A CHURCH in a Wester Ross village made famous by the TV series Hamish Macbeth and cult film The Wicker Man has been put up for sale – sparking a potential bidding war among locals.
The Church of Scotland has put the building in Plockton on the market at offers over £90,000.
Locals fear that if it is sold to developers, the heart will be ripped from the village that became Lochdubh when BBC show Hamish Macbeth was filmed there in the 1990s.
Plockton was once home to four churches, and open-air communions have been held there frequently to mark occasions such as Easter.
Now there are fears there will be nowhere to marry or worship in the village.
Last year, the Church of Scotland stopped holding their own services there and at nearby Kirkton Church, close to Balmacara. Kirkton is also on the market at £40,000.
Since the closure of their own church more than 20 years ago, the Free Church of Scotland has been holding services in the building under an agreement with the Kirk.
But the Free Church congregation, which usually numbers 20, is hoping to buy it.
The Reverend Roddie Rankin, who has preached at Plockton for two decades, said: “We are confident we can raise the money. I have made it clear from the start of talk about that sale that we would attempt to purchase the church. It is the only building available for use as a church and we would like it kept for that.
“At offers over £90,000 it is a lot of money and it is not just the purchase but the upkeep of the building too, but we are committed to a weekly service in Plockton. We have been holding a service there for around 30 years and have a good core of people attending.”
Referring to a public meeting to be held later this month, Rev Rankin added: “There could be several rival bids. There are fears it could fall into the hands of a developer but it’s not an easy building to develop.
“We want to keep the church for worship and avoid acrimony. We want whatever is best for the church and village.”
Plockton, home to 340 residents, is popular with thousands of tourists who come to enjoy the views from the north-west coast, close to the Isle of Skye.
Many also want to visit the village where Hamish Macbeth, starring Robert Carlyle as the TV policeman, was made between 1995 and 1997. Plockton also featured as one of the locations for cult horror film The Wicker Man and TV series The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries.
Plockton Church was designed in 1827 by Thomas Telford, the shepherd’s son from Dumfriesshire who became a world-renowned civil engineer.
It cost nearly £1,500 to build as part of a scheme to construct churches in rapidly growing villages in the Highlands and islands.