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Easter Ross
The Villages

There is quite a large number of villages in the district, all having features and attractions peculiarly their own. At nearly all of them visitors are able to find convenient quarters. Thus at Alness as well as at Tain (at Loch Eye) and Ardgay fresh water fishing can be had, while at Balnabruach (Nigg), Saltburn, Balintore, Portmahomack and Inver boats may be had for pleasure sailing or sea fishing. Hill climbing may be indulged in from Alness, Tain, Edderton, and Ardgay. The most important of these villages at present is


Before the Reformation this village was called Obsdale and was included in the parish of Nonikiln where the ruins of a church still stand in the centre of an old graveyard. During the “killing time” Alness was the only place in Ross-shire where the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was publicly dispensed. While the service was being held at the house of the Dowager Lady of Fowlis soldiers arrived to apprehend the officiating clergyman, Rev. John Mackillican. Sir John Munro, the famous soldier was there, got the clergyman under his chair and while the soldiers were searching the house kept his seat with his ample military cloak around him, pleaded indisposition and saved his minister. A huge granite slab with suitable inscription marks the spot.

In the stirring times of “the Fifteen ” Alness Bridge was the scene of a sharp skirmish. The Earl of Seaforth with a force of three thousand men drove from the Averon (Alness River) loyal bands of Rosses and Munroes under Sir Roderick Munro and the Mackays of Sutherland, and forced them to retreat over the Struy to Bonar. This battle provided material for the satirical Gaelic poem “ Caberfeidh.”

At present Bridgend increases in size and importance because of the enterprise of its chief proprietors. There are fine quarries which furnish stone for a wide district. There are sawmills galore and two famous distilleries, Dalmore and Teaninich, and the people employed at these works with those connected with the cultivation of the excellent farms in the neighbourhood make Alness quite a stirring little place. It has no fewer than three large hotels and two inns and there are within a two-mile radius five churches. Those who want amusement are also catered for, as near it is a nine hole golf course, a nice bowling' green, a club, Territorial Hall, Masonic Hall, etc. To the top of Fyrish is a splendid climb and a wide expanse is seen from the summit.


Saltburn consists of a long stretch of houses beautifully situated on the edge of the Firth and is sometimes considered as a suburb of Invergordon. The houses all seem commodious and have neat gardens.


Balnabruach (Nigg) is a long scattered village under the shadow of the North Sutor batteries and is in consequence growing in importance.


Fearn, about a mile from the railway station, is also a non-congested village of well built houses. It has a commodious Public Hall and the Abbey referred to in “Ecclesiastical History.” A notable feature is the large up-to-date shops where a large amount of business is done.


Balintore is a quaint old fishing village cosily situated, with a fairly good harbour at which a considerable amount of shipping is done.

Between Tain and Portmahomack lies the fishing village of Inver. Round about is rich agricultural land and many small crofts.


Portmahomack does not now enjoy the prosperity it once did as it has lost somewhat of importance since the Highland Railway was opened and steam applied to fishing boats. It still however has considerable shipping trade. With its golf course, facilities for bathing and boating, it is an ideal place for a quiet restful holiday. Suitable accommodation is available at moderate charges. It has an excellent Carnegie Library. The old parish church was formerly called St Colman’s and was founded by St Colman, and there still is a St Colman’s well in the village. About a mile from the Port is Balone Castle described elsewhere. Three miles away is the Tarbatness Lighthouse, which is a prominent object in the landscape over most of the sea coast from Aberdeenshire to Caithness. At night it shows a succession of six flashes every alternate fifteen seconds. It is one of the highest in Scotland, being set on comparatively low ground and those approaching it will find it more distant in reality than in appearance. A fine view is obtained from the top on a clear day.


Edderton is five miles from Tain. The road to the village runs close to the railway and seashore. This village also is a non-congested one. A little beyond the village is the remarkably defined hill of Struie, which is a prominent landmark in all views of the district and a visit to its summit will well repay the climb because of the extensive view of nine counties got from its crest on a fine day. The interesting sculptured stones to be seen at Edderton are described in the chapter on that subject.


THOUGH Bonar Bridge Station is in Ross-shire the village of that name is in Sutherland. The village here is Ardgay, which is a well built place and is the shopping centre for a wide district. There are some remarkably fine buildings and a commodious public hall. The scenery round here is particularly fine.

From Tain visits can easily be arranged to Skibo and Dornoch by crossing the Meikle Ferry at Ardjachie. Cromarty can be reached from Tain by crossing the ferry between the Sutors, though it can perhaps be more conveniently reached by steamer from Invergordon.

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