landscape today.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Candacraig House is a 17th century dwelling house rebuilt in 1836 to the designs of John Smith with additions in 1900 and 1928, and reconstructed after a fire in 1955 by A.G.R. Mackenzie. It is of late 17th/early 18th century vernacular style and is listed B. The offices, known in the past as The Square, date from 1835 and are listed B for the group, which includes the walled garden dating from 1820 and the North Lodge. There is a small Gothic-style summerhouse in the west wall of the garden. The Doocot is a large, lectern-style 17th century building at some distance from the house, near the Kennels, and is listed B. The tempietta to the south of the house was constructed in 1963 using materials from the demolition of Altyre House. The East Gates and the old bridge over Allt Damh are listed C. A Gardener's Cottage and game larders also lie in the policies.


The shelter woodlands around the house have an age range of 150 years. The older trees are of beech and ash and there is a range of conifers planted 60 and 40 years ago, including pines and spruces. The younger plantations are mainly around the ponds and sheltering the garden areas. There are some fine exotic conifers including a specimen of Chamaecyparis nootkatensis by the Doocot Lodge. The surrounding hill plantations have been replanted since the last war.

The Gardens

The area of garden was expanded in the 1920s and extended south and east of the house and walled garden. Three artificial ponds were created in a former marshy area. The ponds were connected by canals and cascades and a system of paths around their shores was linked with small rustic bridges, the remains of which can still be seen today. The surrounds of the two smaller ponds were planted with unusual shrubs and water plants including Deutzias, Philadelphus, Berberis, Acers etc. The path to the north of the ponds passes through the remains of an old garden, possibly a rock garden, around an old well head and standing stone. This path leads to the tempietta put in below the grass slope and terrace in front of the house in 1963. Views would have extended across the ponds to the Doocot but the surrounding trees now intervene. A shelterbelt lines the lawn and yew trees are planted in a formal design near the tempietta. To the south of the house are the more ornamental trees.

Walled Garden

The walled garden lies to the north-east of the house on the west side and above the north drive. There are some attractive wrought-iron gates in this garden and a Gothic- style summerhouse in the west wall. The southern end section is V-shaped and is laid out on a slope and planted with roses in formal beds. This garden was once renowned for its collection of roses, both floribundas and shrub roses. A gateway leads through from the rose section into the rectangular part of the walled garden which is subdivided by clipped hedges, herbaceous borders, honeysuckle arches and rose trellis-work. This has been laid out as a plantsman's garden with many special plants but has become rather overgrown in recent years. The remnants of several interesting shrubs remain, including Potentilla 'Vilmoriniana', silver weeping pear (Pyrus salicifolia), Hebes, Berberis darwinii, and a Chinese laburnum. Espaliered apples and pears are trained along the walls. Up until 1960, this garden grew vegetables as well as flowers but in 1960 a new vegetable garden was created to the east of the north drive, just downhill from the walled garden. It is fenced and netted and in full cultivation for vegetables.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

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

Candacraig makes an outstanding scenic contribution to the Strathdon Valley. It comprises woodland, informal gardens and an impressive walled garden.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Mid-18th century, walled garden added around 1820, mid 19th century tree planting and 1920s to 1970s.

Site History

The several changes of ownership have meant the loss of any old estate plans from the house, and available documentary evidence relies on the OS maps. There are no known designers, apart from the owners, in particular the Wallaces, who developed the flower gardens.

In the mid-17th century, the estate belonged to the Anderson family who laid out the parkland, planted shelter woodlands and put in a walled garden around 1820. The house was enlarged in 1836 by the Aberdeen architect 'Tudor Johnny' Smith in the Scottish Baronial style using granite from the estate. In 1857 the estate was bought by Sir Charles Forbes of Newe, a close neighbour with extensive landholdings in the vicinity. There are no available records dating from his period of ownership. In 1900 the estate was purchased by the Wallace family who had additions made to the house, in 1900 by George Gordon of Inverness, and in 1928. The Wallaces replanted the walled garden as a flower and vegetable garden and in 1920 the area of formal gardens was extended to include a rock garden and new paths to the south-east of the walled garden. In 1955 a fire badly damaged the house and the reconstruction was carried out by A.G.R. McKenzie of Aberdeen. Three ponds were constructed in the marshy area south of the Kennels in order to provide better protection for the house in future, and the west, largest pond is visible from the front of the house. Mr & Mrs Wallace were both keen plantsmen and created a very special garden; they both died in 1975. In 1982 the whole estate was put on the market and the house and 23 acres of policies were sold to Mr Scott. In 1986, Candacraig House was purchased by Julian Ludlow and Sheila Hazlewood.

Associated People
Features & Designations


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

  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: The offices (The Square), the walled garden and the North Lodge
  • Grade: B


  • Dovecote
  • Summerhouse
  • Game Larder
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Description: The walled garden houses a plant nursery.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential





Open to the public


Electoral Ward

Donside and Cromar




  • Historic Scotland