Binns is a Scottish Victorian stone farmhouse, both traditional and luxurious in a rural setting. We are dog-friendly with seven acres of gardens to enjoy and we don't charge extra for our four-legged friends so don't leave them behind. We are also close to the historic cities of Perth and Dundee for shopping and nightlife and all it's visitor attractions, such as the recently opened V&A museum on the river Tay in Dundee. Nearby are the Angus Glens for fabulous walks, wildlife and munros to climb. Close by is the famous St Andrews golf course or for winter sports the Glenshee ski centre is a short drive away.
Dundee airport is just 5 miles away and it is 9 miles to Dundee railway station for a day trip to Edinburgh, Glasgow or Aberdeen.
The house has five luxurious bedrooms with traditional Victorian furniture and decor, three of which are king size and two are double. The beds themselves are extremely comfortable with Egyptian cotton linen. Cooking for large groups is a pleasure in our large farmhouse kitchen which is fully equipped with modern appliances and a traditional electric Aga. We have a spacious drawing room and dining room, as well as a cosy TV snug. There is a scullery and Utility room off the kitchen complete with butler sink, large American fridge freezer, washing machine and a clothes dryer. We have three wood-burning stoves with ample supplies of logs in our log store to heat the house together with underfloor heating in the kitchen (which the dogs will love) and radiators throughout the house.
Binns was built around 1858. The name 'Binns' is apparently derived from the Scottish Gaelic word for Binn (Ben) meaning hill or bank. Originally Binn Steading was designed by a local architect, Hugh Robertson. It is unclear who commissioned the works, either the Murrays of Fowlis Castle nearby or the Kinnairds from Rossie Priory, a couple of miles to the southeast of the house.
As part of an estate the farm was occupied by tenants in Victorian times and the first we have found on the census to farm here was James Bell (54) in 1881: 'Farmer of 1000 acres of which 500 arable, employing 7 men and 3 women'. He lived at Binns with his wife Mary (53), a domestic servant Margaret Webster (19) and maid Elizabeth Anderson (17). It is likely that the staff lived in the wing accessed by the back stairs off the kitchen which is still there today.
The Renovation of Binns
We bought Binns in 2006, the building having suffered from being let to the likes of DSS claimants and students for some 17 years. As the rooms had been used as bedsits, all the doors had been fitted with yale locks, hence the fingerplates we have fitted to cover up the holes so that we could retain the original victorian doors! All the fireplaces had been bricked up and the kitchen was in a bad state. However, the place had an honest charm with many of its original features intact such as the back stairs and old dairy and tack room, which are now our Utility room and TV snug. We have since spent the last 10 years restoring and reconfiguring the rooms to what you see today.
When buying the property we also managed to purchase the 7 acre paddock to the east. This was an area of rough ground with 4 oak trees and a patch of gorse, with the burn running through. We are keen plants people and one of the first things we did was to enlarge the garden with trees raised by us or bought from a local nursery and plant the orchard. There are approximately 170 fruit trees, the majority of which are local heritage varieties of apple.
Thanks to these planting efforts we now have an abundance of wildlife which we are keen to encourage and protect.
Throughout the summer we are host to around 30 families of House Martins who return every year to raise up to three broods before leaving us at the beginning of October. You will see the nests around the house, we make sure they are never disturbed and organise repairs to the house and decorators around the breeding season! We have also been honoured with three pairs of Swifts nesting under our roof and are thrilled by these fantastic birds who are never still and the sound of them racing around the house is a true sign of summer.
Binns is also a registered bat roost and we have Pygmy Pipistrelles breeding under the roof tiles of the Utility room in the summer months. This also limits the months when we can work on roof repairs or renovations as a special license is required to do any work and then it is limited to a short window between the end of October and early March, which of course is when the Scottish winter arrives. This has made the refurbishment very interesting but we enjoy a challenge, we hope that if you notice some areas of the house that are still work in progress you will understand why and bear with us.
If you enjoy wildlife we invite you to take a walk around our wooded den which can be accessed from the far end of the grounds through the gates of the Dell garden by the burn that runs through our land. We ask you to take care not to let dogs or children run loose during the bird nesting season but if you are quiet you will see and hear treecreepers, warblers, dippers, yellowhammers, goldfinches, owls, woodpeckers, siskins and of course all the other usual suspects. We also have wild deer in the den which can do some damage to our trees but they are very beautiful and have started to drop their foals there in the summer. The den is glacial and has a series of water falls that can get quite deep when in flood so please never let children play there unaccompanied. Wildflowers grow in abundance in the den with at least a quarter acre of snowdrops in early Spring, aconites and saxifrage, ferns and bluebells, daffodils and wild garlic to name a few. The burn runs down from Blacklaw hill down towards the Tay and is a wild bee corridor with marsh marigold, wild water mint, wild angelica, hogweed, knapweed, sorrel and meadowsweet and many others. We have even been lucky enough to see marsh orchids some years.
The orchards are now quite mature and are full of hedgehogs, toads, many types of butterfly and moths and other insects such as damselflies and dragon flies over the burn.
If all this sounds as though we are very attached to the place it is because we are and come back a few times a year particularly around mid-summer. We have even observed the northern lights from the garden at night and can recommend you look out for them.
Walks and surrounding area
There are lots of great walks around Binns too and places to visit in this part of Scotland.
The house is situated close to the Sidlaw Hills and you can walk from the back door up through the farm and on to Blacklaw Hill which forms the start of these hills. There are other great walks from our door such as the Priest road and a route to the source of our Burn called Blacklaw Burn. You will find maps in the house.
However further afield you can have access to Glen Clova and Glen Doll for some more serious walking and mountain scenery which is just a 40-minute drive away.
Pitlochry has its famous salmon leap and a very active theatre and the attractions of The Hermitage and The Enchanted Forest so if you choose Binns you really will have so much to do whatever you enjoy. So have a fabulous holiday and please sign our visitor book if you have enjoyed yourselves and let us know about any wildlife you have seen around the house during your stay.