Scottish arable unit up for grabs

A FIRST CLASS 1200-acre Scottish east-coast arable unit is for sale following the decision of its English owner to make one more move.

John Carlile-Lewis has owned six farms since buying a 65-acre dairy unit in Sussex in 1974 and gradually building up in size.

He moved to Scotland about 15 years ago, looking for better-value and more productive land.

After one year farming in the Borders he found Morphie, near Montrose, between Aberdeen and Dundee.

A further 500 neighbouring acres were added in 2000, but now Mr Carlile-Lewis and wife Cherry are looking to move back to the Borders to be closer to their grandchildren.

They still want to farm, but might consider downsizing slightly.  “I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet,” said Mr Carlile-Lewis.

However, finding a farm as good as Morthie may prove tricky. “You can grow just about anything here,” he said.

“Vining peas do tremendously well.”

Potatoes are also a popular crop in the area and 120 acres of Morphie are rented out at about £270/acre for seed production.

Charles Dudgeon of Savills’ Edinburgh office, which is handling the sale, said other English farmers, who he reckoned often underestimated the quality of the region’s farms, would do well to follow Mr Carlile-Lewis north of the border.

“There is hardly a farm in England that could match it.”

Despite its northerly location – Aberdeen is only 37 miles away – the farm’s proximity to the coast meant snow and severe frosts were rare, said Mr Carlile-Lewis.

A lack of serious grass weeds like Black grass and lower disease pressures were also a major bonus he added.

Wheat yields regularly topped 4t/acre with oil seed rape achieving 1.75t/acre. 

Although the emphasis is now on arable cropping, the property has a good range of cattle buildings and would equally lend itself to a mixed or even a dairy unit, said Mr Dudgeon.

According to Mr Dudgeon, another sign of Morphie’s quality is the attractive five-bed house, which has a two-bed annexe and views of both the coast and the Grampian mountains.

Morphie house

“When all the land here was tenanted estate owners only built the best houses on decent land that could stand the rent.”

Mr Dudgeon has guided Morphie at “offers over” £2.8m. The main farmstead, which includes the house, three cottages, the farm’s grain dryer and 880 acres, is lotted separately for £1.95m.

A further 273 acres of land are priced at £580,000, while a number of other cottages and smaller plots of land are also available separately.

Who is buying in Scotland?

In some cases, good Scottish farms are attracting as much interest from outside the region than from home-grown buyers, according to Mr Dudgeon.

Brochures for Easter Braikie, a similar type of farm on the other side of Montrose, were sent out to the following potential buyers, he said.

Abroad  2%
London  3%
Ireland 15%
Rest of England  30%
Scotland 50%