Ruth Leslie – Achiltibuie
I was brought up in the south of England and first came to Achiltibuie when I was 10, to visit my uncle and his wife who lived at Polbain and had bought Isle Ristol in the Summer Isles. I fell in love with the place and the people.
After studying French and Spanish at university, I got a post in the Spanish department at St Andrews where I stayed for 14 years. After my father died, I inherited 7 acres in Hampshire and spent 10 highly enjoyable years keeping a couple of Kerry cows, Tamworth pigs, hens, ducks and geese. Towards the end of this time, my 80+ year old aunt was finding it hard to look after my 90+ year old uncle and I offered to help – if I could keep my animals in the north. So it was that, on St Andrews day 1987, a large stock lorry deposited an assortment of creatures and things on a Polbain croft, and for 2 weeks there was perfect crisp sunny weather for them to settle in before it started raining…
And here I still am – after 15 years ‘temporary’, I was left the croft when my aunt died. Fewer poultry now, and two cattle not looked after by me, but very happy being here.
From my earliest days in Achiltibuie, I attended church services with my aunt – whatever was available. The Scottish Episcopal Church held services some of the time, but sometimes there wasn’t a priest in Ullapool able to come out. Later, the congregation became St Boniface of Ross and Father Nicholas asked me to be the local ‘contact person’.