Ever felt that one Hogmanay just isn’t enough?

Here’s a curious wee bit of local Hogmanay trivia for you…

In 1752 the majority of the UK switched from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. The change was needed because the Julian Calendar generated too many leap years and as a consequence, astrological events like the winter equinox (the shortest day) were getting very gradually later and later into the year. To get back on track, the people of Britain were required to “loose” 11 days, and lose them, after the occasional riot, most did…

…but not in one particular part of Lochaber!

Hidden away in the Mamore Hills just south of Fort William is the tiny settlement of Blarmachfoldach.  The story goes that somehow news of this change of calendars didn’t reach the people of this tiny crofting settlement and so they carried on celebrating the Highland New Year on their 31st December. There were several, similarly isolated, small settlements in the Highlands of Scotland where a similar situation occurred, but Blarmachfoldach is thought to be the last community to continue to celebrate Hogmanay after the rest of the UK. Right up until the 1960’s it was not uncommon for people in Fort William to celebrate both New Years, a custom that has sadly ceased. A great shame, bring it back we say!

You can visit Blarmachfoldach by taking the Upper Achintore turning from the West End Roundabout (yes, we have so few roundabouts in Lochaber most have got a name!) although apart from it’s beautiful setting there’s little to see in the village itself. A good idea is to carry on until the single-track road takes a sharp right turn down towards the loch at Lundavra where what looks like a forestry track continues straight ahead. The track follows the path of General Wade’s Military Road to Kinlochleven and now forms part of the West Highland Way. There is a lovely walk from here to the Iron Age Petrified Fort of Dun Dearduil with beautiful views down into Glen Nevis. A great way to deal with the consequences of a New Year well celebrated… whenever you chose to celebrate it.