Property series. Highlights from Jules Hudson and Jonnie Irwin's property hunts in Scotland with two couples searching for Scottish homes in the countryside.
Browse content similar to Scotland. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Hello and welcome to a special Escape To The Country,
where we will be focusing on one area as we look back
on two property searches with two sets of house buyers.
And with both couples homing in on the same part of the UK, we will be
offering our thoughts and tips on moving to and buying in this area.
Today's show will feature a nation that boasts
over 7,000 miles of coastline and over 700 offshore islands.
But where were we property shopping? Find out in just a moment.
On today's show, we're looking back on two house hunts.
I was helping new parents find a family home that came with
But, at times, it seemed what they were really after was
My one concern would be storage
-cos you have an immense amount of clothes and shoes.
I'm glad you said that.
While my buyers were nature lovers, who were yearning for great views
and open spaces and they were willing
to move 500 miles to find them.
But for one of them, it all got too much.
-Come back, you can have a cry with me - that's all right.
Come on! Come here!
Well, you have probably guessed it,
today we are returning to bonnie Scotland, where Jonnie
and I got to show two sets of buyers a range of stunning rural homes
and I got to explore my favourite part of Scotland - the Highlands.
And I was lucky enough to be south of you in the Scottish Borders
and, I must say, every time I get to visit that area
I am blown away by its rural beauty.
But you don't have to take my word for it.
There are plenty of reasons to fall in love with these beautiful
parts of Scotland.
The Scottish Borders, along with neighbouring Dumfries and Galloway,
form the gateway between England and Scotland.
It is one of the largest regions in Britain
and encompasses rolling uplands, the ruggedly beautiful
Berwickshire coast line, and the magnificent River Tweed.
The tranquil beauty here is unmarred by densely populated areas,
but it does have a fine share of
small and beguiling towns - including Kelso,
which literary icon Walter Scott, who had family ties here, described
as the most beautiful, if not the most romantic, village in Scotland.
And the region's famous writer is just one of many who have drawn
inspiration from this intriguing and idyllic part of the country.
Whilst my search was based in the Scottish Highlands.
Located at the very top of the mainland, the Highlands is
the sparse mountainous region lying in the northern part of Scotland.
Cutting the landscape diagonally is one of the most famous
lakes in the world, Loch Ness.
The region also hosts the largest national park in the UK,
With its panoramic views of snow-capped mountains,
the park is visited by 1.5 million tourists a year
and is a favoured spot for skiers.
With scenery raging from dramatic glens to awe-inspiring mountains,
this area radiates history, beauty,
and boasts some of the best views in Britain.
Such beautiful scenery there, mate.
The great thing about Scotland is it's all relatively affordable, isn't it?
It's absolutely gorgeous. Where were you again?
I was down in the Scottish Borders.
The average price for a detached house there is around £244,000,
which, admittedly, is £3,000 above the national average for Scotland.
But for those with smaller budgets, if you go next door to, maybe,
Dumfries and Galloway you can save yourself some £55,000
-on a comparable property.
-That's a huge saving.
Well, I was up in the Highlands,
which - as you know - is very much its own little world, if you will.
There the average cost of a detached home is about £218,000.
-That's good value.
-That's really good value.
Also, population wise that is quite limited too.
There's only about 250,000 people live there.
So it's not a huge property market,
but if you look carefully you can find some really gorgeous homes.
But not a lot of property around can make the search fairly tricky.
Thankfully, that didn't put our buyers off.
Let's remind ourselves of Michael.
For the last year, Damian and Sam have been living in this
three-bedroom house in Penicuik, ten miles south of Edinburgh.
It's one of the married quarters for the Royal Regiment of Scotland,
where Sandhurst-trained Damian is an operations officer.
From the time the couple met six years ago, they've lived all over
the country and this is the fourth house they've moved to together.
But since the arrival of daughter Hermione, they've been
hankering for a more settled life in the country.
My job basically means that I have to move every one or two years.
It's quite transient.
But now having Hermione, we maybe want a bit more stability for her.
And I think the concern is, you know,
as Hermione gets to school age then she'd have to move schools every
-two years and I think that's what we're keen to avoid really, aren't we?
'The couple's dream of finding a more permanent family
'home for Hermione to grow up in does come with a compromise.
'During the week, Damien will need to stay at the base for work
'leaving just the weekends to spend with the family.
'But with their new rural surroundings, the time they do
'have together will be quality time.'
We like to get out as a family, so I think being in the country
would make a lot of use of the grounds, so a lot of walking.
The horse riding that would come with the country that
Sam is very keen on getting Hermione involved in - and me.
It is not just the leisure activities that will be affected by the move.
While a permanent rural base means a weekly commute for Damian,
it does offer Sam, who is currently on maternity leave from her job
as a procurement manager, new ways of earning that she could do from home.
Being a military wife can actually be quite hard
in terms of managing a career, so what would be good would be
if we could have a property that we could run a small business from.
Could we have a cottage in the grounds that we could use
as a holiday let? Or a stable block that we can run a livery yard from?
'Although proximity to Damian's work is one of the main motivations
'for selecting the Scottish Borders as a place to settle down,
'it's part of the country they do have a genuine affection for.'
It's the countryside, it's the fresh air,
it's quite close to the coast, as well, and we get the best of both
worlds, of Scotland-England, being right on the border.
I can't think of a better place to move.
So that it's easy for Damian to get home to the family at weekends,
we're keeping our search within an hour and a half's drive
from the regiment in Penicuik.
I'm meeting up with them to find out some more about their move.
So here we are in the beautiful Scottish Borders.
You must be quite excited to be thinking about a more permanent base.
Have you got a picture in your mind's eye of the sort of home you would
-both love to bring your daughter up in?
