Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Crofting at Ockle

Ockle is a tiny village on Ardnamurchan's north shore with a history that stretches back to the Vikings who gave it its name. For generations it has been a crofting village, and it remains so today. The date of this photo is uncertain, but it may be in the 1940s.

So for anyone staying in one of Ockle Holidays' three letting houses, there is a rare opportunity to see modern crofting practices. Not that it will impinge on the peace, for this ancient system of farming remains far from highly mechanised, yet it offers a wonderful glimpse into the past.

The crofter, and the sole permanent inhabitant of Ockle, is Dougie Cameron, one of the partners in the letting business. His main business is sheep, of which there are some 250 on the 1,260 acres of croft land.

Ockle is lovely at any time of year, but one of the best months is September, when the heather is in bloom. The photo below was taken about a mile to the east of Ockle. In the left background lie the islands of Eigg and Rhum, to the right are the hills of Skye.

To add to its beauty, Ockle is a wonderful place for wildlife. On our last visit we watched a small herd of red deer hinds which had come down to within a few hundred yards of the houses. Sea eagles come across from Rhum. And, although it is mid-winter when such sightings are rare, this morning one of Ockle's regular visitors spotted a pod of about twenty bottle-nosed dolphins.

More Vintage Photos of West Ardnamurchan can be seen here.

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