Britain’s ‘most isolated home’ sold for £10m | lake district

In popular accounts a century earlier, it was described as “one of the most secluded dwellings in all the British Isles” and was the setting of a wild and melodramatic murder.

The estate agent selling it today describes it more favorably as “an inspiring and unique property” but acknowledges that it is still “the most remote home in England”.

Skiddaw House, a former shooting lodge built by a gentleman landowner in 1829, is being sold along with 1,214 hectares (3,000 acres) of stunning Lake District land, which includes three mountain peaks.

Sealed bidding closes on Wednesday and viewings are difficult. The shortest walk is from the hamlet of Threlkeld and takes about 1 hour 20 minutes, with waterproofs, map, compass, whistle and torch. A more scenic two-hour option would be to start in Keswick.

Skiddaw Forest
Skiddaw House is located in stunning scenery of the Lake District. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

The car wouldn’t last 30 seconds on the narrow, rocky, winding track up the mountain to Skiddaw House.

It’s accessible in an SUV and this week The Guardian was able to visit it thanks to the off-road Can-Am Traxter used by salesman Gavin Bland, a Cumbrian sheep farmer. “It’s not always so gloomy,” he said cheerfully as the rain pelted the ground as Herdwick’s sheep watched in bewilderment.

Bland bought the house and land privately in 2015 and is selling with no idea, he admits, of whether it will work out.

The home alone hit the market in 2021 and has become something of an online Rightmove sensation, one of the most viewed properties of the year by dreamers.

But it failed to sell. remoteness, a four-mile walk up the mountain to the nearest tavern; the nature of life off the grid; the fact that it is leased on a peppercorn lease to a youth hostel establishment until 2027; And a price of around £1.5m may have all combined to put buyers off.

Land – breathtaking even in fog and rain that includes the sweeping, treeless Skiddaw Forest and the peaks of the Skiddaw Mountains, Great Calva and Little Calva – is now included.

Skiddaw House Locator

Andrew Wright, president of the Mitchell Land Agency organizing the sale, said it was “one of the largest areas of the Lake District National Park that has ever sold.” It is also the only time the Skiddaw House has been on the open market since it was built. “We expect a lot of interest,” Wright said.

No price tag has been given but the Guardian understands it is in the region of £10m.

“How do you value a place like this?” asked Bland. “You can’t appreciate it. There’s nothing to compare it to. It’s what someone would be willing to pay for it.”

Skiddaw House, 457 meters (1,500 ft) above sea level, was built as a shooting lodge in 1829 by the third Earl of Egremont, George Wyndham, a gentleman whose main home was the stunning Petworth House in West Sussex.

Novelist Hugh Walpole was particularly taken by Skiddaw House, setting a murder scene there in his 1932 novel The Fortress. It is “one of the most secluded residences in all the British Isles,” he wrote, “the only building from Threlkeld to the Dash “.

The boundless heather and the “hostile corpses” he writes about, still exist today of course. As is the wonderful home. Where else would you have killed a cousin whom you had despised since childhood?

Over the decades, patrons have come and gone. Longest resident was Pearson Dalton whose departure from Skiddaw House was the subject of a Guardian Country memoir in 1969.

He said he was there for nearly 50 years with his goats, cat and dogs, until he was forced into retirement by his employer, fearing that “if anything were to happen to the mountain man, he might be without help for days”.

Gavin Bland opens a portal
“It’s not always so bleak like this.” Farmer Gavin Bland sells the remote home and his land. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

The land is the best hill ranch in the Lake District, Bland said, the best lamb fell since they’ve got a little bit of everything. There is no fern.”

Empty in the 1970s, the property fell into disrepair, until it was converted in 1986 into what is now Britain’s highest youth hostel.

Most of the Lake District is owned by large farms or the National Trust, so having such a large slice of privately owned land on the market is unusual. Land agents and Bland believe it could provide an investment opportunity in environmental and habitat protection. “It can interest everyone from a grouse shooting enthusiast to a remodeler, and everything in between,” said Bland.

If the bids aren’t what he’s hoping for, then so be it, said Bland. “I don’t have to sell. If it doesn’t sell, it won’t sell… There’s no point in me dropping my price. It’ll be another 100 years before anyone gets a chance to buy it.”