Chesethill House refurb
Our aim with the refurbishment of Chesthill House, completed in April, was to upgrade it without losing its traditional Highland feel. One guest has commented: “The refurb has been done totally brilliantly. We were slightly worried it would be overdone but it has been done so well and sympathetically we were thrilled and it now makes what we consider a perfect week to be even better.” In summary:
- Bedroom capacity has increased by 1 to 16 although 12 adults is more comfortable for the dining room. There are now 7 twin rooms (one of which can be made into a double) and 2 singles (including the cook’s bedsit).
- Four new bathrooms (three now have separate walk-in showers) added to make a total of seven.
- Refurbished kitchen with double bowl drainer sink, new solid wood worktops and new units.
- Many rooms have been painted/papered, have new floor coverings and new curtains.
- New laundry room.
- A new heating and hot water system has been installed, with new radiators in many of the rooms, meaning all bedrooms now have central heating.
A few “snags” were anticipated and thank you to tenants for your patience with these, all of which (fingers crossed) have now been addressed with the final touch of some new drainage under the West lawn earlier this month. This winter we will upgrade some furniture in the house and begin replanting the Croftgarrow wood which is mainly now felled. In the spring, we will repaint outdoors and accelerate the program of maintenance of our march (boundary) fences. Other improvements will continue gradually in the years ahead.
Hamish Rae continues as Keeper / Stalker / Ghillie, and Kay is Housekeeper at Gardener’s Cottage and Chesthill House, where she is assisted by CM Cleaners on Thursdays and Sundays. Ben Campbell is estate handyman and fencer. Peter McDiarmid is our farmer, managing our flock of 400 sheep and small herd of cows. Debbie Beer has taken over managing lettings and book keeping; thank you to Kathy Kerr for her many years of service. Willy Inglis has settled into his role as Factor (Estate Manager).
January saw massive floods, with the river up to the stone pillars at the lodge drive: hopefully this has not affected the salmon redds and juvenile salmon too much. In January Tom Buchanan and Hamish Rae picked up the Malloch trophy and certificates at an opening day presentation at Dunkeld.
The spring also saw Trout and Salmon magazine publishing a positive seven page article “The place where dreams come true”. A copy of the article is on the website and will shortly be in a frame in the boot room.
The salmon season started well, but tailed away in early June due to the low water/unusually warm weather. We had some success most weeks, with the fishing picking up again in late September. We had another entry for the Malloch trophy this year (alas not a winner), again from rock pool. This time a 23lb salmon caught by Peter Wiggins-Davies on a cascade, the fish was on for 45 mins and put up the best fight Hamish had ever seen, a good ending to his few days tuition.
Our total catch at 43 salmon was down on our five-year average of 61, but congratulations to the successful fishermen and women.
I have again shown the breakdown of our most productive pools on the river since 1990. The pendulum swung in 2016 away from Ballintyre where only 2 fish were caught, perhaps due to the washout of the small spit there last winter. Rock was our top performer with 7, and interestingly in joint second place with Island was Boulder, with 6. Boulder isn’t fished a great deal and could present an opportunity in 2017 as Chesthill House tenants can now access Inverinain fishing.
The other untapped opportunity is April: this year it was our second most productive month (after September), with nine fish caught despite Chesthill House not being let. If there had been a house full of fishermen in April for a week or two I would expect April to have been a bonanza month!
The weather for the stags was kind to us, not too hot, not that wet and a few weeks of east wind helped fill the beats up. We only lost a couple of days due to poor weather. We finished up with 48 stags, average weight was 13st 11 lb (in line with 5 yr average). The heaviest was a massive 6-point switch weighting 22st 2 lb (heaviest since records began in 2005), shot by Harry Hill (not the TV person), his first stag. Congratulations to all guests and Stalkers Hamish Rae and George MacDonald.
Hind stalking is going well, and we are aiming for roughly the same (reduced) number as last season (as a reminder, our cull target has been reduced in line with the reduction in the number of deer in the region).
Our grouse season saw a mixture of days weather wise. When the fishing dipped in June due to the good weather this benefited the grouse, giving them a good hatching and rearing spell. We saw good coveys of up to 8. We tried an experimental day taking in the peat hag area near the Roro march, this proved worth it so will be repeated. We ended up with 12 brace for the season. Hopefully our improved grouse management is helping a bit and we can regularly achieve 5 or more brace per day, and it would be lovely to see the odd day of 10 brace.
A shout out for my brother William who achieved his second Macnab on the estate, an amazing feat considering he did this unaided. The MacNab challenge is there for tenants from 1st September – 15th October: if you have already caught a salmon and shot a stag in the same day, you are welcome to try for a grouse.
Nature Tours, bicycles, walks and an array of nearby activities (updated details available on www.southchesthill.com) do, I hope, enable non-sporting guests and children to enjoy and feel part of the estate in the same way that sporting guests do.
Bookings & Prices – 2017
Tenants have two months from their departure date to pay their deposit to reserve their week the following year; otherwise it is up for grabs. Please enquire about:
- Chesthill House: sleeps 16 but dining room is a bit of a squeeze above 12 adults. Sunday to Sunday (short-stays bookable within 3 months). 6 miles river for 6+ salmon rods, trout loch, stalking (stags and hinds), plus some walked up grouse. Price range for 2017 is £2,500 to £4,200 for the house, inc VAT, excluding sport.
- Gardener’s Cottage: sleeps 4. Sunday – Sunday (short-stays bookable within 2 months). Trout and salmon fishing and other activities can be booked as an extra, depending on availability. Price range £420 to £625 for 2017, inc VAT.
- Fishing only: fishing is sometimes available, when the accommodation is not let. Prices from £10-£15 per day for trout fishing and £30 – £40 per day for salmon fishing (reduced if you take more than one rod).
Best Wishes for the year ahead.
1st January 2017