A stunning eco-friendly house in a small hillside development near Pitlochry boasts unbeatable views of the Perthshire hills and surrounding countryside, as Gayle Ritchie discovers…
If Diana and Murray Watson could pack their house into a lorry and take it with them when they move, they would do exactly that.
The couple – retired IT professionals who have lived in stunning Rowangarth since it was built in 2013 – are truly gutted to be leaving their dream home.
“It’s an incredible house in a wonderful part of Perthshire and we’re unbelievably sad to have to leave it,” laments Diana.
“We’re moving to the Cotswolds to be close to family and it’s going to be a real wrench. I doubt we’ll find anything as amazing as this down south for close to this price or in such a beautiful area.”
As you drive up the winding, tree-lined country road towards Rowangarth – which is one of five properties within a small rural development at Donavourd – you get a strong sense of being in the middle of nowhere.
The truth is, the five bedroom house is only a mile from the A9 and two miles east of Pitlochry.
Originally on the site of a barn belonging to Donavourd Farm, the Watsons bought one of the five plots in 2012 and watched with bated breath as their ideal home was built. They moved in the following year.
“All five plots had different plans and we made a lot of extra changes inside, adding a gorgeous oak frame and changing the windows. We wanted to stamp our identify on it,” explains Diana.
When you step inside the house, you are instantly enveloped by its warm, homely feel.
“It’s the Scottish oak that makes it so warm and tactile,” smiles Diana. “It’s not uncommon for people to come in and hug a pillar!”
The couple sourced the oak from a sawmill in Dunfermline and watched while the tree trunks were cut into timbers and put together like a jigsaw.
“Everything about it is so beautiful, from the posts, beams and braces to the oak pegs and marks made on the timbers by the craftsmen,” says Diana, who describes the house’s style as “modern rustic” – a mix of traditional and contemporary.
It’s hot on eco-credentials, with biomass central heating, solar panels and a state-of-the-art ventilation and heat recovery system which recycles heat and exchanges the air in the house.
Boasting natural clay-plastered walls, the house is insulated with wood fibre and recycled paper and has a mix of double and triple glazing.
The front door opens into a beautiful dining hall with a cool limestone floor.
The sitting room is a cosy space with a wood-burning stove and oak floor while the kitchen boasts glossy cream units and a range of integrated Miele and Siemens appliances. Sliding doors open to the gorgeous terraced gardens, which rather resemble an amphitheatre with its curved, tiered steps.
At the top of the oak staircase, you reach the impressive landing, undoubtedly one the most fabulous areas of the house.
Its vaulted cathedral-style ceiling gives a theatrical sense of both space and tranquillity, and the westerly view – which is absolutely jawdropping – is framed by gorgeous oak beams.
Moving round to the bedrooms, you’re treated to views of Tummel Valley, sheep grazing in fields, distant forests and hills and imposing Ben Vrackie.
“You see glimpses of something lovely wherever you go in the house,” says Diana.
The master bedroom suite really has the wow-factor, and Diana gives a wry smile as she reveals her belongings dominate most of the vast area, complete with dressing room, en-suite bathroom and separate shower.
Gardens surround the house and again, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to the views.
The back garden, above the terrace, boasts a wildflower meadow, and a gate leads to a farm track.
Indeed, the garden is a place Diana and Murray enjoy throughout the year, whether for entertaining, enjoying a cheeky glass or two of wine, or for a spot of stargazing.
“The night sky is incredible,” says Diana. “I often gaze up at the constellations and wish I knew the names of more stars!
“You appreciate the changing seasons living here – you see the autumnal colours of the trees right now – and it’s so peaceful.
“You can bask in sunshine on the terrace quite late in the season because it’s so sheltered.”
With many hill trails and tracks to stroll along, the area is heaven for outdoors lovers.
The fact you can easily walk down to Pitlochry is a major plus point.
“It’s very handy – you can walk there down a little lane which heads through woods and passes Edradour Distillery,” says Diana.
“Pitlochry has a lot going for it. Compared with other places, it punches above its weight in terms of facilities, public transport links and events on offer like Enchanted Forest.”
In terms of storage, Rowangarth has a lot, and the Watsons use a large room above the double garage for keeping their belongings. However, this would would make a great office, playroom or studio and because it’s equipped with Velux windows, lights and power, it’s ready for a buyer to adapt.