The Scottish island of Eilean Shona stars on the latest series of Channel 4's Extraordinary Escapes
Eilean Shona, the private Scottish island that inspired JM Barrie’s Neverland and where Kate Winslet spent her 40th birthday, is starring in the second Channel 4 six part series of Extraordinary Escapes, which features the UK’s most upmarket and unusual holiday homes and starts on February 17 at 9pm. The episode that features writer, comedian and presenter Sandi Toksvig and psychotherapist and author Philippa Perry’s trip to the destination in Loch Moidart is airing on March 24.
“As Sandi lives some of the time on a houseboat, she’s used to being surrounded by water, and she certainly seemed very at home here on the island, as did her travelling companion Philippa. It was a really fun weekend: we were very busy but we also laughed a lot, “ says Sarah Watt, co-manager of Eilean Shona. “The crew filmed in April last year and we were incredibly lucky with the weather. While I may be a bit biased (and a huge fan of Sandi and Philippa), I have a hunch that Eilean Shona may well turn out to be the biggest star of this particular episode. Shona looks beautiful come rain or shine, but the colours really did look quite exceptional that weekend.”
The duo stayed in one of the island’s properties - the two bedroom Old Schoolhouse, where prices start from £2000 a week, on the island’s north shore. It was once the community’s school, but was derelict until owner Vanessa Branson turned it into a two-bedroom retreat. As well as an open plan living and sitting room, its features now include a Victorian roll top bath, which has views out to the sea, and an outdoor shower.
There will also be a book to accompany the series, Extraordinary Escapes – Unique & Wild Getaways Across the UK by Gemma Bowes (£20) which will be published by Quadrille on February 17. In this read, the author describes Eilean Shona as; “Total seclusion and remoteness with a touch of glamour and a wink of fun.”
As part of the filming, Toksvig and Perry explored the 1300 acres of moorland, as well as the woodland that’s classed as part of the Scottish Rainforest belt, and the rest of the island, which is home to red squirrels, red deer, sea eagles and pine martens. They also explored the former hunting lodge that is Eilean Shona House, designed by Scottish Sir architect Robert Lorimer, where there are prints by Philippa’s husband, Grayson Perry, in the snooker room.
To coincide with the series launch, three of the crofters’ cottages on the island have been upgraded.
“A few of our pretty cottages, Red Cottage, South Shore Cottage and Tioram Cottage, have had a dazzling facelift,” says Branson. “Having seen so many rental cottages elsewhere in Scotland that were varying shades of beige and grey, I chose our new colour palette to bring fun, warmth and character to the properties, and I’m thrilled that they are now ready to welcome our new season guests in April.”
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