Extending to about 14,949 acres (6,049 hectares) in total, Pait and West Monar is a traditional Highland sporting estate providing a combination of first class red deer stalking, remarkably productive walked-up grouse shooting, trout and pike fishing and accommodation in a Victorian Lodge which has been little altered since its original construction in the late 19th Century.
Historically forming part of the extensive Fairburn and Monar Estates, the current owners purchased Monar and Pait Lodge Estate in 1965. Extending to over 25,000 acres and including all of the land on the north shore of Loch Monar, East Monar was sold in the early part of this century leaving the residual Pait and West Monar Estate as one of Scotland’s most isolated and remote deer forests served by a lodge with associated stalker’s cottage and buildings accessible only by boat.
The estate is divided into two ‘deer forests’ of broadly similar size, separated by a tongue of land reaching to the shore of Loch Monar which forms part of the adjoining Attadale Estate.
The Pait forest extends to about 8,280 acres (3,351 ha) lying on the south shore of Loch Monar. Rising from 230 metres beside the loch to over 1,000 metres at the summits of An Rhibhachan (1,129m), and An Socach (1,069m), Pait forest has a generally northerly aspect and is drained by the Allt Riabhachan burn. It has five recognised stalking beats.
The West Monar forest lies on either side of Loch Monar at its west end and extends to about 6,669 acres (2,699 ha). With three Munros – Sgurr a’Chaorachain (1,053m), Sgurr Choinnich (999m), and Lurg Mhor (986m), this forest includes some exceptionally precipitous and dramatic terrain, which in turn provides some of the most exciting stalking to be found anywhere in Scotland across four recognised beats.
With a functional base including a four-bedroom cottage and a range of outbuildings at the east end of Loch Monar, the estate has been managed by the owners for the purposes of providing sporting holidays for their family and friends from spring to autumn. Owing to its isolated location, the lodge is not used during the winter months but the stalker and housekeeper live in the cottage at Pait throughout the year.
The component assets of the estate are described in more detail as follows:
Houses, Cottages and Buildings
Situated on the south shore of Loch Monar at the north-western corner of the Pait forest, Pait Lodge is a stone-built, two-storey house beneath a pitched slate roof with later additions of timber frame with tin cladding. With a south-easterly aspect, the lodge sits within well maintained gardens and policies and is sheltered from the elements by a stand of mixed woodland.
Originally dating from the 19th Century, features of the house include internal pine panelling, a covered porch area over the front door, overhanging eaves with timber fascia boards and painted cast iron rainwater goods.
Internally, the house has changed very little during the vendors’ ownership and, perhaps, even since before the second World War and this is very much part its charm. Electricity was only introduced to the lodge in 2017 and is only present in the kitchen, larder, washing up room and central passage. Electricity is provided by a Lister generator installed in 2017 and solar photo-voltaic panels which both feed electricity into a battery storage system. An inverter converts DC to 240v ac.
The house is served by a private water supply and has an oil-fired aga and Agamatic water heating system.
The lodge has three main reception rooms and a total of eight bedrooms. The layout and dimensions of the internal accommodation are set out in the floor plans.
Gardens and Grounds
The principal entrance to the lodge is on the southern façade. This overlooks a spacious extent of lawned garden, beyond which are well-maintained and deer fenced grounds featuring a woodland garden with an array of azaleas and rhododendrons.
Situated a short distance to the east of the lodge, this is a bungalow providing accommodation for the head stalker and housekeeper. The accommodation includes two bedrooms, one reception room, kitchen/dining room and the services include a private electricity supply (via diesel generator and solar pv) and oil-fired heating. The cottage is also served by satellite TV and broadband internet connection.
The cottage sits within an enclosed garden.
This is a single storey bothy of timber-framed construction with tin cladding. This bothy provides accommodation for seasonal ghillies and consists of two bedrooms, a kitchen/living area and one bathroom. Adjoining the bothy is the workshop.
