Scotland. Day 5 -6, 3rd to 4th July.
Durness is a small town at the far north-west corner of Scotland. Here I am driving in and approaching the town. There are many magnificent beaches in the area.
If you look closely at this image or click on it for a larger view, you will see the remains of a wall. This is part of the remains of one of the small townships that disappeared in the nineteenth century.
The vicious feudal system in Scotland meant that the big landowners owned everything including houses and fishing boats. This area was owned by the Duke of Sutherland (living in Dunrobin Castle) and a lowland Scot who obtained the leasehold from the Duke in 1810 charged particularly high rents to encourage the development of sheep farming. Most of the local villages disappeared from this pressure and probably from outright evictions over the next decades. In 1841 the inhabitants of Ceannabeinne were told they would have to leave. They successfully resisted for a while and an enquiry was held. However, the enquiry found they effectively had no rights and they were evicted in 1842. Their resistance, though, allowed the inhabitants of the village of Durness to hold out and in 1886 the Crofters Act decreed that landowners could no longer force tenants off their land.
An old bridge at Durness. You can also see it in the first image.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Balnakeil, just past Durness, was the largest town in the area. By 1840, though, it had been cleared out for a sheep farm. The houses you can see at far left are not Balnakeil but I think a modern farm.
There remains the picturesque remains of an old church at Balnakeil. This and the next few images are from there.
Balnakeil was a centre for Christianity from the eighth century. This church was built in 1617 and rebuilt in 1690. It was abandoned in the mid 19th century when a new church was built.
Balnakeil Mill is just across the road from the church. The flowers are daffodils, still in flower due to the sheltered location.
The mill was built around 1830 and was last used just before the First World War.
The main tourist attraction at Durness is Smoo Caves. A midden outside the cave was found to have iron age remains at the top down to mesolithic remains at the bottom. So there was habitation here between 5,000 to 10,000BC and 1000AD. The cove was also extensively used for ship repair and temporary accommodation by the vikings.