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Thread: Over the Ord-5

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Default Over the Ord-5

    A cottage home in a time of its own

    I read with interest a piece in today's Press and Journal about the thatched house at The Corr near Latheron which has gone on the market at the remarkable, starting price of 182,000.
    Built in the late 1800s, it is reckoned to be the only longhouse of its kind left in Scotland, complete with period features such as an outside wash-house and adjoining cart shed.
    The house rang a bell and I had a rake in my files and found what I was looking article written by retired Caithness journalist, Bill Mowat from John O’ Groats, when he was a staff reporter with the Daily Record, in Inverness.
    The house was, until recently, home to two pensioner sisters, Minnie and Georgie Keith and was exactly as it was, 300 years ago when Bill interviewed them in their time warp, which extended not only to the bricks and mortar but to the way they lived their daily lives. The sisters cut their own peat for fuel and baked their own bread and oatcakes on an iron griddle.
    In their quaint home, in the shadow of Morven, they lived a frugal but satisfying existence. They threshed their own corn in their thatched barn and used a small crusher to make it into fodder. To get drinking water, they had to tramp a quarter of a mile across the moors, to a spring. Their four cows lived in the opposite end of their crofthouse. The sisters worked their 20 acres of land by themselves and tended their flock of 30 sheep, out on the hillside, in all weathers.
    A hard life? The sister didn’t agree. Minnie told Bill: “The crofting way of life in the only one I know. I wouldn’t swap places for the world with someone living in skyscraper flats in a city. We have had offers for our croft from officials who want to preserve it as a museum but we don’t want to move.”
    Minnie and Georgie have been cut off completely by winter snows but the thatched roof "makes sure we’re always cosy inside”. At one time there were seven separate crofts on the unfenced acres of land the sister still till, but most were emptied at the time of the Highland Clearances.
    Previously, the sisters had to bring their provisions over a rough path in a cart pulled by their horse, Monty. But at the time of writing- around 1970-the modern world had caught up with them. The US Government built a top-secret base in the area with the addition of a nice new road passing the Keiths cottage.
    It made life a little easier for local postie Lawson Mcdonald, of Latheron....he could drive his van almost to their door.
    While conceding that the direct link would be a boon, Minnie expressed the hope that it would not change their way of life, too much.
    Bunty Gunn of the Highland Building Preservation Trust lives nearby and hopes the complex with its panoramic views out over the North Sea, can be saved and turned into a heritage centre before it deteriorate any further.
    But, even if you would like to get away from it all and replicate the simple, but demanding lifestyle, the asking price plus renovatation work maybe too big a price to pay.
    For any of you who feel it's not, and are prepared to take up the challenge, the property is up for sale by Wick-based solicitors and property agents, Georgesons.
    Last edited by Nwicker60; 17-Sep-11 at 13:23.

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