Highest road in Britain takes you to Applecross


Applecross, Sanctuary, or A’Chomraich in Gaelic is a hard place to reach. Over a rugged mountain when you reach “The Sanctuary”, just like Heaven You will never want to leave. I said in a previous post that a good amount of my Murchison clan ancestry comes from my grandmother, although married to a MacDonald her mother was one of the clan and the family tree fully and clearly traces her ancestry back to the original Murdo Murchison born in 1520, constable and minister of the iconic Eileen Donnan Castle at Donnie, Wester Ross in the Highlands of Scotland. It is an interesting thought that my father was connected to the original Murdo Murchison through both sides of his family.

The name Murdo is Viking and means “warrior from the sea” giving me the idea that many of my ancestors were not men to be messed with?… Or to be proud of! (You can choose your friends but not your relitaves)

My granny Jessie who died from a brain tumour in 1939 came from a long line of subsistence crofters and intrepid seamen. Despite the previous generation being brutally evicted from their crofts, to make way for sheep they picked themselves up and bravely got on with life… through time buying a schooner which could carry a cargo of 200 tons, moored it in Applecross bay and despite little or no education successfully chartered over many years from the north coast of Africa to Iceland, often via the Baltic.

First and foremost these men were seamen then reluctant businessmen.. Today people pay fortunes to partake in what, with the most basic of navigational aids was second nature to them.


The original sandstone doorstep from Applecross is incorporated in the much grander doorstep of “A’Chomraich” Kyle where I grew up. Try spelling this out to your average English call centre worker! Good luck.

The cousins as ols men would meet at my parents home outdoing each other with great tales of wars, daring adventures round the globe and politics. How sad that a child of the sixties viewed them as irrelevant! They were all a bit deaf so it could be quite loud. Part of the fun was strong disagreement but strictly no falling out.

We are undoubtedly a quirky and even eccentric bunch  in the eyes of some.  I always remember, prior to trips abroad staying with the truly delightful family of Donald MacDonald my father’s cousin (He once turned up, quite pleased with himself)  at Wokingham train station equipped. with a wheel barrow to collect my cases prior to a trip across the pond. People must have been quite bemused to see an English gentleman and a somewhat scruffy Highland boy walking along the road with a wheelbarrow, after all this was, posh home county, territory and not the rugged, remote, outlandish west coast of Scotland!

Whilst the emphasis of this blog is merely to point out some observations from life’s journey; within the presbyterian tradition there is much emphasis on biblical covenant theology; those baptised as infants and diligently brought up in the faith are part of the visible church and destined and promised to become believers. Perhaps wrongly,this is something I have never given much thought to choosing simply and obediently  to tow the line of the denomination which nurtured me. (This is not always typical of me) Is there anything then in covenant theology? YES  I think so. Why should I be surprised that for no humanly explicable reason strong faith has passed from generation to generation as promised by God?

A good example of this would be the fact that most of the Applecross rooted family of the late Donald,are steadfast in the faith, two of the siblings along with their children  are back in the land of their forefathers and loving it. The rising millennial generation…Their children are devoted to the Christian faith. Perhaps In considering this I should try to look in more detail back to the original ancestor of the clan.  He came to Kintail as minister and constable of Eilean Donan castle mid 16th century. 

Legend has it that he  was a descendant of Columba who  circa 600AD

John Murchison my mother Elspeth Donald MacDonald Cpt William Murchison visiting Toscaig 1960s

brought Christianity to Scotland. This is borne out by the old family graves in Lochalsh which have multiple doves, the symbol used by the great man himself.

You can strongly disagree with my, albeit weak conviction on and pleasant musings regarding covenant theology. However I refuse to fall out with you over it. Surely the main thing is to have faith in the saviour who conquered death and is bringing us to that bright and better land. Today these words from the psalms speak powerfully to me:
Then are they glad, because at rest and quiet now they be, for he them to the haven brings which they desired to See.
Applecross may be the best place on earth but is nothing compared to the glory of HEAVEN!

If interested in the undoubted case for covenant theology go to Donald Macleod’s Blog and find a robust well reasoned argument.

A 19th century Schooner similar to the Constellation








4 thoughts on “A’Chomraich

  1. Hello Murdo. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us to read. You are brave. I’ve never met you but I knew you were sick from other folks who do know you. We bought our last car from your garage from the new owner. One of my Mum and Dad’s favourite places was Applecross..and my Canadian husband and me went there over the pass of the cow on our honeymoon! My Dad died the day after you wrote this blog. He was at home in Callander and my Mum and all us his 6 children were with him . That night before he went home .. I’d been sitting with him and at 3ish am in the morning I decided I would read his daily reading with him..even if he couldn’t hear it now…it was 2 Corinthians 5…awaiting the new body! I knew then God would take him to him that day..and that my lovely Dad was groaning to be there. And when I read your blog now..I felt God told me again that my Dad is with the One he desired to see. And I know his eyes now see the King in His beauty.. though we miss him with big aching of our hearts..he doesn’t have that aching any more. I will surely pray for you Murdo. And thank you for your wisdom and bravery…you are full of life .. and you will be full of life for ever…here or actually with the true lover of our soul’s. He has you in the palm of his hand and held close to his great heart of love. Annie.


  2. I love the picture,
    I loved Uncle John very much. He called my siblings and myself ‘the Kirstys’ as there were so many of us.
    We visited him in Toscaig whilst staying with Seanair at Moruisk..
    Uncle John was very jovial and chuckled a lot.

    I pray you will continue with your Blog and God shall ‘renew your strength and you shall mount up with wings as eagles’, you shall run and not grow weary, you shall walk and not faint (isa 40, 31).
    With love from Michael, Kirsty and Jenny


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