visits the KNOYDART peninsula
Here, the streets of Inverie teem with a multitudinous morass of sociological strata, the profligate penny-pinching panjandrums rubbing shoulder pads with rag-clothed ruffian cottage hiring visitors and the campsite commandos, they call themselves the green generation, though from what I could see, few would want this kind of fauna decorating their back garden. Spending their days jawing about how many Monroes they have bagged from the comfort of their chairs on the front lawn of ones villa, or jabbering with the gang in the Old Forge whilst tucking into the Isle of Skye Crab, Smoked Mallaig Haddock and creel caught Langoustine linguine washed down with a nice Domaine de la Romanée Conti Montrachet 2008 @£1000 give or take per bottle.
The northern part of what is traditionally known as na Garbh-Chrìochan or "the Rough Bounds", because of its harsh terrain and remoteness, Knoydart is also referred to as "Britain's last wilderness" or the "middle of nowhere" which probably explains why Mcalpines fusaliers never bothered to connect its seven miles of tarred road to the rest of the Scottish road system. It can reached if you are so inclined by a 16-mile (26 km) route march through very rough country, or for the more genteel is accessible by ferry boat from Mallaig to Inverie operated by Bruce Watt Cruises and other private boat operators. Of course the more disconserting travelling Noli ( don't forget your invitation card ) may wish to avoid the toiling sweat coated tent and rucksack humping crowds and go over their heads so to speak by using the Specialist Helicopters service - Telephone: 01463 239555 and touch down in front of the Old Forge Inn usually just in time for lunch, please advise Ian on 01687 462267 for assistance in advance of landing particulars,"as helicopters are not an uncommon mode of transport for some of our visitors and we wouldn't want two or three arriving at the same moment". But if you really want to make a big splash entrance with panache then it has to be by Seaplane, knocks the old choppers into a cocked hat, shows them that Noli style and touch of class! Contacts for seaplane transfers for private charters Olivia (Spencer) Mohaupt T: 01436 675030.

Knoydart : the place

Designated as a National Scenic Area, Knoydart is popular with hill walkers, mountaineers, sailors, wildlife enthusiasts, moth hunters, beach cleaners, footpath restorers, bench makers, hot tub wallowers, car & bike park attendants, goats, deer, Rock and Boulder patrons, but strangely not sheep. It includes the Munros of Ladhar Bheinn (1020 m), Luinne Bheinn (939 m), Meall Buidhe (946 m) and Sgurr na Cìche (1040 m), and a smattering of Monroe tops, Corbetts, Corbett Tops, Grahams, Graham Tops, New Donalds, Sub Donalds, Sub 2000 Scottish Marilyns, Humps and Furths - more of which later.

Knoydart : the history

History In the 12th century, Knoydart formed part of the kingdom of Somerled (died 1164), before passing to the Macruari branch of his descendants - the eventual heiress of whom married John of Islay (died circa 1386). The Macdonald family that held Knoydart from the 15th century to the beginning of the 17th century is generally believed to have descended from Allan Macdonald, 2nd of Clanranald (died circa 1429). However, in the early 17th century, Macdonell of Glengarry succeeded in wresting control of Knoydart from Clanranald, receiving official confirmation of his ownership from the king in 1613. Prior to the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion the population numbered nearly a thousand and in spite of much emigration, mainly to Canada, remained at that level in 1841. In 1852 four hundred of the inhabitants were given notice of eviction for the following year and offered passages overseas, originally to Australia, but later their destination was changed to Canada. On 9 August 1853 three hundred and thirty inhabitants from the west coast of the peninsula went on board the Sillery and left for Canada. However, 11 families comprising over 60 people refused to go and the story of their eviction became notorious as part of the infamous Highland Clearances. Knoydart was finally sold by the MacDonell family in 1856, passing into the hands of an Ayrshire ironmaster, James Baird of Cambusdoon.
In 1948 an unsuccessful land raid was undertaken by the 'Seven Men of Knoydart' who attempted to claim land in the ownership of the estate for their own use. Their claims were contested by the estate owner, the Second Baron Brocket who took the case to the Court of Session which ruled against the land-raiders. For a rather interesting story about this click here An appeal to the Secretary of State for Scotland was rejected and the Seven Men gave up their fight to obtain crofts on Knoydart. A cairn commemorating the Land Raid was unveiled at Inverie in 1981.
Knoydart : the now

