Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Abandoned croft, Enard Bay

After all this consideration of "deep time" - it was time for me to move on! Continuing westwards around Enard Bay towards Achnahaird Bay, there is a small bay near Rubha a' Choin (dog point). Within the bay is a tiny inlet.....

......sheltering the ruins of a croft.  I've visited this spot previously but usually at a higher state of tide, and hadn't appreciated the nature of the narrow gap in the rock leading to the tiny bay beyond.

As is sometimes found near crofts on the shore, the boulders have been cleared from the beach to provide a boat "noust" enabling boats to be drawn up above the tide.  This must have been an enormous piece of labour for the folk who lived here, but critical to their ability to operate a boat.

The croft istself is well built, maily from Torridonian Sandstone and is mortared over most of the external walls.  Some large blocks have been used, perhaps an indication that several men worked together to build it.  The windows are comparatively large, so perhaps this ruin isn't so very old.  A low door facing the sea ( but north, so away from the prevailing wind) opens into the interior.

The chimney breast is remarkably intact, even down to the wooden pegs which level the stones above the massive lintel.  This seems to have provided an oven space between the two large blocks above the lintel itself.

Remarkably, the grate is intact.  I have no way of knowing whether the two cooking pots on the grate are originally from the building, or perhaps left here after it fell into disuse.

A quiet and lonely place now, the only signs of life were a Wren scolding me from the Bracken and a Robin looking hopefully from the gable end for scraps from my second luncheon (which it duly received!)

Aside from fishing, the folk who lived here clearly kept cattle.  At the "ben end" is a separate byre space with a door wider and lower than the main door to admit the small black Highland beasts commonly kept on crofts.  There would probably have been some small patches of cultivation too, but these are now hidden by the bracken and brambles.

It's fascinating to imagine the lives and times of the folk who crofted this spot - such ruins always provoke a reaction, whether just a "rickle o' stanes" marking a pathetic attempt by people to scratch a living off unpromising ground, sheilings in the high corries or as here, something more tangible and intact.

Abandoned and overgrown the building may be, but the view from the front door hasn't changed at all.  The Oystercatchers and Curlews still call in the little bay and the boat noust above the rock channel cleared by sweat and toil is still clear.


  1. Nice photos and a interesting story about this place. Still the landscape reminds of Norway.

  2. I love reading your blog. When Iam grounded at work I can dream :)

  3. Hi Rolf, thanks :o) The north west would certainly have looked familiar to the Norsemen who came here to both raid and settle. They even gave it the name "Sutherland"; the southern land.

    Kind regards

  4. Thank you so much Allison - that was exactly what I hoped to achieve both for myself an perhaps for others :o)

    Kind Regards

  5. I'm afraid your interpretation is entirely wrong! I can tell you that the "croft" was in fact a temporary bothy used by local men as a base for salmon fishing in August. What you describe as a byre was in fact the store for their nets when they were not in use over the winter. This was told to me by someone who actually went there with his father and other local men, during his childhood. His own job was to take the nets out of storage when they first arrived each summer. He told me this was an unpleasant job, given to the youngest/most inexperienced because the nets would have the dried remains jelly-fish on them which caused itching/irritation on the skin and stung if it got into eyes.

  6. Thanks for this fascinating information Anon - do you know whether it was the fishing crew who constructed the building, or whether they took over it's use once it was no longer permanently inhabited? It does seem extraordinarily well constructed and roomy compared to other fishing bothies around the north and east coasts, but certainly explains the effort put into opening the boat channel and noust

    Kind Regards