Sitting in London on a hot summer day, it’s easy to fantasize about enjoying a slower pace of life elsewhere. Somewhere remote, perhaps, with private beaches and acres of space.
Vaila’s Shetland Island in Scotland could be your answer. With its craggy cliffs, caves and pebbly beaches, the entire island – complete with 17º Century Mansion – is currently on sale for £1.75 million.
Located in one of the northernmost points in the UK, Vaila is accessible by a 10-minute boat ride from mainland Shetland.
“I can think of fewer better places in the world,” former poet laureate Sir John Betjeman once said of the island. He has a point. At 757 acres, Vaila has 6.5 miles of coastline, 142 acres of pasture (there are 200 Shetland sheep for company) and 518 acres of wild heathland to the south of the island.
Lapped by the Norwegian and Northern seas, Vaila has a rugged landscape: green, rocky and weather-beaten, surrounded by dark blue waters.
Its clear and sheltered waters attract orcas, dolphins, otters and birds. And you might want to think about starting fishing: there are cod, mackerel, halibut, crabs and lobster to be caught on the shores of Vaila.
The jewel in the crown, however, is Vaila Hall – a dramatic 17th-century mansion with impressive stone steps, turrets and battlements.
At 7,480 square feet, with six bedrooms and four reception rooms, the “extraordinary estate” was originally the property of a laird. at the end of 19º and early 20’sº centuries, however, it was used as a large summer residence, hosting lavish parties for island residents and staff (30 in 1901).
It is still well equipped to receive, with its spacious Great Hall, furnished with 19º century pieces and centered around a massive arched stone fireplace. There is also the morning room, with its own large carved wood fireplace, and the winter garden, which overlooks the sea.
Other highlights include full-height stained glass windows, a minstrels gallery and a library, with fitted bookshelves and original cornices.
The master bedroom is situated in a tower, with panoramic sea views through four windows.
Study, meanwhile, is a more unusual job at home, with a hidden entrance through the kitchen and a bell tower.
If 757 hectares and a mansion weren’t enough to sell it, the island also comes with 18º 19th-century watchtower, a two-bedroom caretaker’s house, and a three-bedroom farmhouse. (In the stable belonging to the farmhouse is the skeleton of a 42-foot whale, which ran aground on the island in 2000.)
“At the meeting point of the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, this is a wild and beautiful part of the world. The juxtaposition of the dramatic and elemental landscape of land and sea with the exquisite craftsmanship of historic Vaila Hall creates an extraordinary property,” says Luke French, director of Savills’ Edinburgh office.
“A rare prize indeed for the next owner, but also one that benefits from the sellers’ practical forethought, with the shore base building providing ease of access and the farm business, farmhouse and country house creating a variety of amenities. opportunities.”
Vaila has been inhabited for thousands of years and was once home to Norwegian Viking chieftains. One of its previous occupants was Arthur Anderson, founder of the shipping company P&O, who also established the island’s Shetland Fishery Company in a move that broke the power of the lairds, who previously controlled the industry.
Since 1993, Vaila has been home to Richard Rowland and Dorota Rychlik, a couple who moved to the island from London, opting for a lifestyle change.
With 757 acres and several properties to tend to, they are now looking to downsize in other parts of the Shetland Islands.
Scotland has over 900 offshore islands – several of which have been bought and sold in recent years. Linga, for example, was priced at £250,000 and sold in 2021, and Ulva, an island of six in the Hebrides, was traded at £4.25 million and sold in 2018.
30 years ago, Vaila granted Rowland and Rychlik a radical new way of life – now, that opportunity is open once again.
Vaila is listed with savills for offers in excess of £1,750,000.