The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they became widely regarded as the foremost and most influential act of the rock era. But what may I hear you say have the Biggest Band in the World Ever go to do with the North Coast 500. No they never played at Inverness, and in fact the most known Beatle to visit Scotland was probably Paul McCartney. He was known throughout the World and he penned the Mull of Kintyre, a song he wrote in tribute to the picturesque Kintyre peninsula, the Mull of Kintyre, where McCartney he owned High Park Farm in 1966. The song was Wings's biggest hit in Britain where it became the 1977 Christmas number one, and was the first single ever to sell over two million copies nationwide. But our interest is in a probably lesser known story of the one of the Other Beatles, who fell in love with Scotland long before McCartney. From 1949 to 1954, John visited his Aunt who lived in Durness. So from the age of 9 this spotty kid from Liverpool became amazed at the wee Highland Village of his Aunts. There is a memorial garden in Durness in Memory of John and is well worth a visit if your a music fan. Strange to think that such an iconic person spent some of his happiest times of his life here in the Highlands. John never ever forgot Durness. So much so that that at the very height of fame and fortune with the Beatles in 1969, Lennon travelled to Scotland once again. This time accompanied by his new wife Yoko Ono and by Lennon's six-year-old son Julian and Ono's five-year-old daughter Kyoko Cox.
There was one slight problem, Julian happened to be visiting Lennon and was brought along without his mother Cynthia being informed. Before leaving Liverpool, John realised his Wee Mini wasn't big enough for the four of them and their luggage so he got an a white British Leyland Austin Maxi. Unfortunately John Lennon was a notoriously bad driver who had rarely been behind the wheel since passing his test in 1965. He was poor at navigating roads and often failed to notice other traffic. And that along with the Roads in the Highlands was just a recipe for disaster and so it turned out. Driving near Durness with the narrow roads, poor weather, and John panicked after he spotted a foreign tourist driving towards him. John lost control of his car, and drove it into a roadside ditch. He, Ono and Kyoko sustained cuts to the face and Ono's back was injured.
Julian was treated for shock but apart fro that was unhurt. He was taken to stay with John's Aunt Mater in Durness, around 50 miles away, before his mother Cynthia took him back to London. When Cynthia arrived at the hospital and demanded an explanation from John he refused to see her. They were taken to Golspie's Lawson Memorial Hospital where Lennon was given 17 facial stitches, Ono 14 in her forehead, and Kyoko four. John remained in hospital for five days. He told reporters, "If you're going to have a car crash, try to arrange for it to happen in the Highlands. The hospital there was just great."
John and Family Leave the Hospital
The crashed Austin Maxi was later transported to the couple's Tittenhurst Park estate where it was sited in the gardens. Yoko Ono suffered worse injuries in the crash than Lennon, and was pregnant at the time. Keen to keep a close eye on her wellbeing, he arranged for Harrods to deliver a double bed to the studio, and had a microphone suspended above it for her to add her thoughts during the sessions that followed. So, if you are on the North Coast 500, visit Durness and the Memorial to there Famous Son. And when you Drive down and visit Golspie, remember that once a Beatle lived there, albeit, in Hospital. John days in Durness and the Scottish Highlands are supposedly behind the song he wrote, In My Life.