-I think so.
I think we both definitely would like something quite traditional.
4-5 bedrooms, somewhere with a bit of land - definitely with
some stables for potentially a pony for Hermione to grow up with.
So, what does it look like?
I think we like Victorian, Edwardian, Georgian kinds of styles.
We definitely don't like that kind of cottagey feel with the beams.
-Damien being quite tall...
-Height is an issue.
This big move, if you like, it's obviously first and foremost
this new family home, but there is also an idea that you
might want to run a business.
Have you got a minimum plot size in mind?
-I think a couple of acres.
-I think a couple of acres would be great.
-Anything more would be an absolute bonus.
-OK, let's talk budget.
How much are you looking to spend on this move?
Our budget at the moment is about £600-£650,000.
We've got three fantastic properties lined up for you,
so let's not wait any longer - let's go and have a look.
With a generous budget of £650,000, Damian and Sam
are looking for a period family home with 4-5 bedrooms and some
kind of business potential, perhaps in the form of outbuildings or land,
at least two acres would be ideal.
They would also like a stable so Hermione can have a pony.
We've got a great selection of homes to show them and,
at the end of each tour,
I'll be getting them to guess the price before I reveal it.
One will be the mystery house, which could have them
rethinking their priorities between home and business.
We are starting our search close to the coast in Coldingham,
which is an hour's drive east of Damian's work in Penicuik.
This charming conservation village has a selection of appealing
shops, as well as plenty of history.
It grew up around a Benedictine priory,
that was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell's army.
To top it off,
the village is situated just inland from Coldingham Sands,
with its beautiful blue flag beach and walking tracks that
link to the spectacular Berwickshire coastal path.
Just a mile from the village, and a stone's throw from the beach,
is our first property.
-What do you think?
-It's great from the outside.
It's a nice, peaceful, rural setting
but with a proximity to some people so you don't feel too isolated
-and the size is great.
-Great news. Let's take a look inside.
'Built in the 19th century, the property was originally a farmhouse
'and over the last seven years the current owners have done
'a considerable amount of work to it.'
So, in we come.
-Old and new meeting, isn't it?
It is nicely done.
It still retains a lot of the period features
and everything like that, which is great.
And I think it's a nice-sized space
and in a lot of respects the fact that it is quite open to have
Hermione running round as well and keep an eye on her,
it could potentially work.
Now, let's stick to this side of the house and look at the living room.
-So, quite an elegant room this.
-Yeah, it's a nice size.
-I like all the windows. It's really light.
-The windows are great.
Now, just through that door you've also got a sunroom, or conservatory.
Come the autumn or spring, that would just be absolutely gorgeous
-to sit out there.
-It's like the textbook living room, isn't it?
Where you can sit and watch TV,
you've still got your fireplace to make it seem nice and homely.
It is beautiful how it's done, but I think it's not to our taste.
I think a bit of cosmetic here and there.
I think a bit more traditional is how we would like it.
-It's cosmetic, isn't it? So I find that quite encouraging.
Good. All right. Kitchen next.
-Just mind your step here. Got a really handy utility area.
-Which means the kitchen is just the kitchen and the dining room.
This is really nice. This is a lovely space. Windows are great.
-Yeah, this is fantastic.
-You both smiled as soon as you came in here.
-It's a great room.
-I love it.
-It's spacious but it's homely at the same time, isn't it?
Nicely done kitchen and I don't think we'd do too much to that.
I don't think we would need to do anything to the kitchen.
'We're heading back to the entrance hall to use the main staircase,
'but there is another set of stairs at the other end of the hall.
'It provides independent access for what is effectively
'a small wing made up of two en-suite bedrooms -
'one is on the ground floor and the other is directly above,
'but I'll talk about what I've got in mind for that once we've seen
'what's upstairs back in the main part of the house.'
-So you've got three bedrooms on this side.
-This is one of two potential master bedrooms.
This is a nice room. I like the double aspect.
It's nice and light, quite high ceilings.
My one concern would be the very boring fact of storage cos
you have an immense amount of clothes and shoes,
-as every lady does.
-I'm glad you said that.
-That would be my one concern at the moment.
-It is a good point.
The current owners decided to make these three bedrooms two good-sized
doubles and the middle bedroom they're using as a dressing room.
OK, that would work.
There is a huge family bathroom in the middle as well.
Now, your guests have the benefit of the guest wing,
if you like, which is that side of the property
-and there you've got two double bedrooms, both en-suite.
-Perfect for maybe paying guests as well...
-..because it's kind of separate.
Let's go outside because there is loads to see there as well.
'Beyond the garden, there is a paddock and a large yard with
'outbuildings providing a perfect set-up for Sam and Hermione's ponies
'and inspiration for that yet-to-be-conceived
'home business opportunity.'
-Look at the size of this yard.
-So, all in all, you've got just over two and a half acres.
-How much do you think this place is on the market for?
-I think around 635.
I think it is a little bit more. I think it is about 640.
-Well, this is on the market for offers over £625,000.
'£25,000 below Sam and Damian's maximum budget,
'this immaculately renovated farmhouse has that
'wonderful kitchen/diner they loved so much and the five bedrooms
'they are hoping for,
'two of which could work well as B&B accommodation.
'Outside there is over two and a half acres of land
'and loose boxes for a couple of ponies for Sam and Hermione.'
Along the Scottish Borders's craggy and dramatic Berwickshire coast line,
cold Arctic currents merge with warmer currents from the South,
helping to create a uniquely rich marine biodiversity.
And two years ago, in the serene fishing village of St Abbs,
a charity-run marine station was set up to carry out research
in the waters here, with the aim of enhancing the marine environment
and furthering scientific understanding of the sea.
