When asked what the best thing about his home, Auchendean Lodge near Dulnain Bridge, Grantown is, owner Ian Kirk said without hesitation: “Location, location, location – that saying sums it up perfectly as it is absolutely superb.”
Set within the Cairngorms National Park and with fabulous views across the Rivers Spey and Dulnain, the Cromdale Hills and eight Munro tops in the Cairngorm mountains, you can’t fault his thinking, especially when you add to this regular sightings of steam trains puffing along the Strathspey Steam Railway line – and views across your very own nine-hole pitch and putt golf course.
“I looked around the whole of Scotland and selected areas which would be good for hospitality all year round – this area ticked all the boxes,” said Ian, who lives with his civil partner, Eric.
Auchendean Lodge, on the market at offers over £600,000, is a splendid six bedroom, three story house, built around 1911 in an Arts and Crafts style. Its only had five owners since being built more than a century ago and thanks to Ian and Eric, it has helped provide a warm welcome, good food and excellent hospitality to friends, family and visitors from home and away for nearly 30 years.
Ian, an engineer originally from New Zealand, spent the early part of his life travelling and working abroad before moving to Aberdeen to work in the oil industry. “While there I discovered hills and the Highlands. When at work I was told I’d be moving to either London or the Middle East, I took the life changing decision to give up engineering and find something to do in the Highlands.
“To cut a long story short I decided on hospitality and bought this house with the express intention of turning it into a hotel. I spent 15 months doing the drawings, getting planning permission and using local contractors to help with the conversion. At the end of that period what had been a four bedroom large house with rooms on top without heat or water, had become an eight bedroom hotel.
“I loved it, and would do it all over again without question.”
Full of period charm, Auchendean Lodge would suit a number of buyers, ranging from those looking for a comfortable large family home, to those looking for a property with income potential. Entrance is via a vestibule with Charles Rennie Mackintosh-style stained glass windows, which leads to a cloakroom and WC. There is a delightful welcoming reception room brimming with traditional features, and an Arts and Crafts fireplace with open fire.
The formal drawing room has an open fireplace and double aspects with breath-taking views while the well-equipped kitchen with a good range of units, a four oven oil-fired Aga, a standby bottled gas two burner hob and other integrated appliances. There’s a large dining room that’s perfect for entertaining, and a study/bedroom with a WC/shower room.
An elegant staircase with galleried landing with more Mackintosh style stained glass leads to the first floor which has a study with shower/WC and five good-sized en-suite bedrooms. The staircase continues up to the second floor where there is a large double room with sensational views, en-suite facilities and additional bathroom. The house also has a large cellar with ample storage and shelves.
Around 20 years ago Ian and Eric converted and extended what had been a former garage/coach house to create a self-contained one bedroom light and airy apartment from where there are rooms with fine views on offer. Outside, the house sits in gardens extending to more than 1.7 acres, which have been landscaped to include a nine-hole pitch and putt golf course. There is also an extensive range of unusual trees, shrubs and plants including two greenhouses, organic vegetable garden and soft fruit cage. Other buildings include a hen house, a third garage and a wood/tool shed.
Regular visitors to the gardens include red squirrels, birds and golf fans. “When I first came here there was nothing surrounding the house, just a field. When I looked at landscaping the gardens I thought it would be fun include a pitch and putt course which caused a bit of a stir with Eric as he’d already started planting trees,” said Ian. “It takes around 45 minutes to complete the course and for the last 20 years we have hosted a midsummer’s night golf match when more than 30 friends join us for drinks, a round of golf and a buffet which is great fun.
“I’d my first game of the season yesterday, playing with a chap from North Berwick who has decided to play all 696 golf courses in Scotland. He heard about our little course and asked if he could play it, so I joined him for the round.”
When Ian celebrated his 67th birthday he and Eric decided to slow down a little, stop running the lodge as a hotel, and offer B&B instead. That too has now ended although the rooms are constantly full with former guests coming back for a final visit as friends.
“Basically we’re now downsizing and hoping to find something similar in the area. It’s beautiful here that’s why I chose to come to this area and don’t intend on leaving it.”
Contact: Strutt and Parker on 01463 719171.