Moine House

"Moine House, Tongue"
Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico 300gsm Rough paper
25 x 36 cm

West of Tongue, in Sutherland, there is a large peat bog called The Moine, which stretches all the way over to the next valley. At more-or-less the highest point there is a ruined building, called Moine House, which I have always found very striking. It is a wild and lonely spot and it has a background of dramatic mountains. I assumed that it was an old drovers' inn, but a plaque* on the wall tells the story of how it was erected as a refuge for travellers.

In 1830 the Marquis of Stafford had a road built over the bog to make travel easier, and a house was erected at the half-way point. The building was occupied by a family who provided shelter for any weary travellers who needed it. The roof fell in long ago and all that remains now are the walls, and especially two large gables which make a striking profile. A new, modern road passes close by, but the old road can still be followed for long stretches.

* Wall Plaque -

Erected for the refuge of the traveller
Serves to commemorate
The construction of the road across the deep and dangerous morass of the
Impracticable to all but the hardy and active native to him even
It was a day of toil and labour
This road was made in the year 1830 and at the sole expense
Of the
Those who feel not the delay nor experience the fatigue nor suffer
From the risks and interruptions incident to the former state of
the country
can but slightly estimate the advantages of its present
improve conditions or what it cost to procure them
To mark this change – to note these facts – to record this date
This inscription is put up and dedicated
Auditor and commissioner upon his Lordships Estates
Factor for the REAY country, STRATHNAVER, Strathalladale and Assynt
Under whose directions this work was executed and who
Alone know the difficulties that occurred
In its execution
And the liberality and perseverance by which
They were overcome

 "Sunlight on Moine House"
Watercolour on Saunders Waterford 300gsm Rough paper
13 x 18 cm


  1. Great painting to top off a fantastic history. Thank you

  2. Good morning Keith!... Once again your subject vividly captures the sense of isolation and the wildness of the countryside... even by today's standards. This stone cottage would most certainly have provided the "refuge" that you mention for a traveler caught between places.

    I love the ever-present inclusion of your historic information as well. It offers me the (virtual) sense... though distant as it is... of being a traveler in your space.

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

    1. Good evening Bruce. As ever we share the same interests and preferences: I also love your stories of life in your part of the World. I feel I know so much more about the Thousand Islands region than I would have done otherwise.

      Sharing makes life richer.
      All the best, Keith

  3. Makes you wonder about the lives of those folk back then. I was reading about coach travel in Yorkshire about the same time as when your travelers croft was built. Apparently during the winter many of those who had to sit on top of the coach as it was economical actually would arrive frozen to death! Both John Constable and Robert Burns both had jobs outside on horseback that shortened their lives due to ill health caused by exposure to long winters. We don't know how lucky we are now! Bonny painting!

    1. Yes, I remember seeing sketches that Turner made in the pouring rain on his travels over the Pennines; he must have been soaked to the skin! We definitely don't have to suffer in the same way for our art now!

  4. What a lovely gesture by the Marquis of Stafford! Both paintings are beautiful, and they work together as a pair, expressing different perspectives of the same subject. It would be lovely to be able to follow the old road across The Moine - perhaps I should put it on my to-do list...

    1. Thank you Diane. There is an even older track, called the Moine Path, which was there before the road was built. It's probably very ancient, maybe even prehistoric. It can be followed for its whole length, but it's very wet in places and gives an idea of why the new road was so useful.

  5. I came across this cottage recently on a road trip. Wanting to see the view from the front of the house I walked down the oath and was astonished to find three very large and disturbing black and white figures painted on the inside of the wall- the sort of graffiti that wouldn't be out of place in any neglected urban environment! It was extremely well done, but didn't look that recent as some bits of wall had already fallen off. I just wondered if you knew anything about the artist, why on earth it was painted and what it meant?

    1. Hello, I've seen the figures that you are wondering about, but I don't know of any information about them. I had assumed that they were just some very talented graffiti.


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