Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

It’s Scottish island sale time again – this time one I’ve seen, Inchmarnock

It’s been a while since a Scottish island was mention in the For Sale column, and news of this one made me look twice since I’ve seen it quite a few times, together with the little landing-craft style ferry which services it.

Not quite a “stone’s throw” from the Isle of Bute, Inchmarnock lies about a mile to the west of the larger island. There’a car park and viewpoint where you can stop and look across to the smaller island, and usually see the little ferry (Marnock) moored somewhere nearby too.

Never looked like this whenever I was there, but then again, photographer Zak does have the advantage of being there, unlike those of us who just enjoyed the odd day here and there.

Inchmarnock from Bute

Inchmarnock from Bute

I never really though about buying – but now know the asking price (today at least) is offers over £1.4 million.

We’ll see how that goes – I may be relying on my memory rather than running off to spend time researching, but I think most of these sales have either never happened, or seen a drastic reduction (thing half a million or so) before they did.

As far as I’ve read over the years (and the sale documents will be more up to date) some buildings are occasionally used by the owner of the island, but most are now empty/derelict. There was chapel, St Marnoc’s, but that is just remains. The Isle of Bute Museum (I think/hope, it’s a long time since I was last there) mentioned a bronze Age cairn discovered at Northpark. This held the remains of what became known as The Queen of the Inch, a 3,500 year old woman decorated in a jet bead necklace and with a dagger and housed beneath a glass panel.

There’s a World War II connection. Like a number of coastal regions around this area of Scotland, landing training and exercises were carried out on the shore (using craft similar to Marnock), in preparation for the D-Day landings.

Nowadays, the ferry carries livestock to and from the island, for grazing.

The island was bought by Lord Smith of Kelvin in 1999.

Someone’s been out with their new drone, so you can have a ‘virtual’ look at the island from this link.

Inchmarnock Island music – struttandparker-1

In the media:

Stunning Scottish island with rich history on sale for £1.4m

From the selling agent:

A peaceful and historic private island estate in the Firth of Clyde.

Lovely shot of Marnock underway – and far better than anything I ever took, usually just a little dot moored in the sound.

Marnock from Zak's collection

Marnock from Zak’s collection

29/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, photography, Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Not a Scottish island for sale this time, just a tiny house

I was spotting little islands for sale a while ago, but that seems to have gone quite for the moment.

This time it’s something a little bit different, a tiny house in Banff, on Gamrie Brae, Gardenstown, overlooking the Moray Firth.

Formerly a coastguard station, it closed when volunteers moved out of the base when the rescue team merged with Banff.

The  detached, single-storey building has been empty since October 2017 and is now set to be auctioned this week, with a £30,000 guide price.

It’s basically a shell, with a toiled and sink inside.

I know I passed it a few times some years ago, even I didn’t really notice it, as I visited Gardenstown a few times during my time as an ROC nuclear monitoring post hunter/visitor.

I did find the Gardenstown post, on a farm, and recall it well, having found it to have been effectively closed and sealed by having the concrete step placed on top of the hatch. No chance of a quick look inside that one back then. However, I do note that somebody managed to have it removed later, and get pics of the interior.

See the offer here:

Detached Former Coastguard Rescue Station

Nice view.

Reminded me of the Tom Weir programme, when he went to Pennan, Crovie, and Gardenstown.

Gardenstown Coastguard building

Gardenstown Coastguard building

26/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Intriguing – THREE little Scottish islands for sale together

My eye still seems to be drawn to island sale notices, and this time the story is a little unusual, with a group of three small islands on offer.

The uninhabited Orkney islands are seeking offers of more than £200,000, and are Faray, Holm of Faray and Red Holm.

The largest, Faray, was inhabited until the 1940s, when the last residents left, now there’s only some derelict property there, and some beaches. There’s also mention of a bothy in the former school.

Find this set between the islands of Westray and Eday.

Orange Moron Donald Trump might be interested, so he can go destroy Faray and Holm of Faray, which are SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) and Special Areas of Conservation because of their important breeding and haul-out sites for grey seals.

Three Orkney islands on sale for offers over £200,000

Taken back in 2006, the old school was roofed and used for accommodation during lambing.

Faray School Bothy via geograph

Faray School Bothy via geograph

Also found this, which looks like it might have been the post box – and was!

The 2015 pic came with a story: The pillar contained a postbox until 1947, and it was used for post for the island of Faray, off the west of Eday. A Faray islander would come across each week and collect their mail from here.

Faray Post Box

Faray Post Box via geograph

23/08/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

There goes the neighbourhood II

Better hurry along into Glasgow if you want to see what little is left of some of its older and less desirable buildings.

I happened to be back at one site in Trongate, which now looks like this…

Trongate Demolition

Trongate Demolition

After only a week or so from this

Trongate Demolition

Trongate Demolition

While I’m not a member of the club that demands just about nothing be demolished, that doesn’t stop me wondering about some clearances I see. But, it also has to be remembered that not EVERY building was well-built, even if it looks great, the underlying structure could be woefully inadequate, built by less than dependable builders of the day, or made of little more than newspaper and cardboard. The latter apparently found in some Glasgow tenements, built by less than scrupulous people during the tenement building boom period.


I have noticed another trend while walking the streets of Glasgow recently, which can also be seen in the area surrounding the central area too.

A number of formerly vacant buildings, and even scraps of land as small as a couple of hundred square metres, have been cleared of ‘illegal’ occupants or users, fenced off or closed, and have large ‘FOR SALE’ signs from various agencies attached.

While I probably wouldn’t have noticed one or two of these appearing, there’s probably been around a dozen on the streets I walk.

I did actually spot a lot of these sites being cleared, and the temporary fencing going up over the past weeks, but the signs only appeared on those barriers in the past week or so.

(I could have taken many pics of these, but NO free advertising for them!)

Multiplied across the whole of Glasgow, if similar to ‘my’ streets, that could mean that hundreds of similar offerings could just have been openly placed on the market.

If what I spotted is correct…

I wonder why?

Why at this time, and why so many?

22/11/2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

There goes another Cold War bunker (I didn’t buy)

One of the sad things about the 10+ years that have passed since I was talked into starting ‘something’ regarding the secret side of Scotland is the slow disappearance of most of the resources which fuelled the early days.

Then, ‘secret’ was meant to encompass what the media has come to rely on as Urban Exploration or UrbEx, and use as a clickbait term to attract outrage at this supposedly deadly hobby which puts lives at risk, and encourages lawbreaking through trespass (although it generally neglects the subtle difference between trespass law in Scotland, compared to England). Most cases cited or decried as ‘trespass’ here probably aren’t – and if you think I’m going to tell you why, forget it! I’m not giving away the research I did years ago for free. This was back in the days just prior to the completion and issue of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, when much of the background material was then placed online, but has slowly evaporated over the years (so I can no longer refer to the legal sources that were then made available).

Most of the references for ‘secret’ places, sites, installations, facilities, operations, etc that were to be found online some ten years ago have largely evaporated from the Internet. If you want evidence of this, just try looking up some of the more ‘interesting’ pages in SeSco’s Wiki. I used to update the reference links with the added text ‘Dead link‘ (to show, at least, where the original info had come from), but after a while decided this had  become a waste of time, as I was finding more and more had died and gone over the years.

Sad to say, I probably couldn’t create many of the Wiki pages if I was starting today (at least not via online research).

But that doesn’t stop the odd place, such as a former Cold War bunker at Raigmore, Inverness. However, it was not built for that purpose, and dates from World War II, when it was used as a centre which handled reports from outlying radar stations, as a Sector Operation Centre.

After the war it was used by the RAF for training, then from 1958 to 1968 by the Civil Defence Corps, and finally (from the 1980s) as an emergency centre for Highland Regional Council (as it was then), to be used in the event of a nuclear attack.

Sad to say I never visited this site, like many that were easy to get to, I just never made the time.

