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The informal designed landscape at Dalswinton dates from the late-18th century and includes a large loch created in about 1780. There are 12 hectares of woodland and lochside gardens with collections of shrubs and specimen trees, including species and hybrid rhododendrons. There is also a contemporary walled garden, part of which now functions as a plant centre.

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

No information available.

Location and Setting

Dalswinton is situated approximately 7 miles (11.5km) north-west of Dumfries and 1 mile (1.5km) south-east of the village of Dalswinton in Nithsdale. The River Nith forms the southern boundary of the site which is bounded to the north by a minor road leading to the A76(T). The house is set on a mound above the river floodplain from which the land rises to the north to Dalswinton Common. There are extensive views from the house along Nithsdale. Views into the site from the north are limited by the roadside shelter plantings, but views of Dalswinton can be obtained from south of the river.

The present mansion house is set on the site of the former Comyns Castle on relatively high ground in a defensive position above the valley. The designed landscape is bordered by the railway line to the west, the minor road to the north, and by shelterbelts. Documentary evidence of the designed landscape is provided by General Roy's plan of 1750, the 1st & 2nd OS map editions, and by two estate survey plans dated 1780 and 1829. General Roy's plan shows a formal layout of several large sheltered enclosures around the former Dalswinton Old House which lies just to the south-east of the present mansion. Several small ponds and streams are shown to have existed in 1750 to the north of Dalswinton Old House. The area was drained in the late 18th century into Dalswinton Loch and a parkland landscape was laid out around this time, at the same time that the new mansion was built. The doocot was built on an island in the loch and is a distinctive feature in the design. By 1861, a large orchard was shown on the 1st edition OS map to the south of the mansion and a walled garden had been constructed to the east of the loch. The west park was converted from parkland back into arable use by 1900. The designed landscape has remained similar in extent since that date and today contains 164 acres (66ha).

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Dalswinton House is a three-storey, classical mansion house, built of red ashlar in 1785. Additions were made in 1920 and it is listed B. It was built for Patrick Millar, among whose close friends was Alexander Nasmyth who, it is thought, may have designed the house for him. Dalswinton Old House, listed B, is now in ruins; it was an early 17th century house of several storeys high which was abandoned in c.1785 when the mansion house was completed. Now all that remains are the underground basement and part of a circular tower. The Doocot is a two-storey cylindrical tower, with castellations; it dates from the 18th century and is listed B. The single- storey, mid-19th century Back Lodge is listed C(S), while the late 18th century pair of classical lodges at the East Gate are listed B. The Dam at Dalswinton Loch was built in c.1785 and is listed C(S). The Walled Garden, built c.1790, and the two-storey Stables of the same period are both listed B.


The 1st edition OS map shows two distinct areas of parkland: one to the west of the house extending to Bankfoot and to the railway line, and the other to the east of the house extending to Boghead Bridge. The parks were planted with some individual parkland trees and with a few clumps. The west area of parkland had been converted back to arable land by the time of the 2nd edition OS map of c.1900; only the east parkland area remained and this had been reduced in size. An area of grassland is kept today and a few individual trees remain. Lady's Walk lies to the south side of the house on the side of the mound and it is lined with spring bulbs. Below it lies the valley of the former Comyns Pool and to the east on Byres Hill are the ruins of Dalswinton Old House.


There are approximately 700 acres of woodlands at Dalswinton, mainly hardwoods; some of the mixed deciduous woods date from Patrick Millar's plantings. There are pockets of conifers throughout and most of the lowland woods are managed as game cover. The Garden Wood is a mix of beech, birch and sycamore with a mixed age range.

The Gardens

There are some thirty acres of woodland and lochside gardens, extending from the mound on which the mansion house is set, northwards around the loch shore. The area immediately around the mansion house is laid as lawns with masses of daffodils in season. There is a tennis court to the north-west of the house, and Azaleas and specimen trees are planted on the bank alongside the drive. A collection of interesting shrubs and specimen trees has been planted throughout the woodland garden and around the lochside; these include both species and hybrid Rhododendrons and a fine Cercidiphyllum japonicum. There is a variety of flowering shrubs here including some introduced from the collection at Achamore House on the Island of Gigha (q.v.).

Dalswinton Loch is a large irregularly-shaped, man-made loch, established partly to drain the surrounding marshland. There are two islands at the northern end of the loch, on one of which stands the Doocot, built in the late 18th century. Its tall cylindrical shape is visible as an eyecatcher along the length of the loch and it provides a 'picturesque' view from the approach to the house.

Walled Garden

The kitchen garden is walled on three sides and was built for Patrick Millar on the east side of Dalswinton Loch. A long range of glasshouses is shown on the south-facing wall on the old maps. The garden is currently let as a commercial concern for growing salad and vegetable crops. There are several glasshouses and polythene tunnels maintained for crop production.

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

An informal late 18th century design, comprising woodland, parkland and lakes, overlays an earlier formal one. There is an interesting shrub collection in the woodland garden.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

No information available.

Site History

The early 18th century formal landscape was overlaid in the late 18th century by a less formal design of parks, and Dalswinton Loch was created in c.1780. There are no known landscape designers involved at Dalswinton but local record office sources may provide more information on the 18th & 19th century developments.

In the 13th century, the lands of Dalswinton belonged to the Comyns, and Comyns Castle stood on the site of the present mansion. On the accession of Robert the Bruce, Dalswinton was granted to one Walter Stewart, and it remained in the Stewart family until 1680 when the barony was disposed to the Duke of Queensberry. It later became the property of the Maxwells, before being purchased in the late 18th century by Patrick Millar. He carried out extensive agricultural improvements, draining the marshland, modernising all the farm buildings, and preparing the land for agricultural lettings. He also built the new house. He is noted as the inventor of steam navigation. In c.1788 he launched 'The Comet', one of the first steamboats, on Dalswinton Loch. He died in 1829 and his son, an army officer, who lost a great deal of money in furthering his political career, sold Dalswinton to the Macalpine-Leny family. They are known to have spent many years abroad letting the house from c.1900 to a Colonel Rankine. In 1919 they sold Dalswinton to the present owner's grandfather, David Landale. The present owner has continued to improve the policies of Dalswinton, planting many interesting shrubs in the gardens around the loch and the house.


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


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


  • Lake
  • Description: The first steamboat in Britain make its maiden voyage on Dalswinton Loch in 1788.
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  • Doocot
  • Description: A castellated doocot on one of the islands on the loch.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Dam
  • House (featured building)
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


18th Century (1701 to 1800)