< Jean circumnavigated the Black Isle – Mamie Martin Fund

Jean circumnavigated the Black Isle

Jean Gordon is a social worker, researcher, and educator. She’s been involved with the Mamie Martin Fund for about seven years, first as a trustee, and she also helped to look after the MMF website. She lives on the Black Isle near Inverness, and she started from Garguston and walked 67 miles around the Black Isle. 

Despite its name, the Black Isle is not an island but a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by the sea – the Cromarty Firth to the north, the Beauly Firth to the south, and the Moray Firth to the east. Its fourth, western side is subject to some dispute, but roughly follows a line between the start of the estuaries of the Cromarty and Moray Firths. 

I’ve lived on the Black Isle for more than thirty years, and thought I knew the coast well, but, when I signed up for the Mamie Martin Fund’s border project, found that there was much more to explore during my 111 km walk than I could have imagined. The highlights? Well, probably not the 5.30am bus to Cromarty in order to catch the tide, though the sunrise from the deserted top deck was spectacular.

But there were lots of discoveries – hidden tracks, bays, cliffs, rocky beaches, caves, vistas of hills, a fortified castle, and even a preaching dell where thousands of people are said to have met and listened to Gaelic sermons in the middle of the nineteenth century. Not to mention numerous sea birds, huge skies, sightings of dolphins and the best coffee on the Black Isle, or possibly anywhere, at the Slaughterhouse Cafe in Cromarty.” 

Photo: Chanonry Lighthouse

“Especially relevant to this particular walk, raising funds for and awareness of girls’ education in Malawi, was a visit to Eliza Junor’s grave in Rosemarkie. Eliza was the mixed race daughter of a former slave owner from the Black Isle, and a slave or former slave. Born in Demerara in Guyana, Eliza attended Fortrose Academy on the Black Isle where she won a prize for penmanship. The school now holds an annual competition in Eliza’s name to mark Black History Month.” 

Thank you, Jean, for your contribution and sharing your story.