Ardgour Parish Church, North Corran
As you travel round the Highlands of Scotland you can find numerous old, many ruined, Churches, Chapels, Kirks, and ancient places of worship. With all the ruins about you could be forgiven if you thought the Highlanders had given up religion.
Nothing would be further from the truth. Now I am not talking about the towns and Cities not even the numerous villages that all have many more than just one place of worship. As you travel round the Highlands you come across fairly modern churches away from a centre of population. They all seem well kept by obviously proud congregations, a congregation that must be from a wide country community.
Ardgour Parish Church may not be one of the remotest that we have found, but still located well away from hustle and bustle of life. Located on the western shore of Loch Linnhe it is part of the wider parish of Ardgour, Morvern and Strontian.
The exterior is of local granite with a slate roof, built in1829, simple in design in what is known as the Parliamentary Style.
The interior appears much more modern….
In fact the interior was installed in 1931. A curved wooden ceiling lowers the height and a magnificent carved wood Alter and Screen below a simple stained glass window give the interior a distinctive design and then the colour choice of yellow adds light to whole interior.
Off the beaten track maybe…. but well cared for and many signs that the church is well attended. The care extends to the graveyard that surrounds the church far better maintained than so many of our churches in our towns and cities.
But what better way can there be than when leaving the Church you are greeted with a wonderful view down the Loch towards Ben Nevis…
(C) David Oakes 2017
Osgood Mackenzie had a wealthy and generous mother. She bought him a rather large piece of ground on the shores of Loch Ewe close to Poolewe. That gift was the start of the creation of a wonderful surprise for this far north and on the rugged coast of Scotland. Taking advantage of the North Atlantic Drift (Gulf Stream) the area enjoys a climate that is just a little warmer. So in 1862 the start of what is now know as Inverewe Gardens was made.
Even though our visit was early October the garden was still packed with colour….true the very best of summers herbaceous borders was fading and the autumn colours were not yet in full flourish but the garden still offered a colourfull display with a tropical flavour……so come along inside and share the pleasures…
The Gardens are now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, and apart from the Christmas New Year Period, are open all year….
(C) David Oakes 2017
The Letterewe Range
Dawn and Buster and I headed off up the Leathad Daraich Pass to try and capture the sunrise. No red sky to welcome this day but as the sun climber above Slioch and Meal Mheiiidh we caught those first rays of morning sunlight.
A morning that just got better and better
Yesterday we had moved further north from Skye to Lock Ewe and Poolewe…trouble is on route you could be persuaded to pause to enjoy the ever changing scenery….
From Loch Dughaill in Strath Carron….
To Loch Maree in the shadows of a cloud kissed Slioch.
Our home for the next few days would be on the shores of Loch Ewe. Tranquil today yet in the WW2 it was a ‘safe harbour’ and one of the main bases for assembling the Merchant Convoys that head to the frozen seas around Russia.
Poolewe was out temporary address. You can hardly describe the few cottages that are on the banks of the River Ewe as a village but it is still a busy centre for the outlying community.
This area of North West Scotland is just a touch different and very individual. It is a mix of rocky bays giving way to smooth golden/ white sands. Rugged headlands, gentle coves, hidden harbours, scattered crofts, thick wooded hillsides and glens, wooded with Beech and Oak and also of course Scots Pines, vegetation lush and at this time of the year just starting to show signs of autumns colour…..and the whole of this magnificent piece of Scotland is of course surrounded by mountains and in places tantalising glimpses of even more dramatic mountains further to the north. So lets take a whirlwind trip round loch Ewe and Area.
But Poolewe has one more surprise up its sleeve….but we will save that till tomorrow when we will have a taste of tropical paradise.
(C) David Oakes 2017
Saint Mary’s Church, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye
The west coast of Scotland is littered with the ruins of Churches (perhaps best named Chapels). St. Mary’s Church at Dunvegan is typical of many such once important places of worship. Locations near the coast is a significant clue as to when and why they were built in this far flung places. It was in the 6th century that Saint Columba arrived on the Isle of Iona and set up a religious community that still exists today. So it is no surprise that Pilgrims from Iona , just a short distance across the sea, found their way to the west coast of Scotland. There were of course many other peoples from other countries to this part of Scotland…. some settled, others stayed for awhile.
Standing on a high mound above the village of Dunvegan, surrounded by a stone wall, St. Mary’s is still a very notable feature of the landscape.
St. Marys is surrounded by a burial ground that tells many stories of the peoples of Dunvegan now long gone. But step inside the ruined Church and you find many more Memorial stones and Crosses. Like many of the Churches that fell in to disuse and disrepair they took on an additional roll. St. Mary’s like others became a safe custodian of these stones that were brought here for safety.
Highland Churches like this may well be ruins, but are still important historical links to not just the communities past but to the foundations of the Country. Whilst many of the memorials are tributes to Clan Members, others are to peoples from many countries who ventured forth, found themselves in this part of the world, settled and helped shape the countries future.
Why so many ruins…. there is no one reason. Larger places of Worship were often needed, then of course we had Clan disputes and much later divisions within the Scottish Church. Once a building fell into disuse the ravages of time and weather caused the Heather Thatched Roofs to collapse…. so with no roof any intentions of restoration was probably thought too daunting. But the walls still stand firm.
Post Script….. I personally find it strange that today there appears to be dislike to peoples from other countries that seek to share our lives in our communities and countries.
Yet we only have to look back at our own histories and recognise the very wide variety of cultures and peoples from far away that have created and shaped the very country we now enjoy.
Just a thought
(C) David Oakes 2017
Loch Ainort, Isle of Skye
After days of great sunny weather our Scottish trip was so due for a dramatic change in the weather. All started so well with scudding clouds across the sky that still showed it was blue.
Normally we make for the Cuillins Mountains on the west coast of Skye. This trip we were heading to the north of the Island, an area of very different but no less dramatic in its sea and landscape.
But that change in the weather was also dramatic. After a night of rain, which continued thru the next two days, we woke to very high winds with Gales forecast for the coming night and the next day. Sounds bad but in reality it just made the scenery all the more dramatic.
Waterstein Head overlooking Moonun Bay
Neist Point Lighthouse
The wind was so strong here at Neist Point that there was no way I could stand and hold the camera steady and a tripod would be a stupid risk….. so there was nothing for it but to lie on the ground and create a low profile.
For a brief spell the wind dropped and the sun did try its best to join us. Enough to encourage us to visit the Coral Sands at Claigan.
Of course no Scottish coastline would be complete without its castle and at Dunvegan we can find the well sheltered Dunvegan Castle home of the Macleod Clan for over 800 years…
The views from the castle over Dunvegan Bay on a stormy evening are equally special..
The Gales abated overnight so we headed for Quiraing. The Quiraing is a mountainous rock ridge that stretches for several miles. One side is smooth and just a steep climb the other side of the ridge is just rough rocky crags, perhaps the heavy clouds add to their drama…
A more mellow ambience arrived with the evening..
Dawn and we were welcomed to clear skies and a wispy mist…
It was also the day we would head back to the mainland and head for north again…so some how it seemed only right that we would leave Skye in sunshine ..as we had arrived. A last look at the Old Man of Storr
and to The Cuillins and Loch Ainort
(C) David Oakes 2017