On an unusually sunny day in Glasgow we lay in wait for the Spirit of Laudale. We begin the journey to the Laudale Estate in the most breathtaking way possible — flying above the Scottish Highlands and into the stunning lochs of the Morvern Peninsula. With crystal clear blue skies bouncing off perfectly still waters, we cut through the clouds and land breathlessly right into the middle of Loch Sunart.
After docking the sea plane, we catch a glimpse of the estate’s boathouse, a marvel of minimalist design and architecture overlooking the gentle curvatures of the Morvern Peninsula. We make our way to the Laudale House, originally built in 1755 by John Campbell of Ardslignish, the house breathes life into the history of the Argyll tacks men who led the way in Scottish economic and agricultural developments throughout the eighteenth century. Today, Laudale House is not just the largest surviving house of the period, pristinely preserved in the exterior, and reimagined as a marvel of Scottish luxury inside the estate’s historic walls.
As we approach the main courtyard, we are greeted by a herd of deer grazing peacefully on the front lawn. With the Loch Sunart serving as the perfect backdrop — it is a picturesque vision of Scotland, more similar to a painting than real life. As we explore the house, each one of the rooms reveal a different a story. The Ecurie Ecosse room is a tribute to the world famous Scottish racing team, while the Antler room is decorated with the antlers of the deer who roam freely around the estate. Every nook and cranny reveals charming details from bottles of Scottish whiskey turned into bespoke lamps in the Malt bedroom, to old fishing rods decorating the Perch bedroom — all of which stocked with all the modern luxuries any discerning travel requires. Every inch of the house is thoughtfully considered, a personal manifestation of the estate’s history, and the colourful personality of Jonathan Turner, the custodian who has lovingly taken it under his wing.
Outside the house, vast forestry surrounds the estate. A short drive up the coffin trail reveals the most spectacular view of the Loch Sunart with the snowy peaks of Ben Nevis peaking through the horizon. The expansive 13,000 acres property is a cornucopia of wildlife from a variety of rare birds, to a family of porpoises living on one of the inner lochs. A light drizzle was underway as we rode classic jeeps in the search of otters and their familiar stomping grounds. We are introduced to Matt, a local ecologist who has been studying the area for over thirty years while working with Scottish National Heritage to manage the delicate ecological balance of the property. Driving up the Strontian Road, alongside the coast of the inner lochs, we learn about the ecological significance of the area. Loch Sunart being the longest loch in Scotland, and with the Laudale narrows recently declared a marine protected area — of which there are only thirteen across the country. Standing across the loch — as Jonathan looks at landscape talking about the Spruce, and Birch trees that have been fenced off to protect from grazing deer, it is clear that there is a lot of love afforded to this place.
For guests thirsting for adventure, Laudale Estate offers wildlife walks and even archery courses. The rich marine ecology reveals the best fishing spots in West Scotland with local Hake, Skate, and Lesser spotted Dogfish thriving in the lochs surrounding the property. Avid sailors can explore the loch and the Sound of Mull. Climbers can track the heights of Ben Nevis or bike through the slopes at Aonarch Mor. For those who share Jonathan’s dynamic energy — there is no end to things you can do and explore all while taking in the breathtaking landscapes of West Scotland.
In the evenings, the lovely staff create carefully curated menus highlighting only the freshest local produce. Sitting in the strapping dining room, the rich oak tables reflecting the soft glow of the silver candelabras, we are treated to flavoursome venison and delightful seafood taken directly from the loch — paired with well-rounded Scottish wines and fantastic company. As the evening wears on, we sit by the warmth of the fireplace and delve into the estate’s extensive collection of fine whiskies. Finally ending the evening with warm hearts, and revelling in the rare tranquility afforded by being in beautiful and overwhelming isolation — in one of the most spectacular destinations in the world.
Words by Hannah Tan
Images Courtesy of The Laudale Estate
View our Gallery of The Laudale Estate
Read our Interview with Jonathan Turner