Intens caramel color of the sandy beach at low tide. The Applecross peninsula (Scottish Gaelic: A' Chomraich, 'The Sanctuary') is a peninsula in Wester Ross, Highland, on the north west coast of Scotland. The name Applecross is at least 1300 years old and is not used locally to refer to the 19th century village (which is correctly called 'Shore Street', or simply 'The Street') with the Applecross Inn, lying on the small Applecross Bay, facing the Inner Sound, on the opposite side of which lies the Inner Hebridean island of Raasay. The village of Applecross was established by St. Maelrubha, in the 7th century. A sculptured stone is the only relic of St. Maelrubha remaining, who built a chapel there.
This row of houses which is often referred to as 'Applecross', and is marked as Applecross on some maps, is actually called 'Shore Street' and is referred to locally just as 'The Street'. The name Applecross applies to all the settlements around the peninsula, including Toscaig, Culduie, Camusterrach, Sand, and many others. Applecross is also the name of the local estate and the civil parish, which includes Shieldaig and Torridon, and has a population of 544. The small River Applecross (Scottish Gaelic: Abhainn Crosain) flows into the bay at Applecross.
Extremely isolated, Applecross was only accessible by boat until the early 20th century, and for many years after that the only road access was over one of Scotland's most notoriously treacherous roads, the Bealach na Ba ('Pass of the Cattle'), which crosses the peninsula and reaches a maximum height of 2053 ft (626 m), below the 774 m high Sgùrr a' Chaorachain. The settlement is now connected via a winding coastal road which travels around the edge of the peninsula to Shieldaig and Torridon. The road skirts the shore of the Inner Sound and Loch Torridon.
Rocky shores of Applecross
Applecross's name is an anglicisation of the Pictish name Aporcrosan, 'confluence of the [river] Crossan' (Obar Crosain in modern Gaelic). Historically, the settlement is linked with St Máelrubai (Old Irish form) or Maelrubha, who came to Scotland in 671 from the major Irish monastery of Bangor, County Down. He founded Aporcrosan in 672 in what was then Pictish territory, and was the monastery's first abbot, dying on 21 April 722 in his eightieth year. The deaths of several of his successors as abbot are recorded in the Irish Annals into the early ninth century. The early monastery was located around the site of the later parish church (present building erected 1817). A large, unfinished cross-slab standing in the churchyard and three extremely finely carved fragments of another (or more than one?) preserved within the church are evidence of the early monastery. The surrounding district is known as a' Chomraich 'the sanctuary' in Gaelic. Its boundaries were once marked by crosses. The stub of one, destroyed in 1870, survives among farm buildings at Camusterrach.
There are many churches dedicated to Maelrubha on Skye and throughout northern Scotland, the saint's name sometimes taking distorted forms (e.g. 'Rufus' at Keith in Banffshire). Loch Maree and its holy island of Eilean Ma-Ruibhe (site of an early church and holy well) are both named after the saint.
The area around Applecross is believed to be one of the earliest settled parts of Scotland. The coastal settlement of Sand, just to the north of Applecross, is the location of a major archaeological site.
The Applecross estate extends to approximately 70,000 acres (280 km2) and covers most of the peninsula.
In the second half of the 16th century, the lands of Applecross came into the possession of Alexander Mackenzie (died 1650), an illegitimate son of Colin Cam Mackenzie of Kintail. With a brief interruption between 1715 and 1724 (a period of forfeiture caused by Applecross's part in the 1715 Uprising), the estate remained in the ownership of Mackenzie's heirs until the mid-19th century, when it was sold to the Duke of Leeds.
In the early 1860s, the estate was sold to Lord Middleton. Following the death of the 10th Baron Middleton in 1924, the estate was sold to the Wills family.
The Estate is now owned by the Applecross Trust, a registered Scottish charity with the declared aim of preserving "the special character of the Applecross peninsula in a responsible and progressive manner whilst acknowledging its wilderness heritage and its importance as an area of outstanding natural beauty". The Applecross Trust is controlled by seven people and chaired by Richard Wills, of Andover, Hampshire. None of the members live in Applecross.
Media and the arts
Applecross appeared as Laxdale in the 1953 film Laxdale Hall, in which the villagers protest against the poor condition of the access road by withholding their Road Tax. In 2009 Applecross was featured in the television programme Monty Halls' Great Escape. It is also referred to in the writings of Margaret Leigh; particularly in 'Driftwood and Tangle'. Applecross also appeared in Channel 4's Time Team series 13 episode 12 when a broch was excavated. It is also the setting for Graeme Macrae Burnet's 2015 novel His Bloody Project which was nominated for The Man Booker Prize in 2016.