As the back garden is full of cherry trees that are covered in beautiful white blossom in spring and turn a glorious shade of red in the autumn, it’s fitting that this home in Old Speybridge, on the outskirts of Grantown, is called The Geans – a variety of wild or sweet cherry.
But Tom Fletcher, who has owned the lovely five-bedroom house in the Cairngorms National Park for nearly 18 years, tells me the property was previously known by a different, rather curious name…
Local legend has it that it was secretly built by a chap who worked on Seafield Estate, and when the estate owner found out the house had been built without his knowledge, the man was sacked on the spot.
“For years, the house was referred to as ‘Buckshee Villa’ by locals,” said Tom.
It’s a substantial house, and while few people may have known about it originally, today it is a home many people admire, as it is situated on the popular long-distance footpath, the Speyside Way.
“We get a lot of people stopping to look at the house when they are passing by, and quite often – because the garden makes it private – they don’t know I’m in the garden, so I overhear what they are saying about this house, which can be very amusing!”
Originally from Yorkshire, Tom and his wife, Trish, moved to the Highlands because of his work as a financial advisor. Aged 54, he retired last week.
Trish also recently retired from her work as an early years practitioner, and the move signals the start of a new, exciting chapter in their lives.
With both sons now having left home, they’ve decided to sell up and relocate to the west coast, where they have another house – one that they’ve spent several years renovating.
They leave behind a home in perfect condition.
“This was a nice house when we bought it, but slightly dated, so over the years, we’ve upgraded and refurbished it,” said Tom.
Set in easily maintained and wonderfully landscaped grounds stretching to around half-an-acre, the south-facing house – which is on the market at offers over £525,000 – is well designed and enjoys lots of light, while the accommodation is spacious and flexible.
The ground floor includes a porch, entrance vestibule, large and welcoming hall, and a dining room with a bay window and space for a sizeable table and chairs.
From here, there’s access via double doors to a lovely sunroom with French doors, overlooking the front garden.
The spacious lounge has a bay window and wood burner, which makes it the perfect room to relax in on a cold winter’s night.
The house has a high quality kitchen/breakfast room with a centre island and integrated appliances, as well as a separate utility room.
Further ground-floor accommodation includes a luxurious, modern shower room, two bedrooms and a third room that could be used as a study or bedroom.
Upstairs, there’s a good-sized hallway, which is nice and bright thanks to a Velux window.
From here, there’s access to a large master bedroom with built-in wardrobes, a further double bedroom with built-in storage, a well-appointed bathroom and handy store cupboards.
Outside, there’s a stone-walled and gated entrance that leads along a tarred driveway to the house and the large timber garage with camper van port.
There are two large lawned areas to the front and rear, in addition to a wooded glade, timber outbuildings and patio areas – which all combine to create a truly unique offering that must be seen to be fully appreciated.
The family will miss both the house and its location.
“The house backs on to around 1,000 acres of community-owned woodland, which fantastic for cycling and walking,” said Tom. “Both boys are very keen cyclists (both are also champion cyclists) so this was the ideal place for them to grow up.
“In fact I’d say this is the best place in Britain for off-road cycling.”
For families like the Fletchers who enjoy spending time outdoors, this is an ideal home, within easy reach of numerous opportunities to ski, walk, climb mountains or fish on some of the best rivers in Scotland.
Grantown has a good variety of shops, primary and secondary schools, and a wide variety of amenities.
Contact: Masson Cairns on 01479 874800.