From my known family history, the villages of Ullapool and Lochinver played important roles. My paternal grandfather, John Alexander MacLeod, was born in Lochinver in 1888. He became a policeman there and then emigrated to Australia, married and had 3 children.
My maternal great grandmother’s maiden name was also MacLeod, Catherine Elizabeth MacLeod. She was born in Victoria Australia in 1858 but her parents were born in Ullapool. We don’t know the reason why they emigrated to Australia.
However, we do know the history of Catherine’s husband, Alexander Stewart, whose mother also happened to be a MacLeod, who was born in Ullapool in 1840. As a result of the Highland Clearances, where land owners, in this case the Marquis of Stafford, forcibly evicted tenants, his family and other tenants rebelled in the so called “Coigach Rebellion” of 1853. The agreed solution was a trip sponsored by the Marquis, so in 1854 Alexander and his family emigrated to Tasmania on the ship Sir Allan McNab. The understanding was that the Marquis was to be repaid at a later time, but this did not happen.
Therefore, we started by visiting the Ullapool Museum and Visitor Centre which is house in a former church. We were able to find a book which mentioned the Coigach Rebellion and the immigration on the ship Sir Allan McNab but little else. Our next investigation was to go to Lochinver to see if we could find any information in their records.
We drove along the A837 and stopped 4km south of Inchnadamph in a carpark at the old fish hatchery.
We walked for 2 ½ km along a very steep stony and wet peat path which disappeared at times to the Bone Caves which are a group of 4 caves where discoveries of animal bones from 45,000 years ago and human remains from 4500 years ago have been found.
As we rounded the last bend on a narrow track at the top of a very high section with steep sides the wind became very forceful and treacherous to the extent we had to hold on to the grass to keep our balance. We decide it was too dangerous to continue even though we could see the caves in the distance and turned around and headed back down the very steep path. The path to the caves is not signposted and when we returned via the same track we saw another section we could have taken which may not have been as treacherous. Oh well, it was still a spectacular walk. In total the walk was about 5km.
Just passed Inchnadamph on the coastal road we stopped at the ruins of Ardvreck Castle a 13 the century seat of the MacLeods of Assynt which burnt down in 1737 and has remained a ruin ever since.
Next, we called into Lochinver to the Assynt Visitor Centre to continue the genealogy hunt, but the centre has been closed and cleared out with no forwarding address. The fishing port of Lochinver is very picturesque and a great base for walkers as there are many trails that begin here. At the back of the Police station were two deer grazing on the grass.
Following the coastal route along A894 we passed the bridge across Kylesku,
then through Scourie
and finished at the end of single lane track down to Tarbet where the ferry runs to Handa Island which is internationally renowned for its seabird colonies and magnificent sea cliffs. We knew the ferry had finished for the day, but the ferry men were still at the ferry shack, so we organised to catch the passenger ferry in the morning and were able to camp in the carpark ready for an early start tomorrow.
There is a restaurant onsite, so we had drinks and some soup and headed back to our motorhome for the night with a fantastic view of Handa Island and the North Atlantic Ocean.