Board game Monopoly is published in a new Highlands version in October . The question is , what properties should feature in the new game ? Eilean Donan Castle must surely qualify as an iconic building and the most photographed castle in Scotland . The publishers have decided to give the public a say and anyone can vote for their favourite location or landmark between now and April 2 nd . The famous board game, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year , will retain its usual format.
The ownership of property has historically been a controversial issue in the Highlands since the days of the clearances and it is sure to cause heated debate when voting starts in Inverness.
More than 30 spots are up for grabs before the new game, in English and Gaelic, goes on sale. The Highlands have been described as the playground of the rich and famous with many well known personalities owning Scottish castles , including Mohammed al Fayed ( Balnagown Castle, Easter Ross ), Cameron Mackintosh , painter Jack Vettriano ( Easterheughs Castle ) and Peter de Savary ( the luxury Skibo Castle resort and the venue for Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s wedding ) . Many castles in the Highlands have been sold in recent years . Duncraig Castle was sold last year . Eilean Donan Castle has iconic status as one of the most photographed castles in Scotland . Urquhart Castle , on the shore of Loch Ness and its famous monster, should get serious consideration .
Other suggestions include the Glenfinnan Monument , Inverness Castle, the Cairngorm ski centre, Ben Nevis and the iconic Caledonian Canal . MSP Peter Peacock nominated Assynt in Sutherland, bought by crofters from private owners, to replace the prestigious Mayfair.
Maybe Highland Monopoly should feature Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic college in Skye, as part of a Gaelic element. It could not be bought and sold, but anyone landing on it would have to learn at least one new Gaelic word in order to be able to move forward again.
A board spokeswoman said: “Gaelic is very much a part of the identity of the Highlands and its place names and we suggest areas such as Culloden and iconic structures such as the Glenfinnan Viaduct”
Cameron Mackintosh’s pocket castle is on the shore of Loch Nevis .The building commands the point between Tarbet Bay and the main loch, midway between the two tiny villages of Tarbet and Kylesmorar, looking due west to the distant Cuillin mountains on the Isle of Skye. Inaccessible by car, it is pretty difficult scrambling miles over the headlands by foot. Mackintosh had bought himself some abandoned estate lodge in this remote spot, perhaps last extended by an Edwardian laird, and spared no expense in bringing it back to life.
Does Eilean Donan Castle qualify as an iconic building in the Highlands . Vote now in our online poll
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15 Scottish castles for sale
The Castle of Mey is raising funds for a new turret in a unique way – by selling parts of the castle brick by brick. Anyone donating £1000 will have a brick with their name on it in the new turret . The Castle of Mey was a favourite residence of the Queen Mother . It is in the far north of Scotland near John o’Groats .The aim of the appeal is to raise £35,000 to build the new turret in the south-east corner of the walled garden at the castle . The turret will be built with local Caithness stone and it will give an outstanding view across the garden towards the Pentland Firth and Orkney. Bricks will cost £35 , £65 , £250 to £1000 . Subscribers will become either a patron or friend of the Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust
Castles and three sporting estates are for sale in Scotland, with interest from buyers across Europe and the US.
A “starter castle” can cost as little as £150,000 for Westhall Castle in Aberdeenshire to those selling for millions of pounds. Parts of the building date back to the 16th century, with 17th-century additions and a major Victorian extension by A & W Reid, of Inverness.
In the 1980s and early-1990s, Westhall Castle was run as a hotel with self-catering units, but today requires complete restoration.Historically the property of the Bishops of Aberdeen, it passed to a branch of the Gordons at the Reformation and, in 1681, was bought by James Horn, vicar of Elgin, who married a Leslie of Pitcaple.
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Duncraig Castle near Plockton was for sale at £800,000.Update- Duncraig Castle has been sold .
Set in 25 acres of private landscaped grounds, Johnston Tower, part of Keithhall House, was originally constructed as Caskieben Castle in the 16th century. At one time, Caskieben Castle was owned by classical Latin poet Arthur Johnston, before it was bought in 1662 by the infamous Keith family. The Keiths were a major Scottish military family in the 17th century with Jacobite connections and they transformed the building from a modest tower house construction to a grander Renaissance building.
Johnston Tower is a unique part of Inverurie’s heritage and its new owners will be funding the restoration of many other unique buildings throughout the north-east. The corridors of Keith hall have featured many popular historical figures of the Keith family, such as George Keith, 5th Earl Marischal of Scotland, and a Jacobite rebel.
A 5,000-acre Dalchully Estate, near Laggan, Inverness-shire – the Highland retreat of Xavier-Louis Vuitton, heir to the world-famous fashion dynasty – is on the market for £4.25m.
Foreign buyers are attracted because they get much better value for their money now.Sporting estates and castles have not lost any significant value in the current climate.
Balfour Castle off Orkney, one of the most northerly castles in the world , sold for more than £2.7m .Castles and sporting estates have proved over the years to be good investments. They are certainly better investments than the stock market. Since 2006 the FTSE has halved in value and while the price of estates or castles may not have gone up as swiftly, they haven’t dipped as significantly.
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Skelmorlie Castle in Ayrshire, which comes with 27 and a half acres of land and a picturesque view of the Isle of Arran, is on sale for offers of more than £1.95m, while Barcaldine Castle in Oban has just gone on the market for offers over £1.35m.
Geoffrey Nicholsby bought Duntarvie Castle in West Lothian nearly 18 years ago. He initially wanted to transform it into a five-star hotel, but later set about developing the property as a retreat for customers to get kilted out. The 61-year-old has changed his plans and instead put the remains of the castle, on the Hopetoun Estate near Winchburgh, up for sale. With property planning consent already in place for it to become a corporate headquarters – complete with its own retail, guest accommodation and helipad – selling agents expect it to be snapped up by an international firm looking for a property as a global HQ.
Savills have got four castles on the market, three of which are in the north-east, which is very rare. People sell their castles for a variety of reasons, but it tends to be people whose children have left home.
It is amazing and quite unprecedented that as many as 15 castles are on the market because these types of properties tend to be held by the same people for a very long time.
The credit crunch has had an impact and these people are looking to realise capital. Rural property castles and large estates tend to be held by the same families for generations. Half of Scotland hasn’t been on the market for centuries.
A Scottish castle hotel is beating the credit crunch with news of a major expansion
Hotel owner Steven McLeod has bought Melville Castle Hotel near Edinburgh and intends to develop it into a five-star spa and event facility.
Melville Castle Hotel is due to open in March after a comprehensive refurbishment with an extra 50 staff .
However, the redevelopment doesn’t stop there and there are plans for a further 120 bedrooms, a luxury spa, a steakhouse, fine dining restaurant and meeting and event facilities for more than 500 guests.
The 33-year-old is in talks with Historic Scotland with the aim of submitting plans for the new venue within the next 18 months. The hotel is set in a 60-acre estate on the banks of the North Esk river.
The new development will create 1500 construction jobs .
Mr McLeod said: “We are facing difficult economic times but it is at times like these we have to stick together.” Guide to best hotels in Scotland