Buying waterfront property

Anyone can buy a boat these days, but with moorings at yacht clubs and marinas in the south and west of England in increasingly short supply, the big problem is finding somewhere to sail it. The answer could be to buy one of a handful of waterside properties for sale with their own private moorings. The premium price you pay will be worth it, for even if the value of the house does not appreciate hugely in years to come, that of its mooring undoubtedly will.

Few private houses on the Isle of Wight offer a more privileged view of the Cowes Week proceedings than Shandon at Yarmouth, which comprises the major part of a large Georgian house, with 42.4 yards of prime water frontage with its own private jetty and mooring. Knight Frank (01962 850333) and local agents Kingston & Grist (01983 761005) quote a guide price of £2.25 million for the rambling red-brick house, listed Grade II, which dates from 1643.

It was originally sub-divided in the 1960s, and now has planning and listed building consent to be further divided into two lots, including permission to construct a second house of more than 2,300sq ft with its own water frontage. Shandon itself has three reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a staff flat, an indoor swimming pool and a delightful ‘alfresco’ outer courtyard.

Moorings are like gold dust down in South Devon, where Martin Lamb of Savills (01392 253344) quotes a guide price of £2.5m for the ultimate yachtsman’s dream, Anchor House at Topsham (Fig 1), with its floating pontoon and landing-stage the only one of its kind on the River Exe held under lease from the Crown Estate. The house was built for Capt Tom Holman in 1905, and was designed to remind him of life on a 19th- century sailing-ship, with beamed ceilings in the reception rooms and oak panelling and floors in many rooms. His original study now the kitchen, so still the heart of the house was laid out like the bridge of a ship, with a huge bay window looking out across the garden to the flagpole, and beyond to the tidal estuary of the Exe.

Anchor House stands in pole position at the southern end of Topsham’s famous Strand, whose 17th-century Dutch gabled houses commemorate the arrival of William and Mary at Torbay, following the flight of James II, with direct water frontage to the north, south and west. During his 10-year tenure, the present owner a retired lawyer and master mariner to boot has carefully modernised the four-bedroom house which stands in three-quarters of an acre of gardens and grounds, within the Topsham Conservation Area.

The residents of Ferry Cot, one of four cottages on the waterfront at East Portlemouth, near Salcombe, will enjoy a grandstand view of the racing at next week’s Salcombe Regatta. The cottage stands beside its neighbours, most of which have been owned by the same families since the 1890s, next to the landing-stage of the ferry that sails between the pretty village of East Portlemouth and Salcombe on the opposite side of the estuary.

The property is protected by a high stone sea wall, with a timber landing stage and steps leading down to the water, or to the beach when the tide is out. From here, there is a running mooring suitable for a small boat, with another small-craft mooring located close to the low-water line. The house is surprisingly roomy, with a large sitting/dining room to make the most of the wonderful 180× views from Bolt Head to the harbour and Snapes Point, plus a kitchen, four bedrooms and three bath/shower rooms. There is also a double garage with additional parking spaces in front. Devon agents Marchand Petit (01548 844473) quote a guide price of £1.5m.

This article first appeared in Country Life magazine on August 3, 2006.