To the lighthouse: Couple buy dream historic hotel with life savings

couple on steps home

John Harris and Helen Mason who've swapped Sheringham for Scotland where they've bought a remote hotel adjoined to a working lighthouse. - Credit: Supplied

A Norfolk couple quit their jobs to buy a remote 19th century Scottish lighthouse hotel 400 miles away from home.

lighthouse and hotel

The Corsewall Lighthouse Hotel. - Credit: Supplied

Helen Mason, 60, and partner John Harris, 62, from Sheringham purchased the Corsewall Lighthouse hotel which is situated in the keeper's original home.

The property adjoins the lighthouse tower built in 1815 by the engineer grandfather of famous Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson.

The hotel has also hosted guests such as Hollywood movie star Gerard Butler.

It's perched on the northern coast of a peninsula, the Rhins of Galloway, in the south-west of Scotland.

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Ms Mason, a former head of music services for young people, and Mr Harris, a BT IT manager and professional photographer, gave up their jobs to relocate there.

It's currently closed because of coronavirus restrictions.

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Ms Mason said: “We came up here and stayed in a friend’s bothy about eight years ago, saw the area and fell in love with it. We almost forgot about it but once Covid hit, we decided that the time was right for us to make a change.

“When we saw the hotel was for sale, we realised it could be the ideal opportunity.

"It’s perfect for John’s photography. After spending a week there in the summer we were sure this is what we wanted.”

Set in one of Scotland’s most spectacular stretches of coastline, the lighthouse played host to Gerard Butler who filmed blockbuster The Vanishing there. The property has en-suite rooms, a restaurant and five holiday cottages.

The couple don’t actually own the working lighthouse, which is operated by the Northern Lighthouse Board but they are hoping to open it up for tours.

lighthouse hotel

The Corsewall Lighthouse Hotel in Scotland. - Credit: Christie & Co

“It’s a hidden gem,” said Mr Harris, who was a coastguard in Sheringham. “During the Second World War, the lighthouse was blackened with soot to hide it from German bombers. But the Luftwaffe accidentally bombed it anyway, mistaking it for key military targets across the Irish Sea in Belfast."

And the couple are undeterred by worries of how Covid may affect their new business. Mr Harris said: “People are looking for boutique hotels in slightly remote locations and, living in a post-Brexit Britain, I think people will not want to travel abroad as much as they have done."

The couple put £400,000 of their life savings towards the purchase of the property, for sale for around £450,000, and secured a commercial mortgage from specialist finance group Together.

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