Rhiconich is at the junction with the main A838 four miles inland from Kinlochbervie. The services here include a, Police Station and hotel, and this is the route into Kinlochbervie. The area has been altered dramatically through time although this has always been an area with rest and accommodation for travellers, at one time a busier centre as the ruins around show. The police station was once the hotel but burned down, the only remaining part is now houses the office and accommodation for the largest police beat in Scotland. The single manned station provides policing from Eriboll on the north west coast to Kylesque. Rhiconich is at the junction with the main A838 four miles inland from Kinlochbervie. The services here include a, Police Station and hotel, and this is the route into Kinlochbervie. The area has been altered dramatically through time although this has always been an area with rest and accommodation for travellers, at one time a busier centre as the ruins around show. The police station was once the hotel but burned down, the only remaining part is now houses the office and accommodation for the largest police beat in Scotland. The single manned station provides policing from Eriboll on the north west coast to Kylesque.
“Gaelic speakers variously claim that Rhiconich translates as ‘Red Kenneth’s Brae’ or ‘Mossy Hill’ – take your pick. Similarly, Inchard can translate as ‘Meadow Loch’ from the Norse ‘Engi-Fjord’ or as ‘High Pasture’ from the Gaelic ‘Innis Ard’.
The Rhiconich River rises on the western slopes of Arkle and flows into Loch a’Garbh-bhaid Mor, (about a mile long and narrow) then into Loch a’ Garbh-bhaid Beag, slightly smaller than the previous where it is joined by the Garbh Allt which drains numerous small lochans on the southern slopes of Foinaven. The river then falls sharply to Rhiconich and into Loch Inchard. Loch Inchard is a sea loch on the northwest coast lying to the south of Kinlochbervie with Rhiconich at its head.
Based on a map dated 1826 available on the National Library of Scotland website, there is evidence of three buildings dotted around Rhiconich, one of which he believes to be the original inn. The other two were probably homesteads, now long gone, but their foundations can still be seen: one uphill from the police station and the other down towards the sea below it. A later map dated 1846 shows only one building, referred to as ‘Inn’, on the site of the present police station and house.
” THE HOTEL OF RHICONICH Built 1850 Situated at the head of Loch Inchard, is of harled and slated construction, and contains the following accommodation. ON THE GROUND FLOOR Coffee room, two sitting rooms, smoking room, Inn Keeper’s Room & Office, Bar and Store. On the ground floor is a bathroom with WC and lavatory basin, outside in a separate Bungalow are three bedrooms. ON THE FIRST FLOOR The bedrooms are eight in number for visitors and two used by the Innkeeper’s family, two servants’ bedrooms, WC and closet. THE OFFICES Comprise Kitchen, Scullery, Dairy, Pantry Store, WC, Underground cellar. Outside are Larder, Washhouse, Peat Shed and WC’s. The house is lit by Petrol Gas.
Near the Hotel are two Motor Houses, Byre for eight, Stabling for six, Coach House, cart shed with groom’s room and Hay loft over. There is a two-roomed cottage belonging to the Hotel proprietor. On the Loch is a Boat-house built to take Launch. Some improvements have been carried out by the Tenant.
The Proprietor is under some obligation to pay compensation at end of tenancy for Bathroom and Office on ground floor. The Hotel-keeper has right of Salmon fishing in Loch Garbhet Beg. He also has fishing in a large number of Lochs including Loch Garbhet Mor, Skerracha and Cullick. The exclusive right to the Hotel-keeper to fish Lochs Garbhet Beg and Garbhet Mor will cease if this lot is sold. There will be a joint right in Purchaser or their tenants to fish these Lochs. The best fishing in this district is in the months of July, August and September. There is capital Sea fishing in Loch Inchard. A purchaser will take at valuation in the usual way the Furniture and moveables in and about Kinlochbervie Lodge, and the Net fishing and Keeper’s effects. The use of the Pier and Shed at Badcall, Laxford is reserved.”
The walled park across the road from the present police station and house formed part of the hotel grounds.
Sometime before the First World War it appears that the hotel went on fire and was largely destroyed. The central core was renovated and it became the police house, police station and council meeting rooms. Electricity bills today still come addressed to ‘Police Station and Council Meeting Rooms’. Davie has also been told that the dentist used the office and cell as a surgery many years ago
A new Rhiconich Hotel was then built to the south of its former site. Like its predecessor, it too has been extended and refurbished a number of times. It is also noteworthy that lengths of railway line were used as roof supports when the public bar of the current Rhiconich Hotel was built. Davie thinks they came from an abortive attempt to build a railway from Kinlochbervie to the east coast, some remnants of which can still be seen at Achriesgill.
Prior to the acquisition of the damaged hotel, the original Rhiconich police station was the small white cottage with green paintwork on the other side of the river from the present police station and house. It subsequently functioned for a time as a post office.
The old maps on the NLS website are worth a look. There is one in which Loch Inchard is named ‘Loch Gareroin’ and Achlyness is called ‘Caroo Garroo’! there is a reference to ‘Sandwit Beg’ which appeared to be a hamlet on the landward side of Achriesgill, from which a track led on to ‘Sandwit’.”