The Mackay Country Parishes

Eddrachillis Parish

 

26 square miles, including the islands of Handa and Scourie, is bounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, on the east by Durness, south-east by Lairg and Creich, and south by Assynt. The coast, much indented by fiord-like lochs, consists of precipitous cliffs interspersed by sandy and shingle bays. Inland the land is hilly, dissected by glens, and rises to 2980 ft on Foinaven and 2863 on Ben Hee. The rocks are mainly of gnciss, bare and hummocky, red sandstone hills and some limestone. The Celtic name of this parish, Eadarda-chaolas, signifies "between two kyles or arms of the sea," and is descriptive of the situation of the main part of the parish between the kyle of Scow, which separates Eddrachillis from Assynt on the south, and the kyle of Laxford. Edderachillis was part of the barony of Skelbo. It was disposed by Hugo Freskyn de Moravia, ancestor of the Duke of Sutherland, 1186-1203, to his brother, Bishop Gilbert Moray, who in 1235 disposed it to his brother Richard Moray of Culbyn, the property changed hands two or three times more and finally in 1829 it was restored to the Sutherland family.

 

Nothing is known of Edderachillis as a parish, earlier than 1726, the date of its erection, except that, before that time, it formed part of the parish of Durness, and was disjoined on an application to the General Assembly by the heritor, Lord Reay, and Mr. John Mackay, minister of Durness, and endowed by a fund arising from the tithes, and a general subscription over Scotland. A native of this parish that is noteworthy is Lieutenant-General Hugh Mackay of Scourie, the famous Commander-in-Chief of the time of King William and Mary. He was born in 1640, fought against Dundee at the battle of Killicrankie, and fought in Ireland in the battle of Shannon.

Farr Parish

 

A very large parish of 417 square miles, is bounded on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the east by Caithness, on the south by Kildonan, Clyne, Rogar t and Lairg, and on the west by Eddrachiles, Durness and Tongue. The coast consists of cliffs and sandy bays. Near the coast there are many bare rocky outcrops. Inland the land is hilly culminating in the south at Ben Klibreck (3154 ft) and in the south-west in Ben Hee (2864 ft). The rocks are mainly schists of the Moine series, granite in Strath Halladale.

The parish is for the most part moorland but there is arable land in Strathnaver
Tongue Parish
 
is bounded on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the east and south by Farr, and on the west by Durness. It extends to 136 square miles. The coast consists of precipitous cliffs, some sandy bays and a long shallow inlet, the Kyle of Tongue. To the west of Kyle lies the Moine, an undulating tract of bog and moor in the north of which rises Ben Hutig on which Arctous descends to some 500 ft. On the shores of the Kyle, Tongue woods contain many exotic trees while in the coniferous plantations grow Listera cordata, Good yera repens and Pyrola minor. The chief river is the Borgie from Loch Loyal. Equisetum telmateja is found on its banks in its upper reaches, the sole locality in v.c. 108. Above Loch Loyal stands the picturesque Ben Loyal.
Durness Parish, 234 square miles, occupies the north-western corner of the county. On the north-west and north it is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean. On the east by Tongue and Farr, and on the west by Eddrachillis. It is the-most sparsely populated parish in Scotland (2-4 persons per square mile). The coast is mainly of precipitous cliffs. There are two inlets, the shallow Kyle of Durness and the longer deep-water Loch Eriboll. To the west of the Kyle is the undulating plateau 97 the Parphe. The rocks here are of Lewisian gneiss and Torridonian sandstone. The surface is covered with deep peat and accordingly the region is bleak moorland and peat bog. Between the Kyle and Loch Eriboll lies a range of hills attaining an elevation of nearly 3000 ft at Foinaven. The western flank of the hills is formed of gneiss and the eastern slopes of Cambrian quartzite, and so their vegetation is scanty. East of Loch Eriboll the rocks are quartzite and schists of the Moine series, resulting in a desolate moorland to the south of which stands Ben Hope (3040 ft). Forming a triangular tract round Durness village and a narrow zone on the south-western shore of Loch Eriboll are limestone rocks giving rise to good pasture land. At Balnakeil Bay there is a stretch of shell sand, which inland forms a machair.