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Picture: Red Sky Productions

The Broch at Borve in West Harris – a three-storey drystone building with a turf roof, inspired by Iron Age structures – has been crowned the 2024 winner of Scotland’s Greatest Escape(a Red Sky Production for BBC Scotland), awarded the coveted title by a panel of tourist industry experts.

At the grand final filmed in the East Neuk of Fife, presenter Grado invited the seven category finalists to a special gathering while the Scotland’s Greatest Escape judges - Fiona Campbell, Vanessa Kanbi, Masood Khodadadi, Zakia Moulaoui Guery, Stuart Kenny, Raj Gill and Head Judge Marina Huggett – deliberated over who should win the coveted title.

Situated on the Borve Lodge Estate, Scotland’s Greatest Escape 2024 winner The Broch was created by husband and wife Adam and Cathra Kelliher who bought the estate, formerly owned by Cathra's father, David Horrobin, in 2007. Constructed by Stornoway-based Lewis Builders, it took three years to create and won the ‘Unique and Unusual’ category which kick-started the eight-week series. The couple also own Taransay, the UK’s largest uninhabited island.

The Kelliher’s are delighted The Broch won. “It feels completely surreal!” admits Cathra. “What started with an application that we didn’t think would even be picked off the slush pile, ended up with us winning - we can’t believe it. The process kept us on our toes…to have won, well, words can’t really describe it.”

Adam adds: “It’s a mixture of exhilaration and disbelief. All the other entrants were of a very high calibre, and it would seem that any of them could have grabbed the top spot, so some deep humility too.”

For Adam, The Broch is alluring to visitors: “It’s the first broch to be built in Scotland for 2,000 years - it is a unique building in one of Scotland’s most exquisite landscapes. We are proud of the service levels we can deliver and we have an incredible team of dedicated staff who really care about getting it right, with a fanatical attention to detail. And, in terms of the landscapes, Harris speaks for itself – it’s one of the last great wilderness areas of Europe, a true coastal paradise.”

Cathra adds: “The Broch stands up over Borve Valley and everyone passing looks up to see this magnificent and extraordinary structure, literally, towering up. But at the same time it just blends into the landscape.

“My father - originally from Lancashire - came walking here [the Isle of Harris] when he was 17 and lost his heart to the island. He brought us up here at every opportunity and, in 1985 when I was 16 years old, he bought Borve Lodge Estate. Adam and I have been coming here together ever since we met and our four children have all grown up feeling very at home here.”

Scotland’s Greatest Escape Head Judge, Marina Huggett, believes The Broch is a very worthy winner of the prestigious title: “From the monumental exterior structure, with its stunning architecture, influenced from Iron Age Brochs to the inspired detailing of the high-quality interiors, the overall aesthetic is faultless.

Marina says: “Geographically, The Broch is an escape in every way. Harris is a very special place: home to some of the best beaches in the country and a wild rugged coastline. The views from The Broch are both spectacular and breath taking, whatever the weather. The customer experience is exceptional – very subtle, but with care and attention on each step of the customer journey. There is a clear intention to go above-and-beyond to deliver a tailored and unique stay that will be remembered forever."

Presenter Grado adds: “I’ve been to 21 of the most amazing escapes that Scotland has to offer and I can honestly say that I’ve made memories that will live with me for the rest of my life.” 

For Cathra and Adam, one of the highlights of the series was meeting the other Scotland’s Greatest Escape finalists. Says Cathra: “It was an unexpected joy! It was wonderful to meet the other fascinating owners and managers and to learn about their fantastically creative properties in so many incredible parts of Scotland. What we experienced was a sense of partnership and real interest in each other’s ventures. We have kept in touch since and plan to join forces to create options for guests to savour our different offerings. Adam and I keep an eye out with great interest, on the other properties and very much hope to visit them all. They are all incredible.”

Narrated by Dawn Steele, Scotland’s Greatest Escape the full eight-part second series - made by Red Sky Productions for BBC Scotland - is available to view on BBC iPlayer.