The historic, 3,173-acre Leys Castle estate near Inverness, with its Category A-listed, Tudor Gothic castle built by Samuel Beazley for Col John Baillie in 1833. It has spectacular views over the city, the Moray Firth, the Black Isle and beyond. The original Leys estate was owned from 1712 to 1885 by the Baillie family, important local landowners who moved in the upper echelons of Highland society. In 1926, it was bought by Sir Francis Walker, who acquired more land from the Baillies of nearby Dochfour, including the farms of Balmore, Balvonie, Newton, Braeton and the Black Wood-all part of the estate now being sold by his descendants.
Sir Francis was a man of vision and energy, and an Olympic sportsman. He had the cellars opposite the basement removed and the lawn on the north side of the castle lowered to create properly lit lower-ground accommodation for staff. In 1928, he created the terraced lawns and arboretum, and a huge outdoor, Olympic-size swimming pool, which was fed by fresh water from the water garden, and used by the family for swimming, boating, curling and ice-skating until the early 1970s. At about the same time, he built a model steading at Leys Home Farm to house his famous herd of native rare-breed and Highland cattle, which is also for sale.
The family moved out during the Second World War, when the castle was requisitioned as a military hospital, and only moved back in 1958, when Sir Francis had completed a full restoration programme. Today, the accommodation comprises a main reception hall, six ground-floor reception rooms, a kitchen, a billiard room and staff quarters on the lower-ground floor, and eight bedrooms and four bathrooms on the first floor. Other estate houses include the six-bedroom Grange, built in 1860, and 10 cottages.
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