“Wonderful” Harris fishing estate for just £1.35m
A package of fishing rights and rental properties in Harris has been placed on the market by the estate agents, Galbraith, with an asking price over £1.35 million.
The Finsbay, Flodabay and Stockinish fishings are described as “a wonderful and mixed wild fishery in spectacular rivers and lochs”.
The property offers fishing on three river systems and around 100 lochs, with a five-year average annual catch of 49 sea trout, 264 brown trout and the occasional salmon.
For the past 20 years, the fisheries have been owned by an Austrian ophthalmologist, Dr Jam Abel who has made substantial investments in developing three lodges as well as a modern bungalow and a traditional cottage, all with spectacular views.
The fishings – which are also popular with local anglers – have been closed for most of the past year due to the Covid restrictions.
According to Galbraith and harking back to the 1920s: “The sale of Finsbay offers an opportunity for the new owners to reinstate a lodge on the site of Lord Leverhulme’s lodge, subject to planning permission.”
The original was demolished in 1925 after Leverhulme’s son sold Harris.
John Bound of Galbraith, who is handling the sale, said: “There may be potential to further expand the lodges, subject to planning permission. This is a perfect location for private parties to come to Scotland to fish and enjoy the spectacular and wild countryside.”
Fishing has traditionally been restricted to fly only and the current owner has encouraged the release of salmon and sea trout. A number of lochs are fished by boat, with many being fished only from the bank.
A Galbraith spokeswoman told the Gazette: “The fishing lodges are completely booked up until 25th September, although there is some availability for fishing without accommodation.
"For this year, bookings are already at 69 per cent despite the significant impact of Covid, so it’s a very successful business”.
Now retired, Dr Abel ran an o phthalmology hospital near Vienna for many years and was a keen angler in his spare time.
After spending many years travelling to Scotland for fishing on the likes of the River Spey he made the investment in Harris, alongside business partner Peter Brauchal, a property developer, and up until now visited the islands maybe two or three times a year.
Dr Abel and Mr Brauchal used their experience and knowledge of fisheries in the mountains of Austria to develop the same potential in Harris, with mixed results.
Local resident Hamish Taylor said: "He made mistakes at first, just not understanding the ways of the island and crofting. But once he understood that and it was put right they were no problem at all.
"They really put a lot of investment into the lochs and river systems and the lodges and it’s really the first time in a long time that anyone has actually done anything like that with it.”
In their marketing pitch, the selling agents say: “The surrounding area is one of spectacular open moorland. The coastal waters are dotted with charming bays and peaceful inlets that abound with seals, the occasional otter and regular sightings of sea eagles.”