The History of the Churches of Altnaharra and Farr

Farr Parish Church at Bettyhill

There are three churches within the parish, located at Bettyhill, Syre and Altnaharra, none of which, somewhat ironically, were builtUntitled-1 the Church of Scotland. The Bettyhill Church, now known as the High Church of Scotland from its position in relation to the original Church of St Columba in Clachan Churchyard, is now the principal church of the parish where services are held every Sunday at 10.00am. Meanwhile, St. Columba’s has become Strathnaver Museum.

There are currently twenty communicants on the roll at Bettyhill, together with twenty-three adherents which, as a proportion of the population, compares well with Scotland as a whole.



Strathnaver Mission Church, Syre

The outlying areas of the parish are normally served by a small church at Syre, eleven miles from Bettyhill along Strathnaver, and at Altnaharra which is twelve miles further up the Strath.  Built originally by the Free Church of Scotland, the Syre mission church was constructed as a prefabricated corrugated iron in the 1890’s.  With the Altnaharra Church, It became part of the Church of Scotland as a result of the amalgamation of the Free Church with the United Free Church, and the subsequent union with the Church of Scotland in 1901.

The congregation of the Syre church meets the 3rd Sunday of each month at 3:00 p.m.


The Altnaharra Church

The Altnaharra church, which also once had a manse, was also originally built by the Free Church of Scotland and absorbed into the Church of Scotland as a result of an amalgamation with the UF Church in 1901 and its subsequent Untitled-3union with the Church of Scotland in 1929.  Recent storm damage at Altnaharra has caused that church to be closed temporarily.  The building has been sold to the Altnaharra Community Trust which will restore the building, opening it once again to worship.  The Altnaharra Church will be designated as the new beginning of the Strathnaver Trail from Altnaharra to Bettyhill.



Deferred Linkage with the Parish of Tongue and Melness

The Parish of Altnaharra and Farr falls within the Presbytery of Sutherland, which meets regularly in Lairg. A Deferred Linkage has been proposed between the parishes of Altnaharra and Farr, and Tongue and Melness, further to the west. The two parishes accepted the proposal by a very large majority. The parish of Altnaharra and Farr was given leave to call a minister who would, on the retirement or demitting of the minister at Tongue and Melness, undertake a ministry to the entire charge.

The Parish of Tongue and Melness has three churches, the ancient Church of St Andrew in Tongue itself, the church in Melness, and the church in Skerray.

The linkage between the two parishes was effected by the Presbytery of Sutherland on October 6th 2018 in the church of St. Andrew’s in Tongue. The minister of the two parishes is the Rev. Dr. Beverly White Cushman.