Random thoughts from Pencefn

…. an engineer, singer and photographer living in Scotland

Mull 2010: Day 3 – Lochbuie

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Ben Buie with St Kilda's church close to the shore of Loch Buie, Isle of Mull

Ben Buie with St Kilda's church close to the shore of Loch Buie, Isle of Mull

Heading south west from Craignure on the road to Iona at Strathcoil where it is close to Loch Spelve, there is a road off to the left. This road cab take you to Croggan on the other side of Loch Spelve, however the other place it takes you to is Loch Buie. Enroute, the road passes along the north side of Loch Uisg.

At the end of the road there are tracks to the left and right which run along the shore of Loch Buie. To the right there is a post office (not open at the time of our visit) and a post box and further round some tents were pitched on the designated camping ground.

However we headed to the left. Beyond a house – which is the parsonage to the church – is St Kilda’s.

Altar at St Kilda's Church, Loch Buie, Isle of Mull

Altar at St Kilda's Church, Loch Buie, Isle of Mull

The church is a little gem – including the crucifix, a statuette of Joseph and infant, the furnishings on the altar and the stained glass. Have a look at the pictures in my fotopic gallery, inculding the two notices pictured. These go back to the 20th century. A notice describing the church is dated 1955. What follows is a transcription:

S Kilda’s Church Lochbuie

The Scottish Episcopal Church is not the English Church but the old Church of Scotland. It is however in full communion with Churches of England, Ireland and Wales, the American Episcopal Church and all other provinces of the Anglican Communion through the world.

This church of S. Kilda is in the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles. It was consecrated in 1876, the late Laird, Maclaine of Lochbuie, having been instrumental in raising the necessary funds. You can see various monuments in the church to him and members of his family and others associated with this part of the Isle of Mull

The following notes were compiled by the late Reverend Canon T. Hannan of Musselburgh.

S. Kilda is regarded by some as a mythical personage, because the name is only found in connection with the island, of which the proper name is Hirta. But the ancient wall in the island with the name Tebar Childer – Wall of Kilda – indicates a Norse saint of male sex, probably a hermit, the spelling of whose name should be S. Kildar. This is the accepted view.

An interesting object is the Celtic Cross built into the wall of the porch on the right – the south wall. This was unearthed at a considerable depth when digging the foundations of the present church. There is no tradition of a chapel or burying ground on the site, which is an indication of the remoteness of the burial. The Cross is of the simplest and earliest form, and may be more than 800 years old.

The Crucifix above the Chancel was carved by Joseph Mayer, who played the part of Christ 114 times in the Ober Ammergau Passion Play. He died on December 1 1903. The late Maclaine of Lochbuie bought this Crucifix and had it placed in its present position.

In the wall to the right of the Altar is a piece of the Altar of the church of Merry-le-Hart, the slab which covered the relics of a Bishop of Metz who died in 1851. The church was fired by the retreating French troops in 1870, and a French priest rushed into the burning church, broke the covering slab and rescued the relic. The late Maclaine of Lochbuie acquired the piece, he being at the time the war correspondent with the German Army for the London newspaper The Times.

The population of Lochbuie is very small and it is not possible to have a resident priest for this church, because there are no funds to support him, but services are held regularly during the summer months by visiting clergy. Even the upkeep of the Church and Parsonage are a considerable burden on so small a congregation. Visitors, then, are requested to help by placing a contribution – no matter how small – in the box, and remembering S. Kilda’s Lochbuie in their prayers.

G.M. Sessford
July 1956

As you can see – even with the language and point of view of the mid 1950s the church is steeped in history.

Flowering Rhododendrons next to Abhiann a Chaiginn Mhoir flowing into Loch Buie, Isle of Mull

Flowering Rhododendrons next to Abhiann a Chaiginn Mhoir flowing into Loch Buie, Isle of Mull


Leaving the church, we sat in the sun on the shore of Loch while having our lunch. Following we following the road and path road to Moy Castle. Built in the 15th century it is an imposing structure. However the fabric has deteriorated and since 2006 renovation work has been in progress. At the time of our visit, the castle was shrouded in scaffolding.

Adjacent to the castle in Lochbuie House. A private residence, it is owned by descendants of Sir Richard Garton who still own and farm the estate and it was sold by Donald, 20th Chief of Lochbuie in 1922.

Jutting out into Loch Buie is the small island of Eilaen Mor, which we were able to reach since tide condition permitted. From here there was a fine view of Laggan Lodge and Laggan Sands, beyond which is the Mausoleum for the MacLaines of Lochbuie. Dominating the scene is Ben Buie. Heading back the stream that drain the area around the east of Ben Buie – Abhiann a Chaiginn Mhoir – was crossed on the approach to the lodge for Lochbuie house.

Our return from Loch Buie was back along the road past Loch Uisg to the main road at Strathcoil.

Loch Buie or Lochbuie?? – the former is the Loch, whilst the latter is the village, although the names appear to interchangeable in some literature.

Author: Stewart

An instrumentation engineer who enjoys photography and singing. Working in the West of Scotland; a member of St Mary's Cathedral Glasgow and Southwark Cathedral; and a volunteer guard/signalman on the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales.

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