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New vision revealed for Tanera Mor

By Neil MacPhail

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Tanera Mor
Tanera Mor

One of the richest men in the land has revealed plans to bring a new lease of life to a magical Wester Ross island and create a world class destination for visitors.

Last spring Tanera Mor, the biggest of the Summer Isles, was bought by English businessman Ian Wace and his wife Saffron for around £2 million. Mr Wace is a financier with an estimated fortune of £200 million.

They have embarked on an ambitious four-year plan to make it a special retreat for up to 60 paying guests. The vision accompanying a planning application to upgrade island tracks says it could become an idyllic escape, where art, literary and other creative pursuits and celebrations can be enjoyed by people wishing to experience a special place.

The couple were captivated by Tanera’s natural beauty and history and recognised the importance of the 766-acre island to the community of Coigach, and were determined that it retain this importance.

The vision states that while the Waces respect the requirement to allow access to the island, the provision of services for non-resident visitors will be restricted to the north end at Ardnagoine, "with the aim that the other areas of the island will be more private." At present there are several holiday homes on the island.

Tanera is already employing several people working on renovations. A planning application has been made to Highland Council to upgrade another section of track to allow the use of island Land Rovers, including the fire engine, and bicycles. This is part of Phase One of restoring the island. Richard and Lizzie Williams, who with Bill and Jean Wilder previously owned Tanera, will remain working for the Wace’s.

Buildings erected in the ‘70s will be torn down and replaced with cottages in local materials which eventually will be used for accommodation.

The intention is to rebuild the settlements at Ardnagoine, Tigh-an-Quay and Garadheancal to create three distinct clusters, which will allow for three different groups of guests to occupy the island at any one time, or for one large party to occupy the entire island.

Each cluster will have accommodation units and central dining and gathering spaces.

The accommodation units will be built from the ruined structures and will be designed to sleep two to four people, with up to five units in each cluster, thereby a maximum of 20 people in each cluster, or 60 people across the entire island.

The derelict herring curing station will be restored in Phase Two.

There will be a core staff team resident to manage and maintain the facilities, with 10 being year-round residents, and at least 10 more being part-time for peak periods.

The vision states: "The finished product will feel like a home, one that is sensitive to the island’s history and vernacular, and its position in a fishing-based community. It is designed to welcome guests to something entirely special, where the attention to detail and delivery of services is outwardly effortless and utterly charming.

"It is not a hotel, but a place of reection which transcends the traditional hospitality mode. It is designed to be peaceful, respectful and restorative to the soul of the visitor and the environment.

"The intention is to sympathetically and aesthetically restore many of the island’s ruined structures to provide accommodation, relaxation, recreation, and reection for visitors."

The intention is for Tanera to "feel like a home, a community, a living and breathing island".

Tanera Mor is currently home to a salmon fish farm, several holiday cottages, a small sailing school, a café and a post office, which prints its own stamps.

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