Invercroft was built for shepherding at the northern margin of the Strathconnon Estate. The byre sleeping area still shows the cobbled floor and wall ventilation slits. Access to the school and shops at Achnasheen was by a track along the south shore of Loch Gowan and over a suspension bridge or ford onto the single track road along Strathcarron. Then Invercroft was used as a sheiling, finally abandoned to the elements in the late 1960s.
Inbhir is Gaelic for mouth of: Allt Mhartuin into Loch Gowan in this case.
The last family to live there moved out in 1946. The family managed a hirsel of 1100 ewes and grew vegetables and fodder crops for their cows and ponies. A chance meeting through the Campsie Fells MC, involving one who had fished Loch Gowan, resulted in Rory, Alice and Murdo MacLennon being invited along to meet some of the Jacobites MC. Rory is second left, Alice is in the yellow jacket, but Murdo had left before the the photo was taken (Margaret Walker in the blue/red fleece). They were born in Invercroft, part of a family of 10 children of the MacLennon family who lived at Inver from 1925 to 1946. Murdo told us much about the days in the 1940s when Invercroft was one of many crofts in the Strath, but because it was nearest Achnasheen it was a hub of activity, specially since the railway was very busy with military supply work. It must have been strange for our visitors, but they were pleased to see their former home remaining well looked after and in good use. Maggie Barlas met Oscie, the youngest of the children, and Alex, and wrote a short history of Invercroft (club journal of 1989).
The rebuild begins. Sheep sharn bagged for sale as fertilizer. Railway sleepers gifted by the railroad workers for foundations for new floorboards. (Paul Dunkley, journal 1989, describes the 24 weekends of work by 58 people, totalling 367 person days)
The living room before works:
The loft before works:
A typical work party of the original crew: including Roy Plenderleith at left, John Jones, Mike Snook, Clare Hickson defending her honour with the pickaxe, Sally Richards looking for more sharn to shovel. The Business Plan by John the economist was for the sale of the sharn to cover costs of rebuild.
The 1989 floorplan:
The new fireplace...
...and living room, with modern cabinets.
We invited Alex McLennon (centre, in suit and plus fours) to cut the ribbon. He had been the last shepherd working the Inver hirsel in the 1960s, using Inver croft as a howff and store. To left of Alex is Bruce Kerr, then President, who organised the opening.
Parts of the original rebuild never worked well. The Club Room and the Byre were poorly used and the water supply was erratic. A new major refurbishment was proposed in 2006.
New hearth and living room...
...and new kitchen.
A walkway was put in place over the flood plain...
...and the water supply was fully refurbished.
A typical work meet is always hard work, but a well-catered and fun affair!
In 2016 a new walkway began to take shape...
...spanning further across the flood plain and higher off the ground.