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Gareloch House (also known as Achnashie)


The 19th- and early-20th-century policies at Gareloch House comprise woodland gardens, informal ornamental gardens and a productive vegetable garden with herbaceous borders. Both the woodland and ornamental gardens contain a notable collection of specimen trees and shrubs, including some from the southern hemisphere.

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:

Location and Setting

Gareloch House is situated on the west shore of the Gare Loch at the southern end of the village of Clynder, 5.5 miles (9km) south of Garelochhead. The site is bounded by the shore road to the east and by the Clack MacKenny hill rising to 650' (198m) to the west. The site is well sheltered and has a mild climate. Two small burns run eastwards from the hills to the loch; one is culverted under the garden. The site affords fine views out across the Gare Loch to Rhu, north to Ben Lomond and south to the Rosneath peninsula. The specimen trees in the grounds are visible from the shore road.

Gareloch House stands on the north-east boundary of the site, overlooking the Gareloch. Achnashie House, now derelict, lies to the south-west of Gareloch House within the designed landscape. The Garden extends in the south-west to the boundary formed by a stone dyke which has been recently rebuilt by the present owner of the house. Beyond this lies a field where scented varieties of daffodils were established in the previous century and continue in profusion. To the north-west and south-east, the garden is contained by the access roads of adjacent properties. The Stroul Burn runs through the garden just within the south-east boundary.

The garden extends over some 22 acres (9ha) and includes a woodland garden, an ornamental garden and a vegetable garden. A tennis court was sited to the north-west of the vegetable garden. These components are separated from the woodland garden by an irregularly curved dry-stone retaining wall, of which the date of construction is unknown.

The garden was divided into three plots in 1968. The northern plot includes the tennis court site and part of the woodland garden. The central plot includes Gareloch House and access drives, the vegetable garden and part of the woodland garden. The southern plot includes the derelict Achnashie House and the adjacent ornamental garden, the stable-block, the Achnashie Club, and the remainder of the woodland garden.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Gareloch House , listed category A, is a late Georgian, two-storey villa built in 1817. The ruins of Achnashie House lie to the west of Gareloch House. The Coach-house is listed category B and is a two-storey building built c.1820.

Woodland Garden

The Woodland Garden extends around the western boundaries of the site, composed largely of deciduous and coniferous trees. Of particular note, is a fine specimen of Athrotaxus cupressoides which is rare in cultivation and a particularly tall columnar cypress. Other important trees include Picea jezoensis, Cedrus deodora, a cut-leaf beech, and a fine Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) which stands near the tennis court. Mature yew trees are situated throughout the garden. In the area by the Stroul Burn, a collection of Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) was established early in this century. The area is now overgrown which prevents further positive identification.

Within the tree canopy, species Rhododendrons, including a good R. arboreum specimen, were planted with a range of hardy hybrid Rhododendrons. There is a collection of at least twelve different Rhododendron species which, like the hybrids have invaded other parts of the garden.

In the central area of woodland garden, within the present policies of Gareloch House, footpaths have been opened up, invasive vegetation cleared throughout, and new specimen trees and shrubs established. The garden outwith this area is derelict. Records were kept of the plant collection during its major phase of establishment between 1890 and 1917. Some of the plant material recorded in these books is now absent, thought to have been lost c.1950 during a phase of clearance, but is gradually being replaced.

The Gardens

The ornamental garden of Gareloch House lies within its immediate vicinity and is predominantly lawn with specimen trees including a fine weeping ash and species rhododendrons. There are specimens of Acer japonicum and Acer palmatum, which are possibly original or early introductions, alongside pittosporum, mature Desfontainea spinosa and Crinodendron hookerianum specimens, and a large Parrotia persica. To the south-west of the house, a short avenue of mature yew hedges stood until recent years. The northernmost hedge has now been cut back, allowing light to encourage the establishment of a herbaceous border, composed of largely green and white plant material seen against the backdrop of the remaining hedge which has been cut back to encourage regeneration. To the north of Achnashie House, a lawn with specimen yew and azalea provided the setting for the approach to the house. The area is now derelict although interesting shrubs and trees remain, including a tall Chusan palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) bordering the drive to the old house. The specimen azalea on the lawn has been removed and invasive shrubs have colonized.

Walled Garden

The vegetable garden lies to the south-east of Gareloch House and is well stocked and maintained. It is bounded by herbaceous borders. A rose bower extends the length of the garden. Some shrub roses which climb the trellis support were planted early in this century. Gaps have been replanted with species chosen from the garden records.

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

The gardens form an impressive setting for the category A listed Gareloch House and contain a collection of notable specimen trees.

Site History

Gareloch House was built in 1817 and, according to titles held by its present owners, was first a parsonage and later a merchant's residence. Its early history is not well documented but the merchant extended his property, buying the Achnashie land and building the large house there before the 1st edition OS map of 1860. Both houses were in use by him and his family. In 1871, John McLeod Campbell of Rhu heresy fame (1825-1831) was offered the property as a place of retirement, and he lived there during his last year.

Although a notable garden, containing some original introductions, it was at its height at the time of McLeod Campbell's sons, Sir James and Robert Storey Campbell, who kept twelve volumes of 'Garden Notes', dating from 1890-1917. These contain descriptions of the gardens, their design, planning and planting. All walks and paths record members of the family and their affinity with the garden, eg 'Grandfather's Walk', 'The Ken Rockery', 'Clark's Glimpse', the 'Eyebrow' and the 'Marriage Trees'. An upper border in the woodland contains material from Keston and Parkhill, both notable gardens at that time. The journals contain an interesting record of a visit to Wisley during its early development with comparisons between plants there and those in this garden; material was also exchanged. The books also contain lists of plants used in the garden and notes on garden books available at that time.

Achnashie was requisitioned during the war and American soldiers were billeted there; a fire in 1946 destroyed the house. Gareloch House survived and was sold in the 1950s with all the grounds. Afterwards the gardens were not kept up; some of the special plants were sold while others were lost and, in the late sixties, the estate was divided into three. In 1975 Mr & Mrs Toovey acquired Gareloch House with the central portion of the garden, from which time they have carried out a great deal of restoration work in the gardens, following up the planting as recorded in the journals.

Features & Designations


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

  • Tree Preservation Order

  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: Coach house
  • Grade: B


  • House (featured building)
  • Earliest Date:
  • Herbaceous Border
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential








  • Historic Scotland