A Wee Scooter Adventure to Cromarty

25th March 2017

I had to get out on my wee scooter. I’ve used it a few times this year and its great to be back on it again. Today was just a stunning day and its still March. I would have gone further but hope to go with Bill on a trip next week.

I headed through Evanton up the Cromarty Firth to the bridge over to the Black Isle. As soon as I was over the bridge I headed left up Findon Brae and the along the Black Isle. I reached the war memorial at Alnessferry, now a mess with the new school, and turned down to Resolis Church.

It’s a lovely wee building. My grandfather was minister here. We would come every holiday to Newhall and worshiped here each Sunday. I have such lovely memories of the people in the congregation; Hector Grigor and his father Kenneth Grigor presenting; Dunc Macpherson and Kenny Davy behind us; Alistair Forbes and family across from us. They were such decent people. My grandfather died before I was born and the minister after him was Murdo Campbell . My memories as a boy is that services were long. I used to watch the tree in the manse garden out of the diamond leaded window to the left of the pulpit blow in the wind and saw in it a witches head.

But the church has been gutted inside. The old family pew has gone. This is what supposed progress does. Our amazing historic old churches are stripped of the old pews and have them replaced with plastic seats and a bit of carpet. I would say its a form of vandalism. I was at a funeral here a couple of years ago and a hymn was sung. What would my grandfather think?

In this photo the church is showing down the hill. Another great character lived at the bottom of this hill, to the right – Willy Thompson. He lived at Springfield. He wasn’t a church man, though.

Its Spring and I love the whins.

The church. That’s the door we went in by.

This door went in to a wee hall.

The manse – both my mum and my uncle Hector were born here. Its now a private house.

Its still not summer – Ben Wyvis has a lot of snow on it. Taken from the same spot as above.

Then I headed past Newmills to Newhall. My granduncle farmed Newhall Mains and my granny lived with him after she was widowed. We spent every holiday there after we moved to Glasgow and it was like coming to Paradise. I just loved the place. As I got older I worked with Alick on his farm and just so enjoyed it. In many ways I would have liked to have been a farmer but I became a Chemistry teacher. I suppose its still working with animals!

I found this visit hard. The old cart shed has been converted into a private house. It has been beautifully done and I suppose its good that the building doesn’t continue to deteriorate, but it is all changed. We used to jump off the top of these side steps as children. There was an old walled garden just behind the cart shed but its gone. We used to explore in it, especially round the old greenhouses. It is just so sad to see. My old heart is breaking.

The “Square” across from it is different, too. All the internal building that Alick and his father did is gone. All the cattle stalls and folds are away – where we watched Alick hand milk the dairy cow is gone.

The “Square”.

You can see from this Google Satellite image why the name – “Square”.

This was Geordie’s house, now its derelict. Geordie was such a nice man. It housed several farm labourer’s prior Geordie living there. Even before that the family originally lived here and Alick was born here.

This was the farmhouse in our and my mum’s time – ‘Burnside’. All the outbuildings – the hen house, the dog’s byre, the garage and the washhouse – have been converted to homes. Its all so different. I never thought when I was young that the day would come when I just couldn’t walk in. You cannot come down the road from the “Square” now as a gate has been put across it.

I then moved on to Kirk Michael Cemetery. My mum told me the old chapel had been restored. This is my great grandparents grave. Alick is buried here as well. I can hardly believe its so long since he died, now over 32 years ago.

The chapel has been restored. The walls had been shored up for many years. It doesn’t have the spooky feel it once had. I remember coming with Dave Mackay the next door neighbour. We came one night when it was dark. We took a New Testament with us; just in case!

It has been done really nicely but its lost the feeling of the ancient.

I had a wee wander. This is the author Jane Duncan’s grave. You can just see a lady going out the gate. She and her son were involved in organizing the reconstruction. I had a blether with her.

And here is John and Milly Ferguson’s stone. They were a lovely couple. They cycled to Newhall each Sunday where Alick and my granny gave them a lift to the Resolis church. We always remember Milly being so respectful to granny “Yas, Mrs. Cameron”.

Here lies the next door neighbours. Piper was a character. Larger than life. On looking at his wife he would come out with – “them that died at Mons were the lucky ones”. To assure the truth of some tale he was telling, he would say “sure’s death”. I suppose there’s nothing surer. Ironically another of his sayings was “Them at Kirk Michael’s the lucky ones”. Not meaning to be sloppy I have to say I loved the man. To go into the house with the old clock ticking on the wall was just a joy. We miss these characters in our sophisticated, politically correct 21st century.

