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Ruination and reinvention

tooltipDiscovering Britain walk

Discover the secrets of the Kilmahew estate

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If you go up to these woods today you’re sure of a big surprise! Hidden in the woods of Kilmahew Glen is an abandoned country estate with the ruined remains of habitation from the medieval to the modern period. 

Kilmahew has had many incarnations. Each new vision and design has been followed by decline and ruin.

Amidst a landscape of woods and rhododendrons are stone, brick, iron and concrete features that offer a tantalising glimpse of the buildings and structures that once stood here. Step through the undergrowth to discover waterfalls, gardens and ponds. Let your imagination recreate the grandeur of driveways, parkland and ornamental gardens.

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As you walk in the footsteps of early Christian missionaries, old Scots nobility, trainee priests and community volunteers the layers of history on this site reveal themselves.

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Walk Info

Distance:

4 miles

Level:
An undulating route with some gentle slopes; parts of the site can get very overgrown muddy so wear appropriate clothing and footwear

tooltipAn undulating route with some gentle slopes; parts of the site can get very overgrown muddy so wear appropriate clothing and footwear

Suitable for:
Suitable for families but take great care around the ruined buildings and structures

tooltipSuitable for families but take great care around the ruined buildings and structures

Suitable for dogs but there is a considerable amount of dense undergrowth

tooltipSuitable for dogs but there is a considerable amount of dense undergrowth

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Region:
Scotland
Setting:
Countryside
Landscape:
Hidden landscapes Changing landscapes Shaping the landscape
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Start:
Cardross railway station
Finish:
Cardross railway station
Getting there:

tooltipCardross is served by trains running every half hour between Glasgow and Helensburgh

tooltipCardross is served by buses running between Glasgow and Helensburgh; alight at the bus stop near the Post Office and war memorial

tooltipCardross is on the A814 road between Dumbarton and Helensburgh on the north shore of the Firth of Clyde; there is a small car park at Cardoss railway station

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Kilmahew

Ruins of Kilmahew Castle
© Lairich Rig, Geograph (CCL)

Kilmahew

Ruins of St Peter's College
© Lairich Rig, Geograph (CCL)

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Route map

Select pins on the map to find out more about each point of interest on the walk

Walk kit

Choose between an audio or written guide: download and enjoy!

Downloads

Written guide
A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double-click the icon to download this PDF file. You can save it to your computer or open it now. The file is designed as a booklet. To print it choose ‘Booklet Printing’ from your printer options.

Audio guide
A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double-click the icon to download this ZIP file of the audio commentary (mp3 files) and accompanying booklet (PDF) which contains maps and directions. You can save the audio files to your computer then add them to your mp3 device. This will vary for each device but you can use any supplied software (such as iTunes, Windows Media Player) or drag and drop the files. The PDF is designed as a booklet. To print it choose ‘Booklet Printing’ from your printer options.

Extras
A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double click to download this GPX file and load it on to your GPS device.

Photo Gallery

Find out what you might see on the walk - click on an image to view full size

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Reviews

Find out what other people said about this walk

The Kilmahew estate is a truly magical, mysterious and beautiful place; I have never seen anything quite like it. Both adults and children will love the ruins, wooded trails and bubbling waterfalls, as well as the detailed and exciting story provided in the walk commentary.

Christine McKenna, Scotland

We did your Kilmahew Estate walk in Scotland a few days ago; it was a wonderful walk, full of interest and very well organised; the maps and detailed instructions were excellent.

Patricia Khatib, Houston, Renfrewshire

I am an American who is descended from the Kilmahew Napier's. This website has been so helpful to see the ancient land of my fore fathers. I am happy to see the people that are gardening and cultivating the property. That is as it should be. I hope they will be allowed and encouraged to continue this act of love. I am also happy to know the NVA has bought the 140 acre estate and will be active with Historic Scotland to preserve and restore as much of the site and its history as possible.

Patricia Persinger, USA

Send your review

Links

Find out more about the walk story and places of interest along the route

External links open in a new window


Helensburgh Heritage Trust

This local organisation has a Heritage Centre located at Helensburgh Library

http://www.helensburgh-heritage.co.uk/

Loch Lomond and Trossachs

Visitor information about the nearby National Park

http://www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/

Scottish Seminary: St Peter's College, Cardross

Feature article in Concrete Quarterly magazine (Jan-Mar 1967)

discoveringbritain/more info documents/Concrete Quarterly magazine Number 72 1967.pdf

St Mahew’s Church

Read a detailed history of Christianity in this area and find out more about the ancient church of St Mahew

http://www.stmahew.rcglasgow.org.uk/ourchurch

The Invisible College

Find out more about the vision for the Kilmahew/St Peter’s site and activities taking place

http://www.theinvisiblecollege.org.uk/

NVA

Website of the Scottish arts charity leading The Invisible College project

http://www.nva.org.uk

St Peter’s Seminary flickr group

Excellent photographs of the ruined building

http://www.flickr.com/groups/stpeters/

To have and to hold: Future of a contested landscape

Edited by Gerrie van Noord

NVA / Luath Perss Ltd (2011)

Credits

The RGS-IBG would like to thank the following people and organisations for their assistance in producing this Discovering Britain walk

 

Hayden Lorimer for creating and narrating the walk

 

Michael Gallagher for creating the walk, photography, audio recording and editing

 

Jenny Lunn for editing the walk materials

 

Ally Jardine for recording oral history interviews with Michael Wilson

 

All the people who shared their memories, stories and ideas: Sean Clark, Father Dominic Doogan, Angus Farquhar, David Gall, Alan Grey, Ed Hollis, Glen Lindsay, Bernie Jardine, Father Peter McBride, Michael Wilson and the anonymous raver.

 

NVA for their ongoing support especially Nicola Godsal

 

Michael Wilson for kind permission to use images from his personal collection

 

Helensburgh Heritage Trust,Glasgow City Archives and Glasgow Museums Collection for kind permission to reproduce images from their collections

 

Glasgow School of Art for kind permission to reproduce images from the GKC archives

 

Neil Davidson, Lairich Rig and Thomas Nugent for providing additional images

 

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for funding the wider project ‘The Invisible College: Building Communities of Creative Practice’ which is part of the ‘Enhancing the Role of Arts and Humanities on Environmental Values and Change’ scheme. 

 

Christine McKenna for testing the walk and providing helpful feedback

thank you
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