Situated between the cottage and the ghillie’s bothy is the game larder of timber frame construction with corrugated tin cladding and roofing over a concrete base. Internally the larder features wood panelling and has a number of hoists.
Situated at the east end of Loch Monar, this cottage is of timber construction with external timber cladding constructed in the 1960s. The accommodation is laid out over two storeys and includes 3/4 bedrooms. The cottage is occupied by the stalker and housekeeper as weekend accommodation and it sits within an enclosed garden.
Buildings at East Monar
Situated close to the cottage is a larder and general purpose shed.
This shed provides storage for estate equipment and machinery and as a workshop for winter boat repairs. In recent years, basic living accommodation for a stalking ghillie has been constructed within part of this shed. The accommodation comprises a living/sleeping area, a bathroom and a drying room.
A short distance from the shed at East Monar is the deer larder. The larder has a hanging rail and a carcass preparation area with easy wash down walls and floor.
There is also small area of woodland at East Monar, which lies behind the shed and larder and which is included within the subjects of sale.
Red Deer Stalking
Pait and West Monar Estate is a traditional deer forest which has an established reputation for its wonderfully exciting and testing stalking.
The Pait forest has a northerly and westerly aspect and relief which ranges in altitude from about 223 metres (732 feet) above sea level beside Pait Lodge on the loch shore to about 1,129 metres (3,694 feet) above sea level at the peak of An Riabhachan. The majority of Pait is wet grass heath with patchworks of heather interspersed with grass. Virtually the only trees on the estate are found around the lodge within the deer-fenced garden and grounds. There are also extensive areas of ‘high’ greens on the highest faces of An Riabhachan.
The marches (boundaries) of the forest are formed by a series of summits and ridges which are drained to the north into the Allt Riabhachain via several corries. This makes the forest visually dramatic but also breaks up the areas of shelter and grazing for deer and with so much ‘broken’ ground, the challenge of approaching an individual stag or a group of hinds is often significant. On the west side of Pait, the north faces of An Cruachan and Beinn Bheag drop steeply to the chain of hill lochs made up of Lochan Gobhlach, Loch an Tachdaidh and an Gead Loch on the Attadale march. In a westerly wind, this is an especially productive part of the ground for stalking. For stalking purposes, there are five recognised ‘beats’ within Pait forest.
Traditionally viewed as a hind forest with a resident heft of hinds and calves attracting stags on to the beat in advance of the autumn rut, there are good areas of summer grazing throughout the beat.
With no formal vehicular tracks through the beats, access and carcass extraction is via Argocat which, driven with appropriate skill and experience, can access much of the ground – although some dragging is required in places.
For many years up until the early part of this century, garrons (Highland ponies) were used for extracting carcasses. An increasingly unusual sight on Scottish deer forests, the network of pony tracks is still in existence, and with stables at Pait, together with much of the required tack, this traditional method of extraction could easily be reintroduced on the estate.
The West Monar forest has a southerly and easterly aspect and ranges in elevation from about 224 metres (735 feet) above sea level on the northern shore of Loch Monar to 1,052 metres (3,452 feet) above sea level at Sgurr a'Chaorachain. Most of the ground on West Monar is grass-dominated wet heath overlying a series of very steep faces. There are grassy flats at the head of the loch but the majority of the lower ground is thick wet peat with patches of bog myrtle. For stalking purposes, there are four recognised beats.
This is perhaps the most dramatic part of the estate dominated as it is by the northern ridge connecting the three peaks of Bidean an Eoin Deirg, Sgurr a’ Chaorachain and Sgurr Choinnich. Much of the ground can be spied from Loch Monar from which a very steep climb is required to get on to the ridges in order to stalk in to the corries below.
An Argocat is kept on at West Monar but access is somewhat restricted so that careful consideration about the accessibility of any carcass is required before each shot is taken. The original Victorian pony paths remain and, with a little repair work in places, they could accommodate garrons again in future.
Throughout the vendors’ ownership of Pait and West Monar, stalking has been in accordance with the best principles of wild deer management with elderly and poor quality stags being culled to promote vigour amongst the herd.
