Kinlochmoidart is a designed landscape which started in the 18th century and incorporates 19th century walks set with incidents commemorating the 1745 Rising and the Macdonald's Jacobite allegiance. The 1884 mansion is respectfully set within the older grounds and the entire composition exploits its picturesque location.
Type of Site
Baronial mansion of 1884 set amidst and respecting the layout of an 18th century landscape, which included pleasure grounds.
Location and Setting
Kinlochmoidart lies 8km north-east of Acharacle, at the head of Loch Moidart. The A861 Strontian-Glenuig road gives direct access to the site.
The House and designed landscape occupy the valley floor of Glen Moidart, close to the point where the River Moidart issues into Loch Moidart. The rocky shoreline of the Loch is deeply incised and forms an intimate character. The low rounded hills which enfold Kinlochmoidart's narrow, relatively flat-lands are steep sided with rugged, ice-scoured rocky surfaces. These eroded rocky surfaces, together with areas of woodland, give a constant pattern of colours and texture characteristic of Glen Moidart. The principal views extend westwards along the valley to the Loch. The walled garden and pleasure grounds are set tightly between the House and the hillside, with dense deciduous woodland towering above on the hillside.
The designed landscape takes in the flat floor of Glen Moidart, east and west of the house. It comprises about 150ha (370 acres) and has changed little since the 18th century (Anon, 1799).
Kinlochmoidart House, designed by William Lieper and built between 1884-6 is a Baronial mansion asymmetrical in profile but symmetrical in plan. The window composition is asymmetrical, each being treated in a different manner with masked or floreated roundels and monograms, built of grey rubble with contrasting red ashlar dressings.
The East Lodge, designed by Lieper, c 1884, is simple, single-storey and three-bays with red tile-hung walling with decorative banding. The West Lodge, with its Gate piers and flanking walls, is of grey rubble with red dressings.
The Walled garden, Dairy and Church of St Finan all pre-date the house of 1884. The church is a simple lancet gothic by Alexander Ross, 1857-60, crow-stepped nave and chancel with steep slated roof. The mid-19th century Farm Steading (designed by Alexander Ross) stands north-west of the house.
Leiper also undertook several minor buildings for Robert Stewart including the remodelling of a cottage at Brunary in Glen Moidart, and remodelling of the school ' now a restaurant ' at Kinacara, at the head of the road from Ardgour and Acharacle.
Drives and Approaches
The principal approach to the House is from the west, along the avenue of mixed species (lime, beech and sycamore). These are of irregular age and spacing, with pasture to north and south.
The House is surrounded by parkland. To its west, two gentle lawn terraces lead down to a ha-ha, formed by a rubble wall, which looks out onto an area of parkland south of the Prince's Walk. East of the House, another small area of parkland is crossed by the Orchard Burn.
Glen Moidart is very wooded. Woodland is primarily restricted to the sides of the glen, and rocky outcrops within it, where cultivation is impossible. To the north semi-natural beech, oak, birch and rowan merge into deciduous woodland, while the south face of the glen is primarily coniferous cover.
The Seven Men of Moidart are seven beech trees on the edge of Loch Moidart, south west of the farm steading, and visible from the A861.
A notable feature of the landscape pre-1884 is the Prince's Walk leading north-west along the edge of the glen, from the House to St. Finn's Church, where William Robertson Macdonald (1802-1883) is buried. The walk commemorates Prince Charles Edward Stewart's residence in 1745, and is lined with an avenue of oak and horse chestnut.
Other paths connect the House to the dairy and walled garden. A path, part of an earlier layout, climbs up the steep valley into the woodland edge with steps cut into the bedrock. Photographs record a former croquet lawn, tennis courts and flowerbeds around the House. Immediately south of the House is a collection of ornamental trees and shrubs, including hemlock, Wellington, Douglas fir and Rhododendron varieties.
The walled kitchen garden is the main architectural feature to survive from the Macdonald period, and dates from the 18th century. Cruciform gravel paths lead to a central statue, which is surrounded by originally four, now three ancient yew trees.
Only the central beds are cultivated. There are remains of glasshouses in the garden's east corner and potting sheds on its west. A modern bungalow for holiday accommodation (built 1996) overlooks the 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
A designed landscape which started in the 18th century and incorporates 19th century walks set with incidents commemorating the 1745 Rising and the Macdonald's Jacobite allegiance. The 1884 mansion is respectfully set within the older grounds and the entire composition exploits its picturesque location.
