Live your life leading the field
WHEN he was a child, William Gallacher spent many happy summer holidays in Scotland, “messing about and fishing”.
“I grew up in Hertfordshire – my parents were Scottish but moved down south for work,” he explains. “We would come up here for holidays, though. And my mother always said to me – if you do go back, make sure you go back to Aberdeenshire.”
William did, and living at his wonderful historic home Skellater House in Strathdon has not only rekindled his childhood affection for the area, it has also allowed him to continue his favourite hobby.
“The house is situated beside some of the best rivers in Scotland – the Spey and the Dee, the Deveron and the Don,” he explains. “It’s perfect if, like me, you enjoy fishing. It is one of the things which drew me to the property in the first place. It is also iconic, this house – I think it looks amazing.”
Skellater House is indeed a commanding property, with hills rising behind and a long, sweeping driveway in front. It was built by Lachlan Forbes in 1727. The Forbes family crest remains above the door, a reminder of the family’s interesting and distinguished past.
George Forbes fought at Culloden and died in October 1767; John Forbes married a Portuguese princess and became a Field Marshal in the Portuguese army – he died in Brazil in 1809. “We have had visits from a few members of the Forbes clan – one from South Africa, another from South America – keen to learn more about the ancestral home,” smiles William, who bought Skellater around 10 years ago. “It is fun to be able to show them around.”
The house was completely gutted prior to its restoration in 1975 by builder Alastair Harper. In 2004, under the guidance of architect Michael Rasmussen, Aboyne contractor Mike Forbes built a spectacular kitchen in the old stable block, for which he was presented with the Federation of Master Builders Craftsmanship Award.
“The original kitchen was very small, so the work done to create the new kitchen was incredible,” says William. “It is a fantastic room.”
At the same time the interior was reworked by Mikhail Pietranek of Ballater. Local craftsmen were employed to add new fireplaces to the dining room, drawing room, hall and bedroom, as well as adding cornices and changing architraves. All of the work was done under a Historic Scotland Category A Listing.
The approach to Skellater is impressive – the long, straight drive rising gently to a circular sweep at the front is very grand, a reminder of the original owner’s standing.
It is beautifully decorated inside, a welcoming family home which combines the fine detail and history of the 18th century with all the luxury and flexibility of 21st century living. Inside, there is a welcoming hallway, an elegant drawing room and fantastic sitting and dining areas, with the kitchen at its heart. A cloakroom, office, utility room and games room, plus the double garage and workshop, provide great flexibility.
There are five bedrooms, a bathroom and a shower room. The attention to detail, both in creating authentic period features and in the
The surrounding Aberdeenshire countryside is brimming with opportunities for field sports