Ardkinglas Estate - A stunning Day Out
Whilst staying at Loch Lomond Lodges, our visitors often ask for recommendations of places to visit. One of our top suggestions is always Ardkinglas Estate situated on the shores of Loch Fyne, a journey of around 22 miles by car. Loch Fyne is definitely worth a visit anyway since this is a sea loch, compared to the land-locked Loch Lomond.
Ardkinglas Estate is situated against a spectacular background of mountain and forest and covers about 4800 hectares. Ardkinglas house is an architectural gem and provides a very special setting for weddings, family parties and other events. The Woodland Garden is open all the year round with an outstanding collection of plants and trees, including the "Mightiest Conifer in Europe". The estate used to have the distinction of owning the title of the '"Tallest tree in Britain" for a number of years. A tree planted 135 years ago, around 1875 and which measures nearly 65m. The tree recently lost the title to a Douglas Fir near Inverness.
Within the gardens, the Rhododendron collection is worth seeing. The collection was begun in the 1920's aided by the new varieties made available by the intrepid plant-hunters of that time. Hybrids created by the Garden owners and contacts with other Rhododendron breeders and collectors meant that the range of species and varieties represented at Ardkinglas continued to increase throughout the twentieth century. The conservation and expansion of the collection continues today.
In terms of wildlife, you can see Red Squirrels all year round at Ardkinglas, something that is not so common these days in Scotland (compared to the more common and 'invasive' grey squirrel). The Woodland Garden at Ardkinglas is well suited to the Red Squirrel, housing a wide range of plant and fungal species which provide food and shelter for the animals. You'll also see a good range of bird life at Ardkinglas. The River Kinglas provides a home for Dippers and their prominent white chests can be spotted amongst the stones in the river. Grey Wagtails return to nest each year at the Old Mill or in the bridge over the Kinglas. Buzzards and Sparrowhawks hunt amongst the trees. Tawny Owls can be heard calling to one another in many of the wooded areas of the Estate and Barn Owls are regularly seen quartering the margins of Loch Fyne. Greater Spotted Woodpeckers are present throughout the year, their drumming of hollow trees can be heard in the spring. Feeding parties of Tits busily move through the woodland canopy during the winter months. Goldcrests, the smallest British bird, breed in the conifers adjacent to the car park. On cold, frosty winter mornings Woodcock may fly almost from under one's feet as they search for food and shelter. A wide variety of song-birds use the garden as a breeding site.
For children there is the 'Gruffalo Trail'. The short trail uses boards showing selected extracts from the Scots version of the famous book to link the story to the setting of this special corner of the Woodland Garden.
Between April and September, you also have the opportunity of taking a tour around Ardkinglas House. The present house at Ardkinglas was completed in the autumn of 1907 and is generally considered to be the architect Sir Robert Lorimer’s masterpiece. It was built at a time when traditional materials were skillfully and creatively mastered by expert craftsmen but where a wealth of new technology could be incorporated into the design. The house remains practically unaltered and is a very popular location for TV dramas, film production and product launches.
There are entry fees for the Woodland Garden and House Tours. Visit their website at www.ardkinglas.com for full information of opening times, prices and directions.
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