Skip to main content

History of Kinlochmoidart

Built in 1882-84, by the mid 1980s Kinlochmoidart House was facing destruction through the ravages of damp and fungal attack. Many of the other large houses in the district had already been previously destroyed - those, for example, at Dorlinn, and Shiel Bridge, Kinlochmoidart's site and history was, it is true, of far greater significance than any of these but this fact did not solve the fundamental problem of building decay which was in part caused by the original methods of construction.

The whin stone is impermeable making it essential that long drying lime mortars should be used which can both accept and evaporate moisture. In fact new cement mortars were used in the construction with the result that once damp penetrated behind the mortar it had no path except inwards since cement mortars are very hard and are unable to evaporate moisture towards the exterior. 

Replacement and restoration of the mortars is likely to prove an ongoing commitment in the future. A further problem was that although cavity walls had been employed their functionality was not fully understood and the cavity walls were bridged in many places allowing damp to penetrate. Many of the drainpipes visible are modern since for aesthetic reasons original drainpipes ran within the main mansion - not unnaturally these could only be maintained with the greatest difficulty. These factors combined with insufficient leading of the roofs in the 1880s, had allowed substantial quantaties of water to enter the building. 

Although initially the problems seemed too severe, by 1988 Mrs Stewart (photographed above) had committed herself to the programme of restoration in partnership with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The restoration programme was conducted between 1988 and 1996 and its success was not only due to many dedicated experts who worked on the House in this period but above all to the outstanding energy and direction of Mrs Stewart herself who frequently acted as foreman while simultaneously catering for a large and fluctuating workforce.

We hope that visitors will appreciate the outstanding depth of commitment and sacrifice required to restore a private home in this way over a period of many years. We also hope that visitors, each in their own way, will take pleasure from the enjoyment of Leiper's splendidly imaginative House and from their sojourn in one of Scotland's most historic glens. 

About the author

Kinlochmoidart