Blackhouse Forest Estate, Yarrow Valley, Scottish Borders, TD7 5NJ
The ultimate "off-grid" residential and forestry estate in the beautiful Scottish Borders
For full details please request a copy of the brochure.
Blackhouse Estate lies in the Tweedsmuir Hills on the northern edge of the Yarrow Valley. This district once formed part of the great Ettrick Forest, where Scotlands kings hunted deer and, sometimes, men. The area is steeped in history, myth and legend and has made an enormous contribution to the cultural and literary life of Scotland. James Hogg (the Ettrick Shepherd) lived at the cottage beside the forest road which leads up to Blackhouse Estate.
The Estate is reached from the A708 Selkirk to Moffat road via a private estate road, which winds its way up the Douglas Burn to Muttonhall House. Blackhouse is situated in close proximity to the Border towns of Selkirk, Peebles and Moffat which have a good range of shops, leisure facilities, restaurants and some comfortable hotels. The city of Edinburgh is only 35 miles away and can be reached within an hours drive by car or via the Borders railway at Tweedbank (22 miles).
The Scottish Borders are overwhelmingly rural and the area is renowned for its huge variety of scenic landscapes, its beauty, forestry, wildlife and wealth of sporting and recreational opportunities. The area has a rich equestrian tradition, readily illustrated by the annual Selkirk common riding which takes place every June.
Stobo Castle, situated 8 miles to the south of Peebles, is home to one of Scotlands premier spa facilities and close to the wonderful 65 acre Dawyck Botanical gardens. Just outside the town, Glentress offers world class mountain biking facilities, forming part of the 7 stane mountain biking trails. This consists of over 50 miles of purpose built mountain biking trails. The Borders benefits from excellent state primary and secondary schooling, including the well renowned St Marys School in Melrose (22 miles). Melrose is also home to the Borders General Hospital. For the golfer, in addition to the championship course at Cardrona, there are courses locally at Peebles, Selkirk, Moffat, Innerleithen and Torwoodlee. As well as the sport available on the Estate itself, the River Tweed offers superb salmon fishing, and shooting and stalking can be rented on a number of nearby estates.
Edinburgh airport (43 miles) provides flights to a variety of domestic and international destinations.
From the Edinburgh city bypass take the A701 and then the A703 south to Peebles. From Peebles, turn left onto the A72 to Innerleithen, then take a right onto the B709 signposted to Traquair. Follow this road for 9 miles and on reaching the A708 turn right at the Gordon Arms. After about 1 mile the private access road to Blackhouse Estate will be found on the right just before crossing the Douglas Burn.
If approaching from the M74 leave at Junction 15 taking the A701 into Moffat and then the A708 signposted for Selkirk. 20 miles after leaving Moffat the turning to Blackhouse Estate will be found on the left, immediately after crossing the Douglas Burn.
Blackhouse Estate is a wonderfully secluded residential forestry estate with high conservation and amenity interest, located in a glen amongst the Tweedsmuir Hills.
The property was acquired by the current owners in 2010 and since then they have made significant improvements and investment into the Estate. This has included the landscaping of the lower glen, maintenance and development of new access tracks, restoring and creating new ponds, woodland thinning and the construction of two new modern sheds. Of particular note is the establishment of three renewable energy systems which ensure the Estate is self-sufficient. This includes a hydro-electric scheme, a solar tracker and a biomass boiler. The current owners have used Blackhouse Estate as a peaceful retreat from everyday life and to recreate a natural oasis.
Muttonhall, a former croft house, formed the original foundation of the current lodge and was first renovated and extended in 1986. In 2006 the cottage was extended further and the accommodation imaginatively reorganised to create a truly comfortable, first class family house, finished to an extremely high standard. Built of stone (with the extensions in block) the whole house has stone wash render under a slate roof.
The most recent addition to the house is the bedroom at the eastern end which is reformed from the old byre, incorporating the original (exposed) stone work with a free-standing bath, wet room, WC and solid fuel stove. The other ground floor bedroom also has a wood burning stove. The sitting room has an attractive open fire and leads through double doors into the lovely dining room. The kitchen/breakfast room is the focus of the house and leads to further bedroom accommodation both upstairs and downstairs. Adjoining the kitchen is the utility room, WC and store rooms. There is a beautifully fitted out gun room and a useful wine cellar.
