Carbisdale Castle in Highlands, former war time bolthole for royal, goes up for sale for £1.5 million

A Highland castle that served as a bolthole for a king during World War Two and was then one of Scotland’s grandest youth hostels has gone on the market.

Carbisdale Castle in Sutherland has an elevated position with views over the Kyle of Sutherland. PIC: Strutt & Parker.
Carbisdale Castle in Sutherland has an elevated position with views over the Kyle of Sutherland. PIC: Strutt & Parker.

Carbisdale Castle near Bonar Bridge in Sutherland has a commanding hilltop position with views over the Kyle of Sutherland and sits close to the North Coast 500 driving route.

The castle, which is only just over 100-years-old, was bought over by a London investment firm in 2018 from the Scottish Youth Hostel Association with plans to build a ‘world class residence’ at the property.

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Plans approved for a swimming pool and spa with the castle tennis courts due to be opened up to the public.

Carbisdale Castle has gone on the market for £1.5m. PIC: Strutt & Parker.

But Carbisdale has gone back on the market for an asking price of £1.5m after the new owner of the investment firm judged the project to be surplus to requirements.

Robert McCulloch, director of the estates and farm agency at Strutt & Parker, said the property had attracted significant interest since going up for sale just a week ago.

Mr McCulloch said: “It has been on the market for a week and already there has been interest. The property is in a state of partial renovation so it lends itself to being either a private residence or a commercial venture.

"There has been interest in it as a hotel and also those who are interested in its charitable use.

The castle was owned by Scottish Youth Hostel Associaton from 1945 to 2011 with the property undergoing partial renovation in recent years. PIC: Strutt & Parker.

"With its proximity to the North Coast 500 driving route and the rise in domestic tourism, I am sure people will see a lot of opportunity in this property.”

Mr McCulloch said Carbisdale was a “blank canvas” with it expected the castle will draw interest from potential overseas buyers.

He said there had been a surge in American interest in Scottish properties with more Scottish properties sold to US buyers in 2020 than any other year on record.

Mr McCulloch added: “What remains to be seen – and will be interesting to discover – is whether the building’s future lies as a private home for the exclusive use of its purchaser or as a commercial property to be enjoyed more widely."

The castle is being marketed as having the potential for a grand private residence or hotel. PIC: Strutt & Parker.

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Carbisdale was constructed between 1906 and 1907 for Mary Caroline, Dowager Duchess of Sutherland, following the death of her husband, George Sutherald-Leveson Gower, 3rd Duke of Sutherald.

The settlement of the will ended in an acrimonious battle with the Duchess imprisoned for six weeks in Holloway Prison for destroying family papers linked to the Duke’s estate. She used her final £500,000 payment to build Carbisdale, one of Scotland’s youngest castles, on the very edge of Sutherland Estate.

It is said the castle took the prime hilltop location so that the Dowager Duchess could literally look down on her late husband's family if they passed by.

Its clock tower only has three faces, none visible to the new duke as he passed in his private train on his way to Dunrobin Castle.

Carbisdale was bought in 1933 by the Norwegian Salvesen shipping family and during the Second World War was used as a refuge for King Haakon and his son, Prince Olav.

In 1945, Captain Harold Salvesen donated the castle to the Scottish Youth Hostel Association. It closed it in 2011 due to the growing costs of much-needed repairs to the listed building.

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