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The early-20th-century grounds at Scatwell consist of parkland, a woodland garden, lawns, a productive walled garden and the remnants of a pond garden. The woodland garden contains a variety of ornamental trees and shrubs and continues to be developed.

The following is from the Historic Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. The site was removed from the Inventory on 14/10/2015.

Location and Setting

Scatwell lies in the broad valley of Strathconon, some 9.5 miles (15km) north west of the town of Muir of Ord and 22 miles (35km) from Inverness. The River Conon lies to the north of the site between Loch Achonachie to the east and Loch Luichart to the north-west. The valley floor around Scatwell is farmed. The lower slopes of the valley are afforested while the higher ground is heather moorland and is left for rough grazing. Views out to the opposite sides of the valley can be gained throughout the garden. A more extensive view lies to the north-east beyond Torrachilty Wood. The Strathconon road passes the southern edge of the site. The flat valley setting prohibits views into the garden from the road but the lodges and ornamental conifers mark the presence of a designed landscape.

Scatwell House lies amid 35 acres (14ha) of designed landscape which extends north along the access road to Scatwell Mains, south and west to the Strathconon Road, and east to the shelterbelt which encloses the parkland. A former vegetable garden and derelict ornamental garden lie beyond the southern boundary. Documentary map evidence is confined to General Roy's map of c.1750, the 1st & 2nd edition OS survey maps of 1881 & 1907, and an estate plan of 1957.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Scatwell House, the Gun Room, the Gardener's House and Walled Garden are collectively listed category C(S). The house was built in the mid-19th century with later alterations and more recent, modern additions; two rooms on both the ground and first floors of the house are thought to have been an old Drovers' Inn, built before 1800. The Gun Room and cottages are late 19th century single-storey buildings. The Gardener's House was built as the Estate Hall. The Walled Garden backs onto this range of buildings. East Lodge, its adjacent Gatepiers and Gate are also collectively listed category C(S). Both the West and East Lodges are shown on the 1st Edition OS map of 1881.

A sundial stands on the lawn in front of the house. The Game Larder, finished in diagonal slatted split panelling, remains on the mound directly north of the house. The hanging apparatus remains inside the building. The Summerhouse is a wooden structure which overlooks the house and formal garden from the high point of the woodland garden.


The parkland lies to the north-east of the house enclosed by poplar and cypress hedges planted c.1955. A belt of Rhododendron ponticum and hardwood trees line part of the north-east boundary of the site. A roundel of poplar, underplanted again with Rhododendron ponticum, stands in the centre of the park linked to the garden by an avenue of Norway Spruce, planted originally as a hedge. Along the edge of the boundary between the parkland and ornamental lawn is a sunken ha-ha with a mown grass walk on the low level.


The woodland lies along the west boundary. It is largely coniferous, planted in stages since 1900.

Woodland Garden

The woodland garden is situated just within the southern boundary of the site on sloping ground with a northerly aspect. It was laid out by Lord Woolavington in the early 1920s and has been continually developed by Lady Macdonald-Buchanan. Gravel paths meander through Azaleas, Rhododendrons, ornamental shrubs, miniature Japanese maples, and other mixed conifers. There are particularly good specimens of the Japanese Umbrella pine (Sciadopitys verticillata) and of the autumn colouring Parrotia persica. The original woodland indicated on the 1st edition OS map of c.1860 has receded, and a belt of Scots pine, about 120 years old, is all that remains of the complete woodland canopy separating the garden from the Strathconon Road.

Water Features

On the south side of the Strathconon Road, opposite the West Lodge, a footpath leads to the terraced pond garden created by Lord Woolavington. Photographs remain of the original design in the early 1900s showing an island at the west end of the pond linked by a rustic bridge which remained until c.25 years ago. It is now overgrown by conifers and Rhododendron ponticum. The ponds used to serve the Ice House and there are some shrubs remaining as well as a large laburnum.

The Gardens

The east drive sweeps through the lawn to the south of the house. Specimens of spruce and silver firs planted by Lord Woolavington and older beech, copper beech, oak, yew and a fine Monkey puzzle stand on either side of the drive. On the north side of the drive, ornamental trees have been planted by Lady Macdonald-Buchanan. On the south side a low walled enclosure formerly known as the 'servants' garden' is now largely lawn with some shrubs planted in beds.

On the lawn between this garden and the house stands a sundial. Individual yew hedges enclose the carriage turning on the south front of the house; every alternate one is a clipped yew in the form of a corkscrew. Brightly coloured bedding plants are laid out on the lawn adjacent to the house and in a bed in the centre of the carriage turning circle.

Walled Garden

The kitchen garden lies to the north of the house. Heated glasshouses, which are stocked with fruit and line the south-facing wall, were built in two stages. The garden is laid out in compartments enclosed by 2' high box hedging and separated by gravel paths. It is very well stocked with flowers and vegetables. The original paths were laid in line with the entrance to the conservatory. Lord Woolavington converted the glasshouses and regularised the compartments to their present form. Fruit, especially espalier apples, pears and redcurrants, are trained all round the enclosing stone walls which rise from 6' (2m) to 8' (2.5m) on the north side. All along the east side is a large and well-stocked herbaceous border. Prior to 1955, views could be gained to the north and south but growth of the tree canopy has since enclosed the garden. On the south side of the Strathconon Road, east of the footpath to the former pond garden, lies the former vegetable garden which is now disused.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

The following is from the Historic Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. The site was removed from the Inventory on 14/10/2015.

Reason for Inclusion

A largely 20th century designed landscape comprising parkland, woodland, gardens and architectural features of interest.

Site History

Scatwell is thought to be originally a Drovers' Inn. It is unknown when it was acquired by the Mackenzie family but the present house was built for them c.1850 with later Victorian additions. Reference to the 1st edition map of c.1881 indicates the presence of a designed landscape by this time. The owner in the latter half of the 19th century was Alexander Mackenzie who is thought to have sold the estate to Sir William James Bell. It then passed to Sir James Buchanan, Lord Woolavington, who laid out the woodland and formal gardens in their present form. It was again sold in the early 1920s and saw two or three owners before being purchased c.1950 by the Hon Lady Macdonald-Buchanan, daughter of Lord Woolavington, who visits for several months during the year from her home, Cottesbrooke Hall, Northampton.


Early 20th Century (1901-1932)

Features & Designations


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

  • Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building

  • Reference: East Lodge, Gatepiers and Gate
  • Grade: C(S)


  • Sundial
  • Summerhouse
  • Game Larder
  • Topiary
  • Description: Corkscrew topiary in yew.
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: The house was built in the mid-19th century with later alterations and more recent, modern additions.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Lawn
  • Kitchen Garden
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


Early 20th Century (1901-1932)





Open to the public





  • Historic Scotland