Sunday, 30 May 2010


The resident population of this end of the Ardnamurchan peninsula is 175. They are divided between ten crofting townships, with a few living in the wilderness between.

Kilchoan in the broad sense contains three townships - parts of all of them are visible in the photo above, taken during the snows of last winter. Kilchoan township has a population of 88, Ormsaigmore 10, and Ormsaigbeg 15. The other townships, spread across some 110 square kilometres of emptiness, are Portuairk with 12, Sanna 10, Achnaha and Kilmory 9 each, Branault 7, Achosnich 4, and Ockle 1.

The fortunes of a township may change quite suddenly. At one time, Sanna - shown in this photo - was down to a single inhabitant, and many feared that it might never recover, that it might become a village of holiday homes - but then a new house was built and a family moved in.

One measurement of the health of a community is the number of children it contains. Counting children who are at school or younger, of the ten townships, six have children: Kilchoan has 21, Ormsaigmore 2, Portuairk 2, Sanna 2, Achosnich 1, and Achnaha 1, the other 5 being spread along the north coast. By the standards of the recent past, when the roll in our Primary School dropped to four, this is healthy. The problem the area faces is attracting our youngsters back after they have gone away to college: in the 15 years we have been here, only one of the young people who went away, and whose parents are still in the community, has returned to live here.

One Kilchoan family has shown what can be done. Of its four children, all are still in the village. Three are married, and between them they have six children, with another on the way. Furthermore, all four children have maintained the family's longstanding crofting tradition.

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