Geotourist launches audio trail for The Japanese Garden at Cowden

Japanese Garden Cowden Geotourist
Japanese Garden Cowden Geotourist

Geotourist has launched a new digital audio tour for visitor to the Japanese Garden in Cowden, Clackmannanshire. Downloadable via the Geotourist app to smartphones, the tour can be listened to from anywhere in the world.

Created in its entirety during the UK lockdown period, the tour is currently being used by visitors to the garden in pre-booked timeslots, to ensure that social distancing guidelines are adhered to.

Nestled in the Ochil Hills, the Japanese Garden forms part of the Cowden Estate. The trail skirts the lake and explores other parts of the garden, and explains how the garden was designed and created by explorer Ella Christie over a century ago. Having travelled to Europe in her childhood, Christie became increasingly adventurous following her father’s death in 1902 and journeyed to remote locations including Kashmir, Tibet, Cuba, the Silk Road, China, Korea and Japan.

Created in 1908, the Japanese Garden at Cowden captures Christie’s vision and sense of discovery. Specialist designer Taki Handa was brought over from Japan to ensure that the details of the garden were in keeping with the principles of Japanese landscaping, and today the garden remains the only one of its type to be designed by a Japanese woman. Plants, shrubs and antique stone lanterns were also imported from Japan to complete the vision.

Described in 1925 by Professor Jijo Suzuki as ‘the most important Japanese garden in the Western world’, the garden consists of several acres of Japanese influenced landscape with a perimeter path around the small loch, along with twenty acres of woodland walks.

The garden was vandalised in the 1960s and remained closed and in a state of disrepair until 2014, when Christie’s great-niece, Sara Stewart, began a fund-raising campaign. Following three years of intensive restoration, the Japanese Garden enjoyed its first full season in 2019.

Chair of the garden trust, Sara Stewart said, “We are delighted that our 20th century garden is being enjoyed by visitors who are now able to use innovative technology to learn about the surroundings and why a Japanese Garden was created in Clackmannanshire.”

Geotourist CEO and founder Shaon Talukder added, “We are thrilled to be the chosen provider for The Japanese Garden, Cowden – this is a spectacular garden and an example of painstaking application of the principles of Japanese gardening, situated in Scotland’s Ochil Hills coupled with the personal story of the family and esteemed Japanese garden experts responsible for bringing this attraction to life.

“The juxtaposition of the two landscapes is exceptional and unique. This is one of our most important tour launches ever because of the story and a demonstration of what is possible with imagination. The tour was agreed in the weeks before lockdown and has been created and produced remotely, showing the power of technology. We are conscious of the difficult times being reported across the tourism and travel industry and we are so very grateful that we are able to share positive news.”