Superb Highland Estate
One of the great strengths of Cluny is its accessibility. The A9 trunk road between Perth
and Inverness is only 3 miles to the east and international airports at Inverness and Edinburgh can be reached in about 1 1/4 and 2 hours respectively. There are regular day time and overnight sleeper services to London from Kingussie rail station (8 miles).
Laggan is the closest village with a doctors surgery and a primary school while the larger
communities of Newtonmore and Kingussie provide a wider range of shopping and services.
The cities of Perth (66 miles) and Inverness are both prosperous regional centres with many
national chain stores, supermarkets, recreational and leisure facilities. In addition to the sport provided by the estate the surrounding area is renowned for its year round amenities. There is ski-ing at Scotlands premier resort of Aviemore (21 miles), water sports on Loch Insh, golf courses at Newtonmore and Kingussie, hill walking along national path networks and fishing for salmon and trout on the many rivers and lochs nearby.
Cluny is an important and historic estate lying at the heart of a thriving Highland community
centred on the village of Kingussie. It is situated at the southern end of the district of Badenoch between the Cairngorm and Monadhliath mountains and encompassing a rich variety of landscapes lying between about 800 feet above sea level at the River Spey to about 3,024 feet at the summit of Cairn Dearg. Fertile farmland along the riverbank, mature policies and native woodland, spectacular crags, heather clad moorland and rugged corries provide the estate with a diverse range of activities and interests.
The importance of Cluny from an ecological viewpoint is evidenced by the designation of three separate areas of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as well as lying within an
Environmentally Sensitive Area. The potential for a variety of conservation projects is therefore considerable. Red deer stalking, grouse shooting and pheasant shooting, farming, holiday cottage letting and forestry are the principal income producing enterprises. Until 1943, when it was sold Cluny was the seat of Cluny MacPherson, the Chief of the great Clan Chattan.
Cluny Castle replaced an earlier house which was burnt in 1764 following the Battle of Culloden. It is an imposing early 19th century mansion house with particularly well proportioned and elegant reception rooms, 7 principal bedrooms and 5 bathrooms. In 2001 and 2002 the house was remodelled and refurbished and is now an extremely comfortable family home.
The present house was built in 1805 of grey granite under slate roofs and occupies an
elevated position in attractive mature grounds with a lovely south facing aspect. Since its purchase in 2001 the castle has been beautifully refurbished with some careful reconfiguration and complete redecoration. The east wing which once housed the billiards
room and larders has been knocked into one to create a wonderful open plan kitchen, dining
room and family sitting room. The house has been re-wired and re-plumbed with new boiler,
pipe work and radiators producing enough hot water to run all the baths at once. Frost stats have been added to control the heating of gutters to prevent snow build up and there is under floor heating in the bathrooms. Originally the house was entered through a glazed
porch at the front of the house and into a welcoming, high ceilinged hall. Now a new
sweeping stone stair from the rear courtyard provides access via the staircase hall which is
much more practical for day to day living. The castle has particularly fine reception rooms
with wonderful bow ended drawing room and dining room as well as study and morning room.
Each main room has detailed cornice and plaster work, open fire places and solid oak and
mahogany veneered doors.
A fine carved staircase leading to the spacious first floor landing has an intricate wrought iron banister and polished hardwood handrail. There are seven main bedrooms, three of which have en-suite bath or shower rooms. The remaining four bedrooms have a bathroom and a shower room to share. All the bathrooms have been upgraded and some reconfigured and all rooms have been redecorated throughout. The attic floor did at one time include seven additional bedrooms but during the latest refurbishment all rooms were stripped back to allow access for full timber treatment and increased insulation.
The basement level once accommodated the main kitchens and service quarters with a food lift to the dining room and a range of store rooms and larders. The strong room and wine cellars remain as does the boiler room housing new boilers whilst the old kitchen, larders and staff rooms are cleared out, dry and suitable for a range of uses. There is a gun room and shooting lunch room with a separate entrance beneath the courtyard steps.
On the north side of the castle there is a most attractive partly cobbled courtyard with a central stone mounted bell. On the west side of the courtyard a range of garages and stores have been converted to provide a fantastic shooting lunch and trophy room with associated shower room and an extra bedroom. The lunch room has a beamed ceiling, original stone walls and a large wood burning stove. The garage has been retained. On the opposite side of the courtyard is a staff cottage, known as The Bungalow. It has a sitting room, kitchen/dining room, two bedrooms and a bathroom and is currently occupied by the
retired housekeeper on a Short Assured Tenancy arrangement. The estate game larder lies a short distance behind Cluny Castle just off the drive leading to Upper Cluny. It too has been upgraded with a butchery and a cold room.