Comprising several families, the owners have for many years retained the stalking for their own enjoyment, with the lodge typically occupied by house parties for several successive weeks between early September and late October each season. The five-year average cull to the end of the 2018/19 season is 23 stags and 35 hinds/calves.
The stalker has been employed at Pait and West Monar for almost 40 years, living for most of that time at Pait Cottage. The knowledge and understanding of the ground and its idiosyncrasies built up over this period, together with his personal skill, has been fundamental to providing the owners and their guests with many years of the most magnificent stalking experiences.
It should be noted that, in recent years, the owners have not spent as many weeks at Pait and West Monar during the stalking season as previously and therefore the estate has been lightly shot.
In keeping with tradition, virtually all of the hind cull over the years has been undertaken by the stalker personally with the best interests of the overall deer herd as the overriding objective.
With a basic larder at Pait, carcasses are transported to the better facility at East Monar for storage and collection by the game dealer.
For deer management purposes, the estate lies within the Glen Stathfarrar Deer Management Group and works co-operatively with other member estates to agree appropriate stag and hind/calf cull targets and general management policy each year.
Grouse and Ptarmigan Shooting.
A surprising feature of Pait and West Monar, given its geography and the nature of its terrain, is that it plays host to a sufficient population of grouse to support a sustainable shootable surplus.
With the exception of vermin control, there is little active management of the moor by way of heather burning, gritting or disease mitigation but the particular combination of habitat, underlying geology and climate (on Pait in particular) gives rise to a grouse population which is more numerous than most deer forests of this nature in the west Highlands.
A precious resource providing a hugely enjoyable alternative form of sport, sensitive management of the grouse population is a necessity. Shooting is both walked-up and over pointers for teams of up to five guns with no area of ground being shot over more than once per season.
In this way, seasonal bags of more than 30 brace have been achieved from a handful of days’ sport with the best seasons in recent years yielding 31½ brace and 31 brace in 2014 and 2018 respectively.
An added element to the game shooting is the opportunity to ascend to the higher ground in search of ptarmigan where the numbers and sizes of coveys vary from year to year in accordance with breeding conditions. From time to time, fitter members of a shooting party have gone in search of ptarmigan where successes have been hard earned and forever remembered.
Lying along the western boundary of Pait are three classic hill lochs – An Gead Loch, Loch an Tachdaich and Lochlan Gobhlach known collectively as ‘the Gead Lochs’. Each of these has thriving populations of wild brown trout providing lively sport for traditional wet fly fishing. Whilst the fish average two or three to the pound, occasional larger specimens are caught and baskets of over a dozen fish in a visit are common. The closest of these lochs is a half hour walk from the lodge and a day on the trout lochs at Pait and West Monar is well established part of the recreational routine for the family and their guests.
Loch Monar also has a good head of trout and its proximity to the lodge gives rise to the opportunity for a pre-breakfast or post dinner cast for a trout.
Loch Monar and the Gead Lochs also host a population of pike which has enabled sport fishing for them – both by fly and spinning lure – to develop as an additional sporting opportunity on the estate.
Whilst pike of around 2lbs to 4lbs are most numerous, large pike of well over 10lbs have been caught with the largest being a specimen of 21lbs caught by the housekeeper, Angela Phimister.
Aside from the traditional sports of stalking, shooting and fishing, Loch Monar provides considerable opportunity for water sports including water skiing, kayaking, wind surfing and kite surfing.
With five majestic and individually distinct Munros and several other mountains that do not quite achieve that distinction but are no less dramatic, all forms of mountaineering are readily available with more than one guest in the past having ‘bagged a Munro before breakfast’ during the summer months.
The existence of the original pony paths makes the opportunity to explore parts of the estate on horseback a realistic possibility in future.
With almost endless views and vistas, the combination of light, landscape and water at Pait and West Monar has inspired many an artistic guest of the owners to commit their memories to canvass or sketch book.
Given the precipitous terrain and the several hill burns draining the high ground across both forests, there is theoretical potential to establish several run-of-river hydro schemes.
