3 Glens House, Moniaive, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire

The south-west pocket, in my opinion, is one of the lesser visited and most surprising discoveries in Scotland; green rolling lowland countryside and an inspiring mix of lush fields and historic coastal towns; the inspiration for many an artist and writer.

It is here, on a hilltop; commanding a surreal panorama over secret valleys; where the sun rises and sets on the refreshingly avant-garde, 3 Glens.

Sitting somewhere between hotel, bed and breakfast and most hospitable family abode, this is where visitors gather to appreciate home-grown dining, fine wines, award-winning architecture, stunning views and a naturally adept and friendly hospitality – all under a turf-topped roof!

The first impression on entering this design-led and eco-inspired new build is the breathtaking and unavoidable panoramic view; the reason behind the positioning of 3 Glens; the second is the vast, open spaces littered with fabulous “Green” design features.

Glass and wood feature highly in this meticulously thought out architectural masterpiece, with fabulous multi-use recycled railway sleepers playing a large part in the furnishings, and the main component in the natural flooring.

A stone built wall enters the house from an outside dining deck and adds an attractive focus, reflecting the ease with which the highly modern building adopts its rural exterior.

Some fun items are also present; an enormous clock built into the stonework and a rather clever indoor log store, complete with an off-loading facility, allowing the tractor to deliver freshly cut logs from the estate, straight to the house – no fuss, and no getting wet!

Ground-source heating complete with a heat recovery system, which cleans the air and circulates it around the house, complements another of my favourite features: a biomass stove or Austrian Kachelofen, which offers a contrast and forms an unusual centerpiece to the living area. The ancient and very quaint idea of heating via a giant clay, wood-fired oven, covered in lime plaster which radiates heat throughout the day, provides a cosy back support whilst sitting on the fun, cow-hide seating and enjoying the ever-changing views.

Diverse textures are ever-present within The 3 Glens and no less so within the bedrooms and bathrooms downstairs. Each different and each decorated with unique pieces of art, I was pleasantly surprised by a very large cast-iron bath and traditional bathroom accessories, complemented by ultra modern Hans Grohe shower fitments. Slate flagstones and under-floor heating provide an added dash of luxury.

Tech-heads shall be further charmed by the Sonos Music system wired throughout the house, including the sundeck and broadcast via rather discreet ceiling speakers – genius.


Built on open Dumfries and Galloway farmland, 3 Glens masterminds and owners Neil and Mary Gourlay, harness natural elements and power their eco-design with water and wind power. Their philosophy of reduce, re-use, recycle and recover is apparent in each aspect of the build and daily operation; sheeps’ wool insulation and cow hide seats from their own animals, reclaimed stone and cast-iron bathroom fittings, have all gone some way to earning them the Green Tourism Gold Award. No longer, however, is this ethos extreme and visually compromising, 3 Glens highly engaging design and interior has wider appeal and indeed attained them a finalists positioning in the Scottish Design Awards this year.

Maintaining their beliefs in the kitchen is welcomingly evident, where, not merely local produce but wherever possible, 3 Glens craft meals utilizing their own hillside farmed beef and lamb and homegrown fruit and vegetables. Salmon sourced on local rivers formed the starter course for dinner and was nothing short of superb.

A self-sufficient vision has grown to be so much more for Mary and Neil. Meticulous planning, considered design and a two year build project, with huge environmental consideration, coupled with uncompromising attention to detail, has produced The 3 Glens – a manifestation of a lifetime dream and a place of tranquility, happiness and old traditions supported by progressive modern design.