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“And there may be the chance of sunny spells around Lairg...”
The village of By Lairg (Scottish Gaelic: An Luirg) is a small settlement in Sutherland, a remote county within the Highland region of Scotland. It is located at the bottom of the Shin, which pretty much makes it the ankle.
Lairg has a population of around 100, although everywhere is around Lairg, or by Lairg. The village of Lairg is the only populated place by Lairg, as it is the only place in Sutherland with a way out. This is because the Lairg railway station isn't in Lairg at all, but a couple of miles out. This gets tourists lost. They walk the wrong way towards Bonar Bridge.
Those who enjoy spending 3 hours waiting on a late train in the pissing rain often select Lairg as a home, as well as those who enjoy geting a bus to Lairg from the north and waiting another 5 hours until the scheduled train time. Either that or rent out Carbisdale Castle on an extended lease.
The other way out is a road towards Inverness — a rare double-tracked road in Sutherland. The only other two single-track roads head towards Altnaharra and Durness/Kinlochbervie, where they essentially peter out. Somebody once said there was a secret road to Rogart, but he was lying.
Lairg is famed for having the largest sheep beauty pageant in Europe, and the only traffic jams in Sutherland as a result. Farmers and crofters flock from as far as New Zealand to eye up the sheep, hoping to buy their prized ram or ewe in an auction that blocks both tracks of that sole double-tracked road. People have died from hunger and dehydration waiting in the traffic jams, although one German family once escaped, thanks to rationed tins in the back of their camper van, sacrificing little Heidi in the front seat. From that point onwards, it is unknown what happens to the sheep, but it is not lamb chops.
The reason everywhere is by Lairg is that nobody from the Ordnance Survey actually knows where Lairg is. Although an 1834 parish report placed it on the shores of Loch Shin, this could be anywhere along this 354-mile-long stretch of inland water, also home to Nessie's cousin the Carbisdale Monster until it swam into the Hydro power station turbines by mistake. Some claim that it was moved abroad during the Highland Clearances, whereas others claim that it simply amalgamated with Bonar Bridge.