Dr Keith Todd, who helped spearhead the organisation,
is here at the St Abbs Harbour collecting plankton research samples
and I'm here to join him.
What are we looking for? What is in this plankton?
We might find fish eggs, fish larvae, little things called arrow worms,
lots of things that form the basis of the food chain.
First thing I'm noticing is that this water looks incredibly clean.
It is. The water quality around St Abbs is very good.
We'll take these back and put them in the bucket.
'The marine station, which was once an old fisherman's cottage,
'is equipped with a lab where samples are examined to help monitor
'the health of the local marine environment,
'but also to find clues as to how
'vulnerable species can be supported.'
This is a live view of the plankton samples that we have just taken.
So what can we tell by studying this environment, then?
We can select certain species that are important as a food source
for other species and culture them up en masse and then use them
to feed some of the animals that we are trying to work with.
We are looking to be able to breed the spiny lobster, or crawfish.
-Which is this fellow here?
-The numbers are in decline.
If you can find out the right food - maybe what we are viewing here -
-then, further down the line, we might see more of these?
We've got to go out and go shopping for the right baby food
for the crawfish.
'The spiny lobster was once plentiful along the west coast of Scotland,
'but, since the 1970s, numbers have steadily decreased
'and they have now been identified as a threatened species.
'Through research carried out here at the marine station,
'they are hoping to develop ways of rearing spiny lobsters
'and other at-risk species in significant numbers
'so they can be released into the wild to boost struggling populations.'
-Oh, you can feel its spikes, can't you?
-Yes, they are very, very spiky.
It's amazing. Well, I wish you the very best of luck.
-I hope you find their favourite food very soon.
Thank you very much, Keith.
-It has been fascinating. I wish you the best of luck.
Travelling 20 miles inland,
the next stop on our search is the village of Leitholm, just over
an hour's drive from Damian's job with the Royal Regiment of Scotland,
A handy nearby town is Coldstream,
attractively situated on a stretch of the River Tweed that forms
a natural border between Scotland and England.
Less than a 10-minute drive away is our second house
and it's Georgian - one of Sam and Damian's preferred styles.
So we thought, what better for a horse lover than to show them
-some converted stables.
-It is different looking.
-It is not like anything I've seen before, actually.
-It's a funny looking building.
-But it is not unattractive, is it?
Once again, I don't think you'd feel too isolated, would you?
-No, I don't think so.
-Let's go inside.
'Before the current owners fully renovated the property in 1995,
'the place was pretty much a wreck.
'Parts of the work they did involved linking what were once
'two separate stable blocks to create one 6,500-square-foot home.
'That's almost twice the size of the first house we showed them.'
Now, I think you'll need your imagination with this house because
this is the new part of the building
to connect either side's stables.
OK. We would probably change a bit of the decor, I think.
Just to put our own mark on it, basically.
Let's go into a more original part, which is just through here.
So everything in this house gives you loads of space.
It's a great dining room.
You could have a really nice atmosphere
-in here with quite a few people sitting at the table.
Any room in my book that easily houses a dining room with
seating for 12 is a decent size. This is like an officers' mess, isn't it?
-Yeah, it is actually.
-It has got very much that feel.
That is not a bad thing at all.
There is room to have, maybe, a breakfast table in the kitchen next door.
A good-sized kitchen.
It is, it is not a bad size at all
and it is good that you can fit a family table in here.
You are talking about being quite open-minded as to what
business you might want to operate.
Now, this house is 6,500 square foot, so we're thinking this
is probably more hospitality-based, OK, B&B.
One of the benefits there is the fact that you've got a good-sized
kitchen and a door to shut.
You don't want diners seeing you cook the breakfast and what have you.
-Let's look in the sitting room.
Righty-ho, so another decent-sized reception room.
Yeah, it is a big room. It's a nice big room and nice dual aspect.
I think, for me, I'm not really getting that feeling that I need to commit.
As we approached the house from the outside you could see this
really nice Georgian stonework and for me
I don't think that kind of comes through on the inside
and I think that is more what we're looking for.
It's not produced that sort of "wow" where it feels like a home for us.
OK, let's go and take a look at some of the bedroom accommodation just
'Leaving one of the two original stable blocks,
'we pass back via the central reception room that links through
'to the second block, where all the bedrooms can be found.'
Now, I think this corridor just gives you a great illustration of how
-much accommodation you've got here.
-Wow, it's long.
'On the ground floor, there are four bedrooms.
'Three are generous doubles, all with en suites,
'and one is a large master suite with its own dressing room.
'Upstairs, at either end of this long wing, are two further bedrooms.
'One was once the old hayloft
'and the other was the groom's quarters, which is where we're heading now.'
So what do we make of this one, then?
Nice big size.
I think it's nice to have that feel when you,
-come upstairs to the bedroom, as well.
-You just fill a little bit more separated, don't you?
So, six en-suite letting bedrooms - you're open for business!
You actually wouldn't need to do anything to the bedrooms
and bathrooms downstairs, there're all pretty much done
and ready to go, aren't they?
You can see the potential in the place, definitely.
-You said you might be interested in doing some sort of equine B&B.
For an equine B&B, you're going to need some space for the horses,
-You've got that in bundles.
I think Damian and Sam can see the business potential here
but the properties seemed to be lacking the X factor for them.
Perhaps their imagination will be sparked by what is on offer outside,
where there is plenty of space and a range a good-sized
outbuildings, some of which could convert rather nicely into stables.
-Now, let's talk land. You get quite a bit of it.
-13 and a half acres.
-13 and a half, wow. Gosh.
-How much do you think this is on the market for?
I think it's difficult to say.
Given how big the house is and also the enormous amount of land
-I'm going to say 615.
