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Around Durness


Heilam occurs frequently in the history of the area. It was the site of the ferry to Port-na-con and an important stop for north coast travellers. It was the home of the infamous Domhnull MacMhurchaidh who is said to have murdered at least eighteen people.


Eriboll, Hope and Dun Dornaigil Broch.

At the eastern boundary of the parish, approaching from Tongue across the Moine is the ruins of Moine House. The road now bypasses this house of refuge built to provide shelter for travellers caught in bad weather. The Marquis of Stafford built the old original road in 1830 and parts can be seen crossing this bleak and desolate moor.


At the seaward end of Loch Hope, nearly ten kilometres long and nearly one kilometre wide is the Hamlet of Hope. From here is the closest land access to Whiten Head by a track of about seven kilometres. The Mountain Bothy Association has a house at Freisgill. Ben Hope stands to the south, nine hundred and twenty seven metres, and is the most northerly Munro. This mountain is best approached by following the track road along the side of Loch Hope. From the keepers cottage at Alltnacaillich (the old woman's burn) the route follows a burn up to a water fall and then crosses north along the ridge of Leitir Mhurseil that rises toward the summit.


Further, along the track road that runs on through Strathmore to Altnaharra and at the entrance to Strathmore is the Dun Dornaigil Broch over two thousand years old. At this location the Strathmore River, at right angles to its general direction, has crossed the strath to the east side and for a distance of about half a kilometre flows along the base of the steep hillside. The broch stands about three metres above the ordinary level of the stream. The entrance is blocked but there is a massive triangular lintel above the doorway. The broch, much ruined, has been preserved but not restored. The walls vary in height from two to seven metres. The interior is about eight metres in diameter and the top of the walls at their present level over two metres in thickness. The entrance faces the north east. There is evidence of the guard chamber. The interior is filled up with debris almost to the level of the top of the surrounding wall. There is a tale about the skeletons of two men being found in the broch in the latter part of the 18th century. On being exposed to the air, they disintegrated.


In 1760 Richard Pococke, the Protestant Bishop of Ossory in Ireland visited Strathnaver while on a tour of Scotland. He made his way to Strathmore where he made drawings of the broch called Dornadilla, showing how much more of the structure remained intact at the time compared with now. He left an exact description of the monument.


The tributaries of the River Hope, Glen Golly River, Abhainn Srath Coir an Essaidh and the Allt a'Choire Ghrainde, rise in the mountains to the south and meet south of Gobernuisgach Lodge of the Reay Estate. This river here is known as Strathmore River and flows under the shadow of Ben Hope before entering Loch Hope.


From the end of Loch Eriboll to the west side of the parish are the Eriboll Estates. Eriboll Farm is the main activity. The interior of the area is steeped with highland history and a location of remarkable beauty. On the western shores of Loch Hope, at Arnaboll, is a disused post clearance period shepherds house. Around this site are remarkable remains of a long established township A primitive example of a mill is distinguishable. An ancient walled cemetery is falling into neglect.

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