Loch Fyne, Argyll, Scotland
the Grounds and Surroundings
For a detailed list of birds recorded in the area around
Minard Castle, and also for information on bird watching day trips,
Around Minard Castle
For further information please contact
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Argyll PA32 8YB
Phone: 44 (0)1546 886272
© Reinold Gayre 2001-2020