Taymouth Castle Estate Walk
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: A circular walk through a historic 18th-century landscape
In 1550 Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy built a fortified residence known as Balloch Castle at Kenmore, on the upper reaches of the River Tay. In 1806 the 4th Earl of Breadalbane created a completely new neo-Gothic mansion at Kenmore, incorporating medieval glass as well as Renaissance woodwork and plastering into his luxurious residence.
The castle was sold in the early 20th century and was by turns a hotel, a WWII hospital, and a school before falling into disuse.
Within the Taymouth Castle grounds are a number of eccentric Victorian buildings known collectively as the Kenmore Follies. One of the follies is Maxwell's Temple, built in 1831 as a memorial to Mary, Countess of Breadalbane, replacing an 18th-century gazebo known as Maxwell's Building. The 'Temple' is modelled after the Eleanor Crosses at Northampton, erected by Edward III as a memorial to his wife.
Scattered throughout the 18th century landscaped grounds are a variety of neo-classical follies including The Fort, The Octagon, the Star Seat, Ladies Mount, and temples to Apollo, Venus, and Aeolus.
Another oddity on the estate is a Chinese Bridge, built in wood in 1754 and rebuilt in cast iron in the early 19th century. The bridge carries a footpath over the River Tay and uses three spans with Tudor arches and Gothic railings, anchored by stone rubble piers and abutments. The bridge now forms part of the Kenmore golf course.
Many of these historical landscape features have been allowed to decay. For example, on our last visit Apollo's Temple, overlooking the curling pond, was completely overgrown, with trees emerging from the building's roof.
It is fascinating to see this historic landscape, even in a state of partial decay.
Taymouth Castle Circular Walk
The start and finish of the walk is the castellated gate on the east side of The Square in Kenmore. Go through the gate, past the school and playground, and you come to a split in the estate drive.
The lefthand fork goes fairly straight towards the mansion, while the righthand fork loops south-east, around the golf course at the centre of the estate grounds. You can go either way, but the circular walk is signposted to your right, so that is the way we went.
The trail skirts the golf course and goes through very pleasant woodland. For most of the way, the going is easy but there are a few places where the trail hasn't been well maintained. You come to a bend in the trail where you can see a small hut in a clearing. This is the curling hut, which stands in front of a disused curling pond.
Rising above the pond is a high tree-covered mound where you can spot just a glimpse of Apollo's Temple if you're lucky. This area of the walk is fenced off and marked 'private', though it is obvious by gaps in the fence that the sign isn't always obeyed.
As you carry on you come to a wide, clear space where you can get excellent views of Taymouth Castle itself across the golf course. At the north-eastern end of the open space, the path bends sharply to your left, towards the mansion.
Off to your right is a picturesque bridge with rather odd ornamental posts. If you take the footpath to the left on the far side of the bridge you will eventually come to the ruins of Newhall.
According to a very friendly pair of local residents that we met in the walk, Newhall was built for the Castle servants, because the lord of the manor wanted them out of sight when they weren't working. Newhall must have once been extremely impressive, but now the roofless walls are crumbling and it is not safe to enter.
Retrace your steps to the bridge, cross back over and take the trail heading north-west to the Castle. The trail loops around behind the mansion, following the River Tay, and returns on the far side of the golf course to the gates at The Square in Kenmore. It took us roughly 90 minutes to walk the circular trail which must total about 4 miles, plus a bit more if you want to see the ruins of Newhall.
About Taymouth Castle Estate Walk
Address: Kenmore, Perthshire, Scotland
Attraction Type: Historic Building
Location: On the A827. Nearest postcode for satnavs is PH15 2HL (central Kenmore)
Photo Credit: Philip Halling, licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence
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