Overscaig House Hotel Overscaig House Hotel, North Highlands, Scotland

Overscaig, its History and Stories

Overscaig History
The First Penny Farthing at Overscaig
The Lovat Scouts stop at The Overscaig
Four Eightsome Reels in the Road
A "Goose" in the Loch
The Overscaig Memoirs 1854 - 1858 (downloads a PDF file)

The Story of Overscaig

The Overscaig House Hotel has a long history. Overscaig means "outcrop" in Norse and so was undoubdetly known to the Vikings, perhaps as a safe place to camp or as a place to navigate by. Overscaig is one of many Viking names in this area including Laxford – (salmon river), so we are sure that the Vikings settled here – maybe only for bed & breakfast! 
In more recent times it was a coaching and drovers’ inn – situated half way across the county it was an ideal stop on a journey that took several days.
From the mid-to-late 1800s the Overscaig took on the role of estate lodge offering hunting, shooting & fishing to guests of the family. Many of the UK's wealthiest people would spend their summer in The Highlands, in fact our visitor books show that royalty as well as Andrew Carnegie have stayed here.
It was sold from the estate in the 1950s and has been an hotel ever since.
To get a real idea of what Overscaig was like in the mid-19th century, click on the link at the right hand side of this page and read the memoirs of Edward Charlton M.D. - its is fascinating.

BACK TO TOP

The First Penny Farthing at Overscaig

This story was told to us by Angus McKenzie of Scourie whose family has lived in the area for generations.
The first Penny-Farthing bicycle to be seen at The Overscaig was being riden from Merkland towards Overscaig. There was no road at this time, just a track for horse and carts which had three ruts - one for each wheel and one in the middle for the horse.Therefore, the man riding the penny-farthing was only able to cycle down the ruts.
With the bike rattling along the road and the cattle having never seen or heard anything like it - the catlle started to run away from this unusual sight and sound. He tried to cycle faster, to get in front of the cattle, but each time the cattle ran ahead faster than he could peddle, until they were stampeding down the valley.
It just so happened that it was "laundry day" at The Overscaig. The people at the inn saw what was happening and moved the clothes line to string the white sheets across the track, stopping the herd.
The cattle did stop but the first one dropped dead on the spot and the second never had a calf again!

BACK TO TOP

The Lovat Scouts stop at The Overscaig

This story was told to us by Angus McKenzie of Scourie whose family has lived in the area for generations.
Early in The Great War, the Lovat Scouts gathered from the north and west - places like Durness, Kinlochbervie and Scourie - and rode to Lairg to get the train.
Very early one morning they arrived at The Overscaig. The leader of the troop knocked on the door and got the lodge keeper out of his bed. "Can the men have a dram as they are off to war?" he asked the man. He was given short shrift and told to leave "before you wake up my guests".
This unsympathetic welcome was not appreciated by the Scouts so they mounted their horses and rode round The Overscaig dragging their rifle butts along the ground - just to make sure that they DID wake everyone up, before riding off to join the train at Lairg.
Note: this story is certainly true as Angus Mckenzie's father was one of the Scouts.

BACK TO TOP

Four Eightsome Reels in the Road

Overscaig was once a thriving little community, with The Overscaig at its heart. We are told that in the 1930's there were 32 people living here - including the hotel and its staff, ghillies and shepherds. Apparently this is the number of people that were able to make up 4 sets of eightsome reels to dance in the road at the hotel. Unfortunately we do not know why they were celebrating in such a way.

BACK TO TOP

A "Goose" in the Loch

In the late 1960's and early seventies it was a fairly regular sight to see a small sea plane pass by the Overscaig. This Grumman Goose was owned by the Grosvenor Estate and regularly flew up from Chester to Loch More, flying along Loch Shin en-route. One December the pass over the hill from Merkland to Loch More was too cloudy so the pilot landed in Loch Shin to wait for a break in the weather. After landing, the wheels were lowered in to the water to act as a sort of sea anchor, ensuring the plane did not drift along too quickly. When the weather cleared, one of the wheels would not retract. The plane had to "taxi" to Lairg, and get help from the Sutherland Bus Garage. This story was told to us by Mr Doug Wyatt who flew the plane.

BACK TO TOP

Back Back

.