Historical Scottish estate with links to Mary Queen of Scots opens for visitors after ten-year restoration

A Clackmannanshire country estate with a 700-year history and ancestral links to Scottish royalty is opening for visitors after ten years of work aimed at restoring nature in the 420-hectare grounds.

Brucefield Estate, in Forestmill, was originally part of the Barony of Schenbothy.

It was first owned by the Stewarts of Rosyth, who welcomed Mary Queen of Scots when she returned from France.

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It hosts a wealth of wildlife, including bats, owls, pine martens, badgers, red squirrels, rare wildflowers, butterflies and a cornucopia of plant species.

Brucefield owner Victoria Bruce-Winkler, a biologist who inherited the property from her father in 2012, is passionate about regenerating the estate for a new generation
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Its current owner, biologist Victoria Bruce-Winkler, inherited the property from her father in 2012 and is passionate about regenerating the estate for a new generation.

For the past decade she has spearheaded work to protect and conserve the local wildlife and has recently finished an eco-friendly revamp of Slackbrae, a former forester’s cottage on the estate.

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The house has been renovated using a conservation approach, using sustainable materials to cut its climate impacts.

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The 18th-century cottage was originally the gatehouse to the estate and was at one time owned by the Stirling & Dunfermline Railway.

The original train line dating back to 1852 is now a cycle route, providing easy access for day trips to the Wallace Monument.

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Now she is opening Slackbrae’s doors for self-catering holidays.

Ms Bruce-Winkler said: “I’m delighted to see Slackbrae ready to welcome its first guests.

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“We have been working tirelessly for the last ten years with ecologists and conservationists to preserve the unique heritage of the estate.

“Our vision is to create an estate where people can come and relax, explore the heritage of the estate and surround themselves with nature.”

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Ms Bruce-Winkler is already working on bigger plans for the future, which include the launch of eco-bothies on the estate and organising workshops on subjects such as ancestry, wood-turning, garden design and badger-watching.

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