I'll be slightly more conservative and say offers over 600.
Well, this one has been given a guide price,
and that is offers around, £650,000.
'Matching Sam and Damian's maximum budget of £650,000, this grand
'scale Georgian stable conversion would make an excellent equine B&B.
'With six en-suite bedrooms, a large separate dining area
'and plenty of space for the guests' horses.
'With more than 13 acres of land, it would also send itself well
'to the livery business they are considering.'
This is probably what we would try to turn into stables.
Yeah, I think so. It is almost there, isn't it?
It wouldn't take much conversion at all, really.
It has got so many positives, but, in terms of the feeling,
I just didn't get that forever home feeling for myself and my family.
-All done inside?
-I thought you got lost, actually.
-Did you see the stables?
-Good, all right.
Now, that is all we're going to do today, so let's go back.
Do you know, mate, watching that, I don't think
either of those properties have wowed them just yet.
No, you're right but, furthermore, I think Damian
and Sam were still trying to work out what their priorities were.
They were adding on extra things to their property wish list,
such as the B&B or even the livery potential.
What I always say to people,
even before they embark on their property hunt, is sit down with
a piece of paper and physically go through a list of what you must have.
I couldn't agree more. It is always going to be time well spent.
Well, fortunately, for my couple
their priorities were much more simple.
'Married couple David and Kathleen currently
'live in a four-bedroom property in Stoke Lodge, a suburb of Bristol.
'But over nearly four decades of living in the area,
'they've noticed a change.'
We've been here 35 years and it has just built up and grown
and grown and grown in the last 35 years, basically.
It used to be right on the edge of Bristol,
but now it feels a bit inner city.
Life moves at a bit of a hectic pace
and it would be nice to just slow down a little bit.
'Kathleen is a retired school assistant and aromatherapist.
'Dave works as an offshore surveyor, travelling all over the world.
'But he is now planning to wind down and spend more time on dry land.'
We are moving now I'm semi-retired.
I used to work 180-200 days a year,
but I've just changed my contract and I work 90 days a year now,
so I'll have lots more time - and also I've worked
away for 30 years, it's time we got a life together, basically.
'With their two grown-up children having flown the nest,
'they hope to start this next chapter of their lives by getting
'away from it all in the peaceful Scottish Highlands.'
It reminds me very much of home, because I'm from Cumbria,
and I think Scotland is just that little bit more rugged,
the scenery is absolutely fantastic, the wildlife too.
'But we'll need to get our skates on, as David
'and Kathleen have already sold their house.'
When Dave went off to work on a Tuesday,
the house went on the market on a Wednesday, and it was
sold by the Thursday evening - which was quite unexpected.
We didn't think things would move quite so quickly.
As you can see, everything is boxed up.
There's no ornaments or anything on the walls.
We're almost ready to go.
'Until they find their new home, David and Kathleen
'will be travelling around Scotland in their caravan.
'With the prospect of a new home, they're looking forward to
'seeing out Dave's eventual retirement in the rural Highlands.'
We are so excited, we just can't wait to get there!
We've talked about it for so long, for so many years,
but then you've got to do something about it. So, now is the time.
David and Kathleen would like us
to concentrate our property search between Inverness
and Aviemore, in and around the Cairngorms National Park.
I'm meeting up with them in the village of Carrbridge,
within the national park, to go over the specifics of their house search.
-Well, hello guys. How are you?
-Fine, thank you very much. Yourself?
-I'm very well. So, formally, David and Kathleen, welcome to the Highlands.
So, just give us an idea, Kathleen,
now that you're focusing on this move, what should your house comprise?
What does it need to have?
Ideally, minimum three bedrooms.
A lovely big kitchen, dining space, a big family room, perhaps.
It would be lovely if there was a workshop where
I could set up a sewing machine or use it as a study.
-Possibly views to the front.
-That would be lovely.
-What about you, Dave?
-Much the same.
I would like a garage workshop and a garden
somewhere between a quarter and a third of an acre that ideally backs
onto woodland, but whether that's possible and not I don't know.
Just remind us of the amount of money you are prepared to spend on this move.
-The budget we have at the moment is around 325,000.
The pressure is absolutely on.
You've upped the ante since we first met you, in that you're now
here in your caravan. So, yeah, we've got three properties for you.
You've got £325,000. And we've got a mystery house, of course, in the mix.
We can't quite afford Balmoral.
Sadly, it's not for sale
but if it does come on the market you'll be the first to know.
-Good, well, look, drink up. We'll see what we can find you.
For a budget of £325,000, Dave and Kathleen want
their forever home to have a minimum of three bedrooms.
They'd prefer a traditional property.
Kathleen would like a large kitchen and family room and a workshop for
her quilting, as well as good views from the front of the property.
For Dave it is all about the outside space and he'd
like at least a quarter of an acre of land to attract the local birds.
Our first property is located close to the village of Glenlivet,
on the doorstep of the Cairngorms National Park.
Surrounded by unspoiled countryside and pasture land
and with stunning views of the Cairngorms Mountains,
the area is a haven for wildlife.
House number one is located in an elevated position,
in a quiet setting around a mile from the village.
So here we are, then, in the heart of malt whisky country
-and that is property number one.
Nobody is really sure how old it is. I'm going to take a guess at about 1850.
-Or so. But, as you can see, we're not short of views.
But what do you think of the property?
It looks quite small from the outside,
but we'll wait and see, we'll have a look.
Can't wait to get inside and have a look.
Come on then, let's see what you make of it.
We'll go round the back.
'Our first property is an old crofters dwelling, which was
'extended at the rear in the 1980s and the current owners use
'this way in as it leads into a boot room and then the dining room.'
