On the outskirts of Clashindarroch Forest, there are the ruins of an old farmstead called Blackmiddens.
In the 19th century Blackmiddens was a farm with over 100 hectares of land. Today, the land is part of another farm and the buildings at Blackmiddens stand derelict, grouped around a central courtyard. Some of them still have their roofs, which are mostly of slate or corrugated iron, though one building has a turf roof.
Turf roofs consisted of inverted slabs of turf laid across wooden roof beams. When covered with thatch they provided good insulation, keeping the buildings warm and dry over the winter.
Possible uses of the farm buildings
In 1820, one of the buildings was used for making whisky. However, this enterprise did not last long probably because there was no immediate fresh water supply, essential for whisky making. During the 19th century, there were many innovations in farming, including new techniques and equipment. Inside one of the farm buildings, you can find one such innovation, a horse powered threshing machine, known locally as a Tumbling Tam.
Threshing involved separating the grain on crops from the inedible seed cases, known as chaff. Threshing machines began to appear in 1790s and were common place by the mid 19th century. Prior to this, it was a time consuming and labour intensive job.
Blackmiddens was located on the Duke of Richmond’s estate. The 1864 Evaluation Rolls record the occupier as William Smith; later the farm is associated with the Sharpe family.
It is unknown when the Sharpe family left but the farm was included in the land bought by the Forestry Commission in 1920.
The exact location of Blackmiddens is grid reference NJ 426 260.
The best place to park is the car park for Clashindarroch.
The site itself is accessed by walking up the A941 toward Cabrach; after about 300m you will come across a gate/stile on the south side of the road which will allow you to enter the site, part of which has been planted with native trees as part of the Darrich Wids.
All sites managed by Forestry Commission Scotland are open for you to explore. However, not all sites have paths or signage and some are a considerable distance from car parking. We recommend that visitors consult a detailed map and wear appropriate clothing.
Please follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and remember that historic sites should be treated with care and respect.