Isay his wife was just so nice to us children. A wee robin used to come to her house and ate from her hand.

All these Black Isle people were so genuine. I consider it a privilege and blessing to have known them all.

But you have to keep moving. I don’t want to be one of the “lucky ones” just yet. I got on my wee scooter and headed to Jemimaville. I stopped to photograph the old tin hall. A long time ago the evening service was held here, I think  once a month. There was also a service in Cullicudden Primary School. It was wooden paneled inside with two ancient paraffin lamps hanging from the ceiling. I would love to go inside. Its probably gutted. Maybe you are better with memories. Wouldn’t it be lovely to go back in time for a day?

There are still good things in life, like this wee scooter. I just love it. A day like today just covering 58 miles is such a joy.

There are a lot of rigs in the Firth at present.

And then I arrived at Cromarty.

I went past the harbour for old times sake.

There is something poignant in this picture – the old done in boat in the foreground with the horrible Global oil rig servicing base across at Nigg in the background. As a boy it was just a lovely beach of golden sands.

Looking through the Sutors of Cromarty.

I went up onto the South Sutor.

There are tremendous views from up here.

Ben Rhinnes is showing on the horizon just right of the sign. You can also see the old army buildings from the First and Second World Wars. The Sutors were defended then. There is a lot of old military buildings all around.

I headed back down to Cromarty and got myself a Yorky and can of Barr’s American Ice Cream Soda at what was Matheson’s shop. The scooter has a great wee storage compartment at your knees so I just put them in there. I then headed to Rosemarkie but took the left turn to Eathie and Navity. This is a lovely scooter road. This is looking to Fort George across the water on the spit of land. 

I stopped between Fortrose and Avoch just to get some pictures. This is looking to Avoch and Ormond Hill.

This is across to the Moray Coast.

This old tin shed has been around for years getting more and more dilapidated. There is something charming about old buildings like this.

I moved through Avoch and beyond it turned up to Suddie and went to Suddie Cemetery where more of my ancestors are buried.

Kenneth MacIntosh was father of Alexander MacIntosh, father of Roderick MacIntosh my granny’s father. That’s my granny on my mother’s side. So Kenneth is my great, great, great grandfather. The intact further off stone is Kenneth and Mary MacIntosh’s grave.

I couldn’t really read the inscriptions but had noted them maybe 30 years ago.

This Stone is
Placed Here by
Kenneth MacKintosh
Farmer Auchterflow who
Departed this Life
the 16 January 1872 Aged
89 Years

Also to the Memory
of his Wife Mary Jack
Who Departed this Life
the 25 Day of August
1838 Aged 52 Years

The cracked stone is to two of Kenneth’s sons.

Placed by
Kenneth McIntosh
In Memory of his Son
Kenneth McIntosh who
Departed this Life the 27th
Day of Dec 1853
Aged 28 Years

Also of
Even McIntosh
Farmer Their
Who Died 30th March 1868
Aged 58 Years

I sat on Kenneth’s stone in the sun and had a wee picnic – the Yorky bar washed down with the American Ice Cream Soda. What a lovely time.

This is Alexander MacIntosh, Kenneth MacIntosh’s son’s grave. My great, great grandfather.

To the Memory of
Alexander McIntosh
Farmer Mains of Bennetsfield
Born 30th November 1815
Died 22nd January 1889

And of his Wife
Ann McIntosh
Born 13th April 1822 Died at Newhall Mains
9th March 1915

Also their daughter
Mary Born 19th Dec 1846
Died at Cullicudden 24th July 1895

Also their sons
Alexander Born 10th April 1852
Died at Newhall 5th June 1932

And Hector Born 11th May 1858
Died at Springfield 14th May 1932

I hunted around for Willie MacIntosh’s stone but couldn’t find it. I was in a rush as I had to get back as people were coming to view Mairi’s car which she is selling.

And here’s my scooter near the old stone style into the cemetery.

I just motored home stopping near Mount Eagle to take a picture of the TV mast – down to Culbokie, back across the bridge, through Evanton and home.

All in all a lovely time. I am just so enjoying Hugh’s old bashed up scooter.