Parish of Farr

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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1791-99: Farr
1834-45: Farr

Farr, a hamlet and a parish on the N coast of Sutherland. The hamlet, Bettyhill of Farr, lies at the head of Farr Bay, 9 furlongs E of the mouth of the river Naver, 30 miles W by S of Thurso, and 27 NNE of Altnaharrow; at it are an inn and a post office under Thurso, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments.

The parish, containing also the hamlets of Altnaharrow, Armadale, and Strathy-, is bounded N by the North Sea, E by Reay and Kildonan, SE by Clyne, S by Rogart, SW by Lairg, and W by Durness and Tongue. Its utmost length, from NNE to SSW, is 32 miles; its breadth, from E to W, varies between 8 7/8 and 18¼ miles; and its area is 195,197 acres, of which 343 are foreshore and 6422½ water. The coast-line, 21½ miles long if one follows its ins and outs, but only 11 measured along a straight line, is indented from E to W by Strathy, Armadale, Kirtomy, and Farr Bays, and projects a prominent headland in Strathy Point (287 feet), lesser ones in Kirtomy Point (467), Farr Point (369), and Creag Ruadh (331). It is 'composed' says Mr Archibald Young, 'either of bold rocks from 20 to 200 feet high, against which the waves of the North Sca break with fearful violence, or of shallow sands, on which heavy surges are generally rolling. Yet, on all this extent of coast, there is nothing worthy of the name of a harbour; though at Kirtomy and Armadale, and in one or two creeks, boats may land in moderate weather. It is impossible to doubt that this want of harbour accommodation for fishing boats very much hinders the prosecution of the fishings of cod, ling, haddocks, and herrings, which abound off the coast, and that the establishment of a commodious and secure landing-place for boats would be a great boon to the district,' etc. (pp. 45-50, Sutherland, 1880). Inland, the surface is everywhere hilly or mountainous, from N to S attaining 553 feet at Naver Rock, 1728 at Beinn's Tomaine, 3154 at conical *Ben Clibrick, 2669 at the *NE shoulder of Ben Hee, and 2278 at *Creag nah Iolaire, where asterisks mark those summits that culminate on the confines of the parish. Loch Naver (6¼ miles x 4¼ furl.; 247 feet) lies towards the SW, and, whilst receiving the river of Mudale and other streams at its head, discharges from its foot the river Naver, winding 187/8 miles north-by-eastward to the sea. The Naver, ½ mile below its efflux from Loch Naver, is joined by the Malert, which itself flows 7 miles north-north-eastward out of Loch Coir' an Fhearna (31/8 miles x 3½ furl.; 570 feet), a lake that lies towards the southern extremity of Farr, and at its head communicates by a narrow channel with Loch a Bealaich (15/8 x ¼ mile). The eastern shore of Loch Loyal likewise belongs to Farr, and its effluent, the Borgie, above and below Borgie Bridge traces 27/8 miles of the boundary with Tongue; on the eastern border lies Loch nan Cuinne (3 x 1 mile; 392 feet), the westernmost of the Baden chain of lakes, so that the drainage partly belongs to the basin of Helmsdale river. Out of Loch Strathy (7 x 22/3 furl.; 646 feet) Strathy Water runs 14¼ miles north-by-eastward to Strathy Bay, and drains, with its affluents, the NE district of Farr, whose chief other stream is Armadale Water, running 5 miles north-byeastward to Armadale Bay, whilst of lakes beyond number one other only needs notice-Loch Meadie (15/8 x ¼ mile; 405 feet). The rocks on the seaboard are mainly Devonian, and granite and gneiss prevail throughout the interior. A whitish sandstone, capable of fine dressing by the chisel, has been quarried at Strathy; and near it is limestone, of first-rate manurial quality. Along Strathnaver, the finest strath perhaps in all the county, there is a considerable extent of good haugh land, a mixture of sand, gravel, and moss; and along the Strathy, too, there are here and there arable patches of fertile thin sandy soil. Sheep-farming, however, is the staple industry, the largest of several large sheep farms being Langdale, Rhifail, Clebrig, and Armadale. The scanty vestiges of Borve tower have been separately noticed; 'duns,' barrows, and standing stones make up the remaining antiquities. The Duke of Sutherland is sole proprietor. In the presbytery of Tongue and synod of Sutherland and Caithness, this parish is divided ecclesiastically into Farr and Strathy, the former a living worth £206. Its church, built in 1774, was restored in 1882; in the churchyard is a very early stone obelisk, sculptured with crosses and other emblems. Two public schools, Farr and Strathy, with respective accommodation for 125 and 99 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 45 and 34, and grants of£30, 14s. and £25, 8s. Valuation (1860) £5496, (1882) £10,390, 19s. 8d. Pop. (1801) 2408, (1831) 2073, (1861) 2103, (1871) 2019, (1881) 1930, of whom 1140 were in Farr q. s. parish, and 790 in that of Strathy.—Ord. Sur., shs. 114, 115, 108, 109, 1878-80.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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