Island lairds can live now and buy later

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The Independent Online

Prospective buyers of one of Scotland's most desirable private islands will get the chance to live on it now and buy later.

Prospective buyers of one of Scotland's most desirable private islands will get the chance to live on it now and buy later.

For only the third time in a century, Little Cumbrae, a picturesque 684-acre island at the entrance to the Firth of Clyde in the west of Scotland, is up for sale. The owners, Peter and Elizabeth Kay, are inviting potential buyers to rent the island for five years before paying the sale price of about £2m.

The island, once a treasured possession of the Viking kings, consists of a large mansion house, two cottages, two historic lighthouses and a 13th-century keep. The Kays have owned the island since 1960 but they now want to retire to the mainland. Prospective buyers would have a quiet life guaranteed – only the owners and their staff live there.

The only way to reach Little Cumbrae, which has been run as a wildlife reserve since 1970, is by private boat or helicopter. The story is told that the people of the Cumbraes were so independent-minded in former times that the local minister used to pray for "the islands of the Great Cumbrae and the Little Cumbrae and the adjoining island of Great Britain".

Little Cumbrae's coastline of shingle beaches and cliffs is surrounded by wrecks that attract divers. It has Scotland's second-oldest lighthouse, built in 1757, and another lighthouse from 1793, which was used until four years ago.

The island, which is 1.5 miles long and less than a mile wide, is being sold through FPDSavills of Edinburgh, who expect inquiries from those seeking to escape the rat race, nature lovers and entrepreneurs with an eye for the tourism potential.

A spokesman for FPDSavills said the option to "rent before you buy" was a unique opportunity and thought it would raise a lot of interest. The rent, at about £8,000 a month, would be negotiable but based on the fact that buyers would be able to hang on to their £2m purchase price for five years. "However, if they enter into the deal, there will be an obligation to buy," he confirmed.

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