Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

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?


November 22, 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

November 21, 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.

October 15, 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


July 15, 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.

June 30, 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.

June 16, 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.

May 31, 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.

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Cold War, military | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Now the island of Tanera Mòr is for sale and for only £2.5 million


I wonder if the rules for selling islands are the same as for soft-tops (convertibles)?

Unless you positively, definitely, have to, must sell it tomorrow, then you keep it under cover until the first sunshine of spring greets the World with blue and cloudless skies. Failing to do so reportedly knocks a whole chunk of money of the price you can expect to set and get.

Tanera Mòr is the largest and only inhabited island in the Summer Isles in Wester Ross, and cover approximately 800 acres (324 ha).

It is now being offered on the open market by its current owners (the Wilder family) after the local Coigach community declined the option of a buyout due to the number of local project they already have underway. The family bought the island in 1996, after selling their dairy farm in Wiltshire.

The island comes with six properties for holiday letting, a sailing school, and a café and Post Office. The latter were developed within an old boathouse, and the Post Office has permission to issue its own stamps.

Tanera Mòr island has been placed on the market with a guide price of £2.5 million.

The sale is being handled by the Inverness office of property consultants CKD Galbraith.

Via Tanera Mor in Summer Isles on sale for £2.5m

And Idyllic island Tanera Mòr to go on sale with £2.5m price tag | Highlands & Islands | News | STV

Looks as if there was once some industry on the island, as there is also a photograph of an old abandoned herring factory:

They seem to have a thing about the old red telephone box there too.

I wonder of any of them work?


In April 2014, the price was cut by more than £500,000…

A PRIVATELY-OWNED Ross-shire island is on the market once again – with its price tag slashed by over half a million pounds.

Tanera Mòr, an 800-acre island in Wester Ross, was put up for sale last May at an asking price of offers over £2.5 million.

But despite attracting worldwide interest, no buyer could be found for Tanera, the largest and only inhabited island of the Summer Isles which lie off Achiltibuie.

Now selling agents Savills and CKD Galbraith are jointly marketing the island for offers over £1,950,000.

Via Half-million price cut for Ross island | North Star | News


May 6, 2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Highlands’ Charles Rennie Mackintosh house is up for sale

It’s not often I see a house I’d really like to buy, but over the years I’ve come to learn that it would date roughly from the 1930s and that it would be notably Art Deco.

In some way’s, I’ve achieved that already, as my house is in fact a product of the 1930s, but it’s designer was not overly influenced by the Art Deco style, and I believe what little evidence there is of the style was added by its first owners.

Art Deco was preceded by Art Nouveau, an organic movement that shared little with the later style, which was primarily a technological style of the emerging machine age.

For Glasgow, architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his artist wife Margaret Macdonald were pioneers of the earlier style, although they were not generally appreciated at the time. Recognition really only came after their deaths, and in more modern times, their later popularity has come to see them as victims of those who like to pour scorn on genuine genius and success.

Mackintosh had started on plans for a house for himself and his wife, but these were never completed. However, the house was built, eventually, and completed in 1992. As the owners downsize, it has come on to the market, but opening with a suggested price of around £895,000 no matter how much I like it, it won’t be on my little shopping list. Well, I couldn’t even afford to turn the heating on!

I note this was later clarified to be £650,000 for the house, with the studio offered separately at £215,000 – still not on my shopping list though.

WowHaus » On the market: Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed Artist’s Cottage & Studio and South House in Inverness, Scotland

The cottage lies off the road, and can be missed, but some years ago a sign and Art Nouveau installation was placed at the roadside, so it’s harder to miss.

The BBC story referenced below has a video showing the house:

An unusual house built at Farr in Inverness-shire to designs drawn up by a famous Scottish architect has been put up for sale. BBC Scotland was given a tour. The term unique is all too-frequently used. Especially by estate agents. But, on this occasion, the expression is justified. In 1900, the celebrated Glasgow architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh produced drawings for the Artist’s Cottage and Studio – a house intended for him and his wife Margaret, also a talented painter. However, it was never built,  in his lifetime at least. Scroll forward 92 years and the building was finally completed on a site near Inverness, Mackintosh enthusiasts remaining meticulously faithful to the original designs, now held by the Hunterian Art Gallery in Glasgow. The drawings only detailed the floor plan and exterior elevations. But the six-bedroom home has been painstakingly and studiously furnished in Mackintosh style, following genuine period details from interiors such as Hill House and Miss Cranston’s famous tearooms. And now the only house of its kind in the world is up for sale.

via BBC News – The Highlands’ Charles Rennie Mackintosh house. (January 16, 2013)

See also 6 bedroom detached house for sale in Farr, Inverness, Inverness-Shire IV2 – 27464145 – Zoopla

Just for fun – you might like to consider The Scotsman’s article on this sale, where it tells readers “A PROPERTY that was designed by renowned architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh but was not built for 90 years has been put up for sale.” Correct, of course, but it took them a while to notice…

Charles Rennie Mackintosh dream home goes on sale – Scotland – (March 27, 2013)

The Artist’s Cottage has been recreated to a similar standard, and in the same style as Mackintosh’s original work, and the galleries you can find showing the property confirm this. If you didn’t know, or wanted to pretend it was original, it wouldn’t be hard to fool most people. The biggest “tell” would be the lack of ageing of the material used, but even that will fix itself after a hundred years or so.

You can see a collection of more than thirty images of the cottage in this Canmore entry:

Site Record for Farr, Artist’s Cottage

Mackintosh Artist's House

The Artist’s Cottage

Artist's House and studio

Artist’s Cottage and studio

Not mentioned by most reports is the presence of two other house in the same style, neighbouring the Artist’s Cottage, which can be seen in background, between North House and South House.

January 16, 2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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