There’s a proper account here, from our old friends at Sub-Brit:

Site Name: Inverness – Highland Emergency Centre (Raigmore)

Highland Council is now divesting itself of the site and its responsibility for the abandoned facility.

A bunker built to survive a direct hit from World War Two’s most powerful bombs has been offered for sale.

The subterranean property in the Raigmore area of Inverness was upgraded in the 1980s during the Cold War.

The enhancements included a capability to protect those inside from a nuclear, biological or chemical attack.

Highland Council, which owns the site, has offered bids for the bunker. Viewing of the property is “strictly by prior appointment”.

A closing date on 6 December has been set for offers for the property, which is close to Inverness city centre.

Via Highland Council selling Inverness’ bunker

This view of the former mounded filter room with the (then) current emergency planning admin block to the left – image courtesy of our friends at Subterranea Britannica.

Inverness Bunker Via Sub-Brit

Inverness Bunker Via Sub-Brit

21/11/2017 Posted by | Cold War, council, World War II | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Isle of Ulva is on offer – six residents interested

I usually spot islands going up for sale, but I don’t think the initial offer made the major papers (it was in the Oban Times, and I spotted it in some of the larger titles, but not ones I get feeds from).

The Isle of Ulva went on the market for around £4.25 million back in July (I think).

It lies not far from the mainland, only a few hundred metres over the Sound of Ulva from the settlement of Ulva Ferry on Mull to the pier on the Ulva.

In terms of size it is about 7.5 miles long, 2.5 miles wide, and a little over 4.500 acres.

Ulva House was built in 1950, to replace its predecessor after a fire, and is B-listed.

Ulva House

Ulva House

There’s also a sporting lodge, a church (by Telford), a small restaurant and tea room let on commercial tenancy, a restored blackhouse, and nine other assorted residential properties


But perhaps more interesting than the fact of the sale itself is the reference to the Land Reform Act (2003) and how that is said to have allowed the North West Mull Community Trust to register an interest in buying the Inner Hebridean island, hoping to attract new residents and increase economic activity. A mere six residents are reported today, while there were some 500, two hundred years ago, and 800 at peak occupancy.

The Act is by no means new, but this appears to be the first case in which it has been cited in the purchase of an island.

Via First step in Isle of Ulva buyout approved

I think I’ll wait until another appears, one of the smaller bargains at around £250 k.

15/10/2017 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

The island of Little Ross is up for sale

I’m always intrigued to see how often small islands around Scotland come up for sale – even more so when I think that I could maybe sell up everything (and I really mean EVERYTHING) and maybe have the one of the cheapest for myself.

Then stuff like ‘Cost of ownership’ and ‘Reality’ (not to mention ‘Eating’) start to appear – and I stop having such foolish thoughts.

Liken it to buying a second-hand (or even a new) Ferrari – you might get it home and enjoy looking at it, but for most ‘ordinary’ folk, the first year would probably ruin them with the various running costs if they actually drove it too. And don’t even think about the pain of any repair costs if warranty or insurance did not apply.

But back to the island.

On offer is the island of Little Ross, with offers over £325,000 being invited.

It will be interesting to see if it sells, as the trend has (for the ones I’ve eyed up, and the sale info has not been kept private) been for them to hang around for a while, not sell for ages, or have their price dropped to help them along – or they do sell, but the details are held private, with hints that the price was not changed (much).

The lighthouse tower – which is not included in the sale – was designed and built by Alan Stevenson at the mouth of Kirkcudbright Bay to close the gap between other lighthouses at the Mull of Galloway and Southerness. and first lit in 1843.

It was manned until 1960.


Little Ross

Complete with history of murder

In this case, the island comes with an interesting history.

In 1960, the lighthouse keeper was killed by a colleague.

Keeper Hugh Clark was found dead on the island and his assistant Robert Dickson was later tried and found guilty of his murder.


Keepers’ houses

The listing includes a six-bedroom, B-listed cottage and courtyard which is next to an operational lighthouse tower which is not part of the deal.

Via: Little Ross lighthouse island up for sale

It’s a bargain compared to a castle

Looking at recent news, I spotted a castle up for sale, for mere £3.75 million.

