Chris Gillies has had a long relationship with Upper Dalveen, bought by his uncle from Buccleuch Estate in the 1960s. He says “I remember playing in the burn next to the cottage when I was a little boy; my wife and I spent our honeymoon here and our kids have been on holiday here. This house has been in our family for about 55 years.”
Upper Dalveen has a truly spectacular location near the village of Durisdeer in Dumfries and Galloway. Nestled at the base of the Lowther Hills and surrounded by farmland and heather-clad moors, the house has incredible views along the valley. Originally, this cottage was your classic two-up two-down shepherd’s bothy, with a separate barn at the back separated by a parking area. “Since I was in my early twenties, I used to stand in the kitchen in the original cottage looking out to this green strip where we parked, and the barn behind, and think that it would be great to join these two buildings together one day,” Chris says.
This opportunity arose in 2005 when Chris and his family started to discuss plans for the cottage with architect Raymond Shields of Buccleuch Rural Design. The existing cottage was in need of refurbishment by this stage, including new electrics and an improved heating system, and the roof was also overhauled. The property was extended to incorporate the barn and a new kitchen and dining area was put in the new space.
There’s also a utility room, shower room within the extension, along with a new en-suite bedroom on the first floor.
The wall was opened up between the kitchen and dining area and the living area within the original cottage, creating a great flow of space that’s a million miles from the cellular layout of old. Large profile ceramic floor tiling looks like slate flagstones – a style that suits the rugged nature of the location - and are warmed by the underfloor heating.
The barn now offers a variety of uses, whether as a games room or home office. The house is also much lighter as the windows on the front elevation were doubled in size – a sympathetic improvement as these now match the scale of the first floor dormers that were installed in the 1960s. The stone mullions and the stone used to build the extension were sourced from the same quarry as the original stone so the old and new elements blend together beautifully.
The cottage was featured on a commemorative stamp as part of a set called ‘A British Journey: Scotland’ no doubt thanks to its jaw-dropping location, but today this house is also notable for what’s happening inside with its four bedrooms, four bath or shower rooms and the open plan living, dining and kitchen space.
But asked what he’ll miss, Chris says: “The view down the path and the gentle sound of the burn down the side of the house – that’s the sound I grew up with, and it will stay with me all my life.”
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