Muttonhall has received an outstanding Grade A Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) with a 100% score (see Renewable Energy Systems).
(See floor plans for room layout and dimensions)
To the north east of the house there is a traditional range of buildings consisting of a garage, log shed, stores, and woodchip boiler with adjoining woodchip store. Set apart from the house, just below the estate drive, is a new, lockable general purpose (green) shed (60 x 30) used for housing machinery and equipment which includes a mezzanine level There is also a new agricultural (black) shed (45 x 30) for working sheep or storing hay, woodchip etc.
Gardens and Grounds
Muttonhall is surrounded by a well-maintained garden, much of which is enclosed by restored stone dykes. A large number of species of rhododendrons and fruit plants have been established, as well as thousands of bulbs (snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, bluebells etc). Some of the stone dykes which formed part of the old sheep pens have been used to create an outdoor sitting/dining area around an open fire. Below the house by one of the ponds is a barbeque hut. The extensive formal garden policies consist of lawns (much of it reclaimed), planted borders, ornamental trees, a greenhouse (with automatic watering system and electricity supply), duck ponds and a burn which flows through the gardens. Three bridges have been installed allowing vehicular access across the burn. Numerous ponds and miles of inter-connecting paths have been created, together with numerous benches and tables that have been strategically placed to allow the amazing landscape and wildlife to be enjoyed to the full. Much has been done to encourage wild flowers, increase insect and bird life and bring more colour to the estate.
Renewable Energy Systems
Forget any notions of what off-grid living used to be; Blackhouse Estate can be considered an exemplar of modern, fully functional off-grid living. Through the well designed and executed plans of the current owners, a simple, robust and consistent renewable energy solution has been installed to meet all the needs of a modern 5 bedroom house and attendant energy requirements. Muttonhall has achieved an outstanding grade A Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), gaining maximum scores in energy efficiency (97/97) and environmental impact (114/114), one of very few houses to achieve this standard in the UK.
Two independent sources of renewable electricity, a 10kW hydro-electric generator and a 9kW solar array feed into a mini-grid, incorporating a 24kW battery bank. This allows a seamless, integrated power supply to the property. The hydro-electric generator provides enough electricity to supply the house, heat the water, keep the batteries charged and is supplemented by the solar tracker photo-voltaic array which follows the path of the sun for maximum efficiency. The 75kW biomass boiler provides a backup system to heat the water and provide central heating when required. The house also has an open fire and three wood burning stoves, with all wood for the biomass boiler, open fire and stoves having been grown, harvested, cut, split or chipped on the estate. As a backup, a diesel generator is also installed.
In addition to the green credentials, the value of these systems can be measured by the Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) received, which together produce approximately £9,000 per annum of income. Reliability of power supply is illustrated by the current owners use of an electric Polaris Ranger ATV for their farming and sporting activities and TESLA Model S for road trips (both available by separate agreement). Details relating to the renewable heat and power systems and associated Feed-in Tariff contracts are available via the data room.
Blackhouse Estate benefits from an extensive commercial forestry resource, which forms part of the wider Blackhouse Forest Complex. Extending to approximately 313Ha (773 acres), the forest was planted in 1985 with Sitka spruce dominated crops, either in pure stands (75.51Ha) or in intimate mixtures with Lodgepole pine or larch (97.53Ha) along with smaller areas of mixed conifers, primarily composed of larch and Scots pine. The woodland on the estate has been well designed and sensitively managed to complement the wider landscape, with planting ranging in altitude from 350m to 530m, on the well-drained, upland brown earths of the lower slopes grading into podzols and peaty podzols of the higher ground.
The forest, which incorporates three distinct woodland areas, benefits from a network of existing access tracks leading from the main forest road. These are currently suitable for four-wheel drive vehicles. In addition to the main forest tracks a series of well-maintained management tracks lead through many of the forestry compartments facilitating crop and deer management. As the crops continue to grow and approach maturity, the Purchaser will be able to look forward to harvesting, with timber being extracted via the servitude access route on to the A708 which is designated as an Agreed Route by the Borders Timber Transport Group.