Admittedly, Glenborrodale Castle actually includes TWO isolated islands (Risga and Eilean an Feidh)along with its 16 bedrooms, not forgetting the tennis court, gym and sauna, commercial kitchen, games room, boat house with jetty, and of course, live-in accommodation for your staff.

But a look at recent castle sales and stories show they are just a liability, bringing annual maintenance bills which will (like the apparently desirable Ferrari mentioned at the start) soon cripple you financially.

But, if you have your own oil-well, or a Facecrook page, you might be interested…

Dream home: Highland castle goes on the market for £3.75m


15/07/2017 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Eilean da Mheinn (Harbour Island) is for sale for a mere £500,000

Seriously small cash for your own island, even compared to some sales I’ve noted in recent years, and with some prices having to be cut by that amount in an attempt to generate interest among potential buyers.

There is a tiny problem with this tiny island, and that’s its degree of privacy and/or isolation.

As can be seen from the pic below, you may not be on the mainland, but under some criteria, I suspect you would not even be considered to be on an island since you are just not sufficiently far away. I have read of some larger, populated islands that are not much further away than this, and they either do not qualify, or have to fight ‘tooth and nail’ to get grants and other payments that would be more or less automatic if they were further out to sea.

View of Crinan Harbour, and the Eilean da Mheinn, from the ridge above.

View of Crinan Harbour, and the Eilean da Mheinn, from the ridge above.

Per the selling agent’s blurb, it’s been owned by someone who just liked being there, and is now a ‘fixer upper’. Or, if you’re like me, just ready to move into as a bargain, not inflated by some damned developer who has ‘upgraded’ it, and inflated the price to make a quick profit.

Harbour Island is reached in a matter of minutes by boat from Crinan Harbour and is therefore a fantastically located private haven without being too remote.

Its coastline is rugged with wild gardens and woodland inland all of which attract a spectacular array of wildlife and seabirds.

The house comprises around 1000 square feet and is single storey built under a slate roof. Although in need of significant improvement, it offers flexible accommodation all on one level, with access from a porch to the side which leads to the hallway with two storage cupboards. The hallway gives access to all the main rooms: a sitting room with conservatory off, kitchen, three bedrooms and a bathroom with separate WC. There is a wooden outbuilding with guest room and shower room, a boathouse and slipway. The house, outbuildings and grounds are in need of significant improvement but Harbour Island offers a wonderful opportunity for a nautically-minded new owner to make their mark on this unique place.

Harbour Island, Crinan, Lochgilphead, Argyll, PA31 8SW. Offers Over £500,000.

Via Private Scottish island with three bedroom cottage up for sale: The Scotsman

Have fun, as commenters have pointed out one or two little ‘oopsies’ in that article.

30/06/2016 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

£500,000 knocked off island price after it fails to sell

We don’t seem to have spotted this island when it first went up for sale, apparently a year ago. Eilean Righ, which is said to translate into King’s Island by some, and the Lord’s Isle by others (I have no ides, so am offering both):

A SCOTTISH island has had its asking price slashed by £500,000 after failing to attract a buyer in a year.

With its commanding position in the middle of a loch, King’s Island could be fit for royalty.

But King’s Island, translated from the Gaelic Eilean Righ, failed to find somebody willing to pay £3 million.

It has now been re-advertised at £2.5 million.

The isle off the Argyll coastline within Loch Craignish was put on the market by a top City trader in June last year.

It has been owned since 1999 by former Goldman Sachs market trader, Christian Siva-Jothy, who once enjoyed almost mythical status among the City’s financial community.

That all came to an end in 2011, when he closed down the $200 million business he began after leaving Goldman Sachs and made a stunning confession about his ability to play the market.

Mr Siva-Jothy wrote to investors in his firm SemperMacro: ‘In this business, you are only as good as your last few trades.

‘Mine have not been very good. Whether I have lost my edge or simply need a break after 23 years, I am not sure. I certainly hope it’s the latter.’

