Its not often that you get to see a castle being restored, but we did last year 2016. We had a couple of hours to spare in and around Dumbarton in Scotland, before meeting family, so of course we went off to explore a little. I had seen a sign for Balloch Castle Country Park, well there must be a castle, so we followed the sign post, and the road went on and on. Husband started to get a bit twitchy as the road was eating into the little time that we had, and then suddenly there was the entrance. Couldn’t see any castle from the car park, lots of parkland and beautiful shrubs, but there was no sign for a castle, so maybe there wasn’t one. Husband went off down a path and I went down another, a shout from husband had me scurrying down his path. There was the castle, not quite what I was expecting, but non the less quite interesting.
A little history…. The Castle designed by Robert Lugar in 1809 is listed category B, however it is a pioneer of its type and an important house of its date. There are also Stables and two lodges. The site of the 13th century castle is a scheduled ancient monument.
Balloch was for several hundred years the stronghold of the Lennox family. The remains of their old castle, a mound surrounded by a moat, are still to be seen in the south-west of the Park and are scheduled as an ancient monument. In 1390 the Lennoxes moved to the island of Inchmurrin for greater safety but Balloch remained in their ownership until 1652 when the 4th Duke of Lennox sold it to Sir John Colquhoun of Luss. In 1800 the estate was acquired by John Buchanan of Ardoch who commissioned the architect Robert Lugar to build the new Gothic-style castle on the present site. John Buchanan started the laying out of the present landscape, planting unusual trees and shrubs, and his work was continued from 1830 by the next owner, Gibson Stott. Between 1845-1851, the estate was sold again, to Mr A.J. Dennistoun Brown who died in 1890. Glasgow City Corporation bought the 815 acre estate from his Trustees in 1915 in order to improve opportunities for visitors. In 1975, the Park was leased to Dunbarton District Council for a period of thirty years at a nominal rent and in 1980 it was registered as a Country Park
I think a return visit is required, one, to see how the restoration is coming along, two, to see the ancient castle remains and three, to explore the wonderful parkland.