The Bighouse at Melvich
In its beautiful setting at the mouth of the River Halladale

Bighouse Lodge, near Melvich is notable in the history of the clan Mackay whose most powerful cadet branch built the house less than twenty years after the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. The large B-listed mansion house, rivals prominent houses built by Mackay chiefs at Tongue and Balnakeil.

As well as the house, there is a large garden, its walls and unusual pavilion, thought to have been built at the same time as the house, are A-listed. There are no signposts pointing the way, down a winding single-track road, but near the only junction, you can see a large stone pillar, signifying the start of an old toll road into Caithness. There are still coins in a stone bowl at its foot.

This large house at the end of the road is, according to architectural historian Elizabeth Beaton, "severely symmetrical" .. made up of The Lodge, The Barracks .. which it is believed housed troops during the 1745 rebellion .. The Walled Garden, The Garden Pavilion and The Icehouse ..
a semi-subterranean store for ice gathered in the winter, which was in use until the mid 1980's.

From the 16th century until it's sale to the Marquis of Stafford and his wife the Countess of Sutherland in 1829 for 58,000, Strath Halladale belonged to the Mackay's of Bighouse.