It has been extended and this really is the meat of the extension,
I suppose, and it gives you this dining space.
-Come over here and take it all in.
-It's not as large as I expected.
-The first impression. But it's very nice. The view is incredible.
Very old, rustic,
and, like Dave, it's not as large as I expected it to be.
I think you could potentially extend this yet further, if you wanted to...
-I'm sure you could, yeah.
-..in the future, because in a way
you can glimpse the views but it would be lovely to have something
-that was much more open here.
-It would. If you had a conservatory or something out here.
But it does all flow rather nicely into the kitchen
and I'm quite keen to show you this, Kathleen.
-And I know, Kathleen, that you do want one of those.
-It is, it's huge.
This, for me, is where the house really starts to come together because
it does feel much bigger and you've got the nice features of the stone, and so on.
Yeah, I like the exposed brickwork. It's lovely.
It's so cosy and so traditional - traditional Scottish.
It's certainly a reasonable-sized kitchen, with this here as well.
Well, let's have a look at the living room - that's through here.
'Better reactions to the generously-sized kitchen space.
'Downstairs also features a small utility and shower room.'
-How about this then? A bit more cosy charm for you.
There certainly is.
Lots of character to this room, isn't there?
-Another gorgeous wood burner for you.
-It's smaller than I expected.
-This ceiling in here is quite low.
I do like the exposed brickwork, but it makes the room quite dark.
-Let's get upstairs and look at these bedrooms...
..because that's all important too.
The upstairs landing provides access to three decent-sized
double bedrooms with two situated in the older part of the house
overlooking the front.
There's also a family bath and shower room as well as the master.
-And this is for you.
-Yes, this is a bit larger.
-Bigger than the caravan.
-It's a lot bigger than the caravan.
-I've noticed every room we've been in has got the views.
-The last bit really is to finish off in the garden.
-Oh, that would be lovely!
-OK? Let's go and look more at those views.
And we'll talk about the price
because that may be quite interesting.
Come with me.
The land comprises a well-maintained lawn, mature trees and a patio.
There's also an outbuilding which could make an excellent workshop
All in all, the land amounts to around a third of an acre.
So there is one final bit left. Who's going to go first, then?
-I would estimate about 270.
I think I'd probably go a little higher than that. Up to 290.
If it was around the 290 mark, it would leave you
-with quite a lot left over from your £325,000...
..to make a few tweaks here.
If it were closer to £210,000...
-..you could go nuts here!
-And, keep a load in the bank.
-There you are.
£210,000 and all of that...is for free!
Our first property leaves Dave and Kathleen at least £100,000
to make further extensions to this former croft house.
It gives Kathleen her big kitchen, two reception rooms and the three
bedrooms they asked for, as well as land and those all-important views.
The rugged highlands produce Scotland's most famous
liquid export, but as well as malt whisky,
the region could soon be adding a less potent dram to the menu.
The Wee Tea plantation in Dalreoch is the first commercial tea
plantation in Scotland and is already home to 2,000 plants,
making it one of the largest in Europe.
I've come to the plantation to find out what's brewing
from tea blender Derek Walker.
Derek, when I think of tea, I don't think of Scotland.
I think of India or China.
So, what is it about the climate here that makes tea possible?
There's a lot of things that are engulfed in the plant
from the soil, the air, the actual weather round about here.
All of these things contribute to this beautiful tea that we grow
on Dalreoch Estate.
You could liken this place to Darjeeling, couldn't you,
and the Himalayas?
There's the plantation.
Can we take a closer look at what you grow?
Come on, let me show you.
Derek is also using growing techniques to ensure the tea
plants can survive the often extreme Scottish weather.
Plastic covers protect the plants from the frost
until they're big enough to cope with the harsh winters.
These are about four years old
and it's these fresh leaves that we're looking for for our tea.
It's what you do once you've plucked the leaf that makes the tea.
Whether you add a flavour, if you bake the leaf, how long you leave
the leaf to ferment, perhaps,
or for how long you leave the leaf to oxidise.
And the longer you leave it,
the more caffeine is formed within the leaf itself.
What we'll do here on the plantation is take these fresh leaves,
we'll leave them for a very short period of time.
-We bake them and we have our Dalreoch white tea.
White tea is the least processed of all the teas and has the highest
level of antioxidants and the lowest quantity of caffeine.
I'm joining Derek for a cuppa.
Now, we've got our white tea over here.
So, that's just straightforward green leaves.
It looks very, very simple
and I'm going to put in a nice, heaped teaspoon.
I'm not adding boiling water to this because it's much more delicate.
I'm going to add kind of tepid water. We don't want to cook it, you know.
We want to extract the flavour.
Three minutes later, it's ready to drink.
-It's a very pale-looking liquid, isn't it?
-Let's take a look.
We're not putting any milk or any other nasties in?
-It's just good old-fashioned tea.
The way it was designed to be drunk.
-Here's to you!
Gosh! That's very different.
A lot of people say they can taste almost like a nutty fragrance.
I absolutely love it.
I suppose the big question remains,
do you think you'll ever sell your tea in China?
I think we should watch this space.
Well, best of luck.
For our second property, we're heading south-west
into the national park and the village of Laggan.
Amenities include a hostel and coffee shop.
Our second house is situated just outside the village
in the small hamlet of Catlodge and benefits from an elevated position
with far-reaching views of the Cairngorms.
And this is our property for you to feast your eyes on,
-which I rather like, actually.
-It's rather nice.
It was two cottages, once upon a time,
and they were both sort of two up, two down.
It's now one huge property. It's all done. It's immaculate.
A nice little garden behind
-with some woodland surrounding it for the wildlife.
We showed you views this morning, but I think they're even better.
-Quite spectacular, aren't they?
