John Lennon and his holidays in the Scottish Highlands

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, with their children, Julian, left, and Kyoko, on holiday at Durness, in Sutherland, in 1969. PIC: PA.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono, with their children, Julian, left, and Kyoko, on holiday at Durness, in Sutherland, in 1969. PIC: PA.
Share this article
0
Have your say

It was a place where John Lennon was to bring his own children to share his love of long summers in the Highlands.

The ex-Beatle was to be a regular visitor to Durness in Sutherland during his younger years after his dear Aunt Mater remarried a dentist called Bert who owned a home that overlooked Sango Bay.

The croft overlooking Durness once used by the Lennon family. PIC: TSPL.

The croft overlooking Durness once used by the Lennon family. PIC: TSPL.

John, who travelled north with his cousin Stanley Parks, who lived in Edinburgh and later in Largs, would head to the coast for weeks on end, often being dragged into helping his uncle fix up the house.

READ MORE: John Belushi’s secret hideaway near Wick

But fishing, walking and shooting were the norm, Parks later recalled, with a young Lennon heading up into the hills on his own.

The musician has also been remembered for his high jinks in the Highlands, with the singer tying seaweed to shop doors to stop workers from leaving.

The house where Lennon spent his holidays has been demolished and rebuilt with the plaque to commemorate his links to Durness still there.  PIC: Contributed.

The house where Lennon spent his holidays has been demolished and rebuilt with the plaque to commemorate his links to Durness still there. PIC: Contributed.

It was a basic but delightful time, according to accounts.

READ MORE: Jimmy Page and his black magic Highland retreat

“The family party roughed it in a primitive farmhouse lit by oil lamp and candles and noisy with the screeches of Mater’s pet parrot,” wrote Philip Norman in his biography John Lennon: The Life.

The house where Lennon holidayed at Sangomore, a settlement at Durness, was demolished around four years a go with a new property built by the owners.

The beach at Durness where Lennon spent many a long summer day.  PIC: PA.

The beach at Durness where Lennon spent many a long summer day. PIC: PA.

A plaque on the wall of the property marks the association with the Beatle.

Lennon last visit Durness in 1969 when he decided to travel north after flying in from the US with Yoko Ono and their daughter Kyoko.

After collecting his son Julian in London, the family headed off in a white Austin Maxi, Lennon apparently ditching the services of his chauffeur.

The trip came just a few days before the band was to begin work with producer George Martin at Abbey Road.

The holiday was cut short, however, when Lennon - who was known as a nervy driver - crashed the car on his way back from a day trip to Tongue.

It is said he let of the wheel after a tourist in a car came towards him on a single track road near Loch Eriboll.

Norman said: “On a stretch of providentially empty road, he lost control of the car and it veered into a roadside ditch.

“He and Yoko and Kyoko each suffered cuts to the face and Yoko an injured back.”

The family were rushed to Golspie Lawson Memorial Hospital where Lennon received 17 stitches for wounds to his face, which left a permanent scar. His wife and daughter also received treatment for facial injuries.

After returning to London to start recording, Yoko Ono’s back injury gave her “constant trouble,” Norman said.

He added: “To save her the discomfort of sitting for hours on a stool beside him, John had a bed delivered from Harrods and set it up on the studio floor.”

The smashed white Austin Maxi car ended up mounted on a plinth in the couple’s garden, his cousin later recalled.

Back in Durness, the Lennon connection has not been forgotten and a memorial garden stands over the beach where the musician played as a boy.

Some have also claimed that the song In My Life, on the Rubber Soul album, was penned in tribute to his time in Durness but this has often been debated.

The Lennon effect was earlier harnessed by the North Highland Tourism Operators to draw visitors to this area.

The Northern Lights John Lennon festival was held in 2007 to raise the profile of Durness’ links to one of the world’s most famous stars.

With Yoko Ono’s blessing, his name was used to promote the event, with Lennon’s original band The Quarrymen headlining the weekend.

More used to performing in The Cavern, the five-piece performed a raucous show in Smoo Cave, one of the largest sea caves in the country.