Present day Inverie is the only village on the peninsula, which has a resident population of roughly 100 adults. There is a post office, a primary school, and a variety of accommodation for visitors, including B&Bs, bunkhouses and self-catering accommodation but alas no Burger King or KFC so taking ones own chicken or two is a option for the budding chicken ranchers amongst you. The Old Forge Inn, Knoydart's only pub, is the alledgely remotest on mainland Britain ( although The Garvault kw11 6uf would beg to differ ) was originally a blacksmith's workshop. The Knoydart Foundation was established in 1997 to take ownership of the 17,500-acre Knoydart Estate which makes up much of the peninsula. The Foundation bought the estate in 1999. It is a partnership of local residents, the Highland Council, the Chris Brasher Trust, Kilchoan estate and the John Muir Trust. Their aim is to preserve, enhance and develop Knoydart for the well-being of the environment and the people, not to forget to mention to make a bob or two. The Foundation operates a micro hydro-electric scheme which provides power to the estate. In 2009 the Knoydart Foundation celebrated 10 years of community ownership with an extensive timetable of events including a music festival, ceilidhs, volunteer weeks, talks, an art display and a book reading by the author Ian McEwan. A new pier at Inverie was officially opened on 24 August 2006 by Tavish Scott MSP.

Knoydart : to do

Beaches - being a peninsula there is a lot of shore mostly rocky if you wish to explore, if so bio-hazzard suits can be hired ( at reasonable rates ) locally, much more fun is beach cleaning, on the Knoydart peninsula marine litter volunteers for the Friends of Knoydart have recovered the equivalent of over 300 large plastic bags of rubbish from 3.5 kilometres of coastline Knoydart. This is the first time that this area has been cleared of litter. The volunteers found several hundred large plastic items including: over 200 fish boxes, remains of a catamaran, two boat hulls, wheels, fishing nets, buoys, wheelie bin, a public litter bin, one chemical toilet ( which can be hired at reasonable rates ) and between forty and fifty oil drums filled with discarded engine oil from fishing vessels. Smaller items included hundreds of plastic bottles, a pair of trainers, a carburetor, a message in a bottle ( reputed to have read "can't take any more we're swimming over to the ilse of skye " and signed by twenty three sheep ) , hair rollers, half a lemon, 2 big ropes, footballs, a broom, a pack of Henry Winterman cigars that won’t light, but no sheep or parts of sheep.

Monroes and other hill walking is the "in" thing or better still sitting in the Old Forge with a glass of Pimms talking about bagging something or other. To qualify as a Monroe ( numbering 283 ) the hill has to be over 3000ft , the term top is used if a hill has two or more peaks if the 'drop' between peaks is less than 500 ft then the highest one is a Monroe and the other a mere Monroe top at least thats the way I read it. As if this wasn't crackers enouge the anti-discriminationists decided that other slighted hills must be recognised so Corbetts 2500-2999 ft ( numbering 221 ) + Corbett tops ( numbering 449 ), Grahams 2000-2500 ft ( numbering 224 ) + Graham tops ( numbering 777 ) incidently these were named after the rather unfortunate Fiona Graham whom was murdered while on a hill walking holiday in Inverinate, well !! do you still think walking is a safe pastime ?, I digress ; next up are the New Donalds in the Lowlands of Scotland, south of the Highland Fault Line, which are over 2,000 ft in height with a drop of 30 metres. There are 118 New Donalds and include any Corbett and Graham south of the Highland Fault Line, oh my head is starting to hurt! there are also Sub-Donalds, which are mountains over 2,000 feet but have a drop of only 20 - 30 metres, ( numbering 27 ) and named after Percy Donald - hell I need to go and lie down for a bit, the sub 2000 Scottish Marilyns, Humps and Furths await you here : I'm gone - - - - now where did I put the Anadins ??

