The Smeaton Hepburn estate was in the hands of the Hepburn family for 400 years until 1934 when acquired by the Gray family. In 1764 George Buchan-Hepburn became laird and he set about improving the estate. His family continued his passion after his death and in 1820 an artificial lake was created with surrounding woodland and it is famous for a collection of mature specimen trees.
It was also on the estate that the famous historian and novelist Nigel Tranter OBE (1909 – 2000) used to have a ‘hut’ where he would write while enjoying the fine views over the lake.
There are yews dotted around the woodland in rocky terrain above the lake and 5 examples measured gave a range of girths from 336 – 348 cm at 100 cm high (SYTHI 2017). The girths of these yews suggest that they probably belong to a period preceding the works carried out in 1820, as they are typically large for yews planted 200 years ago, and could well precede when George Buchan- Hepburn was laird just over 250 years ago.