Tillypronie is widely recognised as belonging in the ‘top drawer’ of Scottish sporting estates due to the first class driven game shooting it provides, the unrivalled setting of its mansion house and gardens, and its majestic position straddling Deeside and Donside on the eastern fringe of the Grampian mountains in Aberdeenshire.
Extending to just over 12,000 acres, Tillypronie Estate represents one of those rare properties in Scotland which has something for everybody. The estate boasts a remarkable diversity of landscape, including productive farmland, strategically planted woodland and forestry, and wide expanses of heather-clad moors rising to a high point of 2,862 feet at the summit of Morven on the south-western boundary.
Standing about 1,150 feet above sea level and surrounded by wonderful gardens, policies and an important pinetum, Tillypronie House offers privacy and seclusion, with magnificent southerly views over Royal Deeside towards the distinctive peak of Mount Keen. With 11 bedrooms in the main house and several more within three adjoining auxiliary apartments, the house is well suited to its original purpose of accommodating shooting parties and associated entourage throughout the grouse and pheasant shooting seasons.
Within the estate, there is a portfolio of houses and cottages providing accommodation for employees, rental income and potential for renovation.
Tillypronie is one of the pre-eminent names in the world of Scottish field sports. Historically it was one of the most prolific grouse moors in the Highlands, with a regular average of 2,000 brace a year during the 1960s and 1970s.
The estate has four named beats – the Morven and Deskry beats to the west of the A97 Deeside to Donside public road, and the Home Beat and Towie beat on the east side. These beats provide the opportunity for four separate days’ driven shooting when grouse stocks allow. The topography of the moor ensures some of the most exciting driven grouse shooting to be found anywhere, with the glorious views from each line of butts making a Tillypronie grouse day an especially thrilling sporting experience.
Whilst the recent records have been more modest than those of previous generations, there has been increased investment in grouse moor management on the estate over the past five years. This includes the restoration of a second full-time grouse keeper, together with associated equipment and machinery.
It is considered likely that further investment will be rewarded, as has been demonstrated on several other grouse moors in the northeast of Scotland in the last decade or so, including Dinnet Estate which adjoins Tillypronie to the south west.
Tillypronie includes one of the most celebrated driven pheasant shoots in Scotland, situated on the Towie side of the estate. The Towie shoot takes place within the steep-sided valleys of three tributary burns feeding the upper River Don. Pheasants are driven across these valleys from a number of strategically planted and mainly coniferous plantations, some of which are augmented by game crops. With birds that are exceptionally challenging, it is no surprise that the sporting press has regularly identified Towie in lists of the country’s finest shoots.
On the southern side of the estate, the Tillypronie shoot is operated over more gentle contours amongst the farmland and woods of the ‘Howe of Cromar’. In recent years, the shoot has been operated on a low key basis under an informal sporting lease. It is now, however, in-hand.
For salmon fishing enthusiasts, the Towie beat of the River Don runs downstream from the village of Towie. It extends to about 2.4 miles in length (3.9km) and provides single (right) bank salmon, sea trout and brown trout fishing with 12 named pools. The fishing is most productive during dropping water following heavy rain but, in any conditions, the pastoral landscape of upper Donside makes the Towie beat a glorious place to cast a line.
On the hill ground to the north of Tillypronie House there are three discreetly situated and exceptionally pretty small lochs called the Lazywell Lochs. An idyllic and very private spot for a summer picnic, the lochs hold a population of wild brown trout and are ideal for teaching children and novices the joy of fly fishing.
Closer to the public road are two further lochs, the larger of which, Pronie Loch, is stocked to provide trout fishing.
Many of the lochs around the estate provide exciting opportunities for duck flighting.
On the open hill and within and around the woods throughout the estate, there is excellent roe deer stalking with bucks of medal quality featuring regularly amongst the cull which has a five-year average of 24 bucks and 18 does.
For many years the vendor has given a ‘species day’ as a charity auction lot. The record stands at 21 different species, from ptarmigan on the high tops to several varieties of wildfowl.
Forestry and Woods
The estate includes about 2,080 acres of forestry and woodland. This comprises amenity woodland (including the policies surrounding Tillypronie House), stands of commercial forestry, game coverts, shelter belts and enclosed areas of natural woodland regeneration.
With its combination of soil composition and altitude, there is a substantial extent of land within the estate which is well-suited to growing commercial timber. The principal commercial plantation is at Balronald adjoining the Morven and Deskry grouse moors. Featuring stands of mixed age and yield class, the main species within this plantation are Scots pine, lodgepole pine, larch and sitka spruce. In addition, there are further plantations on the eastern side of the estate, including Meikle Tom and Drummy Hillock.
