Looking for a Castle or Country Home? Try Scotland

Looking for a Castle or Country Home? Try Scotland

The Cairnty Estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, is for sale for 2.65 million pounds (roughly $3.4 million). Built by its owner, William Mountain, in 2011, the house has underfloor heating. He says it is “never cold.”Credit…Strutt & Parker

DRUMNADROCHIT, Scotland — In the second-floor drawing room of a modernized Victorian schoolhouse on Bunloit Estate in the Scottish Highlands, the furnishings are plush, the indoor temperature is comfortable and the views over Loch Ness, about 1,000 feet below, are expansive.

At Cairnty, a secluded sporting estate of 563 acres in Aberdeenshire, a new 12,000-square-foot house offers eight bedrooms and high-speed internet for family members or guests who come to shoot pheasants or deer.

And at Seton Castle, a lavishly restored 18th-century landmark building near Edinburgh, there’s central heating and a helipad, as well as original features such as turrets, curved doors and ornate fireplaces that are characteristic of the architect, Robert Adam.

In Scotland’s country estates, as well as its sought-after city centers, modern comforts and conveniences now allow buyers to enjoy the country’s history and natural beauty without the cold and damp for which its larger properties were once notorious.

William Mountain, owner of the Cairnty Estate, installed underfloor heating, slate floors and lots of closets for the wet coats of his sporting guests when he built his house in 2011 on land that his family has owned for three generations. He moved into it from the more temperate climes of southern England six years ago, having equipped it as a refuge from the notoriously wet and windy Scottish weather — even though the estate enjoys a microclimate that is dryer and warmer than most of the country.

“My wife said to me when we moved up: ‘I’m not living in a drafty, cold house, or a dark one,’” he said during a visit to the estate in mid-September. “There’s not one radiator in the house, and it’s never cold.”

The estate, which is being marketed by the real estate firm Strutt & Parker, has been a family home for the Mountains and their three children but is also designed to attract parties of hunters and fishermen who want to shoot game or fish for trout in the River Spey, which borders the property.

After a day in the fields, guests retreat to the house with its 27-foot by 19-foot kitchen, and several dining and sitting rooms over three floors. It also has a bar, which Mr. Mountain said attracts friends and family members seeking Scotch whisky, especially from the Speyside distilleries nearby.

“The trouble with living in Scotland, people are going to assume that you have the biggest and the best whisky collection, and they will take advantage of it,” he said.

Mr. Mountain, whose parents are buried on the estate, said it will be painful to leave the family home, but he needs to return to the south of England because of better opportunities there for his consulting business. He is seeking offers of 2.65 million pounds (roughly $3.4 million) or more, but he described that as a “very conservative” figure because “there’s an awful lot of house and there’s an awful lot of property.”

While the Cairnty house was built from scratch, Seton Castle, some 10 miles east of Edinburgh, required extensive modernization when it was bought for £5 million by the internet entrepreneurs Stephen Leach and his wife, Heather Luscombe, in 2007.

For only the fourth time in its 230-year history, Seton Castle was put on the market again in August for an asking price of £8 million, which would make it the most expensive private house in Scotland. Its contents are subject to separate negotiation.

Although their makeover was subject to restrictions stemming from the building’s official status as a Grade A historic structure, the couple has upgraded the interior to a high standard of furnishing and design after more than two centuries in which few changes were made by the Wemyss family, which owned the property from 1796 until 2003.

The castle, with views over the Firth of Forth, now has central heat, entertainment and security systems; silk wall hangings; a 30-foot by 20-foot kitchen with two four-oven stoves and a child’s bedroom covered with murals of Walt Disney characters. Adjoining the master bedroom — one of 13 — is a turret that has been converted exclusively to store women’s shoes.

Outside, the restoration included rebuilding turrets and chimneys using sandstone and limestone consistent with the building’s age. The architect Robert Adam designed it in 1789 on the site of an earlier castle that was often visited by Mary, Queen of Scots, during the 16th century.

Jessica Wend Hansen, an agent with Savills, a real estate agency that is marketing the property, said the building now provides high standards of modern convenience while retaining its historic integrity.

“It’s a castle, but with all the modern comfort that you would require, rather than the relics that you can see out there,” she said.

Within Edinburgh, strong demand for city-center apartments in sought-after areas is also prompting the modernization of some older buildings and driving up prices.

One such is a 1,736-square-foot, three-bedroom duplex in a 19th-century former hospital building that is now part of a development called Quartermile. The apartment, about 15 minutes’ walk from downtown Edinburgh, features a double-height, open-plan living/dining room area that looks south through tall windows over a private lawn and a public park.

In mid-September, the owner was seeking offers over £870,000 ($1.1 million), and the property was expected to generate a lot of interest, said Chris Thomson, another agent with Savills.

Prices for all kinds of residential property in the city are rising at about 5 percent a year, driven by declining supply and rising demand, especially from overseas investors who are encouraged by the recent weakness of the British pound, Mr. Thomson said. So far this year, there are about 10 percent fewer properties on the market than a year ago, while the number of potential buyers is up 16 percent, he said.

The market conditions have prompted a scramble for some properties, such as the ground floor of a detached house that attracted 80 viewers and nine offers in its first two and a half weeks on the market, Mr. Thomson said. In September, the home sold for a sum 32 percent higher than the £950,000 valuation, he said.

The market seems little affected by the continuing political turmoil over the terms on which Britain may leave the European Union, Mr. Thomson added, despite warnings of damage to the national economy, especially if Britain leaves without agreeing to a deal.

Apart from a brief pause in market activity before the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 — in which a majority voted to remain part of the United Kingdom — demand has stayed strong, he said.

While prices in the city are rising, they are still much lower than in some other areas of Britain, especially London, where prices per square foot can be seven or eight times as high as in Edinburgh, helping to explain the local market’s vigor, Mr. Thomson said.

Kevin Maley, head of residential agency for Strutt & Parker in Scotland, said that the continuing uncertainty over Brexit may have slowed activity for prime Scottish properties but that the market remained resilient.

“Demand continues to outstrip supply for the best-in-class properties in prime locations, or those with a particularly attractive unique selling point,” Mr. Maley said in a statement. “Several properties brought to the market in recent months have gone under offer fairly quickly, highlighting healthy demand.”

At the 958-acre Bunloit Estate outside the highland town of Drumnadrochit, residents get rural seclusion in a converted 1876 schoolhouse, plus moorland and gardens, wind and solar power and remarkable views over Loch Ness — which remains a natural gem, even for those who deny the existence of its fabled monster.

In late November, the property as a whole was under offer after the owners sought a revised asking price of £1.55 million, down from £1.75 million.

The estate, about a half-hour drive from Inverness, offers an attractive lifestyle for anyone who enjoys the outdoors and values their privacy, said Nicola Vestey, who has lived there with her husband, James, a physician, for 22 years. “It’s just a lovely place to live,” she said.

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