Visit The Estate
Long before land legislation made it mandatory, we have gladly welcomed all visitors to the Estate. It is a great place to enjoy but it is also a working environment and one with natural hazards, so please exercise your access rights responsibly and be aware of other land users and land management requirements.
THE WIDER AREA
Known locally as the "gateway to the western highlands", this area is famed for the beauty and vartiey of its landscape. The house itself, designed to exploit the natural topography to its best effect, commands superb views across the Clyde towards Arran, Bute and the Cowal Peninsula with the rugged Goatfell range prominent. The wider Estate, outwith the house grounds and private gardens, is free of charge and open to all visitors throughout the year.
James Ramsay, the Scottish equivalent of Capability Brown, laid out the beautifully landscaped 400-acre parkland in 1797. He produced a fashionable design in the informal style popularised in Scotland by Thomas White Senior, with curving drives, contrived viewpoints and ribbons of planting. It still, to this day, retains its original form as well as a number of its original features, such as picturesque roundels of trees and Ha-Has in the so-called Ditches Park.
CLIMATE & CULTIVATION
Since the implementation of its design, generations of the family have taken a keen interest in the cultivation of the park. It was customary amongst the family to plant trees to mark important events. The high rainfall and mild temperatures, associated with this Gulf Stream climate, have proved a fertile breeding ground for an unusual and exotic array of flora and fauna, and many of these historical plantings can still be seen -each with its own story.
TREES IN THE ESTATE
On your travels you will see a rich and varied selection of trees in and around the Estate, from ancient, indigenous, native hardwoods such as Oak, Birch and Ash through to their more exotic, fast- growing, softwood cousins, such as Sitka spruce, Corsican pine and Japanese Larch - There are also an array or ornamental shrubs and several unique species of rhododendron, planted by Lady Octavia - Ardgowan is a welcome haven for sylvaculturists.
Throughout the year the ever-changing woodlands are matched only in colour by the carpet of wildflowers on the Estate such as daffodils, crocuses, primroses and snowdrops. Ardgowan has become justly famouse for the millions of snowdrops that carpet the Estate each year, heralding in spring. They were planted by Frances Colhoun, Sir John's wife, and although little is known about her, our annual snowdrop day in aid of local charities, keeps her name alive.
This natural habitat has become home to a startling array of woodland creatures such as hares, badgers and foxes. If you're lucky you might be able to photograph the deer that roam the park, however you must be quick as they will be gone as quickly as they appeared. Each day the dawn is welcomed in by a chorus of songbirds. On your travels you will likely see Herons, Eider duck, Kingfishers, Buzzards, Oyster Catchers, Culews and Woodpeckers. There are also minibeasts galore visible only to the eagle-eyed.
To highlight a few responsibilities:
- The Estate is a great place to enjoy but it is also a working environment so please exercise your access rights responsibly and be aware of other land users and land management requirements.
- Please obey any signs you see a closed road will be for good reason such as tree felling or an activity that puts you at risk.
- Please only use roads, paths, gates and stiles provided, please do not stray into woods and fields and where necessary close gates after use.
- Dogs are very welcome on the Estate but please keep them on a leash at all times. please pick up your dog's waste -there is a dog litter bin located by the Laird's Dyke.
- Please respect the privacy of the residents on the Estate - the Estate is not a through road and vehicular access is restricted only to authorised vehicles.
- Motorbikes, scramblers and off-road vehicles are not permitted on the Estate. If you have any questions or queries please contact the Estate office on 01475 521 656
You can download this map.
If using a computer, right click on the map and choose the download/save image option.
If using a tablet or phone, press and hold on the map and use the download/save image option.
We have three recommended nature trails at Ardgowan, which allow visitors to explore the vast majority of the Policies at their own leisure, taking in the sights of historical and horticultural note along the way. See map above for trails.
The Coastal Trail
With treated surfaces, this trail is part of the newly extended National Route 753 from Lunderston Bay to the Kip Villiage. It is ideally suited to cyclists, walkers, wheelchair users and horse riders wishing to take a more scenic route down the coast. Look out for the remains of the American Gardens and the old summerhouse by the Laird’s Dyke causeway.
Solid red line on map below
Approximately 3 miles.
Allow 1 hour 10 minutes.
THE BLUE JUBILEE TRAIL
Launched to celebrate the Queen's Diamond jubilee, the blue trail is for the more adventurous requiring stout footwear to navigate the muddy tracks. Starting at the south end of the Estate, the trail takes in the Stables, the remains of the walled garden and the Japanese Garden on the bank as well as the best views of the castle ruin.
Dotted blue line on map below
Approximately 1.1 mile.
Allow 40 minutes.
THE WHITE JUBILEE TRAIL
Launched to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the white trail is more forgiving on the feet, mainly following the tarmac drives on the Estate. This trail follows the old Waulkmill Road (the original castle approach) to the Eastern gateway and up the main drive affording the best views of the parkland and the house.
Dotted white line on map below
Approximately 1.3 miles.
Allow 50 minutes.