A great grandfather has built his own Hobbit House and lives almost entirely off-grid, despite being almost 90-years-old.
Woodcutter Stuart Grant moved in to the cottage, which he bought as a wreck with no roof and no doors in 1984, while he was renovating a house. But he found it so satisfying doing DIY on the quirky outbuilding, which dated back 200 years, that he decided to make it his home.
It’s now been compared to the Hobbit House which features in the Lord of the Rings films - although Grant says he has never seen the film. Unsurprisingly, however, he has been inundated with visitors to his home in Tomich, near Inverness, after his house was posted on a French tourist board’s recommendations for north Scotland.
No internet and no mobile phone
Dad-of-two Grant trained as a joiner but suffered from ME for 46 years so said he worked ‘in slow motion’ on the three-bedroom rustic pad. He doesn’t have a mobile phone or use the internet and no longer drives due to his age, but he loves getting out and meeting people.
He said: "I haven’t watched Lord of the Rings. It’s just a coincidence that my front door is almost the same shape and same kind of wood, oak. There are stained glass windows on each side of it. I didn’t know about them and they didn’t know about me.
"Before me there were cows, calves and chickens living in here, and a donkey. It was a shoemakers’ cottage and a croft. There was no roof, just four walls which are 200 years old. It is not a fancy house, it is made from other people’s leftovers. I was always a glutton for scenic beauty, beautiful houses, and thatched cottages in England. This has a concrete roof but it looks like a thatched roof."
A labour of love
After starting work on it, Stuart then moved to Australia for a year. Altogether he lived in Oz for 14 years and travelled back to the UK overland, via Afghanistan. He had bought land and planned to renovate a larger house.
Grant said: "I moved in in 1984 but it wasn’t done up, I was living with concrete mixers then went out to Australia for a year. I was just doing it in slow-motion. I put on a roof and doors, there were just doorways. There were two windows. I was going to do up the house and I was living in the shed, it is very little. I thought I would make it comfortable while I’m doing up the house. I was getting such a buzz out of doing it. I don’t know how much it cost.
"I cut the wood myself from fallen trees and collected stones from the river for the stonework. I put the stairs in. It took quite a few years, I never counted it. I just enjoyed doing it so much. I got carried away."
Young at heart
Grant said that doing creative projects has kept him young.
He added: "You get a real buzz out of doing interesting stuff. I have just always been an inventor and a designer. My mum said ‘you’re always scribbling’ when I was a little boy. People think I’m clever because I do original things, but they’ve not tried.
"I’ll be 90 in less than two weeks but I feel like a teenager. People can’t believe I’m 90. I’ve travelled the world, it is all just a great adventure. I could start with a seed and end up with a house. Work is the greatest therapy.”