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Friends of Blencathra still hope to buy after mountain removed from sale

Blencathra was put up for sale to meet an inheritance tax bill. Credit: ITV News Border

The Friends of Blencathra committee has confirmed that it is still in talks with the Earl of Lonsdale to buy the mountain after reports it has been removed from sale.

The group was set up 18 months ago to resist the proposed sale of the North Lakeland mountain for £1.75million, which comes with the title 'Lord of the Manor of Threlkeld'.

At the time, Hugh Lowther, the Earl of Lonsdale, said the sale was necessary to pay a £9million inheritance tax bill, which had to be paid within 10 years of his father's death.

However, agents activing on his behalf say they "had to make alternative arrangements" to meet the inheritance tax bill as the deadline approached, and have therefore decided to stop actively marketing the mountain.

"In spite of there being several interested parties, we have been unable to conclude a sale and, as alternative arrangements have had to be made to deal with the estate's inheritance tax issues, the need for an early disposal has been removed. We have therefore been instructed to remove the property from the market."

– Shirley Dodd, property sales administrator for H&H Land and Property

Agents say they have had to sell properties that are currently occupied, an eventuality they were trying to avoid by selling Blencathra. However, they say these properties have been sold with the tenants in place.

They told ITV Border "bits and pieces have come together to allow us to meet the bill", by selling a mixture of properties and other parts of the estate.

They maintained that the mountain would still be for sale "if the right buyer could be found, at the right price." The Friends of Blencathra hopes that will be them.

"After a period of some uncertainty the vendors of the Saddleback mountain have recently confirmed to the charity that they remain keen to sell the mountain and, in particular, would like to sell to the charity if suitable terms can be agreed. Discussions are now in play to that end. Transactions involving the sale and purchase of extraordinary landholdings, such as this one, are always complex and time consuming. Here the matter is more complicated still as a result of the number of stakeholders involved in the decision making process.”

– Janet Turner QC, lawyer acting for the Friends of Blencathra