The fiery glow of the golden hour bathes Wester Moss. We’re closing in on the shortest day of the year and it will soon be dark but for now I’m seeing the house in its best light.
It’s owned by Chris and Suzanne George, who bought Wester Moss and its 12 acres of land around 10 years ago.
Located between Rumbling Bridge and the wonderfully titled Yetts o Muckart, Wester Moss is just four miles from Dollar and eight from Kinross.
Sitting in a dip in the landscape and ringed by the Ochil Hills it enjoys great views in every direction. It’s also very sheltered and even on this December day I’m not too cold in just jeans and a shirt – at least for the 10 minutes it takes Chris to show me around the garden, outbuildings and land.
Wester Moss was originally a stone bothy thought to date back to the 1500s. That part of the house still remains and has been added to numerous times over the centuries – most recently by Chris and Suzanne themselves – to create the large family home that stands there today.
A gravel road lifts you up off the quiet country lane that runs past the house and a set of remote control electric gates glide silently open to admit me.
Suzanne and Chris, both 56, run a marketing firm in Stirling called Denvir, and arriving home must feel like stepping away from the world.
“It is lovely and private,” Suzanne explains. “What we really like about the location here is you’re in the countryside but you can be in Stirling in half an hour, Edinburgh in not much more, and Glasgow in 40 minutes.”
The amount of land was perfect for them too. “We wanted a house in the countryside because we have horses but at the same time we’re still really townies at heart so we didn’t want something that would take over our lives,” Suzanne continues.
Chris adds: “We looked at one or two places that were upwards of 25 acres but once you get to that size you have to do things like buy a tractor and it gets a bit all-consuming.
“We both work full time and this is the perfect size for us. We have a girl who helps look after the horses and that means we can focus on our day jobs without having to cancel a meeting to dash out into the fields.”
The land is split into three large fields and five smaller paddocks, and there are a range of outbuildings including two stable blocks with enough room for six horses and a foal.
There’s also a floodlit arena with sand and rubber surface, while the surrounding countryside gives plenty of opportunities for hacking.
Closer to the house the couple added a stretch of decking and a covered patio area, which were finished just in time for lockdown. “We were outside almost every day during spring and summer,” says Chris. “When the regulations allowed us to have guests this was a great place for outdoor entertaining.”
Wester Moss has been a good place to ride out the pandemic. “There are walks in almost every direction and we’ve explored a lot more of the Ochils since lockdown began,” Suzanne says.
The house is accessed through a set of double doors which lead into a bright vestibule. The couple’s dog, a 12-year old Jack Russell called Charlie, scampers over to give the visitor a quick sniff and be rewarded with a pat on the head.
Through another set of doors is a large dining hall with further accommodation off.
What is now a lovely family room with a high sloping ceiling was until recently an outdoor courtyard. “We created a family room here and moved the kitchen – which was very small – into the old family room next door,” Chris explains.
The passageway through to the family room shows how thick the original walls are – the builders must have had to cut through nearly three feet of stone to create the opening.
The couple have created a nice flow to the house, with access from the dining hall to the family room, into the kitchen, through the living room and back into the dining hall. The circular route is a great way for guests to mingle during parties.
The kitchen is warmed by a large red Aga and the utility room has a back door out to the covered patio. The family room has a set of glazed doors that open to the garden.
To one end of the ground floor is a study, family bathroom and a guest bedroom, while at the other end of the house is an enormous master bedroom with en suite.
At nine metres long, the main bedroom is bigger by far than your average living room. “We thought about splitting it into two bedrooms but we really like the space,” Chris says.
A large window from the master bedroom looks out over the courtyard and stables to the hills beyond. “It’s lovely waking up in the morning and seeing two happy horse heads poking out of the stable doors, checking if we’re up yet,” Suzanne smiles.
Indeed, almost every room in the house has a delightful view, whether it be over fields, woodland or the Ochil Hills.
The main staircase leads up to a gallery room, two bedrooms and a shower room. A second staircase to the other side of the dining hall takes you to a guest bedroom and bathroom. “What’s really nice is that guests can have their own section of the house,” Suzanne explains. “Chris and I have been working from home since the pandemic began and for a while our son was here as well.
“All three of us had our own bit of the house we could work from and it never felt crowded at all. It’s a great house for working from home.”
It’s a truism that no sooner have you finished doing up your house than it’s time to sell it on, and this is the case for the Georges.
“We just finished the final works a year ago so at least we’ve had that amount of time to enjoy the finished house,” Suzanne smiles.
Their daughter Anna works as a vet in Gullane and the couple hope to find somewhere on the east coast to be closer to her. “When we moved here we had six horses and now we only have two,” Chris explains. “If we get somewhere they can be on site that’s great but we’re happy to be flexible and rent a field nearby.
“At the moment I’m trying not to look too much because we don’t want to find our dream home until we’ve sold this place and are in a position to buy.”