THE GARDENS AND GROUNDS
The gardens are simply laid out and lie to the South east and west of the castle and are based on extensive lawns bordered by azaleas and rhododendrons and dominated by magnificent specimen trees.
Red deer stalking is one of the principal attractions of the estate. The ground is interesting
and varied and provides stalking of a very high quality. Cluny is a hind forest with the most recent Red Deer Commission count carried out in Jan/Feb 2013 showing a population of 1317 head. The current five year average cull is 65 stags and 80 hinds and the current 10 year average cull is 64 stags and 72 hinds. The average weight of the stags is between 12 and 13 stones but much larger beasts have been taken in recent times.
There is also good stalking for roe deer on the estate particularly in the woodland on the lower ground with five good bucks shot each year. Wild goats inhabit the crags on Creag Dubh and provide interesting quarry.
GROUSE AND PTARMIGAN
In the past the Cluny moor has provided three separate driven days of grouse but in recent years grouse have been walked-up or shot over pointers. During the past few years a more intensive management policy has been undertaken and the rising bags are evidence of the clear potential to reinstate driven days. The old butts are still there and could easily be reinstated and the moor is ideal for a combination of driving, walking up and shooting over dogs.
Like many Scottish estates grouse numbers at Cluny have suffered but new management
practices are bringing the numbers back up. The grouse shooting has not been let in recent times so as to have a better control on the bags but even on family days bags in the last two years have risen to 200 brace over the season. The ptarmigan shooting is a most unusual and exciting addition. Ptarmigan are only usually found on high tops above 2,000 feet and they provide magnificent sport for the fit and energetic.
LOW GROUND SHOOTING
The topography and the woodlands on the low ground at Cluny are idea for pheasant shooting. In addition, the marshes, lochans and flight ponds along the riverbank provide excellent duck flighting and woodcock shooting. At present about 2500 pheasants are released annually with a return of about 50% over 5 family days.
The Spey is one of Scotlands premier salmon rivers. The Cluny beat is not regarded as prime
water but the occasional salmon are being caught from the sandy beaches along the Spey and from the rugged banks of the Calder. The fishing on the Spey is managed by the Badenoch Angling Association who issue day permits and pay the Fishery Board Assessment in lieu of rent. The lochans at the eastern end of the estate have stocks of trout, pike and there are wild brown trout in Loch Dubh, a remote hill loch below Carn Dearg.
The farming at Cluny is in hand and is based at Cluny Mains. Cluny Mains is an excellent livestock rearing unit with a good range of modern and traditional farm buildings, productive land along the river plain which compliments 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 leanto.
There is also a separate Dutch barn and a large yard with ample space for vehicle
movement, storage of equipment and dead-stock and for storing bagged silage. There is a secondary range of buildings at Auchmore comprising two traditional stone former byres and a walled yard. These buildings are currently let to a local joiner on a commercial lease arrangement.
About 8,048 acres (3,240 ha) are registered for IACS purposes, although none of the land
qualified for arable aid. Silage and hay are grown on the low ground sufficient to support the
current enterprise. The land adjoining the River Spey is level and ploughable permitting
improvement of the present grassland or the growing of fodder crops. It is all well fenced. All
the land is designated as being in a Less Favoured Area (Highland & Islands) and qualifies for hill livestock subsidies which in 2012 amounted to £24,126.47. The farm currently carries a cross bred herd of 20 Highland/Galloway cows and a blackface sheep flock of 1,105 hefted ewes.
Single Farm Payment Entitlements amounted to £29,179.31 in 2012 and are included in the sale. 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 £3675 in each year. Under the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) the estate has also agreed to an annual recurrent programme to manage, amongst others, habitat mosaics, water margins and flood plains, species rich grassland, bracken, moorland grazing and wetlands as well as biodiversity cropping with wild bird seed mixes and extending hedges. The current programme runs until 2015 and generates grant support of £25,753.21 per annum.
