Minard Castle
Loch Fyne, Argyll, Scotland

Minard Castle, the Grounds and Surroundings

The House
Situated amid beautiful countryside beside Minard Bay on the north shore of Loch Fyne, Minard Castle stands in its own grounds, 3/4 mile (1km) from the main Inveraray to Lochgilphead road. Built by the Campbells of Knockbuie in the eighteenth century, Knockbuie House was renamed Minard Castle in the mid-nineteenth century, when a new castellated front was added, designed by J.T. Rochead, better known for his Wallace Monument near Stirling. From 1873 until the nineteen forties it belonged to the Lloyds, who were related to the former Campbell owners. The estate was then sold to the Forestry Commission, who sold the house to the Holiday Fellowship. They ran it as a guest house for a number of years. Later it became a hotel for a few years, before it was bought by the present owner's father in 1974.

The Garden and Grounds
To the west of the house a walled garden has formally arranged paths, flower beds and several greenhouses. North of this is a large pond beyond which many interesting rhododendrons from the Himalayas and elsewhere are becoming established. Though much of the 75 acres (30 hectares) surrounding Minard Castle is planted with Christmas trees, the parkland has many fine mature specimens of unusual conifers and deciduous trees. Of particular note are the two weeping ash trees in front of the house and, behind the building, a loderi "King George" rhododendron with wonderfully scented flowers, as well as a large Crinodendron hookerianum with waxy red pendant flowers. Paths meander among the trees and the multitude of different rhododendrons, at their most beautiful in April and May.

The Garden is to the west of the house

The Estate
The grounds round the house and two other nearby areas comprise 144 acres (58 hectares), much of which is planted with Christmas trees - hence the deer fence. Near the house a number of trees and rhododendrons have recently been planted as eventual replacements for those planted in the nineteenth century.

Walks
Guests are very welcome to wander around and explore the grounds - vitally leaving all gates shut. Small children should of course be supervised by an adult! Visitors can also walk in the Forestry Commission woods. They are, however, asked to respect the wishes of the owners of the adjacent Minard Court (formerly Stable House) by not entering their grounds.

The track running south west outside the deer fence leads to Nursery Cottages, about a mile away, before joining the main road. About a quarter of a mile (400m) along it on the right hand side is a rectangular gothic ruin known as the Old Laundry. A small burn runs off the hill beside it, but whether it really was used as a laundry or was built as a picturesque folly is not clear. At half a mile there is a gate into our plantation and near it another leading to a cottage. Between these gates are trees and the start of a path around the outside of the deer fence for about 300 yards (275m) to the shore, along which it is possible to return to the house.

Opposite the start of the track to Nursery Cottages, at the first corner at the bottom of the drive, is an old gateway. A footpath winds through this small area of Minard Castle land, providing a short walk among trees.

Further up the drive, just before it turns to the left, there is a track on the right which goes down through the woods and crosses a burn. Here it divides, the track to the left going directly towards Brainport Bay. The one to the right passes a ruined water mill and, turning slightly to the left, soon comes out at the shore on the north side of Minard Bay. From here it is an attractive path through trees by the water, leading to Brainport Bay and then along the shore to Minard village.

Near the top of the drive there is a road on the right which also goes towards Brainport Bay. After about a quarter of a mile it divides. The left branch continues for a short distance before ending in a turning place. The one on the right goes down the hill to meet the track from the old saw mill, and where they join a footpath goes eastwards to Brainport Bay.

Archaeology
This area is rich in archaeological sites, and there are some on the estate. A stone with "cup marks" is in the field which is surrounded by a deer fence just to the south east of Nursery Cottages. There is a stile over the fence, and the stone is in an unplanted space near the bottom of the field.

At Brainport Bay there is a more impressive site. This is a solar alignment, dating from about 1160 BC, which has two small standing stones pointing to the mid-summer sunrise, and nearby there is a "quern quarry". The site is just a short distance up the slope from the path along the shore, and there are notices explaining its main features.

Fishing
Visitors are welcome to attempt to make use of our salmon fishing rights which extend along the shore in both directions from the house and include Brainport Bay, Minard Bay and Union Bay. Any legal method may be used to catch all types of fish, including salmon and sea trout, except during the closed seasons. For salmon and sea trout, the closed seasons are: nets, 1st September to 15th February; rods, 1st November to 15th February. Brown trout fishing is closed from 7th October to 14th March.

Permits for fishing in Loch Glashen, Loch Bealach Ghearran and Blackmill Loch cost 3.50 per rod per day and can be obtained in local shops.

Wildlife
There is a wide variety of wildlife on the estate, and in the surrounding countryside where over a hundred species of birds have been recorded in the adjacent Forestry Commission woodland. You may see deer, foxes, red squirrels and hedgehogs, or a heron fishing at the water's edge, or hear a woodpecker at work. Buzzards circle overhead mewing plaintively, or one may glide away grumpily from a favourite tree having been disturbed, again!

Otters are occasionally seen along the shore. The nearby islands provide a haven for numerous seabirds including eider ducks which come inshore to feed on mussels. The islands are also home to the seals which can sometimes be seen in the bay. Porpoises and even basking sharks and whales have been seen in Loch Fyne.

For a detailed list of birds recorded in the area around Minard Castle, and also for information on bird watching day trips, please see

Wildlife Around Minard Castle

For further information please contact

Reinold Gayre
Minard Castle
Minard
Argyll PA32 8YB
Scotland

Telephone: 44 (0)1546 886272
E-mail: reinoldgayre@minardcastle.com
Web: www.minardcastle.com

 

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Copyright Reinold Gayre 2001-2017