One of the finest Small Luxury Country House Hotels in the Highlands of Scotland, where guests travel from far and wide to sample the romantic atmosphere and exquisite food. However, back in the days of the Jacobite rebellion, Kilcamb Lodge had a very different tale to tell. This fascinating old building has witnessed much of Scotland's history unfold.
Kilcamb Lodge is purported to be one of the oldest stone houses in Scotland, dating back to the 1700's. Most buildings of the time were made of wood and have long since disappeared. The word "Kil" in Gaelic means Church but the only link with the church comes from "The List of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings in the Parish of Ardnamurchan 1745", where it is referred to as "Old Church and Barracks, Kilcamb, Strontian" Possibly it was used as a place of worship as well as a military stronghold. The church window on the landing here has nothing to do with this part of Kilcamb's history however. The window we see today was transported here much later in history, from a nearby church by a Minister who once lived at Kilcamb. He had the window fitted into the house simply because he liked it!
1745 was the time of the uprising led by Bonnie Prince Charlie and at this time it is documented that Kilcamb was a Barracks used by the military engaged in seeking out those loyal to the Prince. The Moat-like mound surrounding the frontage to Loch Sunart offers testament to this fact and was most likely dug out by the troops to offer additional protection and cover. Some 600 troops are believed to have camped here.
Kilcamb Lodge has seen many changes since the 18th Century. It has been the home of an Admiral, a Church Minister and a Schoolteacher as well as a Hunting Lodge for the landed gentry. Kilcamb back then would not have had the two imposing stone wings to the West and East. These were added in Victorian times. The house was then transformed as only the Victorians could, into a fine and much larger home. It must have been an impressive sight in those days when twelve gardeners tended the grounds. The Bathing House is a typical if rather frivolous Victorian "folly" but it was indeed used by the Victorian owners of Kilcamb whose servants lit roaring fires inside and supplied hot water and towels to welcome guests returning from bathing in Loch Sunart. The fireplace and stout walls remain today as testament to its Victorian builders.
Immediately after World War II, Dr Fraser Darling resided here at Kilcamb where he wrote the widely acclaimed "West Highland Survey" Some of his books, with references to Kilcamb, can be found on the shelves in the Drawing Room.
It was not until 1960 that Kilcamb became a hotel.
Today, under the proud ownership of Sally & David Ruthven-Fox, it is without doubt that Kilcamb Lodge will continue to prosper and offer warm and welcoming hospitality to all those fortunate enough to enter its doors and sample the special atmosphere of this lovely Highland retreat.
Arthur Ransome & Kilcamb Lodge Hotel
Regular Guests and those of you looking at our web site will be aware of an old clinker built rowing boat which has become a permanent feature of the Kilcamb garden where it sits next to the old Lime tree.
The original boat known as Coch-y-bonddhu was discovered to be owned by Arthur Ransome, author of “Swallows & Amazons”. The boat turned out to be the model for “Scarab” as featured in “Picts & Martyrs”.
She was reclaimed by the Arthur Ransome Society in the 1990’s and is now part of the exhibits of the Arthur Ransome Society and latterly the National Maritime Museum.
Below is an extract from www.arthur-ransome.org where you can find more information about the boat and the Arthur Ransome Society.
“In 1934 Ransome aspired to introduce a close friend, Charles Renold, to sailing. He therefore persuaded Renold to commission a dinghy from Crossfield's in Arnside, the firm who most probably built Swallow . Ransome oversaw the build on Renold's behalf and the finished dinghy was called Coch-y-bonddhu, after a well-known fishing fly.
Renold did not take to sailing and soon gave Coch-y-bonddhu to Ransome. He took Cochy with him to Suffolk in 1935, and then returned with her to the shores of Coniston between 1940 and 1944, during which period she was a familiar sight on the lake. It was during this period that Ransome wrote The Picts and the Martyrs, with cochy finding her way into the book as Dick and Dorothea's new dinghy.
What Happened to the Real Scarab?
Cochy remained in Ransome's possession until the mid-1950s. She was subsequently owned by Arnside School.
At some point Cochy moved north to Scotland where, by the early 1990's, she was rotting in the grounds of a hotel. Rediscovered by TARS members, she was completely restored to sailing condition by the Society before being relaunched in 1995. She now belongs to TARS and has been used frequently at members' events. Cochy has also made a number of appearances in TV documentaries about Arthur Ransome.
Until 2006, Cochy was kept on public display at Windermere Steamboat Museum. Following that museums closure for restoration, she spent several months in Falmouth during the summer of 2008, on display at the National Maritime Museum.”
The Legend of "The Soldiers Grave"
The Legend claims that the Sergeant in charge of the Barracks here at Kilcamb, found himself in financial difficulties and misappropriated his soldier's wages in order to pay his debts. He was found hanged - some say he took his own life - others that he was murdered. Although his grave is clearly defined on many of the old maps (approximately half way between the Hotel and the Bathing House) and despite numerous searches over the years, it has never been found to this day.