The woodlands at Cluny are a particularly attractive feature of the Estate. The majority of
the trees are native hardwoods with about 210 acres of commercial conifer plantations. The
predominant native species is birch with superb mature Scots Pines and European Larch and large areas have been brought under management through a programme started in 1995 in order to protect them and encourage natural regeneration. This project was developed with support from a variety of sources including the Woodland Grant Scheme, the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme and the Livestock Exclusion Annual Payment Scheme and Challenge Funding all of which have now run their course. The commercial plantations of Sitka Spruce, Scots Pine and European Larch were mainly established during the nineteen sixties and seventies with some blocks nearing maturity and ready for felling and re-planting. Plans have been approved to expand the native woodlands at Cluny with two new plantations extending to about 47.81 acres (19.35 ha) planned at Bruach Dubh and Tom a Ghobhainn. Grant assistance is being provided up to about £16,000 and further details can be made available through the Selling Agents.
The variety of terrain and landscape on Cluny provides an important habitat for a wide range of animal, bird and plant life. All the land below the hill bothy lies within an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) and three separate areas of the Estate are designated as being Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). In addition a conservation plan was completed in 2005 to conserve the native woodlands, herb rich grassland, moorland, wetlands and water margins. Further details are available from the Selling Agents.
LAND SUBJECT TO CROFTING TENURE
An area of about 1,317 acres on the South West boundary of the estate (shown outlined in green on the plan) is subject to crofting tenure. The grazing is shared between four crofts
which in total are allowed to stock with up to 400 ewes.
The estate has investigated a hydro project from the Allt Madagain and Allt Lochain Dubh burns with the assistance of Wemyss Renewables Ltd. It is anticipated that this Hydro would have the potential to generate a rated output of 500kW with a gross annual revenue in year 1 of over £350,000.
ESTATE HOUSES AND COTTAGES
There are eleven estate houses and cottages on Cluny providing both accommodation for estate employees, commercial rental opportunity or holiday lets.
Forming the east side of the courtyard the bungalow is a stone built, single storey cottage with sitting room, kitchen/dining room, 2 bedrooms and bathroom. It has oil fired central heating and is occupied by the retired housekeeper on a Short Assured Tenancy.
Situated just beyond the castle, Upper Cluny forms part of a range of traditional stone built,
estate buildings and stores. It has accommodation on two floors including a sitting room, kitchen, 3 bedrooms and bathroom. It has central heating from a Rayburn and is occupied by the estates under keeper.
A delightful lodge cottage situated at the entrance to the east drive. It has accommodation
on a single floor which has been recently refurbished including a sitting room, kitchen,
1 bedroom and bathroom. It has no central heating and is currently occupied on a Short
Beside the Hill Gate, West Lodge protects the west drive entrance. It is a 2 storey cottage with accommodation including a sitting room, dining room, kitchen, 2 bedrooms and bathroom. It is heated by a Rayburn and occupied by the estates Game Keeper, Mr Ian Sharp on a Service Occupancy.
Balnahard is a pretty stone cottage on the raised parkland behind the castle. It was extended and modernised in 2006 and is a very popular holiday letting cottage. It has accommodation on 2 floors which includes a sitting room, kitchen/dining room, 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms each with underfloor heating.
A lovely old cottage, Jocks Spot is situated above the road looking down over the river plain. It has accommodation on ground and attic floors which include a sitting room, bedroom, bunkroom and bathroom. It is currently occupied on a Short Assured Tenancy.
The Mill House lies beside the Cluny Burn adjacent to the southern park and close to the road. It is built of stone and slate and has accommodation on 2 floors which includes a sitting room, dining room, kitchen, 3 bedrooms and a bathroom. It is heated by a Rayburn and would benefit from upgrading throughout. It is occupied on a Short Assured Tenancy arrangement.
CLUNY MAINS COTTAGES
There are three good farm cottages in the main farm square at Cluny Mains. Each is built of stone with a slate roof and has a small garden.
A wonderful old stone bothy lies about 2/3rds of the way along the hill road. It is built of stone with a timber extension and a corrugated steel clad roof and is ideal as a lunch hut for hungry stalkers or as shelter for hill walkers.
From the south leave the A9 at Dalwhinnie and follow the A889 past the distillery. Continue for about 9 miles on the A889 until it meets the A86 Kingussie to Fort William road. Turn right and follow the A86 over the River Spey and through the village of Laggan. The West Lodge and driveway to Cluny Castle are situated on the left hand side after about 2 miles.
From the north leave the A9 at Newtonmore. From Newtonmore follow the A86 in a south westerly direction towards Fort William. The East Lodge and driveway to Cluny Castle are situated on the right hand side about 6 miles west of Newtonmore.
By air from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness Airports with transfer by helicopter or car.
By rail from London and Inverness terminating at Kingussie. By car satellite navigation the post code is PH20 1BS.
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