Plockton and Duncraig Castle

Plockton

After diverting onto other topics for a few posts, I’m back to our summer trip to the north-west highlands. Eleven miles up the coast from our base in Dornie is the village of Plockton. It’s a bit of a film star having appeared in, amongst other things, The Wicker Man and Hamish Macbeth, a popular British TV series of the 1990s in which it played the fictional Lochdubh (pronounced Lochdoo). Hamish, the village policeman, was played by Robert Carlyle, and his love interest was Shirley Henderson: both have gone on to greater stardom.

After two sunny days for our Applecross and Glenelg jaunts, this day was cloudier and cooler. It made the views over Loch Carron beautifully atmospheric.

In the photograph above, you can see a large house, Duncraig Castle, near the top right. We would walk to it later (6km there and back), but spent the first part of the day wandering the village (and enjoying coffee).

We then set off up the road to find the path round the bay to Duncraig, stopping to look at Plockton’s open air church.

This dates from a time known as the Disruption (1843) when a number of Church of Scotland Ministers left to form the Free Church. The slopes of this natural amphitheatre were terraced to form seating and services were held here until a Free Church was built in 1845. An annual communion service was held until 1936, and since then it continues to be used occasionally and is classed as a monument of national importance because, although many congregations were forced to use open air preaching sites, few remain.

The path to Duncraig took us along the side of the loch, with views back to Plockton, with the Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness railway line close by. We crossed this a couple of times.

As we got closer to Duncraig, we could see it had its very own request stop on the line! That’s what you get when you’re rich enough. The castle was originally built in the 1860s as the country seat of Sir Alexander Matheson who made his fortune selling opium to the Chinese.

The castle too has had TV fame, in 2003 when the then-owners took part in a reality TV series. The current owner is renovating the castle as a Bed and Breakfast and wedding venue. While writing this post I checked its website and the B&B is due to open in Spring 2020. I rather fancy the octagonal Tower Suite at a mere £350 per night!

Interestingly, the masonry company is called Loch Dubh in a nod, I presume, to Hamish Macbeth.

After the castle, we passed the stable block with its inscription Fear God, work hard, be honest. Then there was a bit of road walking till we could cut down a forest path to rejoin our original route back to Plockton.

By this time, it was mid-afternoon and we were very hungry. The Plockton Hotel was a welcome sight. We were interested to see that one of the houses which made up its accommodation had once been the home of poet Sorley MacLean.

This was my birthday, and we had originally planned to have a celebratory dinner that evening in the hotel in Dornie. However, as lunch was both large and late I was happy with that. In fact, I ate the best veggie haggis ever!

Not only that, thanks to several clever people posting their cards early so that I got them before we left home, I had a birthday display to look at in the apartment. It had been a lovely day altogether.