Boleskine Begins Restoration of Victorian Era Pond for Public Access

A worker from Pro Forestry Scotland clears overgrowth from the pond on the Boleskine Estate.


INVERNESS, SCOTLAND — 12 March 2024 — The Boleskine House Foundation SCIO, a registered Scottish charity, has begun an ambitious project to restore an important feature of its historic wetland. Following the Foundation’s selection in December last year to receive a generous grant from the Highland Council Nature Restoration Fund, a freshwater pond dating back to the Victorian era that is situated behind the B-listed Boleskine House will be cleaned up, transformed into a haven for local plant and wildlife, and opened to the public.

“It is wonderful to see our estate transform from decades of neglect into a place of natural majesty that people from all over Scotland and the world will be able to enjoy,” said Steven O’Donnell, restoration project lead and Trustee of The Boleskine House Foundation. “This is yet another step not only towards our vision of giving the estate a new lease on life for the public benefit, but to promoting nature-based activities to educate the public on the importance of nature preservation in a fun and friendly manner. Together, we will move towards a sustainable future in the heritage sector and beyond.”

On behalf of the Foundation, since January this year, O’Donnell has collaborated with Stephen Corcoran of Corcoran Consultants, a marine ecologist and nature restoration specialist, to develop a restoration program to complement the Foundation’s estate-wide biodiversity program. Together, they have developed a multi-phased plan that began on 6 March and is expected to be mostly completed by spring. 

Phase 1 of the restoration plan consists of removing invasive rhododendrons in and around the wetland area and excavating decades of decomposed material from the pond. This work will pause temporarily on 17 March so that the bird and amphibian breeding season can commence undisturbed.

In Phase 2, work will focus on enhancements to public access and native plant life restoration. New pathways will be provided around the pond, a dipping pier for educational activities will be constructed, and new plantings of native wetland pond plants, locally sourced and grown in the estate’s own seed nursery, will be installed to deter invasive species and disease. These efforts will support biodiversity and provide a suitable breeding site for newts, frogs, dragonflies, and many other vitally important and often endangered wetland species.

The pond, which was once stocked with fish, is part of the Loch Ness and Duntelchaig Special Landscape Area, a designation by the Highland Council as a regionally valuable landscape worthy of protection and enhancement, and promotion of public enjoyment. Records of the pond’s existence date back to the mid-1800s, but a water catchment facility has existed on the site for much longer, as evidenced by the two natural springs at either corner of the pond.

With two thirds of freshwater species in Scotland found in ponds, and 50% of all UK ponds having been lost in the 20th century, it is the charity’s intention that restoring the freshwater pond will ensure an effective way to protect freshwater wildlife in the local area and enhance biodiversity. 

Information and updates will be available as the project progresses on The Boleskine House Foundation’s official social media accounts at and

The Boleskine House Foundation

The Boleskine House Foundation SCIO is a Scottish Registered charity whose mission is to restore and preserve the historical legacy and heritage of the Boleskine House estate for the greater benefit of the public. In addition to our conservation-led approach to sympathetically restore Boleskine House, we aim to educate the public on the heritage of the house and lands, to welcome the enjoyment of its structure and surrounding gardens, and to facilitate learning, growth and well-being. For more information, please visit


Steven O’Donnell