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Strathpeffer ( Srath Pheofhair in Gaelic ) is a village and former spa town in Ross and Cromarty, Highland, Scotland, 5 miles west of Dingwall, with a population of 1,469.

It lies in a glen, with varying elevation from 200 to 400 feet above sea level. Sheltered on the west and north, it has a comparatively dry and warm climate.

[edit] History

Clach an Tiompain, a Class 1 Pictish symbol stone in Strathpeffer
Clach an Tiompain, a Class 1 Pictish symbol stone in Strathpeffer

In the Victorian era Strathpeffer was popular as a spa resort, owing to the discovery of sulphurous springs in the 18th century. The pump-room in the middle of the village dates from 1819. Soon after that, a hospital and a hotel were also built. The Pavilion dates from 1880, and was built to provide a venue for entertainment of the visitors. It fell into disuse and disrepair towards the end of last century, but has now been restored as a stunning new venue for the arts, weddings, other functions, and events of all kinds.

The arrival of the railways in Dingwall in 1862 did much to bring more visitors to the town. In 1885 a branch line from the Kyle of Lochalsh Line was built; the most logical route for the line to Kyle of Lochalsh was through the town, but disagreements with landowners initially prevented the railway from crossing their land. The branch closed in 1951. The station now contains a variety of shops and craft outlets as well as the Highland Museum of Childhood. Occasionally it is suggested that the Kyle-Dingwall railway should be rerouted to serve the town - bringing extra traffic - but the costs appear prohibitive.

Because of its location in the heart of the Highlands, and because it contains several large hotels and many guesthouses and B&B establishments, Strathpeffer has remained a popular visitor attraction and a good base for touring the Highlands. There are many walks in the surrounding area and a very scenic golf course, which boasts the longest drop from tee to green of any course in Britain.

The Strathpeffer and District Pipe Band and local Highland dancers perform in the square every Saturday from end May to September, and this is a popular gathering for both visitors and residents. Nearby is Castle Leod, seat of the Earl of Cromartie, Chief of the Clan Mackenzie, which is now open to the public several times a year (details on the Strathpeffer Pavilion website).

The area around the village contains two battle sites: Blar na Pairce, battle (field) of the park, was the location of a battle in approximately 1486 where the local MacKenzies, under their chief Kenneth MacKenzie, successfully defeated a large invading force of MacDonalds. The battlefield lies immediately to the south of Loch Kinellan, which is itself immediately south-west of the modern village. The loch contains a crannog, which remained a hunting seat of the Earls of Ross until the late medieval period and was reportedly visited by Robert The Bruce during his reign. It was from this crannog that Kenneth MacKenzie went out to meet the MacDonalds.

The other battle was Blar nan Ceann, battle (field) of the heads, which took place within the western end of the modern village. Very little is known about this battle, not even an approximate date, although it is known that the MacKenzies of Seaforth defeated the MacDonells of Glengarry and that some incident took place at a well near the battlefield, subsequently called Tobar a' Chinn (well of the head).

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Coordinates: 57°35'N, 4°33'W


(Source: Wikipedia)
 
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