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The History of Dundreggan

By Allan Common - Dundreggan Site Manager

Dundreggan Lodge

The original Dundreggan Lodge, photographed in about 1912.

Dundreggan was once part of the vast Glenmoriston Estate, which was owned by many generations of the Grant family, and since the mid 1800’s was run as a traditional sporting estate. The main attraction at Dundreggan was the old Dundreggan Lodge. It was an impressive structure; typical of its time, complete with 23 bedrooms, 3 public rooms and adjoining stables. It had all the usual refinements, including a country garden growing fruit, vegetables and herbs. It even had a large croquet lawn, part of which is still visible today.

Shortly after returning from action in the Second World War, a local man, Donnie Campbell, took over the farm tenancy of Dundreggan Lower Ground from his parents who stayed in Dundreggan Cottage. A short while later Donnie and his wife Alma had the opportunity to buy the farm at Dundreggan, which included The Old Lodge, whilst Glenmoriston Estate retained ownership of the hill ground. By this time (the late 1960’s) Dundreggan Lodge had fallen in to such a state of disrepair that it had to be demolished. Donnie & Alma built the present keeper’s house on the site of the old Lodge and Donnie’s sister Alice continued to live in the cottage. In 1969, Donnie and Alma sold a small corner of a field on the west side of the original lodge to a family from Aberdeenshire, who built a house there. It is this house that we now refer to as Dundreggan Lodge.

Mr & Mrs Campbell worked the farm until the late 1970’s when Donnie sold it, because of ill health. Over the next few years the Italian businessman who had bought the farm purchased Dundreggan Hill Ground from Glenmoriston Estate and also the new Lodge house when it came up for sale. Dundreggan Land was then set up as a company in Liechtenstein. The owner enjoyed his sporting pursuits at Dundreggan until 1991, when he sold the estate to the Amos family, also from Italy. They changed the company name to Dundreggan Estate Ltd., but it was still registered in Liechtenstein.

In the mid 1990’s the upper Dalchreichart Hill Ground was acquired, and in 2001 the Dalchreichart Plantation was purchased, thus bringing together an area of approximately 10,000 acres. It is this expanse of land that we know today as Dundreggan Estate.

Allan Common

Allan Common beside the birch-juniper woodland on Dundreggan.

I started my love affair with this beautiful Glen in 1967 as a small boy of about 5 years old. Being born and brought up in the industrialised town of Grangemouth, I longed for the hills and open spaces. My chance came when my grandparents searched for a retirement cottage in the Highlands. They settled in the old Keeper’s Cottage at Dalchreichart, which is a couple of miles from Dundreggan. I spent all my summer holidays as a boy in Glenmoriston and my first encounter with Dundreggan was at the age of 10 when helping the local contractor deliver hay to Mr Campbell. I was met at his door by a goat, while casually perched on the kitchen table, was the biggest hen I’d ever seen!

I lived in Grangemouth until age 21 and completed my apprenticeship as a Mechanical Forestry Engineer. I then moved on to the maintenance of heavy earth-moving machinery. Still visiting the glen during holidays, the opportunity of a job working on Dundreggan came up. I jumped at the chance and I moved here in 1983. I worked for the first Italian owner, mainly looking after sheep, but due to a change in business direction after 4 years, my job became uncertain and I left. I started up my own business as a Fencing Contractor doing contracts for the Forestry Commission and local Estates. In 1998 I was asked if I wanted a job back at Dundreggan, this time for the new owners, the Amos Family. I again jumped at the chance and have been here ever since.

Now that Trees for Life have purchased Dundreggan, a new chapter is beginning. This is an exciting time for me as I will be able to utilise my skills and knowledge of the area in a way that was restricted in the past, and play a greater role in managing this beautiful part of the glen that is so dear to my heart.

Allan Common

Trees for Life is an award winning conservation charity working to restore the Caledonian Forest
and all its species to a large contiguous area in the Highlands of Scotland.

Trees for Life is a registered charity Scottish charity No. SC021303, and a company limited by guarantee No. 143304 with its registered offices at Forres, Scotland.
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