Via: Scots island price slashed after lack of interest – The Scotsman

Also: Property Listing – The Scotsman

According to the latest story, while there has been some interest, this has been from overseas, and nothing has come of it.

It has had some interesting owners, and some interesting features:

As well as a four-bedroomed principal house (there is another), the 238-acre island comes complete with a giant 500sq metre helicopter hangar, two slipways and a jetty.

King’s Island has had a number of colourful owners over the years. In the 1930s, it was home to Sir Reginald Johnston, the retired tutor to the last Chinese Emperor, Puyi.

Sir Reginald built a Buddhist temple on the island and flew the Manchukuoan flag in the Chinese-style gardens.

It later passed into the hands of a retired Indian Army officer, Lord Wilfred Brown and James Waldegrave, the Viscount Chewton.

The houses are described as being refurbished, and have mains electricity and broadband.

16/06/2014 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Another little Scottish island – Gigalum – is for sale


I have to confess I have never heard the name before, or think I ever saw the name on a map, but the little island of Gigalum has been placed on the market, and it looks like a bargain, with offers of only over £550,000 being asked for. While I won’t be placing an offer, I do watch the prices of houses being sold around me, and even in the east end of Glasgow, that’s not necessarily a rare selling price.

The island covers about 19 acres, has a jetty that aids access to the nearby islands of Gigha and Cara, and only one building – Gigalum House, built in 1980 and described as having a unique structure with a central octagonal core as its living space, surrounded by four wings housing three bedrooms and a kitchen.

The estate agent states that it has potential, subject to planning consent, for a renewable energy scheme or more homes.

Via: Remote island up for sale at £550k | Herald Scotland


Just over a year later, and I see that Gigalum is still for sale:

Private Island for sale – Gigalum Island, Great Britain, Europe & Atlantic Ocean

The price seems to have dropped to “offers over GBP 450.000”.

There’s also a complete set of pics in that offer for sale, including views of the octagonal Gigalum House.

31/05/2014 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Inverbervie Cold War Radar Station up for sale again

Last placed on the market back in 2010, Inverbervie CEW Radar Station is up for sale again.

Few details are given in the news stories relating to the offer, and when we checked the agent’s web site and searched it for details, the property was not listed – in fact, it only came up with one house for sale when we asked it for all properties in Scotland with no other criteria.

Back in 2010, offers over £250,000 were being sought.

Our summary notes:

In 1953, a Centimetric Early Warning (CEW) radar station was built on the headland. Five radar systems were installed to provided coverage of the North Sea and north coast of Scotland, and give advance warning of the approach of any potential threats.

In 1968, the station was taken over by the US Navy, and operated in conjunction with the major monitoring station based at RAF Edzell, a little over 10 miles to the west. Edzell closed in 1977, followed by Inverbervie in 1978.

The facility lay unused for the next six years, until 1984, when it was designated Reserve Headquarters for Group Headquarters and Sector Control at Craigiebarns, Dundee.

The station was finally closed and withdrawn from service in 1993.

The bunker lay unused for a further six years, purchased by the current (2007) owner in 1999.

Information recorded by RCAHMS identifies aerial photographs of the location dating from 1954, 1957, 1967, and 1973, all of which show a small T shaped building on the headland, set within an area if approximately 40 m x 20 m, assumed to be the roof of an underground structure, with related structures nearby. The underground structure is further described as lying beneath what appears to be a cottage, but is actually part of the structure’s domestic infrastructure, such as water tanks. The entrance to the underground facility is reported to be protected by a blast door, with the interior provided with artificial lighting and ventilation. While being locally rumoured to date from the 1930s, the installation is recorded as having been built in 1952, with further work carried out in the 1960s when the mezzanine floor was added.

More details and some interior shots can be found on our Wiki page.

Inverbervie CEW Guardhouse

Inverbervie CEW Guardhouse 2001 © Nick Catford

As always, our thanks to Subterranea Britannica for permission to reproduce their material.

28/06/2013 Posted by | Cold War, military | , , , , , | 1 Comment

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