The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Homecoming at Skellater House

Skellater House is no ordinary family home and offers its own gun ports, not to mention a cottage in the garden.

- Ellie House finds out more

When William Gallacher was a little boy, his family left Scotland and started a new life down south – but he always vowed he’d return.

It wasn’t until William had a family of his own and witnessed a violent crime in London that he made the decision to return to old haunts though.

He perhaps did not quite envisage a stunning 17th-century home complete with imposing driveway and gun ports, however.

Skellater House can be found in Strathdon and is surrounded by beautiful scenery, not to mention six acres of land and a cottage in the garden.

From the outside, it is every inch the Grade A listed Scottish stately home, but careful renovation has brought it forward into the 21st century.

It offers not only character but a great deal of warmth, and has been the family home for William, his wife Susana, and their daughter, Elena, for the past nine years.

It is with a heavy heart that they will be leaving Skellater behind, but William hopes the new owner will embrace its quirks.

“You never really own a house like this, you simply look after it before passing it on,” said William, who works in advertisin­g and is also a keen artist.

“I was born about 40 miles away from here. My mother said if I ever returned to Scotland I should come back to this area.

“It was this dream I had as a little boy, to come back here.

“I remember driving past this place and wondering what it was like inside.

“It’s been a homecoming in a way, but it took me a while to get here.

“I was living in Islington when I saw someone get stabbed about eight feet in front of me and there and then I thought to myself, I’m done with this place.

“That’s what set everything in motion.

“We were looking at houses on the west coast, but when I saw Skellater House I just knew immediatel­y that this was the right home for us.

“I think the big selling point for me was the fact that it combines old and new.”

Skellater was carefully renovated in 1975 and further work was completed in 2004.

Architect Michael Rasmussen designed the stunning kitchen, whilst local Ballater craftsmen completed the work.

The result has produced the heart of the home – the kitchen-come-dining room.

With floor-to-ceiling windows either side, this room is filled with light, which is enhanced by Velux windows and a wooden frame.

There is a central kitchen island and extensive space for dining furniture.

“I love the kitchen because it feels modern, but it’s still in keeping with the house,” said William.

“It’s a great room for entertaini­ng and we loved coming together as a family.”

Head upstairs where you’ll find a beautiful landing area which overlooks the kitchen.

There is a large bedroom, games room and a study – and this area of the house offers a great deal of versatilit­y.

Head back down to the ground floor and explore the original building.

The rear hall provides access to the drawing room and sitting room – both beautifull­y decorated and complete with traditiona­l features such as ceiling cornices and open fire places.

The floorboard­s in the hallway came from the local school, whilst the beautiful drapes in the public rooms were custom made in Ballater.

“The hallway was previously the kitchen more than 100 years ago, and sometimes I think I can still smell a trace of smoke from cooking,” said William.

On the first floor are two large bedrooms and the family bathroom, whilst a further two bedrooms and a shower room can be found on the attic floor.

“The gun ports are in the eaves in the bedrooms; not many houses can offer their own gun ports,” said William.

“They’re in the perfect position because you see everything, so back in the day I can only imagine they’d lie in wait and take a pop at any trespasser­s.

“It’s hard to believe that this place was a haybarn until it was renovated first time round in the seventies.

“I’ve always loved old buildings and the history which comes with them,

I’ve even been told that there was a big fire here one time.”

The magic continues to unfold in the gardens where Skellater Cottage can be found.

It offers a wonderful hideaway with one bedroom, a lovely sitting room, kitchen and its own garden.

It has been used as a holiday home for many years but could be used as a granny annexe.

There is also a large double garage and workshop in the extensive gardens, alongside a well-stocked kitchen garden.

Skellater House has its own private water supply via a spring.

“It’s very tranquil here, and it’s a joy to drive up the track after I’ve been away,” said William.

“It’s rare I see people except the odd walker, but this is a very close-knit community.

“The farmer always clears the driveway when it snows, we help each other out.

“I love fishing, so the area has been perfect.

“It’s time to leave so I can spend more time with Susana who lives in Spain, and Elena is spreading her wings at university.

“I hope someone else can breathe new life in Skellater whilst respecting its history.”

Offers should be made in excess of £795,000.

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 ?? Photograph: Kenny Elrick ?? William Gallacher outside Skellater House.
Photograph: Kenny Elrick William Gallacher outside Skellater House.
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