The drive to Slievemore must be one of the most beautiful in Scotland – and there is no finer time to do it than in mid-October.
From Pitlochry the single track road hugs Loch Tummel. On a still and sunny day the surface of the loch is like a mirror. The blue sky and the auburn glory of the autumnal trees on the far bank are reflected in its surface.
The Perthshire mountains frame the horizon and on the wooded northern side of the loch the occasional castle or Victorian hunting lodge peeps out between gaps in the trees.
Just shy of nine miles of this glorious road deposits me at the doorstep of Slievemore.
From the roadside it’s fairly unobtrusive. There’s a cedar shingle clad exterior and a parking area.
Only when I step inside and see the view do I realise just how special the house is. It sits right on the shore of the loch and enjoys an outstanding vista from almost every room.
Falling in love
For the past eight years its owners have been Lesley and Jim Singers. The couple are only the fourth owners of Slievemore since it was built around 1960.
“I went to see it and instantly fell in love with the place,” Lesley says. “Jim was away with work at the time but I put in an offer knowing that as soon as he saw the house he’d love it too.”
When I visit, the woodburner in Slievemore’s living room is blazing and it’s toasty. Although it’s sunny outside it’s also a crisp and cold October afternoon. I can imagine how good it must feel to come into such a warm home after a morning tramping the hills or kayaking across the loch.
Lesley and Jim carried out a major refurbishment and overhaul after they bought Slievemore. “We renewed the kitchen and both of the bathrooms and replaced the old heating system,” she says.
“The view was obscured by trees and we cut quite a few back so we could see the loch. We also added more windows to the living room to capture the views.”
The result is a waterside home with a contemporary and luxurious interior. The living room has full height windows running along two walls, framing the vista outside, and patio doors to the garden.
The main bedroom is on the ground floor and also has superb views across the loch. A second ground floor bedroom looks onto the woodland to the rear of the house. A family shower room is also at ground level.
A few stairs lead to the upper level where there are two more double bedrooms and another bathroom. The bathroom is sumptuously appointed, with luxury tiles and a deep copper bathtub.
“When people stay here I want the experience to be as special as possible,” Lesley explains. “That’s why we put in things like the copper bathtub instead of a boring normal bath.”
On the lower ground floor is a large L-shaped lounge that is currently set up as a games room. It has a wall mounted television, a snooker table and some comfortable chairs. “You can easily have two families or four couples staying here so you need more than one living space so people can split into smaller groups,” Lesley says.
A large west facing window ensures the lower level lounge is not short changed when it comes to the views either. “When the sun sets it shoots right into the room and fills it with lovely golden hour light,” Lesley continues.
Slievemore’s grounds extend to just over four-fifths of an acre and include a 30 metre stretch of loch frontage.
The upper level is laid to lawn and there is woodland on either side of the garden. There are two garages and a large log shed.
“We’re one of only seven houses in this postcode so it’s really quiet and secluded here,” Lesley says.
Down by the water’s edge is a jetty which the couple installed as part of their renovation works. Two of Lesley’s granddaughters and their father are setting out on paddleboards. Within 10 minutes they’re almost at the far side of the loch. Lesley’s daughter Jenny is on the shingle beach cooking sausages on a bbq ready for their return.
“The older one is nine and has been kayaking and paddleboarding here since she was three,” Lesley explains. She points to a promontory perhaps quarter of a mile down the loch, where one tree juts above the others.
“That’s the magic faraway tree,” she smiles. “When the girls were really little we would paddle them to the magic faraway tree and back again. We still call it that even now they’re older.”
Lesley and Jim live in Birnam and have operated Slievemore as a holiday let since they bought it. “We had to do that to make enough money to pay for the upgrades to the house,” Lesley explains. “I do the cleaning, my daughter Jenny does the books and Jim does the garden. We all team up to split and stack firewood.
“People love coming to stay here and we’ve got all five star reviews on Airbnb. A couple held their wedding in the garden. Another couple who stayed have come to view it and are keen to buy it.”
Although it has been an investment for the couple it has always been a retreat for the family as well. “We always book lots of time for ourselves here each year,” Lesley continues. “It’s a fantastic place for the family to get together.”
After eight years Lesley, 56, and Jim, 68, have reluctantly decided to put Slievemore on the market. “We have three daughers, one son and three grandchildren,” Lesley says. “One of our daughters is in Australia.
“We’ve reached the stage when it’s time to let the house go to a new owner. We want to do a bit of travelling, spend more time hillwalking and getting out on our e-bikes, and be able to visit all the beautiful places around here that we’ve recommended to our guests.
“Of course if whoever buys it continues to run it as a holiday home we’ll be booking at least one week every year.”