The physical isolation of the estate with no vehicular access nor direct access to the National Grid makes it practically very difficult to commercially explore these opportunities for the purposes of generating and exporting electricity.
The vendors have sought desktop advice from a renewables firm which has identified the existence of several potential schemes but the development of these schemes has not been further explored.
With the exception of the stand of woodland providing shelter at Pait Lodge, there is no woodland on the estate. Whilst commercial scale afforestation of any part of the estate is unlikely, there may be opportunities to establish areas of native woodland with the aim of improving overall biodiversity on the estate.
The vendors have not taken any formal steps to explore these opportunities but it is considered that they exist.
Situated in Wester Ross on its boundary with Inverness-shire in the heart of Highland Scotland, Pait and West Monar Estate sits on the watershed between the east and west coasts with Pait Lodge being one of the most remote sporting lodges on the Scottish mainland.
Lying at the west end and on either side of Loch Monar – a natural glacial loch which was enlarged in the 1960s when it was dammed at the east end to provide hydro-electricity, the approach to Pait and West Monar is via Glenstrathfarrar – one of Scotland’s lesser known but most spectacularly beautiful Highland glens.
Clothed by extensive areas of native pine and birch woodland openly grazed by deer and with the River Farrar tumbling peacefully through, every twist in the road presents new vistas which get ever more spectacular as one ascends the glen. With ownership of Glenstrathfarrar divided amongst three estates, access to Pait and West Monar is via a private single track tarmac road which connects the east end of Loch Monar with the A831 public road at Struy in Strathglass. The road is maintained by Scottish and Southern Energy for the purposes of access to Monar Dam and other hydro power installations in the glen.
The private road is open to the public between April and October on a first come first served basis with a maximum limit of 25 cars per day allowed into the glen. During the winter months only Mountaineering Scotland members have approved access to the glen under strict regulations. The journey time from Struy to the east end of Loch Monar is about 40 minutes.
Pait and West Monar Estate is particularly unusual in that it is accessible only by boat from the east end of Loch Monar where the subjects of sale include a four-bedroom cottage and a range of stores and outbuildings. Lying at about 230 metres (767 feet) above sea level, Loch Monar is surrounded by open hill ground rising on both sides to dramatic mountain peaks of over 900 metres (3,000 feet) in height. This makes for an approach to Pait Lodge – on the south shore of the loch, five miles west of the pier – which is singularly spectacular.
Lying at the foot of Strathglass, Beauly is an attractive small town which provides a range of useful services and facilities including, petrol station and garage, bank and range of shops, hotels and restaurants including the renowned country tailor and outfitters, ‘Campbells of Beauly’ and an award winning delicatessen, ‘Corner on the Square’. Lying 15 miles from Struy at the foot of Glenstrathfarrar, the journey time from Loch Monar to Beauly is around an hour.
Inverness – the capital of the Scottish Highlands – and Inverness Airport are 36 and 45 miles distant respectively from the east end of Loch Monar. The journey time from the airport to Loch Monar varies depending on the time of day and year but is typically around one and a half hours.
Wester Ross and western Inverness-shire includes some of the most impressive and dramatic landscapes in Scotland. There are two heritage paths which provide a significant insight into the history of this area. The first of these, the Loch Monar Drove Road, follows the northern shore of Loch Monar. As recently as the First World War, cattle were driven north from Glenstrathfarrar to Achnashellach Station along the line of this route.
The second route, known as the Coffin Road, crosses the saddle between Meallan Buidhe and Meallan Odhar then heads southwest to Killilan on the west coast.
In addition to the first class sport available at Pait and West Monar, there is a range of additional sporting opportunities within relatively close proximity including salmon fishing on the Rivers Farrar, Glass, Beauly and Conon. There is huge scope for walking, climbing and mountaineering and numerous tracks for cycling/mountain biking.
For golfers, there are courses at Aigas (9 holes), Muir of Ord (18 holes), and a range of courses near Inverness.