Farm Ireland

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Sprawling 10,000ac Scottish estate and castle has €7.5m guide price

VARIETY: The Cluny Castle sale in the Scottish Highlands brings with it 10,143 acres of land in the Scottish Highlands with the grounds having strong sporting and forestry estates
VARIETY: The Cluny Castle sale in the Scottish Highlands brings with it 10,143 acres of land in the Scottish Highlands with the grounds having strong sporting and forestry estates
STATELY: The castle has undergone many refurbishments since its inception and has gone on the market with a guide price of e7.5m
Jim O'Brien

Jim O'Brien

Ever think of moving to the Scottish Highlands? Well if the fancy takes you, and you have the winnings of two average Lotto draws, then the seat of the Clan Macpherson may be the place for you.

Cluny Castle is for sale along with its 10,143ac at Laggan, Inverness-shire at the heart of the Scottish Highlands. The recently refurbished castle and the working estate is on the market with a guide price of £7.5m sterling or €8.87m.

According to Evelyn Channing at the Edinburgh office of selling agents Savills UK, this is one of the bigger sporting and farming estates to come on the market in Scotland in recent times.

Located near the village of Kingussie at the southern end of the district of Badendoch in the Scottish Gaeltacht, Cluny is about 56 miles southeast of Inverness and 66 miles northwest of Perth.

The estate was at the centre of many of the great historical moments of Scottish history. According to Macpherson clan tradition, in 1309 Robert the Bruce offered the lands of Badenoch to the chief of Clan Macpherson on the condition they destroy the Bruce's enemies, the Clan Comyn. The Macphersons duly carried out the king's wishes.

The original Macpherson castle was burned to the ground in 1764 and rebuilt in 1805. It narrowly missed finding a place at the centre of British royal history when it topped Queen Victoria's shopping list in her search for a country estate in Scotland, but bad weather prevented her from inspecting Cluny and she settled for Balmoral instead.

The castle continued to be the seat of the Macphersons and Clan Chattan until 1943 when it was sold.

The estate includes the seven-bedroom Cluny Castle, a wide range of outbuildings along with 11 estate houses and cottages. The land use is divided between 7,838ac of farmland, of which 7,153ac is in hill grazing, 431ac in rough grazing and 254ac in permanent pasture. A further 1,317 is crofted hill ground. A 960ac block is in woodland and the balance is taken up by roads, tracks, buildings and lochs. The entitlements and grants generated by the farming and forestry total £96,000 (€114,000) per annum.

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The strong sporting element to the estate includes deer forest and grouse moor, low ground pheasant shoot, duck flighting and salmon fishing.


Situated between the Cairngorm and Monadhliath mountains, the estate has a rich variety of landscapes lying 800 feet above sea level at the River Spey, and rising to about 3,024 feet at the summit of Cairn Dearg.

The present house was built in 1805 of grey granite under slate roofs and occupies an elevated position in mature grounds with a south-facing aspect. After its purchase in 2001, the house was remodelled and refurbished and is now a comfortable family home.

The castle has particularly fine reception rooms, with a wonderful bow-ended drawing room and dining room as well as a study and a morning room.

There are seven main bedrooms, three of which have en-suite bath or shower rooms.

The attic floor at one time included seven bedrooms but during the refurbishment all these were stripped out to allow for full timber treatment and increased insulation.

The basement level is home to a strong room, wine cellars, a boiler room, a gun room and shooting lunch room with a separate entrance beneath the courtyard steps.

On the north side of the castle is an attractive, partly cobbled courtyard with a central stone mounted bell and buildings that include a staff cottage and a range of garages and stores.

The gardens lie to the southeast and west of the castle and are simply laid out in extensive lawns bordered by azaleas and rhododendrons and dominated by magnificent specimen trees.

The working farm at Cluny is based at Cluny Mains, offers an excellent livestock rearing unit with a good range of modern and traditional farm buildings, productive land along the river plain with high quality permanent pastures and hill grazings to the north of Cluny Castle.

The farm buildings include traditional stone-built cart and cattle sheds, along with a modern steel portal frame cattle court and open fronted lean-to.


There is also a separate Dutch barn and a large yard with ample space for vehicles, storage of equipment and fodder.

Silage and hay are grown on the low ground in sufficient quantities to support the current enterprise. The land adjoining the River Spey is level and ploughable, allowing for reseeding of the present grassland or the growing of fodder crops.

It is all well fenced and designated as a Less Favoured Area (Highland & Islands) qualifying for hill livestock subsidies, which in 2012 amounted to £24,126.47 (€28,000).

The estate has entered into a range of land management contracts including a Land Managers Option (LMO) to improve rush pastures over the next five years. generating £3,675 in each year. Under the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP), the estate has also agreed to a programme similar to the Irish AEOS scheme to manage habitats and biodiversity. The current programme generates grant support of £25,753.21 (€30,000) per annum.

The majority of the woodlands at Cluny are native hardwoods with about 210ac of commercial conifer plantations.

An area of about 1,317 acres on the southwest boundary of the estate is subject to crofting tenure and the grazing is shared between four crofts, which in total are allowed to stock with up to 400 ewes.

There are 11 estate houses and cottages on Cluny providing accommodation for estate employees, commercial rentals and potential holiday letting opportunities. The estate includes a forest populated by 1,317 hind deer herd, while the various lochs provide for generous duck flighting.

Irish Independent