OS Explorer map 441, Lairg, Bonar Bridge & Golspie: Dornoch & Brora – I had never visited this map before starting this blog, nor do I own the map. Visited for this post 25th March 2018.
So, in my last post, the Dearest Progenitors and I were drove away from Inverness taking a roundabout route to Ullapool for our evening ferry to Stornoway. We drove north up the A9, aiming to cross over to the west coast on the A836, further north than usual.
Our aim was to try to find somewhere to stop for lunch on the way, however we didn’t initially have much luck, as Ardgay’s one café looked closed and Bonar Bridge seemed singularly dilapidated, with everywhere seeming closed either just at the moment or permanently, and “For Sale” signs everywhere. Driving out of Bonar Bridge, however, we did see a huge castle  which I remembered having seen advertised for sale a few years ago (probably in Country Life, as Father Dearest has a subscription and we often end up sighing over the pretty houses for sale…).
Having failed to find a place for lunch, we decided to make the detour to Lairg, where there was sure to be something. And indeed, there was, several places in fact. We went to a lovely little café that Mother Dearest had somehow managed to find on TripAdvisor on her phone despite the terrible signal; it was very pleasant.
After eating, we briefly went outside to look at the loch before getting back in the car.
We had a brief look down Lairg’s high street before carrying on driving, straight out of this map!
 Huh, looking on the Wikipedia page for Carbisdale Castle, I just learnt various interesting things about it. I knew that it was very new, completed only in 1917, but I now have learnt that it was constructed as a settlement for a dowager Duchess of Sutherland who had fallen out with her late husband’s family:
It was located on a hillside to be visible to a large part of Sutherland, especially the main road and rail line which the Sutherland family would have to use to travel south. Thus it became known as the “Castle of Spite” as it was widely considered that the Duchess located the castle there to spite her husband’s family and the settlement agreement. This is further supported by the fact that the castle’s tower only has clocks on three of its four faces – the side facing Sutherland is blank, supposedly because the Duchess did not wish to give the time of day to her former relatives. [From the Wikipedia page]
And later it sheltered Norwegian royalty during World War II.