Caithness Holiday Day 5: Badbea Clearance Village

An unusual choice of place to visit on the last day of one’s holidays, but an important monument to Highland/Caithness history nonetheless, and one ideally suited to a bleak cold foggy day, too.

Forced off the land as part of the Highland Clearances, people from the surrounding areas (Ousdale, Auchencraig) sought refuge at Badbea. Not the most hospitable area to try and make home, situated right on perilous cliff-tops in a location so windy the cattle and even children had to be tied down to stop them being blown away.

The bleakness certainly suits black and white.

Around Rosal

This was a strange place of varying thoughtfulness. Having previously visited Aoineadh Mor and found its handful of ruined crofts more thought-provoking, this was rather the opposite experience: having far more settlements dating back thousands of years including cairns, a souterrain and remains of crofts, with a history of particularly brutal evictions, there’s no real viewpoint from which one can see the extent of the clearing and experience all the time or place at once, so it lacks a certain atmosphere.

One thought, however. The Highland Clearances were mostly for the purposes of replacing crofting (seen as not cost-effective) with sheep farming (supposedly profitable). In practice, it’s a story about commercial¬†failure: the sheep did not prove profitable, rendering the grassland barren; the monoculture spruce woodlands being farmed as the latest cash-crop are also barren, failing to nourish the land; the eviction of folks living a subsistence existence (which increasingly feels the innocent honest approach) was an offence against humanity – and yet the blasted sheep still remain.

The state of the Forestry Commission’s tourist information boards also being cast down on the ground, however, did provoke thought – is that sheer vandalism, an artistic statement about care and decay of property, or super-artistic irony that preservation itself should go the same way of all things?

 

The landscape did provide a few moments of beautiful contrast, illuminating the foreground trees against the shadowy dark might of Ben Loyal, however:

Ben Loyal from Rosal Clearance village

Ben Loyal from Rosal Clearance village

Around Binnend

After serendipitously discovering a lot of heritage information about the abandoned former village of Binnend, on The Binn outside Burntisland in Fife, I spent much of Sunday afternoon exploring the area.

It was smaller than I expected from the maps – about 30x30m or so – and very overgrown. The central region is a mix of thick gorse and fallen boulders, so not really accessible by foot. Use of the drone was hampered by several factors: being immediately adjacent to the Alcan landfill waste processing site, still an active commercial operation; by being a few hundred yards away from Craigkelly transmitter which caused significant radio interference (warnings in the DJI Go app and actual loss of video signal above a few meters’ altitude), so I did not get the fly-over video I’d intended.

Still. Herewith, a few still photos instead:

Approaching Binnend:

Within Binnend itself:

Above Binnend:

Above Comrie

A selection of photos taken around Glen Lednock, mostly up the Melville Monument overlooking Comrie.

This is Highland Boundary Fault territory; the fault itself runs up Glen Artney from the south-west straight through Cultybraggan PoW Camp, on through Comrie and across the A85 to the east.

I was also struck by how vintage Comrie itself looks from afar – a nice ratio of buildings interspersed by trees, with such a low vehicular traffic flow (even on a Saturday afternoon) that one could almost imagine the cars being replaced by carriages.

And no visit to Glen Lednock could be complete without the obvious long-exposure photo of the Wee Cauldron waterfall, of course!

What It Looks Like

Two views of Portpatrick from the middle of the harbour; one taken on the mobile and processed as usual with snapseed:

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and the other on the Sony NEX-7 with an ND1000 filter to give a long exposure brushed silver water and hint of movement in the clouds, processed with Photivo and Darktable (amongst other things):

Portpatrick Harbour under a mackerel sky

Portpatrick Harbour under a mackerel sky