Monday, 4 November 2013

Heritage Restored - The Wild Beauty of Rannoch



 

Renovation nearly completed 





Rannoch Lodge before the fire
 

I am conscious  of the need  to ensure that our  heritage is being  cared  for and  that  future  generations  can appreciate the wonderful fabric of life  here in Perthshire  - the “ big county “ ! Heritage  of  course comes  in a variety of  different forms be it  in the material fabric  of a building , a place or indeed a spoken  word . For some considerable time , I have  been involved  in advising  and assisting in the restoration of one of Perthshire’s oldest houses – Rannoch Lodge , located at the west end of Loch Rannoch . This is  a part of Scotland  that is often missed  by the  tourist due to its  comparative isolation . Loch Rannoch is some nine  miles in length with  roads on both sides . Referred  to by Alasdair Alpin MacGregor as the Loch of the Vanquished Clans in his book “ Wild Drumalbain ” it  is  better known perhaps as the Road to the Isles :

Sure by Tummel and Loch Rannoch and Lochaber I will go

By heather tracks wi' heaven in their wiles.

If it's thinkin' in your inner heart the braggart's in my step

You've never smelled the tangle o' the Isles.

Oh the far Coolins are puttin' love on me

As step I wi' my cromack to the Isles.

To quote MacGregor : “ At Camghouran, near the Black Wood , is a grave yard chock full of Camerons . On the opposite shore  of the Loch , in the churchyard of Killichonan , the mortal remains of MacGregors and Camerons rest side by  side . The Robertsons  of Struan have their mausoleum at Dun Alasdair; and the dust of the Stewarts of Innerhadden has faded beneath the weeds and grasses that conceal many a sore  . And there are Stewarts “ gu leoir”  lying in  Lassintullich , hard by Kinloch Rannoch ”

 
It was the Menzies ( pronounced Ming –us ) Clan  who eventually dominated  the area  of Rannoch and obtained  lawful possession  by Royal Charter as a thank you for subduing the fiery Clan MacGregor . Rannoch Lodge  was built  by the Menzies family as a two storey house in the mid-18th century and was altered  into a shooting lodge  by Sir Robert Menzies between 1798 and 1803 .During the last  war it  was  temporarily occupied  as  boarding  school  when Wellesley  School relocated  there  from distant Broadstairs in Kent !

It  returned  to private  ownership after the war and continued a remarkable record of  being a bolt hole  for the famous . Elizabeth  Taylor was  a regular  visitor  dropping in by helicopter  when  wishing to escape from the curious press. Much earlier than this  we  have  records  of more than a few internationally famous  persons retreating to Rannoch Lodge . In 1901 Cecil Rhodes , in poor  health , spent  some three months in the Lodge having been  introduced  by Leander Starr Jameson , a Scotsman  whose name is associated  with a flawed operation by the British against the Boers in 1895 . Rhodes  was  working on his will and endowments  including the setting  up of Rhodes Scholarships at Oxford University . Interestingly enough  some prints of African scenes were discovered in an old  trunk by the present owners some years ago and in all probability were a gift from  Rhodes  to the owners of that time . During this  period a young  Winston Churchill was  house  guest . Another   visitor   to Rannoch Lodge  was Andrew Carnegie and this account describes  his  sojourn at Rannoch :


Carnegie  spent the night in Aberdeen at the Haddo House Hotel where he received a telegraph from Pittsburgh notifying  him of the battle at Homestead . Undeterred  by the news , he proceeded with his vacation plans and left on the 6th of July 1892  for Rannoch Lodge a retreat in the central highlands , so isolated  that it  could only be reached by private carriage . Loch Rannoch and the nearby streams  provided Carnegie  with an idyllic setting to pursue a favourite past time , fishing .Whilst vacationing at the Lodge , he received a number of urgent telegrams from America  and he also received a welcome letter and a few trout flies  from a certain William Isherwood whom he had met at Haddo House . “ They are fastened in such a way that they seldom come to pieces , both ends of the feathers are tied along the shaft of the wire , a way that is never adopted  by tackle makers ……I should be pleased to hear if you find them successful. They are most adapted f or stream fishing . ”





 

In 1985 Rannoch  Lodge  was gutted  by fire which sadly resulted in the death of its  two owners . The building and grounds were put up for auction and  bought  by Crieff couple  Iain and Shirley Somerville . The mammoth task of renovation is  still progressing but this is  nearing a  successful goal . The various  outbuildings  and cottages have been modernised and  form part of a successful holiday letting complex (http://www.rannoch-lodge.co.uk/) . The Lodge like a phoenix  has risen from the ashes and is a great tribute to the purposefulness of the owners coupled  with the skills  of the many tradesmen who have added their own thing .

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

2 comments:

  1. I'm really interested in the history of Rannoch Lodge as my great grandparents met and married whilst in service there (we believe my great grandfather was the game keeper a d my great grand mother was German and met him when the Getman family she worked for came to stay at Rannoch) I would love to know if any records / photos remain of their time there. You can contact me at emmapeak@hotmail.co.uk
    Many thanks in advance.

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  2. Apologies for the brief nature of the comment / lack of details and 'typos' above. My keyboard keeps freezing and the above took me half an hour to type and post!

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