Scots castle that “broke” Samuel Johnson on sale for £450K – fainthearted need not apply

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A REMOTE Scottish castle that tested the adventuring spirit of writer Samuel Johnson to destruction could be yours for just £450,000.

Breachacha Castle is an A-listed Georgian building on the southern end of the Isle of Coll, boasting sea views as spectacular as the solitude.

Johnson stayed at the impressive property during an 83-day tour of the Western Isles with his biographer, James Boswell, in 1773.

He first described his temporary accommodation as a “neat, new-built gentleman’s house” and used it as a base for his travels.

A few weeks later he was driven from the island by its fierce weather, describing the castle as a “tradesman’s box” and living on Coll “a waste of life”.

The castle is set in a stark landscape
The castle is set in a stark landscape

Even the sellers admit buying and restoring the castle is not a project for the “fainthearted”.

The building is formed from a 15th-century tower house which was later extended into a clan seat for the McLean family.

The current owners mainly live in the top two floors of the three-storey structure, which boasts six bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Work is required to bring the centuries-old castle into the modern day, and estate agents Bell Ingram are marketing it as a “unique restoration opportunity”.

It is easy to see why Johnson initially took a liking to the castle, as it overlooks one of Coll’s scenic beaches and boasts bright and spacious rooms.

His trip to the Outer Hebrides was made chiefly to undermine the Ossian poems, written by James Macpherson, which were popular at the time.

Macpherson claimed to have found and translated ancient Gaelic texts to write the poems, the authenticity of which Johnson disputed.

When he arrived on Coll with Boswell, they were welcomed by the island’s laird and invited to stay at his home – Breachacha castle.

The rustic interior failed to charm Johnson in the long run
The rustic interior failed to charm Johnson in the long run

Despite the extensive size and impressive attributes, the castle’s charm soon wore thin on the poet and his biographer.

Although Johnson initially described it as “a neat, new-built gentleman’s house, better than any we had been in since we were at Lord Errol’s”, he later deemed there was “nothing becoming about it…a mere tradesman’s box”.

Two days later, he described island existence as “a waste of life” and eventually Coll’s inclement weather drove both men to Campbeltown.

Boswell’s subsequent account of their trip, The Journal of a Tour of the Hebrides, would later form the basis of his biographical work The Life of Samuel Johnson.

In it he also detailed how the pair fought over whose bedchamber curtains were the finest during their stay at the castle.

Although Breachacha fell into disrepair while uninhabited in the 1950s and 1960s, its owners have spent ten years making upgrades.

Will Banham, of Bell Ingram’s Oban office, said: “Scotland is famous for its castles but it is rare that any island castle comes onto the open market.

“The fact that Breachacha Castle combines the character of a fine Georgian manor house with a spectacular outlook over a white sandy beach, makes this restoration opportunity truly exceptional.

“This is not a project for the fainthearted, but this fine building has a fascinating history and really does offer buyers the chance to create a unique holiday home or lifestyle business.”

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