About Hartree Estates
Have you ever dreamed of seeing a place for the first time and feeling that it has been waiting for you forever? That is what happened when Mike and I drove up to Hartree Estates one day in 2009.
We have a rather complex family mix: Mike’s father who lives with us, no age number being given away, but Dad has been retired for nearly longer than his full working life! Six children (collectively), with six wonderful grandchildren, and beloved nephews and nieces on both sides.
Put all those together by geographical location of loved ones, add the requirements of work and then our own wish list of what we needed to be able to call somewhere ‘home’ and it had proved to be a nearly impossible task to find the right place.
Neither Mike nor I are natural city dwellers, although we both enjoy the culture and facilities they have to offer. Our hearts lie with the natural beauty of the countryside and, for Mike in particular, throw in a few mountains and you are close to perfection.
That is how we came to the Scottish Borders and fell in love with Hartree Estates. We have one of the most beautiful cities in Great Britain on one doorstep – Edinburgh, and one of the most cultural, complete with the most amazing shopping, Glasgow, on the other. So, with two major airports and main line train stations, 12 minutes off the M74, we have never been better placed to get to and from wherever we may need. It is just that we don’t always think ‘car’ first.
Today, we woke up and looked out of our bedroom window at glorious Tinto, wreathed in morning cloud and glowing with the reflection of the sunrise. We collected one of our granddaughters who was staying for the weekend, took her out in her pyjamas and wellies to walk down to the lakes and feed the wild swans who have just started gracing us with their presence.
Walking back to the House, we look across to the orchard we have just planted, with fruit beds about to go in at the far end, and say that, next year, we shall be picking our own berries for breakfast with apples for pie making later in the day. All organic, of course, and with aspirations of future expansion.
We then escape from the slight chill of an early May morning back to the house, leaving wellies in the porch and walking across the warmth of under floor heated wood to have our breakfast looking out over the expanse of the Scottish Southern Uplands, waving to the estate team who will be just starting work to keep everything looking good.
Later that day, Mike took the 50 minute flight from Edinburgh to get him to his work meeting in London and I took our working cocker spaniels out for a game in the grounds, checking that the latest 120 trees that we planted only a few weeks ago were thriving.
Idyllic? Indeed. But not always so. The lake was constructed over the last summer when Hartree looked more like a motorway construction site than a peaceful vista. The orchard was a bog field and the heating at the house was so ineffective that you were more likely to put your coat on to go inside, than outside. Ground source heating with thirteen vertical shafts, each of 150 metres deep, being drilled down our driveway put paid to that one! This is Mike’s favourite project, to date. Hugely successful in that the house has constant, ambient warmth, endless hot water on demand and the system is about as environmentally friendly as you can get.
2009 to now? One year living at Hartree to get our bearings, one year capturing our wishes in detail and working with the local authority to achieve a master plan, one year finding the right people to make the dream come true and two years of achievement. A way to go yet, but the project of Hartree Estates is inspiring and gives us back far more than the effort we put into it.
The plans on the dining room table show us what we are working towards, but already we have something beyond our dreams. Perhaps after breakfast at the weekend, Mike and I will drive up to Loch Lomond, an hour and a half, walk up its glorious mountain, Ben Lomond, and come back in time to see the sun setting behind Tinto. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday!!!