Bordered by lochs and mountains, Dochfour Estate has been the ancestral home of the Baillies since the mid 1400s and the family trace their ancestry back to Guy de Baliol, who came over with William the Conqueror in 1066. Rewarded with English baronies and lands, his great grandson, Hugh, further extended these holdings with grants from Henry II and King John.
Hugh sired 2 sons; John and Alexander de Baliol. John founded Balliol College, Oxford (for the education of Scottish students) and married the eldest niece of the King of Scotland and as a result, his grandson, another John, became King of Scotland in 1292 with his great uncle Sir Alexander serving as Great Chamberlain.
His grandson, William, settled at Lamington and married the daughter of William Wallace his companion in arms. Wanting to distance themselves from the Scottish throne when Robert the Bruce (another cousin) was crowned King in 1306 the de Baliols changed their name to Baillie.
In the mid 15th century, William’s great-great-grandson, Alexander Baillie, and two of his younger brothers, fatally castrated their tutor, (a priest who had allegedly ‘interfered’ with their sister). After fleeing the wrath of the Church, Alexander later returned under the protection of his cousin, Alexander Gordon, Earl of Huntly. At the Battle of Brechin in 1442 he fought alongside the Earl and so distinguished himself that Gordon rewarded him with the baronies of Dunain, Dochfour, Leys and Torbreck, and named him Constable of Inverness Castle. The Baillie family still retain Dochfour today, more than 580 years later.
Dochfour House stands on a rise of ground overlooking Loch Dochfour which leads into Loch Ness. The first house on this spot was burned during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 and rebuilt in 1780 in its current form. A family legend says that at the time of the Rebellion, the Baillie owner of the estate hid in a cave in the hill above the house to escape from English troops. Due to strategic marriages and alliances with Lovat Frasers, Argyll Campbells and President Forbes of Culloden the Baillies both lost and then regained their lands after Culloden.
Today, Dochfour is set in mature parklands and can be seen when travelling down the Loch. The part of the house facing Loch Ness is Georgian and the house was then significantly extended in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The house and gardens are mentioned in Queen Victoria’s Highland Journals. Prince Albert reported to the Queen that he found it ‘Beautiful, the house elegant, with a fine garden’.
In 2019, Alexander Baillie and his wife Gigina set about creating Loch Ness Escapes, a collection of carefully curated cottages and farm houses located on the estate and now welcome guests from around the world to share in the magic of the Loch Ness and the Highlands.