Over the years the owners have carefully managed the woodlands, thinning the larch and Scots pine stands for long term retention, as well as maintaining the internal forest roads and developing the extensive network of management tracks through the woodlands. Outside the core productive woodland areas, broadleaves have been more recently established along the main riparian corridor through the glen, enhancing the considerable landscape appeal at the heart of the Estate. There are no active forestry grants or licences associated with the forestry interest at Blackhouse Estate. Information on the Scottish Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 and grant scheme availability can be accessed through the following websites: www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland and www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Rural/SRDP
There are several areas of rough grazings and pasture in the lower glen, extending to about 64 acres which have been improved and used for grazing sheep. As with the rest of the estate, the grazing land has benefitted from considerable investment by the current owners with over 10km of fencing having been renewed, providing the infrastructure for a rotational grazing system around the forestry and ensuring good march fences. The lower fields have been improved through a programme of mulching, mowing and improved drainage in the field system, while new sheep handling pens have been constructed and improved quad tracks giving good access to the hill.
Sporting and Conservation
A particular feature of the Estate is the considerable sporting and conservation interest. Thinning in parts of the forestry crop has taken place to enhance the wildlife habitat and in particular the habitat for Black Grouse. The landscape provides for some exciting Roe and Sika deer stalking with typically up to 12 culled each year. There are a number of hides situated around the estate. The open hill extends to about 697 acres where there is an opportunity for walking up grouse. There are grouse butts on the hill for five drives, but only the occasional day has been enjoyed in recent years. There is a duck flighting pond a short distance from Muttonhall House. There is also a lake stocked with brown trout.
The Estate is a wildlife haven with a vast variety of flora and fauna.
Private water supply. Private drainage. Private electricity see above for details of renewable energy systems. Broadband internet via satellite; satellite VOIP telephone with local (01750) number for enquiries. These services/systems have not been tested and therefore there is no warranty from the agents.
Muttonhall House - Council Tax band B
Scottish Borders Council, Council Headquarters, Newtown St. Boswells, Melrose, TD6 0SA
Tel: 01835 824000
The land is registered with the Scottish Governments Agricultural, Food and Rural Committee in Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate under code 93/805/0049.
The Estate currently holds 131.65 units of Region 2 and 5.36 unit of Region 3 Entitlements.
The Estate also claims additional support payments through the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS).
The Basic Payment applicable to the Estate will be included in the purchase price and will be transferred to the Purchaser, with the 2018 payment being retained by the Vendors.
Timber and Minerals
All standing and fallen timber and the mineral rights are included in the sale in so far as they are owned.
Rights of access
There is a servitude right of access over the private road leading to Blackhouse Estate with maintenance being according to user.
Third Party Rights
There is a third party right of access for all usual purposes including timber extraction over the forest tracks shown coloured (blue) with maintenance according to user.
The solum of the track adjacent to Black Cleuch is owned jointly by the seller and the owner of the neighbouring property.
There is a public right of way along the main track and up Drycleuch Law.
Blackhouse Estate forms part of an environmentally sensitive area.
Historic Scotland have a note of two sites on Blackhouse Estate as being noted on the Scottish
Sites and Monuments Record.
A data room has been established containing Title Deeds, renewables contracts, forestry compartment schedule and other related information and access will be granted to those parties registering an interest after a viewing.
Conditions of Sale
1. Fixtures and Fittings
The fitted carpets, curtains, fitted floor coverings and fitted light fittings in Muttonhall House are included in the sale. All heating fuel in store at the date of entry will be included in the sale. Otherwise, unless specifically mentioned within the sale particulars, nothing else is included in the sale, but may be available for purchase by separate valuation.
The subjects are sold under the conditions in the Title Deeds, rights of way (if any), water rights affecting the same, whether shown in the Title Deeds or not. They will be sold as possessed by the Seller and no warranty is given.
On conclusion of missives a deposit of 10 per cent of the purchase price will be paid with the balance due at the date of entry. This deposit will be non-returnable in the event of a purchaser failing to complete the sale for reasons not attributable to the Sellers or their agents.
Freehold with vacant possession.
Viewing is strictly by prior appointment with the Joint Agents Knight Frank LLP or Bidwells. Prior to making an appointment to view, Knight Frank LLP and Bidwells strongly recommend that you discuss any particular points which are likely to affect your interest in the property with a member of staff who has seen the property in order that you do not make a wasted journey.
A closing date by which offers must be submitted may be fixed later. Anyone who has informed the Selling Agents in writing that they intend to make an offer will be sent a letter drawing their attention to the Closing Date.
Shepherd and Wedderburn
1 Exchange Crescent
Tel. 0131 228 9900
Tel: 01738 630666