The owners of an island made famous by a hit TV Series are searching for a ‘visionary’ partner to carry forward an ambitious nature restoration project.

Taransay in the Western Isles became a household name in the 00s after it was used as the filming location for the BBC's Castaway which saw 36 volunteers marooned on Scotland’s largest uninhibited island for a year.

Intended to be a ‘social experiment’, the series is widely regarded as the first reality TV show of its kind and launched the career of Ben Fogle who would go on to become a Countryfile presenter.

After reportedly being drawn not only to its ‘breathtaking beauty’ but the potential for long-term ecological and historical restoration, Adam and Cathra Kelliher purchased Taransay in 2011.

The Herald:

Cartha first visited the island during her youth alongside her father, David Horrobin, who bought the Borve Lodge Estate on nearby Harris in 1985.

After marrying Adam, a former war correspondent turned life-science entrepreneur, the couple regularly travelled to Harris together and took over the Borve Lodge when Cartha’s father died in 2003.

When the local owners put Taransay on the market, a sale was concluded in a matter of days after a bid from the Kellihers accepted.

While they are said to be proud of what they have achieved in the 12 years since, the couple are now searching for a partner, or partners, with ‘the appropriate expertise, vision and passion’ to help to restore the islands ‘biodiversity and social history’.

Adam said: “Taransay evokes a sense of timelessness and mystery.

“We have found its sheer vastness and raw beauty touches everyone who visits.

“Being an island in the north Atlantic 1.6 miles offshore, it presents a unique opportunity to carry forward the project in splendid isolation, unaffected by neighbouring land or other concerns.”

The Herald:

Measuring around 1,395 hectares and with 21.5 miles of varied coastline, Taransay is effectively two separate islands joined by an isthmus which is lined on either side by beaches of fine white sand.

Thousands of years before it became a temporary home for the 36 Castaway volunteers, the Vikings took over the island in 900AD following their invasion of Scotland, with evidence that this is where the name Taransay derived from, being an Old Norse translation of ‘the Isle of Taran’.

Whilst the last inhabitants of Taransay left in 1974, their historical remnants and presence are said to be found across the island, from the remains of black houses to the ruins of the iron age crannog in the middle of the uppermost loch.

Savills, who are offering the opportunity to become a project partner on behalf of Mr and Mrs Kelliher, have now released a prospectus, compiled by the firm’s Natural Capital team, which details a number of ways in which they hope to ensure a prosperous future for the island.

The Herald:

An excerpt reads: “The Kellihers feel that in this era of climate crisis and environmental degradation, the time is right for a model combination of land ownership and third-party involvement, pooling resources in partnership to achieve regeneration goals, whilst being mindful of the social context.”

It has been proposed that a model for ‘responsible travel and tourism’ could be developed on Taransay with the potential for additional revenue sources through on-site accommodation and wild-camping sites.

The Kellihers have also suggested that there is scope for establishing educational programmes which would further communicate the strong historical link between Taransay and the Outer Hebrides which is made evident by archaeological records.

After decades of overgrazing by sheep and deer, it has been said that a new partnership could support a wide variety of habitats and wildlife that could attract further ‘sustainable tourism’.

While the removal of sheep, overseen by the Kellihers in September 2019, and the introduction of a summer cattle herd is already assisting the regeneration of fragmented habitats, the couple claimed that there is still ‘much more to be done’.

Lucy Stanfield-Jenner, Savills head of natural Capital in Scotland said: “This opportunity would suit a visionary partner who is passionate about supporting the Kellihers towards creating a genuinely unique nature restoration project on Britain’s largest uninhabited island, whilst ensuring social inclusion and celebrating the island’s geological, archaeological, historical and cultural heritage.”