For sale: Loch Lomond island with great views – and feral wallabies

Severin Carrell Scotland editor
Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

It is a rare opportunity; the chance to buy a heavily wooded uninhabited island on Loch Lomond, only a short row from the shore. Rarer still, this island comes with a mob of feral wallabies.

The island of Inchconnachan, a 42-hectare property held by the Colquhoun family for more than seven centuries, is for sale for offers over £500,000, complete with a ruined 1920s cottage and outhouses, secluded bays and gravel shores lapped by the loch’s gentle waves.

It boasts the woods and wildlife an island owner would expect in the southern Highlands: ancient oak and birch, gnarled conifers, otters and the odd sighting of roe and sika deer. Ospreys occasionally nest there, too.

The Guardian’s Severin Carrell steps ashore on Inchconnachan on a visit in 2010. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Also hidden among the trees and shrubs are an unknown number of wallabies, which have inhabited Inchconnachan for nearly 80 years, barely seen by the wild campers and day trippers who arrive by boat from the nearby villages of Luss, Balmaha and Balloch.

Their presence is rarely advertised; the detailed and luxuriously illustrated sale brochure from the agents Savills and Knight Frank makes no mention of the marsupials.

Luss Estates, which is putting the island up for sale, said it was unsure how many wallabies were on the island although it estimated they were in the low double figures. A spokesman could only be certain that two were taken there in the 1940s by Fiona Bryde Gore, the then Lady Arran, from the family’s estate in southern England.

“What [number] those two grew to, would only be wild speculation,” the spokesman said. “No one is happy to give an accurate figure.”

In 2008, the Deer Commission for Scotland estimated there were about 60, and there were reports of some swimming across the loch only to be knocked down by vehicles on the A82.

There have been discussions involving the Trossachs national park, which includes Inchconnachan, about culling their numbers to prevent them damaging the woodland.

A mooted cull led to protests in 2009, with animal welfare activists reportedly offering to rehome the wallabies. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

The island is protected under UK and international law because of its ancient oak woodland, and is a site of special scientific interest and special area of conservation, adding to the responsibilities of the next owner. That mooted cull led to protests in 2009, with animal welfare activists reportedly offering to rehome the animals instead.

Luss Estates said on Thursday it never applied for a Scottish Natural Heritage culling licence for the wallablies, which are known as a mob, court or troupe. “I don’t think they’re the best thing to have for the ecology of the island, but they’re still there,” the spokesman said.

Luss Estates is selling the island with planning permission for a new house, boat house and jetty. But there is a catch: the area’s occupancy rules limit its use to 60 days a year, making it a holiday home.

Mike Flynn, the chief superintendent of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, suggested the animals could be left alone. “The wallabies have lived peacefully on Inchconnachan for decades and we would expect whoever buys it to allow them to continue to do so,” he said.

“The wallabies could legally be moved from the island if a licensed sanctuary or zoo agreed to take them in. However, considering how long they have been in the wild and the fact they do not appear to be causing significant ecological damage, we believe it would be best if they were left on the island.”

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