Gold rush estate yours for £5m

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A 16,000-acre Highland estate at the centre of Scotland’s 19th Century gold rush is on sale for a cut price £5m.

And the owner of Suisgill Estate, in Helmsdale, Sutherland, can still pan for gold in the burns that cut through the magnificent landscape.

The same streams on the estate were fished by Prince Charles and his new bride Diana in 1981 during their three-month honeymoon tour.

The price – less than a four-bedroom flat next to Hyde Park, London – represents a remarkable bargain as Suisgill was reported to have been on sale in 2010 for £10m.

Suisgill, 235 miles north of Glasgow, is most famous as the location of the 1868 Scottish gold rush.

After a local discovered gold in the burns, some 600 prospectors flooded to the area to pan for the precious metal, in scenes more reminiscent of the American wild west than the windswept Highlands.

The estate is now on the market for a total of £5.1m
The estate is now on the market for a total of £5.1m

 

The estate is now on the market for a total of £5.1m but is also available as two separate lots with a £2.75m price tag on the River Helmsdale fishing rights plus a lodge and cottage or £2.35m for the estate’s 16,503 acres and four further dwellings.

The gold rush on the estate began in 1868 – after Robert Gilchrist, a local man who had made his fortune prospecting gold in Australia – found gold in the Suisgill Burns.

News of his find spread like wildfire, and within months 600 Scots prospectors had set up camp on the river’s shores.

Scenes from the day show wooden shacks pitched up in the area – closer to the gold rush towns of America’s west than the towns or cities of Scotland.

Within weeks locals were pulling enough gold from the river for local jewellers to make pieces from the finds.

By the end of 1869 the rush was over – as the practice of panning began to be regulated, and the returns from the river began to diminish.

And in January 1870 the shanty town built by prospectors was burnt to the ground.

 

The area is still known to this day “Baile-an-or” - Gaelic for “Town of Gold”.
The area is still known to this day “Baile-an-or” – Gaelic for “Town of Gold”.

 

The Scottish gold rush may have proven to be a flash in the pan, but the area is still known to this day “Baile-an-or” – Gaelic for “Town of Gold”.

Visitors can pan for gold on the estate as part of their tour – but they are more likely to find small flecks of gold than the coveted nuggets that were being dredged up some 150 years ago.

The estate also has its fair share of distinguished visitors – who have hunted the rivers for Salmon rather than gold.

Charles and Diana fished on the banks of the river during their honeymoon tour, which also took them to Gibraltar and Greece aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia, now harboured permanently in Edinburgh.

The Queen Mother also enjoyed fishing on the stunning lands of the estate.

Despite the rich history and royal associations, no buyer could be found for the estate when it was originally put on the market for £10m in 2010 by property tycoon Edward Reeves. The price was cut to £7m in 2013, again without the sale going forward.

The estate is now being sold by Savills. Luke French of their rural agency team said: “Suisgill is probably best known for its fishing but it offers a wonderfully diverse range of enterprises – sporting, farming and forestry and has really benefited from four decades of pro-active management, sympathetic to its history and to the land itself.

“The estate has recently been relaunched to the market in two separate lots to appeal to a wider audience than it did when it was previously for sale.

“We anticipate a good level of interest in each lot from home and abroad. This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire a spectacular estate and a share of the Helmsdale.”

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