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Magical Victorian Perthshire house in riverside setting has bridge to its own island

Located near Callander, the Passhouse is a beautiful home set in two acres of riverfront gardens. It even has a bridge to its own secret island.

The Passhouse has a bridge to an island in the middle of the river. Image: Halliday Homes.
The Passhouse has a bridge to an island in the middle of the river. Image: Halliday Homes.

The Passhouse is a magical Victorian riverside home with a bridge to its own island.

Just a mile outside of Callander near the hamlet of Kilmahog, it sits in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Majestic Ben Ledi looms on the horizon and the Garbh Uisge river rushes past the house.

The Passhouse was built in 1895 for a Mr Johnston, a financial advisor for the Glasgow ship building industry. At that point Callander had a railway line and Mr Johnston could drive his pony and cart to the station.

In the 1940s and 50s the Passhouse was owned by the Finlay family, who ran a garden centre in Milngavie. They created the beautiful, well-stocked garden that is one of the Passhouse’s most impressive features.

The Passhouse is a handsome Victorian home in a glorious riverside setting near Callander. Image: Halliday Homes.

Helen Carfrae and her late husband David bought the Passhouse in 1981 and spent more than 40 years there, raising a family and growing old together.

A pair of wrought iron gates from the A84 opens into a large chipped parking area. The house’s three storey tower looms above. Mature woodland surrounds the property and the rush of the river provides a soothing background noise.

Exploring inside

Steps lead up to a huge timber front door which leads through a vestibule into a wonderful, light-filled hallway.

The flooring is made from thick boards of pine specially chosen for having no knots. The walls are timber panelled and the ceilings have ornate cornicing.

The hallway has solid pint flooring and timber panelled walls. Image: Halliday Homes.

One of the most magnificent rooms is the drawing room. An enormous bay window floods it with light and gives superb views over the river to the island and woodland beyond.

“This used to be my husband’s favourite spot to sit and have his coffee in the morning,” Helen says.

The drawing room has a huge bay window. Image: Halliday Homes.

Next door is another living room that Helen calls the smoking room. The gentlemen of the house would once have retired here after dinner to enjoy cigarettes and brandy.

The room has a glazed door out to a sunny stone patio. “David used to love to sit out there and look out over the river,” Helen continues.

River views

The stunning dining room has a fantastic corner window array that gazes over the river and hills.

“We had 36 people in here for our silver wedding anniversary,” Helen says. “It was a great room to have Christmas and birthday dinners as well.”

The dining room has hosted many family events. Image: Halliday Homes.

Down a couple of steps is the homely kitchen. Helen recently had a wood burning stove installed here. “In the winter we more or less live in this room,” she says.

“It’s just my son James and me here now so there’s no point in heating the whole house. We have endless free firewood so we sit in the armchairs here with the fire going and watch TV.”

An array of smaller rooms are accessed from the kitchen, including a utility room, boiler room, WC, boot room and storeroom. There is the potential to knock through many of these to create a much bigger dining kitchen.

A wood burning stove keeps the kitchen warm. Image: Halliday Homes.

All of the main reception rooms face south, looking over the river and benefitting from sunlight all day long.

The en suite master bedroom is on the ground floor as is another large double bedroom and a shower room.

A former billiards room is a great first floor living space. Image: Halliday Homes.

There are two sets of stairs to first floor level, located at either end of the house. The first floor has three large bedrooms and a bathroom as well as its own kitchen. What would once have been the billiards room is a first floor living room with two skylight windows and a rooftop cupula,

Tower and rooftop

Another set of steps leads up to the third floor tower room. Having breath-taking views, this large space could be a bedroom, snug or home office.

A final set of steps leads to the roof terrace. From up here, on a sunny day with a light, warm breeze blowing, it is an amazing spot. There are unbeatable views up and down river and across to Ben Ledi.

The views from the roof terrace are extraordinary. Image: Halliday Homes.

One of the highlights of the Passhouse are its magnificent gardens. Amounting to almost two acres, they stretch along several hundred metres of the riverbank.

With numerous paths, terraces, beds, rockeries and vegetable patches it’s a joy to explore. There’s a stone patio outside the house and a large expanse of lawn with a wonderful outlook over the river.

A bridge leads to an island in the river. Image: Halliday Homes.

The most unique feature is a timber and steel bridge that leads to an island in the middle of the river. Roughly half an acre and planted with Scots pine and rhododendron, it’s an absolutely magical spot.

Helen and David were part of Scotland’s Garden Scheme for many years and hosted hordes of visitors every summer.

Scotland’s Gardens

“We had a lot of visitors who came back every year,” Helen smiles. “Among them were people who used to live at the house. One lady was in her 90s and lived here before the First World War. She wanted to see how the Scots pine on the island were doing.”

The Passhouse is in an excellent location. The bustling tourist town of Callander is within walking distance. Beautiful Loch Lubnaig is a short drive away. Forests and mountains lie in all directions, with an endless network of paths and trails to explore.

The gardens are outstanding. Image: Halliday Homes.

Former teacher Helen and consultant histopathologist David carried out numerous upgrades during their time at the Passhouse, although it is now in need of a bit of modernisation.

Helen explains: “We only ever replaced things when they wore out. We couldn’t afford to do otherwise so if it wasn’t broken we didn’t fix it. When we did replace things though we made sure everything was of the highest quality and cost was no object.”

The Passhouse is in a stunning location. Image: Halliday Homes.

Sadly, Helen’s husband David passed away aged 82 at the beginning of 2022. Helen, 82, lives at the Passhouse with one of her two sons, James.

“I wouldn’t be able to live here without James,” Helen says. “He does all the heavy jobs and cuts up all the firewood. Neither of the boys can quite stretch to buy the other out so the fair thing to do is put it on the market.

“I’ll never have another house like this one so I will miss it.”

The Passhouse, Kilmahog, Callander is on sale with Halliday Homes for offers over £840,000.