Former hostel Carbisdale Castle close to sale

Carbisdale Castle. Picture: Creative Commons
Carbisdale Castle. Picture: Creative Commons
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Scotland’s most spectacular and historic youth hostel, which was put up for sale at £1.2m, looks to have been sold.

Carbisdale Castle, a former stately home dubbed Castle of Spite because of the part it played in a family feud, was shut three years ago.

But both estate agents and owners, the Scottish Youth Hostel Association, confirmed that the stunning property was under offer with the SYHA saying it should have “good news” for the local community in the New Year.

The identity of the mystery buyer has not yet been revealed. The property has now been removed from the market as the sale is concluded.

But the sale had angered the locals who had hoped the castle, located near Invershin in Sutherland, could reopen as a hostel.

The castle, which overlooks the Kyle of Sutherland, was shut after suffering frost damage.

Historic Scotland lists the castle and its entrance gates as category B, which means they are structures of regional importance.

History

The Dowager Duchess of Sutherland had Carbisdale Castle built between 1907 and 1917 following the death of her husband, George Granville William Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, the Third Duke of Sutherland.

Lady Mary was the duke’s second wife and after he died she became embroiled in a legal dispute over his will with her step son, the fourth Duke of Sutherland.

When the row was settled the duchess used her inheritance to have Carbisdale constructed.

According to geographical encyclopaedia, The Gazetteer of Scotland, the property became known as the Castle of Spite.

Its clock tower only has three faces with none that could be seen by the new duke as he passed by in his private train on his way to Dunrobin Castle, near Golspie, his family’s property in Sutherland.

It is also said that he would have the blinds of his carriage shut so he did not have to look at Carbisdale.

The gazetteer adds that the castle is haunted by a female ghost called Betty.

Earlier this year Creich Community Council vice-chairman Sandy Chalmers said SYHA had not make enough effort to pursue available sources of funding for the estimated £6m of repair work. He said: “We’re outraged at being presented with what we think is a fait accompli.”

The announcement that the castle had been put up for sale “with regret” was made by SYHA chief executive Keith Legge. He said 20 valuable statues belonging to the castle were in secure storage.

Mr Legge said £2 million had been poured into Carbisdale over the past three years but additional funding to complete the refurbishment could not be found.

But last night he said:”We are currently going through the conveyancing process on Carbisdale Castle and hope to make an announcement in the New Year once this has been completed. We believe it will be good news for the local community.”

The recent partial refurbishment and ongoing running costs already incurred, coupled with the extensive funds necessary to complete the refurbishment of the castle, had made it “financially unsustainable to operate the property as a youth hostel in the long term.”

“As a not-for-profit and self funding charitable organisation, SYHA has a duty to make best use of scarce resources,” he said.

Carl Warden, an estate agent with Savills said:”I’ve seen a lot of fine buildings in my time, but this one really makes an impression. The size of it and the detail in some of the rooms just takes your breath away.”

The agents said it had received a number of “acceptable offers” and the property was currently “under offer.”

It is believed the sale conveyancing is at an advanced stage.

Colonel Theodore Salvesen, a wealthy Scottish businessman of Norwegian extraction, bought the castle in 1933. He provided the castle as a safe refuge for King Haakon VII of Norway and Crown Prince Olav, who would later become King Olav V, during the Nazi occupation of Norway in World War II.

After the Colonel died his son, Captain Harold Salvesen, inherited the castle and gave its contents and estate to the SYHA.

The 150-bed castle attracted around 20,000 guests each year with an average 62 per cent occupancy over the 32-week season.