Balnakeil House, Durness. The house was built by the eldest son of Donald Duaghal MacKay, the first Lord Reay. Within a 10 mile radius can be found places associated with Isabel MacKay, John MacKechnie, Iain Dàll MacKay and Rob Donn MacKay. Durness is in the far north west of the Scottish mainland on the A838, one of the trunk roads that make up the North Coast 500.

A student at the University of Glasgow is preparing a final-year geography project on the social impact of North Coast 500 on local communities.

Mhairi Griffin, geography student from the university’s School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, is conducting an unfunded project that will establish a general consensus on the attitude towards tourists, investigate whether (and if so to what extent) conflicts exist between tourists and locals along the North Coast 500 and investigate local perceptions on the future of the North Coast 500 route and whether the route is a sustainable form of tourism for the Highlands.

The North Coast 500 is the 516-mile (830 km) scenic route around the north coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness. Launched in 2015, it is a marketing project that combines some of the region’s trunk roads into one, mostly coastal, route. A few months after the project’s launch, the route was named fifth in the ‘Top 5 Coastal Routes in the World’ listing by Now Travel Magazine.

Mhairi Griffin.

The North Coast 500 has been a huge marketing success. By 2017, it had increased visitor numbers to the area by 29,000 (adding £9m to the region’s economy). However, concerns remain that the infrastructure cannot cope with the increased number of visitors. There are further concerns that the economic impact is not being felt in the small local communities themselves.

The route is of interest to the general tourist but also to pipers. It takes in places associated with the likes of Alasdair Gillies, John Bàn MacKenzie, John Macdonald of Inverness, Angus Macpherson, Iain Dàll MacKay, Willie Ross, Donald Cameron, and the family of G. S. MacLennan.

Ms. Griffin is appealing to those who currently live, or have lived on the North Coast 500 from 2015 onwards to participate in her online questionnaire.

Ian K. MacDonald was the overall winner of the Professional category at the fourth online competition organised this summer by the Pipers’ and Pipe Band Society of Ontario (PPBSO).

The Gold Medallist from Whitby, Ontario scooped two first-prizes over the three events. Ben Peterson won the Senior Amateur Ceòl Mòr category (which Ian K. judged) while Iain Dewar won the Grade 1 MSR.

The PPBSO’s fifth and final event of the summer season takes place online in a few weeks.

Ian K.

Ceòl Mòr
– 1. Ian K. MacDonald; 2. Gordon McCready; 3. Tyler Johnson
Judge: Colin MacLellan.

MSR – 1.  Matt MacIsaac; 2. Ian K. MacDonald; 3. Daniel Carr.
Judge: John Cairns.

Hornpipe & Jig – 1.Ian K. MacDonald; 2. Tyler Johnson; 3. Sean McKeown.
Judge: Bill Livingstone.

Senior Amateur Ceòl Mòr – 1. Ben Peterson; 2. Mark McClennan; 3. Charles David Mitchell.
Judge: Ian K. MacDonald.

Grade 1
– 1.Iain Dewar; 2. Joseph Biggs; 3. Mark McClennan.
Judge: Jim McGillivray.

– 1. Mark McClennan; 2. Joseph Biggs; 3. Caleb Thibodeau.
Judge: Ross Brown.

Intermediate Amateur Ceòl Mòr – 1. Joseph Biggs; 2. Sean Burgess; 3. Alexandra Miller.
Judge: Lynda MacKay.

Grade 2
– 1. Andrew Hill; 2. Jean-Sebastien Gamache; 3. Alexandra Miller.
Judge: Ross Brown.

Strathspey & Reel – 1. Sean Burgess; 2. Matt Greco; 3. Katherine Miller.
Judge: Tyler Harris.

6/8 March – 1. Jean-Sebastien Gamache; 2. Sean Burgess; 3. Kathleen Lasseter.
Judge: Jim Scott.

Junior Amateur Ceòl Mòr – 1. Eddie Boland; 2. Tristan Perry; 3. Robert Miller.
Judge: Glenna MacKay-Johnstone.

Grade 3
– 1. Drew Marshall; 2. Evan James McConkey; 3. Tristan Perry.
Judge: Michael Grey.

Strathspey & Reel – 1. Caleb John MacPherson; 2. Trent Harris; 3. David Brown.
Judge: Lynda MacKay.

PPBSO logo

Novice Ceòl Mòr – 1. Joanne Ferne Drury; 2. Dominic Kilpatrick; 3. Kaiden Peter Sabbadin.
Judge: Michael Grey.

Grade 4
– 1. Alec MacDonald; 2. James Gendron; 3. Sheila Stewart;
Judge: Allan MacKenzie.

Grade 5
– 1. Gordon Tait; 2. Richard Chaytor; 3. Iain Douglas Lynch
Judge: Tyler Bridge.

Practice Chanter – 1. Zoe Smith; 2. Christine Proulx.
Judge: Ellen Mole.