The woods benefit from the appropriate infrastructure and vehicular access to facilitate harvesting and removal of timber and are managed in accordance with a detailed management plan.
There are various compartments of forestry that are managed within the estate’s Forest Plan under a Low Impact Silvicultural System (LISS). LISS is an approach to management that helps increase small scale species and structural diversity in forests. It causes less rapid change to the landscape and to the physical environment than clear felling systems and so can contribute to multi-purpose objectives.
The conservation management of the woodland throughout the estate aims to enhance the biodiversity conditions particularly for UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species requiring woodland, agricultural and moorland edge habitats; for example, black grouse, capercaillie and brown hare. A particular focus has been on creating woody shrub and natural broadleaf edge habitats.
On the Towie side of the estate, the forestry and woodland comprises predominantly coniferous plantations, established primarily as pheasant coverts.
For the past generation there has been no in-hand farming operation on the estate. The farming element has, until recently, been undertaken by agricultural tenants, many of whom occupied their farms under secure leases in terms of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 1991. Prior to launching the sale of the estate, the vendor reached agreements with his farming tenants which resulted in some of them agreeing to buy all or part of their farm, whilst others have chosen either to retire from farming or convert their farm lease from a secure 1991 Act tenancy to a Limited Duration Tenancy (LDT).
The result of these discussions is that a significant extent of ploughable land and pasture at the southern end of the estate will be available to a purchaser with vacant possession from 28th November 2016.
The grouse moors are grazed by flocks of hill sheep in the traditional manner. There are two tenants who graze sheep on the grouse moors, both of whom will be granted LDTs. In each case, the tenant will undertake to manage the flock in accordance with recognised grouse moor management practices for the control of ticks and to mitigate against overgrazing of the heather sward.
This property has 12032 acres of land.
This part of Aberdeenshire, encompassing both Deeside and Donside, has been a magnet for sportsmen since the early Victorian era. It was at that time that sporting estates in Scotland became fashionable, as the Highlands became more accessible thanks to the expansion of the railway network. The popularity and profile of Scottish estates – particularly in the northeast of Scotland – was accelerated by Prince Albert’s purchase of Balmoral Estate for Queen Victoria in 1852.
In addition to Balmoral, Deeside is home to many of Scotland’s most famous sporting estates including Invercauld, Dinnet, Glentanar and Glenmuick. In turn, Donside boasts a number of consistently productive grouse moors, such as Edinglassie, Candacraig and Allargue.
Besides being a haven for field sports enthusiasts, the Dee and Don valleys are of great environmental and ecological importance, supporting as they do a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna. The western part of Tillypronie Estate lies within the Cairngorm National Park. Extending to around 1,750 square miles, the National Park remains a relative stronghold for endangered species of bird such as capercaillie, crested tit and crossbill.
In terms of local services, Tillypronie House is situated 5 miles northwest of the village of Tarland, where there is a village shop, chemist and two small hotels. On the north side, the village of Strathdon lies 5 miles from Towie. Strathdon has a village shop and post office, and plays host to the annual Lonach Highland Gathering in August.
Lying about 12 miles to the west of Tillypronie, at the heart of Royal Deeside, is the pretty town of Ballater, which is both an important centre for local services (including bank, post office and butcher by Royal Appointment) as well as being a popular tourist destination.
Comprehensive services are available in Aberdeen (34 miles) which provides the range of administrative, retail, recreational, educational and cultural facilities expected of the third largest city in Scotland. Private education in Aberdeen includes Albyn School, Robert Gordon’s College and St Margaret’s School for Girls. In addition, the well-known Gordonstoun School near Elgin is 60 miles to the north of Tillypronie. Aberdeen has an international airport with a wide range of domestic and international flights. It also has a mainline railway station with intercity services to Dundee, Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow and a sleeper service to London.
Beyond Tillypronie Estate, Aberdeenshire offers a wide range of activities.
The River Dee is one of Scotland’s ‘big four’ salmon rivers providing both picturesque and productive fishing for salmon and sea trout which is available to rent on either a weekly and/or daily basis on the majority of beats throughout the river’s course.
There are a number of renowned golf courses on the North Sea coast at Royal Aberdeen, Cruden Bay and the relatively new Trump International Golf Links. More locally, there are enjoyable courses at Tarland, Aboyne, Ballater, Lumphanan and Torphins.
For skiing enthusiasts, the estate is well placed, being 19 miles from the Lecht Ski Centre, 39 miles from Glenshee and 60 miles from Aviemore.
The long-established Deeside Gliding Club is 10 miles away.
The Cairngorm Mountains lie to the north and west of Braemar (25 miles from Tillypronie House) and provide climbing, walking and cycling opportunities amongst some of the most spectacular terrain of the British Isles.