Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Home, cafe and gallery near St Andrews that raised £250k for charity on sale for £825k

The owners of Birchwood Cottage have raised an astonishing £250,000 for charity over the past decade.

Birchwood Cottage has spectacular views and is within walking distance of St Andrews. Image: Lawrie Estate Agents.
Birchwood Cottage has spectacular views and is within walking distance of St Andrews. Image: Lawrie Estate Agents.

For the last decade people have flocked to a charming art gallery and tearoom just outside St Andrews.

Birchwood Cottage Gallery and Tearoom was run by Walter and Margaret Watson. Visitors loved the views out to sea and Margaret’s amazing cakes. Nor was it unusual for them to leave having bought one of Walter’s beautiful paintings.

Birchwood Cottage is a familiar landmark near St Andrews. Exit the Fife town on the A917, turn right towards Anstruther and it’s the large white house set in spacious gardens just 100 metres past the junction.

Walter and Margaret bought the property in 2010. The couple spent their careers working for NHS Glasgow before retiring in 2005 and moving to St Andrews.

Birchwood is a well known gallery and tearoom. Image: Lawrie Estate Agents.

They spent five years living in the heart of the Fife town, on a charming lane between Market Street and South Street.

Walter is an artist and donates money from the sale of his work to charity. “When we were in St Andrews he would attach his pictures to the front door and if people wanted to buy one they would just take it and post money though the letterbox,” Margaret says.

Eventually central St Andrews became too busy for them – “parking was always a nightmare,” Walter explains – and the opportunity arose to buy Birchwood Cottage.

Birchwood Cottage

The original home that stood there dated from 1800 and was the joiner’s cottage for the nearby Balmungo Estate. At some point in the past it was demolished and replaced by Birchwood Cottage, which dates from 1965, although a date stone from the original building has been incorporated into the new house.

Beechwood Cottage sits in rolling Fife countryside. Image: Lawrie Estate Agents.

When Walter and Margaret bought Birchwood Cottage it was a bungalow. They were granted permission to open a tearoom and gallery, and add a second storey with owners’ accommodation.

The couple bought Birchwood Cottage at the end of 2010. Obtaining planning permission and carrying out the huge extension project, which doubled the home’s footprint, took until 2013.

That year saw their café and gallery open. Originally they opened from Friday – Sunday but they dropped down to weekends only. “It got a bit too much for us – we’re ancient! – so we only opened on Saturdays and Sundays for the last year or two,” Walter smiles.

The tearoom was very popular with local people. Image: Lawrie Estate Agents.

The couple have two en suite bedrooms downstairs which they occasionally let out when the Open and other major golf tournaments were in St Andrews.

All of the income from this and everything they earned from the café and gallery was donated to charity.

Margaret explains: “We’re both retired and in the fortunate position of not needing to earn any more money for ourselves so we decided to do something for charity.”

£250,000 to charity

“Something” is a bit of an understatement. Over the past 10 years the couple have donated more than £250,000 to charity, with around £60,000 going to CHAS and the rest to Mary’s Meals. It’s an incredible achievement.

Birchwood Cottage has a large parking area to the front and side. Wooden storm doors protect the house from the savage winds that occasionally scour the Fife coastline. The vestibule has an inner door with a large stained glass panel.

Walter and Margaret have raised an astonishing £250,000 for charity. Image: Kenny Smith.

To the left and right are two double bedrooms that were occasionally let out to guests during the couple’s time operating the café and gallery. Both of these have en suite shower rooms.

A front facing room was used for additional storage space when the café was busy. It’s now set up as a dining room but could be an extra living room, snug or TV room. It has patio doors out to the garden and wonderful coastal views.

The kitchen leading through to the dining area. Image: Lawrie Estate Agents.

A pair of glazed doors lead into the homely and well-equipped kitchen. It then opens into the tearoom. This has outstanding views over St Andrews and out to sea from enormous picture windows.

Outstanding views

“You can see the Eden Estuary beyond St Andrews,” Walter says. “On a clear day you can see the Grampian Mountains and all the way along the coastline past Arbroath to Auchmithie.”

Although the couple have permanently closed the café it’s easy to imagine what it must have been like filled with happy customers.

The corner table was the most in-demand. Image: Lawrie Estate Agents.

Walter continues: “Most of our customers were regulars and we would see them every week. We had a lot of people whose parents were in care homes bringing them here for a coffee because it’s easy to get here and there’s parking right outside.”

Behind the tearoom is the former gift shop and off that is the gallery. Although partially cleared in preparation for the move, many of Walter’s artworks still adorn the walls and are for sale – with proceeds going to Mary’s Meals.

The gallery still contains many of Walter’s paintings. Image: Lawrie Estate Agents.

On the upper level is the couple’s living area. This has four double bedrooms, including a master bedroom with en suite bathroom. One of the bedrooms is used as Walter’s art room while another is Margaret’s study.

There is a galley kitchen and a shower room. The lounge has glazed doors that open onto a balcony which has amazing views.

The upstairs lounge has a wood burning stove and a balcony. Image: Lawrie Estate Agents.

“In the summertime we often sit out here and have our dinner,” Walter says. “You get the sunshine all day long and well into the evening.”

A large wood burning stove keeps the living room toasty in the colder months. “We had some old trees taken down so we’ve never had to buy firewood,” Walter continues.

Beautiful garden

Margaret is the green fingered one out of the couple and she has done an excellent job with the garden at Birchwood Cottage. Even on the late February day when I visit snowdrops are in bloom and a few more green shoots are appearing. In the spring and summer the garden must be full of colour.

An upstairs bedroom is Walter’s art studio. Image: Lawrie Estate Agents.

An avenue of cherry trees have been planted on either side of the path and there’s a small apple orchard. There is also a large potting shed and a barn.

Both in their 70s, Margaret and Walter have decided running a busy tearoom is now too much for them and they have put Birchwood Cottage on the market.

The garden has a variety of fruit trees and year-round colour. Image: Lawrie Estate Agents.

“It’s just us and the dog and we’re not young anymore,” Walter says. “The house and garden are becoming too much for us.

“We’re going to move back to the West Coast and are hoping to find a house in Oban.

“The cottage has permission to be changed back to fully residential use so whoever buys it can either run it as a business or turn it back into a home.

“It’s a blank canvas people can put their own stamp on.”

Birchwood Cottage with St Andrews in the background. Image: Lawrie Estate Agents.

Birchwood Cottage, Balmungo, St Andrews is on sale with Lawrie Estate Agents for offers over £825,000.