Am Bratach No. 325
November 2018
editor@bratach.co.uk



New owner in sight for Gualin

Gualin estate, stretching over more than 6,200 acres between Durness and Kinlochbervie, was reported to be in the closing stages of sale as we went to press. Tom Stewart-Moore, who is handling the sale for land agents Knight Frank, said that the legal part of proceedings was complete, but further details could not be made known until the official date of entry at the end of October.

The estate entered Knight Frank’s portfolio as a single entity last summer, with sellers seeking offers over £2.6 million for the property. The estate has been owned by a consortium of families – originally four, latterly three – since 1981, with shared access to the lodge and sporting facilities. Stalking and fishing have also been available on lease to tenants. In 2016, one of the families announced an intention to sell their third share. Marketed by Savills for an asking price of £850,000, it failed to find a purchaser.

Gualin gamekeeper Duncan Shaw confirmed that the estate was to go to a single buyer, but said particulars could not be revealed until the sale was complete. Mr Shaw admitted that new ownership might mean some change for the running of the estate, adding that the joint-ownership model had “worked well” for almost forty years.

Gualin Lodge, which goes with the sale, was originally built as an inn by the Sutherland Estate, soon after this part of the parish of Durness became part of the Duke of Sutherland’s empire in 1829. Gualin was part of a parcel of land sold to Ewing Gilmour of Rosehall in 1900; when this was gradually broken up, part of the river Dionard, the lodge and its surrounding land were purchased by Marjorie Ferguson — a legendary salmon fisher — in 1935. Excepting some sections of the river, the estate remained in the family’s hands until it was sold to the most recent owners in the 1980s.

In 1964, ornithologists Desmond and Maimie Nethersole-Thompson made the first of many visits to Strath Dionard to study the behaviour of the greenshank and other birds. The resulting book, The Greenshank (1979) was dedicated to the Gualin gamekeeper of that era, Robert MacLeod, who had assisted their expeditions. When Robert MacLeod died in 2006 at the age of 92, Desmond Thompson junior, a small boy when the family first visited Gualin, wrote a warm tribute to the former keeper’s “unimpeachable integrity and rich affection for mankind”. “He was an acute observer of nature, with a rich knowledge of the behaviour of red deer, golden eagles and his sheep which grazed the strath,” Thompson wrote. “His eyesight was truly extraordinary and he would see more with his naked eye than lesser mortals would with a telescope. To have the joy of a day stalking with him was unforgettable.”

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