James (Sandy) McRory Smith

1925 - 1999

Highland Hermit. McRory Smith was born into a large family in Dumbarton, where his father worked in one of the town's shipyards. He left home shortly after the death of his mother and enlisted in the army, fighting in the Second World War. Thereafter he is said to have remained in Germany as part of the British occupation force and married a German lady who died soon after. These tragic events deeply affected him and, when he returned to Scotland, he could not reconnect with family and friends, and wandered the country. He eventually settled in the remote shepherd's cottage of Strathchailleach in 1962, which had been taken on by the Mountain Bothies Association (MBA). Here he remained for 32 years, becoming known by locals and walkers who passed as the Highland Hermit. He walked 5 miles (8 km) over rough moorland to Balchrick when he needed supplies. In 1981, the MBA agreed to maintain the cottage providing he shared it with walkers, and an uneasy relationship developed, often soured by McRory Smith's liking for a drink. He had to move to Kinlochbervie in 1994 due to poor health. Five years later he was admitted to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, where he died. He was buried in the cemetery at Sheigra.

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