For sale: Des Res island, all amenities, a snip for pounds 1/4m. Suitab le for recluses and paradise seekers

For those searching for an island paradise in which to hide away and count their fortunes, Scotland is the destination. And to avoid the bad weather and the dark days that put the more remote rocky outcrops out of reach, the time to island-hunt is from May to August.

There are always a few Scottish islands for sale, but this year many more are on the market, prompting fears that the fragile culture of the Western Isles is being yet further eroded. At least 19 islands off Scotland's west coast are up for sale, some going for the same price as a three- bedroom house in London. Nine islands are available in the Inner Hebrides and 10 in the Outer Hebrides.

According to Charles Dudgeon, a partner with Savills estate agents in Edinburgh, normally there are only about two or three for sale in summer. "I find this year's number staggering," he said. "Some can't be worth the candle."

Estate agents, MacDonald MacIver & Co in Stornoway, selling the cluster of 10 Outer Hebridean islands, said they have never had so many on their books before.

One island, Pabay, in particular seems to fit the bill for the buyer who has everything else - "isolation, privacy and accessibility", according to Mr Dudgeon who is selling it for more than pounds 395,000. Although it's a tiny windswept isle favoured in the past by thieves and cut-throats, Pabay is hot property now, sheltering between the Isle of Skye and the mainland and still offering seclusion and adventure. The price, he adds, includes 326 acres, a farm with wind and solar power, a harbour, a jetty, and a willing boatman who needs just pounds 50 (plus VAT) to take new residents the two miles to the island from Broadford on Skye.

Owning an island has its responsibilities, as well as its costs. Pabay has a licence to produce its own stamps and the island's owners are paid pounds 1,260 a year by the Post Office to collect and deliver their own post over the sea to Skye.

The island of Eigg is also for sale, at pounds 2m. Famous for its viol-ent history and rugged scenery, it has a population of 60, including a doctor, postman and a school-teacher, with whom the owner must consult about island matters.

New owners of the Treshnish Isles, off the west coast of Mull, will have to knuckle under, too.The islands are designated not only a Site of Special Scientific Interest, but a Special Protection Area under the EC Wild Birds Directive.

William Jackson, a partner with Knight Frank estate agents in Edinburgh, said buyers must understand the commitment attached to taking on an island. "You are king but you have to obey the law of the land.You can't take these islands with you. You can't pick them up and carry them back to America." All 10 islands for sale in the Outer Hebrides are being sold by the Mackenzies. After almost 70 years of ownership, their small fertile islands, in the Sound of Harris between Harris and North Uist, are on the market for pounds 750,000. Ensay, the largest, has three beaches and an old burial ground.

Snapshots of Ensay, Saghay Beg, Saghay More, Suem, Sleicham, Groay, Lingay, Scaravay, Crago and Vatem could soon appear in newspapers' pocket-sized adverts between the more familiar "charming rural cottages" in mid-Wales.

As it happens, the only non-Scottish island for sale, is Thorne island off the Pembrokeshire coast in west Wales, with two acres, a landing stage and a 19th-century fort as a 10-bedroom hotel.

In Wales and Scotland, the latest round of island sales worries local inhabitants and community groups. The Scottish Crofters' Union sees it as a threat to the livelihood and culture of islanders. Fiona Mandeville, a member of the Union, said that though most of the islands for sale are uninhabited, island ownership is a lottery. "There are no constraints on who can buy, but the people here are never in the position to buy one themselves," she said. "They are very much at the mercy of the owners. But the time is coming when there will have to be a change in the land- ownership laws."

Dr James Hunter, a Skye resident and a writer about Highland ownership , said that land was sold and re-sold "with extraordinary rapidity, sometimes every two or three years". He said: "Some people who acquire an island have good intentions, they want to get involved, but then they realise how expensive it is. They get fed-up and put it back on the market again."

It is unlikely, though, that these arguments, will go any way to stopping the annual island hunt, now in full spate.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Support Engineer

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Support Engi...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence