Finlaystone Country Estate, Langbank, Renfrewshire, PA14 6TJ

Finlaystone House occupies a high vantage point above the River Clyde and it covers 250 acres of woodland and formal gardens. At the moment sheets of bluebells cover the ground beneath the trees and the gardens are filled with the scent of wisteria and azaleas.

Streams and burns tumble down the hillside, fed by a large pond that is surrounded by willows and rushes and which provides a home to a resident population of swans, ducks, geese and heron. Wildlife abounds here and more than 50 species of birds have been recorded on the estate, some of them visitors from the mudflats that edge the Clyde, which have been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Paths lead through the woodlands, passing barbecue stations and joining together the many play areas designed to provide a natural environment for children, with a fort, a train, ziplines, swings and even a pirate ship to clamber over.

These woodlands are rich in ferns and lichens and early in the year they are colonised by snowdrops. They are particularly magical after dark and a series of Wild Nights at Finlaystone will start next month, offering families the chance to camp out overnight.

The Herald: Finlaystone has a mix of plantingsFinlaystone has a mix of plantings (Image: free)

Many of the activities at Finlaystone are designed to allow visitors to immerse themselves in nature and as well as on-site falconers, there’s the opportunity to prebook sessions with The Ark on the Clyde, which offers memorable animal encounters.

The formal gardens are spread over 10 acres and are accessed through the walled garden, where fruit and vegetables grow alongside flowers and trees, with a dog-friendly serving up doggie ice creams.

A gate at the far side of the garden leads into a wide expanse of flower borders and green lawns, with outstanding views across the Clyde and towards Ben Lomond. A 70 metre long serpentine border is filled at the moment with Oriental poppies and other early-flowering perennials, with many more set to open in succession throughout the summer.

The size of this garden has allowed for the development of many individual areas, with a Knot Garden of clipped yew, a ‘Smelly Garden’ which is home to a rich variety of scented plants and a Bog Garden where irises and candelabra primulas are currently providing vivid colours amongst the lush, green foliage.

The Herald: The woodlands are rich The woodlands are rich (Image: free)

The sheer size of Finlaystone means that even on busy days the gardens and woodland never feel crowded and alongside the cultivated areas there are places filled with wildflowers including wood anemones and Dog’s mercury.

The gardens contain a number of remarkable trees, some dated at more than 400 years old, while a tree nursery provides estate-grown trees for sale.

The land on which Finlaystone House stands has been occupied since the 13th century and residents through the years have included the writer R B Cunninghame Graham who featured the estate in several of his stories. John Knox and Robert Burns were both visitors at various times and today the house, which can be hired for weddings and other functions, is the seat of the chief of the Clan MacMillan and the clan archives can be viewed by appointment.

Details: The estate and gardens are open daily 10 am - 4.30pm.

Tickets: £6/£4 with a range of memberships available for regular visitors.

Tel: 01475 540 505 Finlaystone Country Estate sits off the A8, one mile west of Langbank.

In association with Discover Scottish Gardens