Moving rapidly on to Rock and Boulder patrons, it is a hobby in the same gendre as Twitchers ( meets are known as twitcherings ), horse riding ( meets are known as traffic jamming ), and welsh language speaking ( meets are known as jabberwoking ), as Knoydart is stuffed with rocks (rock maps can be hired at reasonable rates locally ) the would be patron is spoilt for choice merely take a picture of your selected specimen and upload it to google earth, a piccas web album, or virtual web space such as sky drive and sit back whilst surfers marvel at the sheer beauty of it all or just wonder whot kind of loon puts a piccy of their favourite rock on google earth.

Maybe you would prefer a less energetic hour or two so why not whip out the old moth trap (can be hired at reasonable rates locally )and capture a few of the little beggars beore they land in your classic style steamed with white wine, fresh cream & bulb garlic served with organic bloomer bread that you were about to scoff, JMT volunteers Andy and Maggy Tebbs tried out their moth trap and over three nights identified over 70 species including a Great Brocade which is on the Nationally scarce B list so jump to it and have some fun, please remember that conservation is the watch word in Knoydart so do not be tempted to sample the jitter bugs and leave them for our winged friends if the twitchers haven't scared them all off.( the guy in pic bears a striking resemblance to a Noli chemist don't you think ? )
If you find that the during your stay you are missing a bit of the green fingers therapy the garden back home provides, then we have just the remedy for it. At no extra charge start the day clearing ragwort from the fields behind the Long Beach, ( gloves can be hired at reasonable rates locally ) followed by hand pulling the naughty rhododendrons from the watercourses that supply the village of Inverie. The eradication of the rhododendrons is vital, so that the Knoydart Forest Trust can ensure that no pictures of them appear on google earth, the action is coming to the end of a several year programme and is showing an amazing change to the area around Inverie. A spokesperson said that "It is great to see the woodland coming to life as light is let into the undergrowth." You will supervised for the hand pulling and bonfire burning ( matches can be purchased at reasonable rates locally ) in the woods by Rangers of the trust ( tipping at ones own discression ). No sheep were harmed during the rhododendron cull.

Footpath refurbishment : bored? tired of slogging up Monroes, etc then the foundation has just the answer. All those clogg hopping feet tramping about cause untold damage to the myriad of paths criss crossing the hills, tons of soil displaced and left on the road to Inverie, now you can volunteer a few hours as a footpath restorer helping to repair the paths to there former glory, no pay but a blast of feel-good factor coupled no doubt with sore knees and a bad back.

The Knoydart Mica Mines : The peninsula is made up of mostly metaphoric rocks, formed by the process of Metamorphism where the original rock is recrystallised and reshaped by unimaginable heat or immense pressure. The huge Mica Schist cliffs of the Slochd a' Mhogha are a fine example of this type of rock. Looking up at the cliffs you will see dark and sparkling Mica Schist with layers of white Quartzite. The screes under each cliff are well worth combing for examples of this unique geology.
Probably the most interesting activity to take have happened here, the term mine is slightly misleading as the ore was removed from the surface of the ground not mined, as such there are no deep shafts just quarries spreading out across the hillside.
The quarrying was carried out during the first and second world wars when the supply of mica ( used for aircraft windscreens and instruments among other things ) from the Indian Kodarma district in Jharkhand state which has the largest deposits in the world was severely disrupted. The largest documented single crystal of mica (phlogopite) was found in Lacey mine, Ontario, Canada; it measured 10×4.3×4.3 m and weighed about 330 tonnes, similar-sized crystals were also found in Karelia, Russia.
The beryl cyrstal in the first picture was found in the Loch Nevis Mica mine the others nearer to Ben Nevis.
The site of the mine is roughly two miles from Inverie 1800 ft up on a ridge called Tom an Neoil, where together with the quarry sites there are the remains of a few outbuildings mainly just low walls and what looks like a compressor.

Also found in the pegmatite ( which is like a super coarse granite ) is the mineral beryl (left). Here are some pieces of this, its distinctive green colour standing out against the pink of the feldspar, the silver of the mica and the white of the quartz. The pictures show the samples - the hammer included for reference, but many of the mica (right) pieces are up to 6 inches in size.

If a visit to the area is comtemplated here is a map.

see Alan MacWicker-Nodial island

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