-They really are.
Let's have a look, then.
The house was at one time the local shop and pub.
It has been fully renovated by the current owners,
who retained many original features,
but also built an extension replacing the old, wooden garage.
So, we'll start with the kitchen. Very much the kitchen diner.
Much more in the mode of what I think you've been thinking about.
Is very nice, but it's still smaller than I expected it to be.
And there's room for my...
The kitchen is smaller than I expected, yes.
-It's... you know. It's not bad.
-It's not bad.
-You have got a separate dining room as well.
Yes, further down there. So maybe that will make a difference.
Perhaps we need to explore more. This way.
-This is a lovely room.
-I was waiting for you to say something good.
-Yes, it is a lovely room!
-Oh, I love that feature fireplace.
-It's got a lot of features, there's no doubt about that.
-It wasn't built last week.
-It certainly wasn't built last week.
-In fact, it was built about 1840.
-There you go.
So, probably a similar age to property one, really.
This is currently a sitting room.
-It could be a dining room if you want.
This, and the room next-door, which is currently the dining room,
are pretty interchangeable.
The ground floor also features a family room
with a double-height ceiling and a utility room,
both housed in the timber extension,
as well as an additional shower room in the older part of the house.
Also on the ground floor is the main bedroom.
As promised, this is your master.
This is a nice big room, isn't it?
-This is a good-sized bedroom.
-And a really pretty en suite.
-Have a look at that.
-Oh, my! It's huge!
-Oh, very nice!
The first floor is home to three further bedrooms,
including a large triple aspect room accessed by its own staircase.
One of the other two bedrooms
could make an excellent sewing room for Kathleen.
Outside, the grounds are mainly laid to lawn and bordered by mature
trees with views over the surrounding countryside.
This garden, I would say,
is possibly as close to perfect as you can get.
It just is. It's about the right size.
There's two tiers, got the trees around.
Excellent. Does it work for you?
I thought Dave would have said it's a big small.
-Well, all in all, you've got about 0.4 of an acre.
So actually a little bit more than property one,
and of course you've got much more of a front garden here as well.
It's also got that building over there,
which hopefully might give you somewhere in which to tinker around.
So is the price perfect, I wonder?
I was so far out the last time... It's very difficult.
I'll stick to 290.
I'll go just a tad lower and say 285.
285? A cheeky 285.
Actually, you're not fair off, the pair of you. It's offers over 295.
-Oh, so, fairly close.
£30,000 under budget, our second property gives Dave and Kathleen
a larger kitchen than our first offering,
one more bedroom than they asked for, three reception rooms
including a modern family room and nearly half an acre of land.
In this house, there's lots of room downstairs.
Upstairs I find a bit difficult
because I'm quite tall and I bang me head.
The view and the garden are absolutely perfect.
I think it's a very lovely home.
There's certainly things you could do with the downstairs.
Upstairs doesn't appear to have as much room.
I like the house,
but unfortunately I don't think it's going to work for us.
Well, you know, I think we have been really spoilt today.
Beautiful views, fantastic houses.
It's been a long day.
Who fancies a Scotch, then?
Well, two cracking properties there, mate, but not quite hitting
the mark, even though they were both in the Cairngorms National Park.
And, let's face it, the park is a huge draw,
and it's an interesting one.
On average, about 200 properties on the market at any one time.
The average cost is about £211,000,
but that is below the figure for the county average,
so if you want beauty and value for money, it's a pretty good bet.
And what I like about buying up in Scotland is you have to do
all your homework upfront.
Then you put your offer in, then you do the deal.
-There's no gazumping there.
-It's much more reliable.
And more transparent as well. So, back to my house search.
I had a very healthy budget of £650,000, and this time,
we were searching in the beautiful Scottish borders.
Travelling six miles north, we reach the hamlet of Fogo, an hour
from the army base in Penicuik and the final stop on our search.
The nearest town, a ten-minute drive north, is Duns,
which centres on its appealing market square.
There are plenty of shops here as well as nurseries
and schooling options for Hermione.
The mystery house provides Damian
and Sam with the community they're after, but there is a compromise.
A lack of land and business potential.
-Yeah, it looks good.
-It's clean, tidy,
-traditional at the same time, which is good.
I've just noticed there's a barn behind us...
Oh, you noticed that, did you? Yeah. Massive old Dutch barn.
-That is included.
I don't know what you'd use that for. I mean...
Let's go inside.
This stone coach house was first converted in the 1970s, and it's
been extensively refurbished and extended over the years since then.
Now, I hope you're going to like this. The kitchen and dining area.
This is a nice space.
-Feels quite homely to me, as well, actually.
I'm glad you said that.
That's exactly why we brought you here,
-because it felt like a home, a family home.
This has a more rustic, "farmhousey" feel.
-Obviously, you've got the range there.
-Love that. That's great.
In the summer, this house faces the south,
so you get loads of light pouring in, and you can spill
-out into the garden, which I think is a lovely feature.
The other side of that range is you've got a secondary
-kitchen, which works as a utility.
-It is. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Let me take you into the living room.
Hoping you're going to like this.
Wow. Love it. I love this living room. It's a great size. It's fab.
Love these windows. It's really light.
This is actually quite sociable as well, the fact that it really works.
It's big enough to carry the table and a sitting area separately.
Yeah, that'd be fantastic. It'd be great for entertaining.
Especially so close to the kitchen as well, you know? It's great.
All right. Good stuff. I'm chuffed that you like this space.
Let me take you upstairs to show you the master bedroom.
As well as the living room, which has gone down so well,
there's a cosy sitting room that comes off the central entrance hall.
Upstairs, there's a spacious family bathroom and four bedrooms
with built-in storage and plenty of windows,
which flood them with light.
