Plans for 'haunted' Carbisdale

Last castle built in Scotland to become five-star hotel

Carbisdale CastleThe last castle built in Scotland is poised to become a five-star luxury hotel if a group of mystery investors succeeds in acquiring it.

They want to turn Carbisdale in Sutherland, built in 1917,  into the “most desirable” hotel in Scotland and are also in talks to buy 43 of the nearly 2,600 acres of the surrounding forest.

The castle was privately-owned until 1945 when it became a youth hostel. It has been disused since 2010 and  the Scottish Youth Hostel Association was forced to put it on the market due to the high costs of repair. It was reported to have been sold in December.

The group behind the hotel plan have remained anonymous but are believed to be Scottish and have previous experience in the hotel industry.

Carbisdale Castle Ltd, a newly-formed vehicle to acquire the building, intends spending an initial £6.5million converting it into a 21-bed resort.

It would create 90 full-time jobs in what is regarded as one of the most significant projects in the area for some time.

The castle near Bonar Bridge was last used as a youth hostel but has been empty for the last five years. It is said to be haunted by a female ghost called Betty.

Carbisdale 3There are also plans to  recreate the formal gardens which were part of the castle grounds when it opened.

Kevin Keenan, who will be the managing director when it reopens, has spoken locally of plans to “respect its grandeur yet still transform it into a five-star luxury destination hotel which will rival any hotel offering in Scotland.”

Carbisdale, which has a fascinating history, has 150 beds in total.

The Dowager Duchess of Sutherland had Carbisdale Castle built between 1907 and 1917 following the death of her husband, George Granville William Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, the Third Duke of Sutherland.

Lady Mary was the duke’s second wife and after he died she became embroiled in a legal dispute over his will with her step son, the fourth Duke of Sutherland.

When the row was settled the duchess used her inheritance to have Carbisdale constructed.

According to geographical encyclopaedia, The Gazetteer of Scotland, the property became known as the Castle of Spite.

Its clock tower only has three faces with none that could be seen by the new duke as he passed by in his private train on his way to Dunrobin Castle, near Golspie, his family’s property in Sutherland.

It is also said that he would have the blinds of his carriage shut so he did not have to look at Carbisdale.

Colonel Theodore Salvesen, a wealthy Scottish businessman of Norwegian extraction, bought the castle in 1933. He provided the castle as a safe refuge for King Haakon VII of Norway and Crown Prince Olav, who would later become King Olav V, during the Nazi occupation of Norway in World War II.

After the Colonel died his son, Captain Harold Salvesen, inherited the castle and gave its contents and estate to the SYHA.


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