IT is famed for being the most remote pub not just in Scotland, but the whole of the UK, accessible only by boat or a two-day trek.

Now the Old Forge which in the past was at the centre of a row with some locals and the inn's Belgian owner, who they claimed refused to serve them, is the focus of a community buyout bid.

The former Pub of the Year in Inverie on the shoreline of the Knoydart Peninsula in the Highlands is up for sale for £425,000.

The present owner, John-Pierre Robinet, a Belgian, who took the pub on nine years ago, said that Brexit and Covid-19 had contributed to his decision to sell up.

Two years ago it emerged relationships with regulars had become so strained that residents of the village of Inverie in Inverness-shire set up a rival watering hold across the road in a shed.

The outdoor pub in the village of 90 residents consisted of a wooden shelter plus seating where the regulars drank carry-outs they bought from the local off-licence.

The pub's owner told residents in January of their intention to sell up, and following a consultation villagers have now said they want to buy it.

Jacqui Wallace, co-chair of the steering group leading the community bid, said the pub, which comes with a registered helicopter landing pad, played a vital role in the area. The ownership model would see profits reinvested back into the community for projects to benefit locals and visitors alike.

She said: "Pubs are at the heart of every community and it is no different in Knoydart.

READ MORE: Opinion: Why community ownership is essential for the future of rural Scotland

"As well as the obvious economic benefits, more than anything we are focussing on the positive social and environmental impacts we could make if the buyout is successful."

More than 30 have so far offered to volunteer their time to the business, while a working group has been set to oversee the project and fundraising.


Source: Baird Lumsden

The project comes after a successful community purchase campaign by the community in 1999.

Then the Knoydart Foundation purchased 17,200 acres of estate land on the peninsula for £750,000.

A subsidiary of the community-controlled foundation has control of the local post office which re-opened in October allowing customers to send parcels and bank money without having to take a ferry for the first time in 18 months.

The only way of reaching the village - and its pub - is by walking 18 miles or making a seven-mile sea crossing.

The branch at Inverie closed in April 2019 due to the retirement of the Postmaster and the withdrawal of the premises for Post Office use.

It re-opened with expanded village shop, providing banking services for personal customers and small businesses, as well as letter and parcel collection and home shopping returns Estate agents Baird Lumsden put the famous pub on the market.

A spokesperson said: "The restaurant has been improved over recent times with the addition of a sunroom overlooking the bay but retains a considerable amount of original character and charm.

"To the rear lie a range of outbuildings including staff accommodation.

"To the front is a lawned area sloping down to a beach. There are nearby moorings within the loch. In addition, the pier at Inverie has been significantly upgraded in recent years. Moorings chains and shackles were totally renewed in April 2020.

"They are tagged with a TOF “V” (as visitors) and are under a lease arrangement with a third party.

"An attached cottage, comprising living room /bedroom and en-suite bathroom provides useful accommodation."

The area has a history of community purchase.

One group of Second World War veterans famously staked out 65 acres of arable land each and 10,000 acres of sheep-grazing land on the Knoydart estate to protest against its stewardship by the English aristocrat Lord Brocket.

Knoydart boasted a population of around 1,000 until the end of the 18th century, but the impact of the Highland Clearances saw it slump to just 80.

A new law allowed servicemen returning from the Second World War to take land and use it as their own, but efforts to release land in Knoydart were resisted.

Led by a priest, Father Colin Macpherson, Sandy Macphee, Duncan McPhail, Henry MacAskill, Jack MacHardy, Archie MacDonald and William Quinn decided to take matters into their own hands in 1948.

Lord Brocket secured a court order to remove them and eventually won a bitter legal battle. However, their actions are largely seen as paving the way for an eventual community buyout of the Knoydart estate in 1999 after decades of battles with absentee landlords.