-One of those is the master suite.
-This is lovely.
Great light, isn't it? I love these... The windows.
The light comes streaming in, which is great.
You've got a great size en suite, bath and a separate shower,
and then through there
you've got a room that is the size of a double bedroom
just laid out as a dressing room.
-Yes, we're cooking now, aren't we?
-I think so.
There is no B&B here, unless you want someone living in your house.
This is, first and foremost, a home for you guys.
OK. Which is where we said our priorities were.
Which is what we don't really want to compromise on.
-Yeah. That suits, really.
So why do you think you are reacting as you are doing to this house
more so than the first house?
I think it's just got that feeling,
the feeling that you can't really put your finger on it,
but it just feels warm and you get a nice, fuzzy vibe.
For me, it is the combination of being cosy,
which makes it homely, but you've still got bags of space.
Let's go outside and talk about
what comes with the property and the price.
The mystery house really seems to have the look and,
more importantly, the feel they were hoping for in a family home.
The only catch is that it doesn't come with a load of land.
There's around three quarters of an acre,
which includes patio areas, raised veggie garden beds,
a double garage, that massive Dutch barn,
and a wonderful lawned area, with fantastic rural views.
-Looks pretty, doesn't it?
-It is very pretty. Yeah. It's gorgeous.
-What you don't have is land.
-So no scope for ponies and...
-But it is a perfect family home, isn't it?
-It is, yeah.
It would be ideal.
I really like it.
Even without the land?
I think that's a decision we'd have to make, wouldn't it be?
You know, is the house strong enough for us to then
-compromise on the land that we originally wanted?
How much do you think this place is on the market for?
Because there isn't much land,
although the house is nicely done, I'm going to go 575.
Yeah, I think I'll go guide price 600.
the guide price for this house is £575,000. Well done.
Below Sam and Damian's budget by a substantial £75,000,
this attractive converted coach house has four bedrooms,
the homely traditional-style kitchen they're after,
and that very generous living room,
perfect for entertaining visiting family and friends.
There isn't enough land for yurts or a livery,
but there is that very large barn.
So has the mystery house set the cat amongst the pigeons?
-Certainly has, yeah.
-Well, that's good, then.
It's given you something to think about compared to the first house.
Well, I think we should find you guys somewhere to sit down and have
-a bit of a chat and we'll talk it through later.
Now, in my mind, I think we can forget about the second property.
It wasn't to your taste.
It seems to me like it is a toss-up between the first house we saw,
and the mystery house. Am I right?
I think you're right.
I think with a kind of sway possibly towards the mystery house,
if I'm honest.
-Both of you?
I think so.
The main reason for that is that the house felt more of a home,
-and that's become a priority.
I think the only downside with the third property was the fact
that it didn't have the stables,
and it's the old kind of cliche, isn't it?
If you could take part of house one and add it to the mystery house,
I think we would pretty much have our perfect home.
-Potentially. I think so.
Just to play devil's advocate,
if we hadn't shown you the mystery house
would you be going back to the first one for a second viewing?
I think probably.
Well, therefore, if you go back to the mystery house for a second
-viewing, you should go back to the first one.
Well, I wish you both the very best of luck and, whatever happens,
please let us know, won't you?
-Will do. Thank you.
So potentially two second viewings. That's pretty good work, Johnny.
Not bad, was it?
But I always recommend to people, go back for that second viewing.
If you see it in the beautiful sunshine,
go back when it's raining, if you can.
If you see in the daylight, go back when it is dark.
Maybe, if you've got time, do the dummy run to work,
check the commute out.
When we bought our house, I think we had six viewings.
It drove the vendors nuts, but we did get what we wanted.
George, you're an estate agent's dream, aren't you?
Well, talking of dreams,
let's get back to my property search with David and Kathleen.
They had £325,000 to spend to find their rural home in the Highlands.
For our last property, we're heading towards Inverness and to the
small village of Tomatin, which is around 16 miles from the city.
The house itself is located just outside
the village in an elevated position, surrounded by woodland.
A more modern affair than our previous properties,
it's quirky, to say the least.
There you go. What do you reckon?
Wow. Unusual shape.
From the air, it's effectively an octagon.
But they've removed this central section to create a more
sort of formal entranceway.
But in effect, it's a bit like
an enormous hide,
because the wildlife round here is extraordinary.
-Can you hear all the birds?
-I can, yes.
Excellent. Well, we got the reaction I was hoping for,
and wait till you get inside.
I think there'll be one or two more wows as well,
so think of it as a house
-that's a hide.
So Dave and Kathleen can spy on their wild neighbours from this
uniquely designed octo-house, which was built in the mid-1970s.
Due to its shape, the room proportions are somewhat
unconventional and arranged off a central hallway.
Now, look at this! You've got the sort of galleried hallway.
And then in here
we've got you a sort of dining entranceway.
-Ooh, that's interesting.
Interesting shape, isn't it?
-All the rooms are that shape
which means you get these enormous windows
letting the light and the view in.
Oh, what a view!
-Oh, isn't that wonderful?
You can just see the salmon jumping in that stream.
Well, they do, regularly. I mean, that's the joy of it.
You can sit here all day long and just soak up the wildlife.
And through here it's even lighter. Look at this.
A certain sort of, erm,
almost baronial feel to it, cos they've incorporated a nice bit of
a nice kind of hint to the architectural heritage
of the area, but this lovely high ceiling
and, you know, as much light as you could want!
I get the feeling this is a house that you
genuinely could see yourselves enjoying.
I think I could.
-Certainly up till now, yeah.
-Yeah, from what we've seen so far.
Let's continue through here, back across this lovely dining hall...
