The Chalet, Knockfarrell

02 June 2013

News Type:
Site of the Month

Many people walk up to Knockfarrell between Dingwall and Strathpeffer to appreciate the impressive remains of a large Iron Age hillfort (see Site of the Month September 2010). But striding up the hill, many walk by a number of metal supports which are about half way up. Without local memories and some early photographs, one would be unlikely to identify the remnants for what they were: supports for a tea room catering for visitors to the fort. Known as the Chalet, it was built by the Cromartie Estate, probably in the early 1900s, in a style to resemble a
Swiss Chalet, with metal foundations supporting a timber building with wide porches. It was cleverly designed, with the shutters folding down to become tables.

The enterprise was run initially by the Miss Camerons from the croft visible in the photo. They had to haul water up each day. Duncan Finlayson remembered going up to the Chalet in the 1930s, to have home baking and, in season, strawberries and cream at 2/6 a time – a lot of money in those days. Some visitors to Strathpeffer regarded tea at the chalet as a ‘must’, though his family regarded it as a luxury.

After the war the Chalet gradually became dilapidated and derelict, and was burnt down sometime in the 1960s. Today, only the rusting metal foundations remain of this local landmark.

Further information:
Highland Historic Environment Record MHG55598
Uncles, C. J., 1998. Easter Ross and the Black Isle. Ochiltree: Stenlake Publishing has a good picture of the Chalet.

Information about the Chalet was collected in the ARCH project, Remembering Strathpeffer. The photo of the Chalet was supplied by one of the participants, Kitty Campbell.

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Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands (ARCH), The Goods Shed, The Old Station, Strathpeffer, Ross-Shire, Scotland IV14 9DH
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