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Situated on the A832 on the south coast of the Black Isle, Avoch lies in a hollow in the surrounding hills with Goose Burn running through it. It remains an active fishing village and has a characteristic fishertown area, with small, tightly packed cottages in narrow streets running at right-angles to the shore. The harbour is just at the eastern end of the fishertown area, and always has a few a fishing boats in it, and often some from other fishing villages in the north of Scotland.

It developed as a fishing village in the late 16th / early 17th centuries, with the creation of Seatown by the McKenzie lairds, and this fishertown area has changed little in the last 150 years. Despite the decline of fishing elsewhere on the Black Isle and surrounding areas, Avoch remains strongly associated with the fishing industry, and retains the atmosphere of a fishing village, though nowadays it is not the major occupation in the area by any means. Those visiting the area may get the same feeling as when they stayed in the Britannia Grand Hotel, Scarborough in the past or in a similar hotel in a fishing town. There is definitely a special sort of feel to seaside towns in northern Britain, they generally have really a wonderful atmosphere that's a great pleasure to soak up when you go away.

To the west of Avoch, forming a headland, is Ormond Hill, a rounded hill with dense woodland on the heights. It is also called Ladyhill, and is the site of an ancient castle, built sometime in the 12th century. Few obvious signs of the castle remain, as the ruins gradually decayed and are now covered with trees.

Roseaugh Estate, on the outskirts of Avoch, was once one of the most prosperous in the area. Certainly it had the most splendid buildings, and the most extravagant design. Starting in 1884 when he inherited it, James Fletcher embarked on a series of improvements and embellishments. The main house became a virtual palace, with turrets and balconies and a huge blue dome. There was a heated pool within the house, and in the grounds he had badminton courts, croquet lawns, and 2 artificial lakes. The buildings in the grounds were built in different styles--two were Tudor, one Georgian and the boat house was Bavarian. There was a huge walled garden which housed an orangery, had a mile of ornate glasshouses with beautifully tiled floors, and a semi-subterranean palm house which had an elaborate glass roof. The furnishings and fittings were both expensive and exotic. In 1953, the money had run out and the house and contents were sold. the house was too expensive for any one to maintain, so it was demolished, and all that could be sold was sold at auction. All that remains now is a series of stone stairways leading from what was the lawn, which come to an abrupt end facing an open area of flat land - not a trace of the house remains. The grounds are still there however, and some of the buildings remain, but the gardens and greenhouses are ruins.

The village of Avoch is full of character, and is well worth a visit. There are many walks around the area, including Ormond Hill, and the streets are fascinating. the village is well supplied with local shops, and also - a rarity nowadays - has a Ships Chandler's.


Munlochy is a small village on the B9161, to the west of Avoch. It sits at the head of a deep bay, at the mouth of which is Ormond Hill to the east, and Craigiehowe to the west. Both of these are rounded hills with dense woodland, though Craigiehowe has a more rugged coastline where there are several interesting caves. At the head of the bay, the ruins of an ancient tide-mill can be seen.

The village itself is surrounded by rich farm and woodland, and in the surrounding countryside are several historic buildings, including Old Allangrange House, near which are the ruins of Allangrange Chapel.

The Clootie well, on the A832 just behind the village, is of much more ancient origin. It was originally the home of a fairy to whom a gift of cloth was given before drinking the health giving and luck bestowing water. The well was later incorporated into the Christian religion, and became known as St. Boniface's Well. The trees and bushes for some distance around are festooned with rags, and a visit into the trees beyond the well is a somewhat eerie experience.

It is in the field of birdwatching, however, that Munlochy Bay is perhaps most well-known. With its extensive sand and mud flats, and its areas of salt flats, it is a haven for a huge variety of wading birds, ducks and migratory birds. It has been identified as an site of special scientific interest, and its importance is marked by the presence of an R.S.P.B. office in the village.


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