We arrived in Lochcarron two nights ago from Edinburgh. Between driving on the opposing side of the road as the U.S. & Sweden, we also encountered many skinny, windy two-way roads with other drivers who wanted to go much faster than us. Within the last 10 miles, we were down to a one-lane road to be shared with others. Passing ways a.k.a. pull-offs, can be found for one car to wait on the other. But, sometimes we just wince and hold on!
We are staying at The Old Manse Lochside B&B. It is lovely. Trevor and Fiona (the owners) have provided delicious Scottish Breakfasts. Most amazing though is that Steve & I have a view of Slumbay from our bedroom window. Slumbay is at the southern end of Lochcarron and is mentioned in Great-Grandfather Lachlan’s journal. Slumbay is where he enjoyed going as a child to skip stones across the sea water or to throw in stones and watch the widening circles from these tosses. I brought a nice flat stone that I found on my parents’ tombstone a few weeks ago. I decided that it would be the stone that traveled with me to Scotland and would be the stone to be skipped as Lachlan once did.
We introduced ourselves to the local buther, Roddy MacLennan, who was in the midst of business when we popped in. After a 10 minute visit with him, he recommended that we drop in on Roddy MacKenzie down the street. Roddy was the former undertaker in town and seemed to know quite a few people. Our attempt to drop in was not successful, so I wrote a note to Roddy MacKenzie and left it in their maildrop. He called last night and we set a time of 3:30 p.m. today for a visit.
Roddy and his wife Janet invited us in to chat. We discovered as we talked with Roddy that any remaining MacLennan’s in Lochcarron are likely very, very distant relatives. MacKay as well. He and his wife suggested that we pay a visit to the Highlands Archives Center in Inverness, where parish records, birth, death, and marriage records are now kept. The old Lochcarron cemetery may be the site of my great-great-grandfather John MacLennan’s burial, but poor families often were not able to purchase a gravestone. Knowing that they were quite poor, I shall assume that we’ll not find a headstone. However, tomorrow or Thursday we will stop by the cemetery.
Great-great grandfather John MacLennan was born in Middlestrom, Lochcarron. Today we learned that Middlestrom is to the south of Slumbay. So we will make a visit to the area with its ruins in the next day or two. There are also ruins from Strome Castle there.
Tomorrow we will drive to the Isle of Skye. There is a very challenging road, “Path of the Cattle”, which is supposedly the highest road in Scotland. We’ve read of the hairpin curves and very narrow roadway. However, reading also of the magnificent views that await us, we may make the attempt.
Friday we leave for Durness, which is way north in the Highlands. Cape Wrath will be a spot we’ll try to visit. The views of the cliffs that are 920 feet high are said to be outstanding. From Durness we will head south to Fort William along the Caledonian Canal, which was the waterway that great-grandfather Lachlan, his mother Catherine, and a couple of his siblings took on their immigration route. We will spend a couple of nights in Fort William.
We canceled our stay in Ayr as it will push our schedule too much. We will fly by the seats of our pants that last night and hope to find a hotel room near Edinburgh airport for July 6.
Internet access is definitely a luxury right now. The local library in Lochcarron is opened three days a week with limited hours and 30 minutes of internet use each visit. So, for now we wish you all well.
If you need to be in touch via phone, we can be reached on Jeremy’s international phone, which is working in Scotland! It did not work in Sweden so we purchased a phone for that portion of our trip.
Diane & Steve