24th July 2023
On 10th July I headed up to the north of Scotland to spend a week on the croft with friends Norman Schouten (a former travelling companion - see Patagonia blogs 2012), wife Nem and family. The croft house is called Tordarroch, and is in Rogart, a beautiful part of Sutherland. Tordarroch means 'mound of the oak-wood' and an oak clad hill is just across the main road from the croft.
This blog is just a brief note to introduce the photos of the trip. A few basic points:
- I had never stayed even a night in Sutherland and so spent a pleasant week with friends as well as using it for a jumping off place to visit places in nearby Ross-shire and Caithness.
- For four or five summers in the 1960s we visited Ross-shire as a family, staying in Balintore and Shandwick (The Shore Villages). I have many great childhood memories from that era, spending as much time on the beach as possible, along with other visiting families, including Campbell cousins from Inverness, the Gillies family from Stornoway and the MacKenzie family from Inverness-shire, who probably lived in Drumine at that time. At one stage the Harvey family (also related) were in Tain. Another MacKenzie family (Willy and Dolly) had the local farm and sons Willie, Hugh and Kenneth took us out fishing for haddock. In our last summer there in 1969 we got up at 0300 to see the moon landing on TV. I enjoyed checking out these childhood corners and have included a few older photos from our original visits.
- I checked out Tain and Dornoch beach which was another childhood memory: walking on the sands with Dugald MacPherson whose father was in the Evelix manse at that time.
- Tarbat Ness lighthouse got a visit. I wasn't able to get inside as it has been automated since 1985. As children we did climb up to the top. My recollection is that dad knew the keeper.
- I visited Dunrobin Castle and took extensive photos of the interior and gardens. Worth a visit
- On a day trip out with my hosts we pushed up into Caithness and visited Ousdale Broch, had lunch on Berriedale Braes River Bothy (great for food!), got a guided tour around Dunbeath Castle Gardens by the intrepid 72 year old gardener Neil and visited a cave near Berriedale river mouth.
- Had a pleasant evening in the Bonar manse but sadly forgot to take photos. Visited Lairg and Bonar FP Churches for the first time.
All in all I had a fantastic time away. Work I had to do on the croft involved rotating sheep around the grazing and I came home with a live tick in my leg! Hospitality was amazing with feasting on home grown produce from the croft. Catching up with people is always the best experience however and I enjoyed spending time with Hugo and Elspeth. Hopefully Lilian will be more able to communicate on my next visit! To my hosts Norman and Nem: I can't thank you enough.
Enjoy the photos. Next scheduled trip is to Northern Spain In September. However the pull of the north is strong so possible a trip out west before then? Watch this space….
All the best