Thursday, 13 June 2013

Memories of Kilmory Holidays

From Matt Phillips:

I've been visiting Ardnamurchan since I had my first holiday in 1972, when I was just four months old. I had eight summer holidays there, staying at Kilmory in the caravans owned by Hugh and Annie MacKenzie. They were wonderful, simple holidays, which lead me to love Ardnamurchan. I now have a family of my own, and we've been holidaying in Portuairk every year since 2003, and my children love it as much as I did.

Kilmory 1974
This photo was taken on the lane at roughly the spot where a new house has been built in the past couple of years. From left to right are my brother David, sister Ceri (with flares!), my dad Peter, and Hugh MacKenzie, with his dog, which I believe was called Meg.

Kilmory 1974
When we visited, we stayed in the two green caravans in the field, owned by Hugh and Annie MacKenzie. There was no electricity, and no running water. We took a couple of big plastic water tanks with us, which we filled from a tap connected to an animal feeding trough in a field down the lane, opposite Joey MacKenzie's cottage. Bathing was accomplished by filling a plastic babybath with water from a kettle, and rinsing oneself down with a sponge! The "toilet" was in a ramshakle shed-like construction beside the caravans, made up from old timber and doors! The toilet drained into a pit which needed emptying regularly!

Kilmory 1974
We got milk from the MacKenzies - I can remember watching while one of their cows was being milked. As an impatient five year old townie, I asked "Is it ready yet?" to be told "Be patient - they don't milk the'selves, laddie!" I went back to the caravans with a bottle of milk so fresh it was still warm!

The holidays were simple, but we loved them. Dad had a fibreglass dinghy, a Tabur Yak II, that we used to launch from Kilmory Bay to go mackerel fishing. I remember regularly coming back with a sackful. We'd keep what we needed, and the rest we'd distribute around the locals, or we'd drive to Kilchoan and hand them out there.

Kilmory 1973
There were no amusements, no pubs, no bingo halls, no shops selling tacky kiss me quick hats, rock or ice cream, and no coachloads of tourists which many people seem to associate with holidays. Instead there was peace and quiet that someone from a city struggles to believe, deserted beaches to play on, wide open fields to fly the kite in, and nothing but ourselves and our imagination to entertain ourselves - it was wonderful. 

Kilmory 2011
Returning with my own children more than thirty years later we found - well, the same! Peace and quiet, empty beaches, and the joy of watching my children making memories that don't include Nintendos or tv. Some of our friends have heard us talk of Ardnamurchan, and ask "How on earth don't you get bored?" If you need to ask, then this is obviously not the place for you. We've been staying in Portuairk each summer for nearly ten years, and can't get enough. The only real difference is that now the caravan is a home from home, with electricity, hot and cold running water, a washing machine, fridge, freezer, shower - and a real toilet!!

Many thanks to Matt for sharing his memories and for the photos.


  1. Hi Matt

    Thanks for the great stories of childhood holidays. Are you perchance the same Matt Phillips who has posted on my Panoramio photos about Haunn in Mull?

    Regards Stu

  2. I am indeed! There was a problem with the booking one year, so Dad looked for somewhere else that was as peaceful as Kilmory - Haunn fitted the bill perfectly!

  3. Fantastic post, thank you.

  4. What a lovely and interesting post

  5. So great to see a picture of Uncle Hugh and Kilmory back in the day. Seeing the twin caravans brings back a whole host of memories!

    Sharan Virdee