The Chancellor's secret bolthole on his very own northern rock

Last updated at 21:42 24 November 2007

As Chancellor, he has been battered from pillar to post over Northern Rock and the missing computer discs fiasco. So it would be understandable if Alistair Darling felt the need to escape - to his very own northern rock.

It has been revealed that Scotsman Mr Darling has a converted two-room croft on the Isle of Lewis, whose former inhabitants would have shared it with cattle and sheep.

Mr Darling - whose official residences are No 11 Downing Street and country mansion Dorneywood - regularly visits the humble house with his family.

It was bought in 2004 for £12,000, is perched on a remote shore and has tufts of grass growing out of the dry stone walls. But there is one striking similarity with Mr Darling's prestigious Whitehall residence. Both places are No 11. The house - also known as a butt and ben, denoting a two-room home - is registered in the name of Mr Darling's mother, Anna, who came from the island.

Considerable money has been spent doing up the former ruin, the last inhabited dwelling before the rocks meet the Atlantic.

Last night one local said: "The Darlings love the little house. Mr Darling once said he can't remember a single year of his life when he didn't come to Lewis. His mother came from the island and all his childhood holidays were spent here enjoying the beautiful beaches.

"It was a tradition he carried on with his own two children and now they all visit the house as often as they can."

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