A large, nicely modernised main house. Numerous barns and outbuildings. Two holiday let units. And around 70 acres of fields and woodlands.
Boreland Farm is its own little slice of Perthshire paradise. It sits on the outskirts of the pretty village of Kirkmichael, at the top of a short farm track.
When Mike and Donna Aitken bought the farm in 2008 it was in a very dilapidated state. “The old man before us was in there from 1947 until he died,” Mike explains. “Latterly he wasn’t able to keep up with the maintenance and it had started to crumble around him.
“When we had the gable end off to do the extension I drove my digger right into what’s now the living room and scooped everything out.”
Originally from Fife, Mike will be known to 4×4 enthusiasts for running the specialist Land Rover centre, originally in Ceres and now run from Ladybank by his former apprentice Ian Sim.
He and Donna moved to Perthshire in 2008, drawn by the opportunity to create something out of a rundown property with lots of outbuildings and land.
Renovating Boreland Farm
“Mike loves a project,” Donna says. “Even by his standards this was a big one though and at times it felt like we’d bitten off more than we could chew. It took us around four years of working weekends on the place before it was done.”
The couple stripped out the main house, added an extension on the gable end, and thoroughly modernised it.
They initially installed an air source heat pump but found the running costs too expensive. “It was costing us £3,000 a month in electricity,” Mike said. “To heat the house it needed to be on all the time.
“We took it out and replaced it with a biomass boiler. It runs on logs and we’ve got an endless supply of those from our woodland. It takes me a fair bit of time to process the timber but we’ve never had to pay for wood and we get RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) payments as well.”
When they had the house opened up Mike found a surprise hidden in the walls. “There was a whisky bottle from the early 1970s in there. There was a note inside that said ‘nothing left but the smell.’ I added my own note and put it back inside the wall.”
Exploring inside Boreland
Stepping into Boreland’s main house, I’m greeted by Bertie, the couple’s adorable two-year old flat coated retriever.
The ground floor contains a fantastic open plan living space. This seamlessly flows from a kitchen at one end, through a dining area and into a sitting room. This last section is in the extension added by the couple and has superb views across the Perthshire hills from its large bank of windows.
“When we bought the house it was in this great setting but not many of the windows had views,” Mike explains.
“That’s part of the reason we planned this extension. Even then all we would have seen was the end of a shed. We got permission to knock down the last 10 metres of the shed to clear the views and we reused the stone to build the extension.”
It’s a lovely place to relax. A wood burning stove casts a cheery glow during the colder months, although the house is so well insulated it soon gets too hot with it blazing away.
The ground floor has a utility room, a boot room and a WC. There is also a ground floor bedroom with an adjacent bathroom.
The couple removed a dangerously steep staircase that wouldn’t meet today’s building regulations. They replaced it with a modern stair that leads up to a bright landing that’s big enough to be used as a home office.
The upper floor has three bedrooms and a family bathroom. The superb master bedroom has an en suite shower room and a triangular wall of glass to capture the views.
Outbuildings and holiday chalets
Boreland Farm comes with two holiday units. Boreland Holiday Chalet is a two bedroom timber lodge with a private garden.
Meanwhile, Boreland Holiday Pod is recently built. It has an open plan living room/kitchen, one bedroom and a bathroom.
“In the winter we sometimes get skiers staying or even workers at Glenshee looking for accommodation for the season,” Mike explains. “In the summer we get a lot of hikers. We also usually get a guy who’s a classic motorbike enthusiast. Every year he turns up on an old bike to explore the roads round here. His wife always arrives in their car.”
Boreland Farm also comes with several stone outbuildings as well as two large modern steel workshops Mike had built. They’re filled with old Land Rovers in various stages of being refurbished – rebuilding and restoring Defenders remains one of Mike’s biggest passions.
70 acres of land at Boreland Farm
Indeed, it’s in a refitted Defender from the mid-2000s that Mike shows me round Boreland Farm’s 70 acres. These consist largely of fields that are rented out to a local farmer and used for grazing. The farm also comes with several belts of mature woodland.
Three years ago a ladder slipped from under Mike when he was in his workshop. He was airlifted to Ninewells by the Charity Air Ambulance and spent two weeks in the trauma ward but hasn’t fully recovered from his severe injuries.
Mike, 63, and Donna, 60, have decided they no longer want the responsibility of a property with 70 acres. Their 12-year-old son is going to high school in Blairgowrie so they’re looking for somewhere within reach of his school.
“I’d like another project but on a smaller scale, maybe four or five acres with space for me to build a workshop,” Mike says. “If it’s a place that needs a lot of work we could live in a caravan for a while.” Donna rolls her eyes at this. “It would be a nice caravan…” he adds hurriedly.