Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Strathpeffer

Strathpeffer, a valley, containing a village of the same name, opening off the upper reaches of the Cromarty Firth at Dingwall, and extending for about 5 miles westward from that town. The boundary on the N consists of the Heights of Inchvannie, Brae, and Dochearty, outlying slopes of Ben Wyvis, and on the S of the ridge of Druimchat or the Cat's Back, separating Strathpeffer from Brahan and lower Strathconon. On this ridge is Knockfarrel, one of the best known examples of a vitrified fort. The bottom of the hollow, the lowest part of which is only 20 feet above sea-level, has a good rich clay soil passing into loam, and has evidently at no distant period-geologically speaking- formed part of the bed of the Cromarty Firth. It is highly farmed, and the fields are marked off by fine hedgerows, which, with the neighbouring woods, assist in making the strath one of the prettiest vales in the North of Scotland. The soil of the lower hill slopes is a good reddish loam, but higher up it becomes mossy. The valley is now much disfigured near the centre by a huge embankment, which carries the Dingwall and Skye section of the Highland railway system from the S to the N side of the hollow. This was rendered necessary in consequence of opposition to the line passing farther up the S side; but in an Act of Parliament recently obtained, power has been granted to make a loop past the village of Strathpeffer along the course originally proposed. The greater portion of the valley belongs to the Duchess of Sutherland, Countess of Cromertie, whose mansion is the fine old house of Castle-Leod in the NW, which is at present the residence of her second son, Viscount Tarbat. Some of the trees about it are very old and fine. The hill slopes above it are occupied by the crofting community of Auchterneed or Botlacks, the original holdings in which were granted by Lord Macleod to the veterans of the Highland corps raised on his estate who returned from the great American War. The E end of the valley is in Ross-shire, and the W in Cromartyshire. The drainage is carried off by the Peffery or Pheoran, which flows eastward to the Cromarty Firth. (For other particulars, see Fodderty.) Strathpeffer has a station on the section of the Highland- railway already mentioned, 4 miles W of Dingwall; and the village is 1 mile S by W of the station, but this inconvenience will be remedied when the new loop line is constructed. It owes its fame to its mineral springs, which, rising from calcareobituminous sandstones belonging to the Old Red Sandstone formation, to which they owe their virtues, are highly impregnated with various salts that make them highly beneficial in digestive and kidney disorders, as well as in cases of rheumatism and skin disease; but the water must be taken under ad vice. The springs vary in quality, but on an average a gallon of water may be taken as containing 13.659 cubic inches of sulphuretted hydrogen gas and 107.484 grains of the various salts in solution, this being made up of 52.710 grains of sulphate of soda, 30.686 grains of sulphate of lime, 19.233 grains of chloride of sodium, and 4.855 grains of sulphate of magnesia. There is a pump-room, with a range of baths; and a bowling-green, and walks, both in the grounds and all round the neighbourhood, provide for outdoor amusement, while for bad weather and indoor recreations there is a large pavilion. The air is clear and bracing. The proprietrix has done much to improve the place. There are three large hotels, and most of the other houses have been erected for the accommodation of visitors during the season, which lasts from the beginning of May to the end of October. A stone pillar with an eagle-the crest of the Munros-carved on it, is said to mark the site of a clan battle in the latter part of the 15th century, in which the Munros of Foulis were defeated by the Mackenzies of Seaforth; and near it some years earlier (in 1478) another conflict took place, in which the Mackenzies were victorious over a body of the Macdonalds of the Isles. There is a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments, under Dingwall; and an omnibus plies between the village and the station, and a coach to and from Dingwall. See Dr D. Manson On the Sulphur and Chalybeate Waters of Strathpe.ffer Spa (5th edition, 1884).—Ord. Sur., sh. 83, 1881.

(F.H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4); © 2004 Gazetteer for Scotland)

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a valley, containing a village"   (ADL Feature Type: "valleys")
Administrative units: Cromarty ScoCnty
Place: Strathpeffer

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