Main Phases of Landscape Development
Mid 18th century; 19th century.
The Macdonalds of Kinlochmoidart were a cadet branch of Clanranald, whose mainland stronghold was Castle Tioram, destroyed in the 1715 Jacobite Rising. In the 1740s, Donald Macdonald of Kinlochmoidart built a new classical house, a small hip-roofed three-bay and three-storey mansion-house, linked by straight screen walls to tiny pavilions. A plan of this unexecuted house exists.
Prince Charles Edward Stuart arrived at Loch nan Uamh on 25th July 1745, his first landing on the British Mainland. He stayed at Kinlochmoidart House from the 11th-17th of August 1745, before raising the Jacobite standard at Glenfinnan on the 19th August. Subsequently, the House was burned in 1746, in reprisals by Cumberland's troops. The estate was forfeited and Macdonald imprisoned in Edinburgh. John Macdonald, Donald Macdonald's grandson, bought the estate back in 1785 and built a new house.
A plan of the policies c 1799 shows the late 18th/early19th century house in elevation and gives some detail of the late 18th century landscape. The drive to the house led from Kinlochmoidart Bridge eastwards, where it divided, one branch leading parallel to the River Moidart, passing a farm steading at the south point of the wooded Calf's Hill, before turning north-west to reach the house by the foot of Torran Darach and the Gardener's House. The other branch led around the edge of Calf' Hill and Mount Margaret. The extensive pleasure grounds lay to the north of the house, and were delimited by a circuit path, which enclosed Tom Soineach, planted with specimen trees. On the east side of the path was the kitchen garden, and as the path skirted the western side of Torran Darach, so it rejoined the main drive. Torran Darach was also part of the pleasure grounds, the entrance drive sweeping round its western foot past the Gardener's House. West of Tom Soineach, a natural rocky outcrop (quarry?) seems also to have been planted as pleasure grounds (Anon, 1799).
During the 19th century features commemorating the events of 1745 were incorporated into the landscape. The 'Seven Men of Moidart' are depicted, although not named, on the 1873 OS 6" and seem to be all that remained from a tree-lined field boundary existing by c 1799 (Anon, 1799). The seven beech trees are said to represent Prince Charles Edward Stewart's loyal companions ' of whom Aeneas Macdonald, younger of Kinlochmoidart, was one. By 1873, a walk along the north perimeter of the grounds which had existed by the late 18th century, was named the 'Prince's Walk', and linked the Episcopal church designed by Alexander Ross of Inverness, and built (1857-60) with the house (1873, OS 6").
The principal approach to the house was along an avenue, which led off from the public road, west of Kinlochmoidart Bridge (1873, OS 6").
The Macdonalds sold the estate in 1882 to Robert Stewart, a businessman with interests in distilling. In 1884, he commissioned the Glaswegian architect William Leiper (1839-1916) to build a new house. Leiper's designs for Kinlochmoidart and its accompanying lodges, follow the spirit of Dalmore, Helensburgh built ten years previously for the Coupar family. The materials included imported red sandstone dressings from Ballochmyle, Ayrshire, and green roofing slates. The house plan was modern and up to date technology was incorporated, including plate-glass, plumbing and hydro-electricity.
The new house was built at the end of the avenue next to the old house, which was retained converted to stables and service accommodation. It was used as such until its demolition in 1971; the two houses remaining side by side for about 90 years. The West Lodge was built on the public road at the entrance to the avenue and the East Lodge was built on the drive around the foot of Torran Darach.
The House was principally used for house parties, the guests arriving for the sporting season by steam yacht from the Clyde. In August 1889, an advertisement in the 'Estates Exchange' referred to the 'comfortable and stylish shooting estate' which the Stewarts owned 'with every modern convenience'. John Stewart succeeded his father in 1909, and thereafter his son, General Robert Stewart, took over in 1935. The House remains in private ownership, having undergone a phase of restoration 1986-1996 and subdivision for five units of accommodation.
- Features & Designations
Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland
- Mansion House (featured building)
- Description: Kinlochmoidart House, designed by William Lieper and built between 1884-6 is a Baronial mansion asymmetrical in profile but symmetrical in plan.
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- Key Information
Domestic / Residential
Open to the public