..and into the kitchen, Kathleen,
-nice range there for you, again.
-Does this one work?
This is a lovely kitchen. Especially the outlook as well.
It also leads on into a snug area there.
-Erm, and of course you've got the dining area next door.
Yep, yep. I think this would work.
Finally on the ground floor, there's a workshop and utility room,
somewhere for Dave to tinker.
What's lovely is that the octagon shape, I think,
really reveals itself in the staircase and this hallway.
The upper landing gives access to five bedrooms, all with great views.
Two of those are doubles, and then there are three singles.
There's also a family bathroom with three-piece suite.
And of course, the master.
is your room, we're thinking,
because it has a lovely little en suite in there.
-And again views for the wildlife.
Oh, gosh. Breathtaking.
-This is incredible.
Nobody's interested in the en-suite, are they?
-It's that that's really captured your imagination.
Yeah, it's lovely.
-And it's a nice size.
So I think this has all gone down rather well.
-I think so.
-But it is our mystery house.
Can you afford it?
-I don't know.
-Let's go and see. Come on.
The house is surrounded by a garden which is mostly lawn,
with a selection of fruit trees providing privacy.
Now, in terms of outside space, it's 0.3
of an acre, but what you own, I think, is kind of irrelevant
when you're surrounded by all of that.
-So, it's our final price guess.
-The all-important question.
Well, I think this one is particularly important for you two.
Kathleen, you've got £325,000 to spend.
How much of it would you need to let go to get our mystery house?
-I think it must be pretty close to our max, so I would say 320.
I'd say we might even have to add a little bit to it,
so I'd say top of the range 325 plus 5, 10 maybe.
-OK, so over budget?
-Just about, yes.
Well, here's the good news.
-It's not over budget.
-It's under budget.
And remember that we are in Scotland,
so it's offers over £290,000.
-Ha-ha! How about that?
And all this on the doorstep too.
-I've got to go off camera.
Oh, Kathleen! Come back.
-You can have a cry with me. That's all right.
-Come on! Come here.
Come here, come here, come here. Come on.
This is obviously a big move for you,
and it's quite an emotional thing, buying a house.
It's OK to have a little bit of a tear when it's a good tear,
Under budget by £35,000, our unique octo-house gives our buyers
panoramic views across unspoilt Highland countryside.
The accommodation is generous
and gives Kathleen her large kitchen, plenty of options
for a sewing room in one of the five bedrooms, whilst, for Dave,
there are windows all the way around the house to capture
the wildlife in the secluded garden.
I think the mystery house is incredible.
Pretty much everything you want.
You've got the views, the woodland, the location is ideal.
It's basically what I'm looking for.
It's very unusual, but it just flows inside. It's really lovely.
Lovely and homely and we've got all that wildlife on the doorstep.
Well, I think
it's fair to say our house-hunting has ended on something of a high.
-I think it has.
-I like that you've got lots of thinking to do.
I think we have!
Well, this is a first for me on Escape To The Country.
Coming round to your place to have our final chat.
-And now we see the problem.
-This is where we live!
How is it that any of our houses offered anything that was
remotely too small?
So let's think about it. Our first two properties - very traditional -
we thought they might fit the bill, but
not quite, Kathleen.
The first one, although the kitchen was lovely
and flowed straight into the dining room, they were a bit small.
And Dave, you weren't convinced by number two.
Number two, I wasn't convinced.
My head was two inches below the roof,
and when I walked upstairs to the upstairs, my head was in the roof.
OK, but we kept arguably the best till last.
Our mystery house has had quite a profound effect upon
both of you, I think.
It certainly did. It blew me away, for want of a better term.
I was really, really impressed.
I mean, Kathleen, it all got a bit too much, didn't it?
Totally overwhelmed, totally. Yeah, yeah.
Yeah, it was a bit of an emotional time.
So what happens next?
I think we've got to go down to the selling solicitor,
check out the home report.
In Scotland, the process is quicker than it is in England,
and they reckon you can get from saying,
"Yes, I'll have the house" - it's six to eight weeks to moving in.
And what about you, Kathleen?
Are you surprised that it may all happen now quite quickly for you?
I hope it does happen quickly. I would be relieved
not to have to spend a winter in the caravan.
And the thought of being able to unpack the boxes
so quickly would be a very welcome result.
Well, you do make a very fine cup of coffee, it has to be said.
-But I hope in due course you'll be drinking champagne.
-Let's hope so.
-Well, here's to you. Best of luck.
So that mystery house. What a property!
It was absolutely amazing.
The right house for the right buyers.
I described it at the time as a kind of hide,
and that's really what it was, given all the wildlife that was around it.
So good news?
Very, very good news. They went back for a second viewing.
There were probably more tears.
They put in an offer, and it was accepted, so they are now
out of the caravan, living the dream, so it was a happy ending.
Brilliant news. Well done, mate.
Well, hello, David and Kathleen, if you're watching.
If you're not too busy in your wonderful garden.
And I'm pleased to say, with regards to my couple, Sam became
pregnant shortly after filming, so congratulations to them as well.
Understandably, they decided to put the house hunting on hold
until the new baby arrives.
Well, I would say that's 1-0 to me, then.
-I knew you'd say that, and I will give you that.
So I hope you've enjoyed our travels around the Scottish countryside.
-Join us next time on Escape To The Country.
-See you then.
If you're planning to escape to the
country in England, Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland and would
like our help, you can apply online:
Highlights from Jules Hudson and Jonnie Irwin's property hunts in Scotland with two couples who were both searching for a Scottish home in the countryside. In this special programme, they showcase the country's rural property gems and offering hints and tips on buying in the region.
Jules also gets to sample an alternative Scottish brew and Jonnie visits a pioneering marine research station.