Glenborrodale Castle dominates the steep south-facing hillside overlooking Loch Sunart. The panoramic view takes in the islands of Risga, Carna and Oronsay and the Morven Hills on the far side of the loch. This is an important example of early 20th century pleasure grounds, including a lake and walled garden, which form the setting for the contemporary castle. The overall composition typifies the archetypal romantic Scottish landscape.
Type of Site
Early 20th century castle with pleasure grounds, including a lake and walled garden, and dramatic landscape views.
Location and Setting
Glenborrodale is situated on the southern shore of the Ardnamurchan peninsula, llkm (7 miles) west of Salen, 32km (20 miles) south-west from Strontian, and 64km (40 miles) from Fort William. It is set directly north of the B8007. Estates with large houses, policy woodlands and stone dykes are prominent in the Lochaber landscape. Views of the sea and off-shore islands are an important aspect of the landscape character of the area.
Glenborrodale Castle dominates the steep south-facing hillside overlooking Loch Sunart. The panoramic view takes in the islands of Risga, Carna and Oronsay and the Morven Hills on the far side of the loch.
The designed landscape occupies the same area as that of the mid-19th century mansion's pleasure grounds (1872, OS).
Glenborrodale Castle, designed by Sydney Mitchell and built in 1902, is a five-storey, Scots Baronial mansion, built of red Dumfriesshire sandstone, with ashlar dressings. On its south front the ground floor is high above ground level and opens onto a balustraded terrace decorated with crenellated copings. Curved flights of stairs descend to further garden terraces of battered rubble.
The H-plan, single storey Stables was also designed by Mitchell.
The pre-1898 Walled Garden is built in blue engineering brick with ashlar copings and wrought iron gates.
The asymmetrical, two-storey Gate Lodge, also designed by Mitchell, is built in similar materials to the Castle. Its east front has a two storey drum tower with conical bell-cast slated roof. The Gate Piers and ball finials are also of bullfaced rubble.
East of the Castle is Glenborrodale Farm, with a small range of traditional farm buildings.
Drives and Approaches
The main drive enters the site at the Gate Lodge and passes the Walled Garden to reach the entrance on the north side of the Castle, a distance of 180 metres.
A secondary access, also off the B8007, to the north-east passes the stables to connect with the primary entrance on the north side of the Castle.
North of the Castle the ground rises dramatically and is densely colonised with Rhododendron, coniferous trees and some deciduous trees. This forms a valuable, dramatic backdrop to the Castle. Woodland forms the northern shelter boundary of the ornamental garden, forming an almost impenetrable barrier.
An artificial lake lies south of the Castle and its terraces, near the south perimeter of the site. Excavated within a rock outcrop, it features ornamental aquatic and marginal planting. On its south side a flight of steps leads onto the rock outcrop from where the Castle can be viewed across the lower garden.
South of the Castle lies a broad, castellated, elevated garden terrace, which forms the Castle platform. Set with gravel walks, lawns and flower beds, it acts as a viewing platform giving views out over the gardens below and across to Loch Sunart and the island of Risga.
Below the garden terrace, set against the south façade of the Castle, is a lean-to greenhouse leading onto a terrace.
Flights of steps lead south off the Garden Terraces to a network of paths traversing the steeply sloping site. The paths lead to a series of small glades cut into the surrounding ornamental tree and shrub canopy, and bounded to the south by the B8007.
The extensive plant collection is concentrated in this relatively small area and includes varieties of maple (Acer palmatum, Acer saccharum), Cercidiphyllum japonica, Thujopsis dolabrata, a rare specimen of Athrotaxis selaginoides and a Monkey-puzzle. There are extensive areas of Rhododendron. Occurring rock outcrops within the garden are highlighted by planting with exotic species.
The walled garden pre-dates the existing Castle, although its main gateways were probably designed by Mitchell. The wrought iron gates are dated 1901. The garden comprises predominantly ornamentals with central pergola and gravel paths dividing the area into square and triangular beds.
A glasshouse (1980s) on the north side of the garden, and facing south-east occupies the site of a larger predecessor whose flues survive outwith the walled garden.
- 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 important example of early 20th century pleasure grounds, including a lake and walled garden, which form the setting for the contemporary castle. The overall composition typifies the archetypal romantic Scottish landscape.
Main Phases of Landscape Development
Formal gardens contemporary with the construction of the Castle 1898-1902. Successive mid 20th century planting.Site History
In the mid 19th century the Ardnamurchan estate, comprising 2,225ha (55,000 acres), was acquired by John James Dalgleish (1836-1916).
In 1897 Charles Dunnell Rudd (d.1916), a diamond magnate, bought part of the estate comprising Acharacle and land westwards from Salen to Ardnamurchan point. He commissioned the architect Sydney Mitchell to design Glenborrodale Castle, on the site of a pre-existing house. Work started in 1898, and was completed in 1902. The lake appears to have been constructed in advance of the Castle (1897, OS 6"). Perhaps the upcast from its construction provided materials for the building of the garden terraces. Otherwise the gardens seem to have been laid out following the Castle, although no plans of the work are known to survive.
On Rudd's death the estate was bought by Sir Kenneth Clarke (d.1933), of the Paisley thread manufacturing family. He entertained lavishly at Glenborrodale, one of his major activities being his membership of the Western Isles Yacht Club at Tobermory. The Castle was let at various times to fellow enthusiasts, including Sir Thomas Sopwith and Sir Thomas Lipton.
Lord Trent (d.1956) son of Jesse Boot, founder of the Boots Chemist Company, acquired the estate in 1936, retaining it until 1949, although the Navy occupied it during World War II. It was also available to staff of Boots as a wartime rest centre. Lord Trent is responsible for augmenting the planting of shrubs and trees around the Castle, resulting in a significant plant collection.
The sale of the estate in 1949 resulted in its division, part being kept by Boots for the breeding of Highland cattle. During the mid 20th century the Castle became a hotel and then, in 1992 the property was purchased by a private individual, who uses the premises as his personal residence when in the Highlands.
Early 20th Century (1901-1932)
- Associated People
- Features & Designations
Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland
- Key Information
Domestic / Residential
Early 20th Century (1901-1932)
Open to the public