Windhouse, Mid Yell, Yell, Yell, ZE2 9BJ

Key Details




Distinctive former Laird’s house, now in a ruinous condition, set in walled grounds of around ⅓ acre, in an elevated position just outside the village of Mid Yell on the island of Yell. Enjoying a southerly aspect, the site enjoys wide open vistas over the surrounding countryside and to the head of Whalefirth Voe.

A well-known, very prominent landmark high above the main A968 road north through Yell, this Grade C Listed building, said by some to be the most haunted house in Shetland, requires complete restoration but nonetheless represents an exciting conservation project and a chance to own an interesting and well known piece of Shetland’s history in a scenic island area.

Outline planning permission for restoration was granted in 2001. This has now lapsed although some preparatory work was carried out a few years ago with the aim of securing permission for a distinctive four bedroom property. This was not pursued and therefore planning permission and listed building consent will be required for the restoration.

General Information


‘Windhouse’ is situated in a prominent position high above the A968 road north through the island of Yell, the Gateway to the Northern Isles, on the edge of the RSPB's Lumbister reserve (noted for moorland birds and otters) to the west of the voe of Whalefirth, and just over a mile outside the village of Mid Yell, the main settlement on the island.

The location, away from other houses, means the building enjoys tranquil but quite dramatic, unspoilt views over the surrounding ancient peat bog moorland to the south, and to the head of the voe to the west.

The largest of Shetland’s North Isles, Yell sits between Mainland Shetland and the neighbouring island of Unst. Measuring about 19 miles long by 7.5 miles wide, and with a long and varied coastline including fine beaches at Westsandwick and Breckon, the island has a wide variety of birdlife, including rare species such as Red-Throated Divers, as well as other internationally important wildlife, and is particularly known as a place to spot otters, and for trout fishing.

The population of around 950 benefits from excellent facilities (given the island location) which are mostly based at Mid Yell and therefore close at hand. These include a local shop & post office by the pier, the newly built Junior High School, a superb leisure centre & swimming pool with main hall, squash court, fitness suite & football pitch, plus a medical centre including dental surgery, and a local bar serving food.

There is another shop by the ferry terminal at Ulsta approximately 9 miles to the south, and additional Primary schools located at the north of Yell at Cullivoe, and at the south at Burravoe.

Being situated roughly in the middle of Yell, ‘Windhouse’ is within easy reach of the ferry terminal at Ulsta (approx. 9 miles to the south) from where a regular subsidised ro-ro ferry service (crossing time approx. 20 mins) runs throughout the day to Toft on Mainland Shetland, about 10 minutes from Brae & Sullom Voe, and approximately 27 miles from Lerwick, putting Shetland’s main town within commuting distance.

Spread over 100 islands (15 of them inhabited), Shetland lies in the middle of the North Sea, about 100 miles north of Mainland Scotland. But despite the remote ‘get-away-from-it-all’ location (Shetland is closer to Bergen in Norway than Edinburgh), Mainland Scotland is still reasonably accessible thanks to a daily overnight [ferry service]( "Click here for further information on ferry services") linking Lerwick with Orkney & Aberdeen, and regular [flights]( "Click here for information on flights") from Sumburgh at the very southern tip of Shetland, to Aberdeen, Glasgow & Edinburgh, with islanders currently entitled to discounts on both.


The Building

Thought to originally to date from the 18th Century, but rebuilt in the late 1800’s, this former Laird’s house comprised a storey and a half principal block with crowstep gable walls and projecting porch with armorial panel to the front (south), flanked by single storey crenellated wings to either side, plus a further single storey wing to the rear (see historical photograph).

Understood to have last been occupied in the 1920’s, the property is now in a ruinous condition with essentially just the walls remaining, and requires complete restoration.

Planning permission for the renovation of the building to provide a residential property, to include installation of a septic tank and access, was applied for in 2012 (Ref: 2012/253/PPF). This was not followed through to approval although the local planning department was very supportive especially as the building is on the Buildings at Risk register, and outline permission (now lapsed) for restoration was previously granted in 2001.

The works planned under the 2012 application were for the creation of a four bedroom property with a living room, study, kitchen with living / dining area off, and en-suite master bedroom on the ground floor, plus three further bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor, however as permission was not pursued, approval for this specific layout cannot be confirmed at this stage. Prospective purchasers are therefore advised to discuss the possibilities for the property with the local planning department directly.

As the property is Grade C Listed, any work will require planning and listed building consent. An archaeological assessment will be required as the building sits in an area with a number of archaeological remains including an Iron Age broch which is a scheduled ancient monument. This would be required prior to the granting of planning permission.

Mains services are understood to be relatively nearby (the water main runs up from the main road just to the west of Windhouse Lodge, towards the house behind) although prospective purchasers should satisfy themselves in this regard by contacting the relevant utility providers directly.


The Grounds

The building sits within a large site which is surrounded by stone dyes and estimated to extend to around ⅓ acre or thereby as shown on the [plan](assets/files/plans/windhousesiteplan.pdf "Click here to see a plan of the site"). It comprises grassed areas to the front, rear and west of the house. The area to the front was originally formally laid out with a terrace, part of which remains, the south wall originally having a crenellated entrance arch and railings.

Note the fences surrounding the site are in place purely for safety reasons. They do not denote the boundaries of the site which generally follow the line of the stone dykes. The property has pedestrian and vehicular access over the track coloured blue which runs around the west side of the site to the rear.

Property Location

Turn left from the main A968 road through Yell just to the south of the Mid Yell junction at the Windhouse Lodge Camping Bod. Follow the track up and around to the west side of the site. Note the track is suitable only for 4x4 vehicles.

To see the location of the property in an overall Shetland context, adjust the zoom by clicking the + or - buttons. Use the 'Map', 'Satellite' & 'Hybrid' buttons to switch between an ordnance survey style road map, a satellite aerial photograph or a combination (hybrid) of the two. Please note that the date of the satellite image is unknown and may not show new buildings.

(Please be aware the Google Street View was taken on the date shown. The building and surroundings may have changed since then. We always recommend you view the property personally.)

We have availed ourselves of services provided by Harper Macleod of Lerwick, both in buying and selling residential property. Our needs on both these occasions were fully met and the service provided by them made our task in these circumstances, seemingly without effort.

Prior to this we had also received very helpful general advice pertaining to Shetland real estate from them. This was a tremendous benefit to us at the time.

If you are seeking cost effective, excellent real estate marketing and legal services, we would not hesitate in recommending Harper Macleod of Lerwick.

David & Jan Elliot

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