Property Blog: Island living

Well, if I can have two houses of the coast of Skye with a sea view, well that’s pretty darn good, but hang on, what is this I spy? A whole island you say? For £100,000?


Well I was too slow off the mark to get Eilean Tornal. It went at offers over £100,000 under a week, for only 12 acres, and a small shed, admittedly with stunning sea views.

But all is not lost: now I’ve done some research, it seems other self-contained islands were less quick to sell? Eilean Mullagrach has come off the market as the owners rethink their plans, and I suspect that Little Cumbrae, also in the Summer Isles may not sell fast. In short, I’ve time to save.

The Summer Isles are tiny islands off the West Coast of Scotland: wee broken off bits of land, they offer peace, tranquillity and security (unless, of course, you’re a fan of PD James) for a mere snip compared with prices in the capital.

Island life: I imagine a peaceful haven with lots of time for writing, dogs, a couple of ponies, and chickens… chickens! Fresh eggs every morning and no hungry foxes to pit my wits against. Heaven.

So when I’ve saved up a packet, all I need to do is call my nearest country estate agent and sit back while they find me the island of my dreams? Unfortunately, not quite.

‘There has been a mini glut of islands coming onto the market, it’s true’ says John Cornforth from Knight Frank in Edinburgh. ‘And this may have something to do with the fact that people are realising their value, but in general, islands are desirable in the first place because they are quite difficult to come by.

‘Not many people can say they own an island, and therefore it’s exactly what a certain type of person who has a lot of money wants, even if they never ever go there. They might just have a picture of it in their third home on Bermuda. It’s a status thing, but to be honest it’s quite rare to see a whole island on the market.’

It seems there are two types of island sale: the sale of a beautiful piece of rock in the sea, chiefly populated by puffins, and with some small planning allowances for a house of some kind; and then there is the island as business proposition.

Now I’m only looking for a place to lay my hat, but islands, it seems could be potential big business. When Gigha was offered for sale ? and eventually bought by the local community ? it was rumoured that Butlins were interested. A Butlins Holiday Camp off the West Coast of Scotland? Stranger things have happened, apparently.

I suspect, then, that Little Cumbrae may be a little too much responsibility for me. It needs to be bought by somebody who can develop a business there, and that’s too much like effort for me. Perhaps I can muster an offer for Eilean Dubh, which has just come onto the market, but if Mr Cornforth is correct, there may be people willing to put in a much higher offer than myself.

Maybe I’ll stick to my B&B plan for now, and see how the book comes along. Come to think of it, maybe I’ll take some inspiration from PD James, make it a murder mystery, and set it on St Kilda?