Lake District mountain for sale as Earl tries to pay off debts

Blencathra mountain, Lake District

Blencathra, the ‘ultimate vanity purchase’, comes with a Lord of the Manor title and coat of arms

LAST UPDATED AT 09:45 ON Tue 6 May 2014

A MOUNTAIN described as “one of the grandest” in the Lake District is up for sale as its owner, the Earl of Lonsdale, tries to pay off millions of pounds in inheritance taxes.

Blencathra, an 868m-high peak, also known as Saddleback, has been placed on the market for £1.75m.

The buyer will not only acquire his own mountain, but will also be allowed to use the title Lord of the Manor of Threlkeld and can apply to the College of Arms for his own individual coat of arms. He will also obtain grazing rights for more than 6,000 sheep.

The Earl of Lonsdale, Hugh Lowther, has been forced to sell the plot in Cumbria to help pay off the reported £9m tax he owes from his father's inheritance. He told the BBC the sale was the best option to raise the funds without evicting farmers and other tenants from their homes.

The Financial Times notes that it was once possible to walk across England from St Bees on the west coast to Newcastle-upon-Tyne on the east without stepping off the Lowther family’s land. But successive deaths and taxes have eaten into their assets, says the newspaper.

H&H Land and Property, who are handling the sale, believe it is the first time a Lake District mountain has been sold on the open market.

The FT describes it as the "ultimate vanity purchase", noting that the new owner will not have “free rein” over its future as it is protected by Lake District National Park and Site of Special Scientific Interest designations. Under Right to Roam legislation, the mountain must also remain accessible to the general public.

The Independent suggests the Blencathra sale may start a trend. "How old-fashioned it is to think that the only property ‘bubble’ in Britain is in the housing market," it says. "People with more money than sense are being tempted by much bigger targets than piles of bricks and mortar these days." · 

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