THERE was a time when Christopher Moran visited his Scottish estate most weekends. This scenic tranche of upland Banffshire was his ‘sanity’, the multi-millionaire financier used to say.

‘I come here for the solitude. In London I can work 24 hours a day. But here, I unwind.’

When he and his then wife Helen arrived at Aberdeen Airport on Friday nights, an estate worker would be there to whisk them into the foothills of the Grampian mountains, where the 17-bedroom Cabrach Lodge awaited.

There he would change into his made-toorder estate tweed plus fours.

A passionate furniture collector, the laird filled his Scottish bolthole with antique marvels and regaled guests with their histories. Back in 1992, the only disappointment at Cabrach Lodge was his office – empty but for a telephone.

The ‘right’ desk for it simply hadn’t come along yet, he would explain. ‘I don’t believe in compromise.’

More than three decades on, life is markedly different on the 48,000-acre estate Mr Moran acquired in two transactions in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The 75-year-old is today viewed as an absentee landlord. There is, in fairness, much taking up his attention in London, not least his 20-month-old daughter Iva, by current partner Emily Rae.

A more frequent presence in the Cabrach is son Jamie Moran, 36, and the figure many in the community refer to as his ‘minder’. Although he is not always introduced at meetings with neighbours, it turns out this is Sir Hugh Orde, 65, the former chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

‘I can’t quite wrap my head around the career trajectory there,’ says one local – but, as we shall see, the finance whizz and the ex-police chief go back some years.

The most obvious change on the estate is to the landscape itself. Almost 60 turbines form the Dorenell wind farm whose operators pay rent estimated at more than £1million a year to the landowner.

Now, to the horror of many in the community, Mr Moran is looking to extend his wind interests. The more advanced plans are for 22 turbines measuring up to 650ft on his land.

SAS Volunteer

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