Importance of Site
A site included in the Inventory is assessed for its condition and integrity and for its level of importance. The criteria used are set out in Annex 5 of the Scottish Historic Environment Policy (December 2011). The principles are represented by the following value-based criteria and we have assigned a value for each on a scale ranging from outstanding value to no value. Criteria not applicable to a particular site have been omitted. All sites included in the Inventory are considered to be of national importance.
Work of Art
The ornamental gardens and the use of the setting in the design continue to give Balloch Castle outstanding value as a Work of Art.
There are historical associations with the Lennox family and the recent history of the Park has been recorded; but, in the absence of readily available plans and accounts of the designed landscape, it has some Historical value.
Horticultural, Arboricultural, Silvicultural
The tree and shrub collection started by John Buchanan and continued by Gibson Stott gives Balloch high Horticultural value.
The designed landscape at Balloch provides the setting for a house of exceptional architectural interest and has outstanding value in this category.
The designed landscape on the southern shore at Loch Lomond has outstanding Scenic value.
The north area of the Park provides a relatively undisturbed area of woodland along the Burn of Balloch and also lochside habitats.
Location and Setting
Balloch Castle Country Park is situated on the south-east shore of Loch Lomond on the edge of the designated National Scenic Area, half a mile (.8km) north of the town of Balloch and within easy walking distance of it. The Park is bounded to the west by Loch Lomond and the River Leven, to the north by the Burn of Balloch, and to the east by its woodland belts. The Park slopes gently westwards down to Loch Lomond, and the Castle is set on a high point taking full advantage of the spectacular views over the south end of Loch Lomond.
The Country Park extends over 217 acres (88ha) of the former 815 acre (330ha) estate and covers the policies of the Castle. The existing landscape was designed in the 19th century and has retained the same structure since.
The designed landscape was developed in the early 1800s and has matured and retained a similar structure to date. No famous designers are recorded as working at Balloch and no original design plans are available.
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 then 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. Part of the Castle is used by the Nature Conservancy Council as a regional office, and part has been converted as a Visitor Centre and Ranger Offices.
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.
Paths and Walks
There are two main areas of pleasure grounds; the first is immediately to the north of the house and consists of small terraced paths in the shape of a capital D which enclose a seating area and fountain where there was formerly a pond. The whole is planted with Rhododendrons, Azaleas and specimen trees, some of the rhododendrons now reaching over 20' in height and providing an impressive display in spring. There are many fine specimen trees which are listed in a free leaflet and are described in the form of a numbered tree trail; some 51 trees have been measured by Alan Mitchell. The second area of ornamental planting, interspersed with woodland walks, surrounds the walled garden to the south of the Castle; many of the original hedges are now overgrown although some topiary remains. Some new specimen trees, mainly coniferous species, have been planted in recent years extending this area to the north- east into the parkland. A circular walk links the Castle with both pleasure gardens and follows a path through the northern wood to the shore of Loch Lomond, then extends south along the lochside past the slipway and the side of the old Balloch Castle and along the east bank to the River Leven towards Balloch.
The parkland has retained its character and is well stocked with individual parkland trees; the Park is not grazed today and is maintained by cutting. It provides a fine setting to the house and is particularly significant from the loch and the opposite west bank.
The mixed deciduous woodland belts surround the Park and effectively screen it from the surrounding road and housing estate to the south. The northern area of wood adjacent to the Burn of Balloch is the least disturbed and least formal area. Moss Plantation to the south of the Park was planted in the early 1900s and has been partially felled for additional parking spaces. The avenue plantings are an important feature of both road and pedestrian entrances and are underplanted with shrubs and bulbs.
The walled garden was laid out as part of the improvements to the estate in the early 19th century. Its exact original layout is unknown but the 1st edition OS map shows it divided into four equal compartments by two intersecting paths; it is presently laid out as a flower garden.