Prestige property: Spellblindingly magical Mull plot

Whichever way you get to The White House of Aros Estate on Mull, the views as you approach are spectacular.

By road, you hug the coastline on a private drive which dips below the ruined 13th-Century Aros Castle set out on its promontory.

By water, boats reach a private slipway from the mainland across the Sound of Mull.

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When the Queen Mother used to visit a previous owner, she came by the Royal Yacht Britannia, which would moor in the Sound while she took tea on the lawn.

The White House of Aros Estate, Isle of MullThe White House of Aros Estate, Isle of Mull
The White House of Aros Estate, Isle of Mull

The history of the estate has more royal connections. The castle was built as a stronghold of the Clan MacDougall who lost it in the dispute between John Balliol and Robert the Bruce. By the late 14th Century it was in the possession of the Lords of the Isles.

The main dwelling on the estate, The White House itself, was built in the 1800s as the factor’s residence, but is now a fine property retaining a great deal of character, having been thoroughly upgraded.

It has seven bedrooms, five bathrooms and public rooms, making the most of the position looking south down the Sound of Mull, and east towards the Morvern peninsula and Ardnamurchan.

The estate has three other houses, in more than 40 acres, and has been owned for the last decade by Geoff Smailes who works in finance, and his GP wife, Charlotte.

White House of ArosWhite House of Aros
White House of Aros

The couple’s permanent base is in Wiltshire, but when they purchased the estate they were looking for a holiday home for all seasons.

Geoff explains: “We’d had many years holidaying here beforehand, and we just fell in love with the place. We have used it a lot but, because there is a range of properties, we have rented them out too. It is well used and that was the whole idea – we wanted this magical place to be visited by lots of people.”

The White House was fully renovated by the last owners, the Hilton family, who also extended the boathouse with a contemporary addition by Edinburgh architects Roxburgh McEwan to provide extra accommodation.

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Geoff says: “When we took over we built Riverside, as we felt the estate needed something in between the boathouse, which sleeps two to four, and the big house. So Riverside was built for groups of six or so.”

White House of Aros. Image: David F CookeWhite House of Aros. Image: David F Cooke
White House of Aros. Image: David F Cooke

The architects here were Thorne Wyness, based in Tobermory, and the resulting eco building is a stunning contrast to the traditional White House. Riverside runs on renewable energy and feeds back into the grid. Meanwhile, the more modest Gardener’s Cottage, adjacent to the house, is lived in by the estate managers.

There is further potential for another project. On top of the ridge, and with a spectacular view of The Sound, is a barn and bungalow needing refurbishment.

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Geoff says of his time here: “We come up for hiking, fishing,sailing – we have a rib so powerboating and nature watching are always popular. It is fascinating to go in search of basking sharks or take trips to Coll and Tyree, and we take guests to the beach and do quite a lot of mountain biking.

The lounge at White House of Aros. Image: David F CookeThe lounge at White House of Aros. Image: David F Cooke
The lounge at White House of Aros. Image: David F Cooke

“We love it particularly in April and May, when the weather is always good, through to fishing trips in September. In the winter you can shoot on neighbouring land – so the estate allows the full range of Mull activities year round.”

He adds: “We have four children and our daughters all ride, so one year we came for the whole summer with all the horses, which was absolutely fantastic, taking rides on the beaches and up in the hills.”

With their family growing up the Smailes have now decided it is time for a different adventure, but Geoff says that they could not have enjoyed owning the estate more.

“It is so peaceful – standing out on the jetty fishing and watching the sun go down is such a privilege.”

The White House of Aros Estate, Isle of Mull, is priced at offers over £2.9m.

For more information, contact Knight Frank on 0131-222 9600.