AVERAGES: 201 rams of various ages, from one to five-shear,£1157.31 (+£75.44).

A NEW record price plus the Cheviot breed's best ever average at Lairg, put the gloss on the hill register's main sale this week.

Eclipsing the previous record by £1000 – paid for a Castle Grant sheep back in 2012 – to hit a heady £18,000 was a well fancied three-shear sheep off the MacCorquodale family's Torrish Estate, which is based at Saluscraggie, Helmsdale.

However, there was also sadness that this marked the beginning of the end for one of the best known names in the flock book, as it was also Torrish Estate's partial flock dispersal before it is fully dispersed next year to make way for a change in farming policy.

Brought out by 'herd, Dennis Henderson – who has been with the estate for 45 years and hopes to retain a small flock in his own right – there was widespread admiration for this tup and bidding soon escalated to the new record high, with a posse of breeders vying to get him. It was, however, a fairly new venture which put in the final bid.

That came from Stephen Mackinnon, who has taken over the sheep flock owned by Jim McCaig, at Wester Jawcraig Farm, near Falkirk, where the Cheviot flock is being built up. That was also augmented by the purchase of 300 females at Lairg as well – including ewes from Badanloch and Torrish – with the aim of taking the flock up to 500 breeding females.

Mr Mackinnon, who took over James McCaig Farms' flock in January, reckoned the Torrish sheep was the most correct Cheviot he had ever seen. This scouthy ram is by Inkstack Impulse, a ram which had been bought for £1000 at Dingwall four years ago and which has certainly made his mark on the flock.

That sire was also behind a £6000 Torrish three-shear which sold to Suisgill Estate, which is near Torrish, in the Strath of Kildonan and is managed by Dennis' son, David. Suisgill had earlier sold its pen leader for £3000.

Second top was a two-shear sheep from Michael and Lilias Elliot, Woodside, Yetholm, which made £7000 to Bowmont Farming, Attonburn, Yetholm. This one is by Inkstack Victor which had been used on loan and was out of Woodside Lilias, a former champion from the Royal Highland Show in 2015 when shown as a gimmer.

Setting the scene at the start of the sale was Bill and Fanny Elliot's No 1 ram off Hethpool, in the College Valley near Wooler. This was a two-shear called Hethpool Walter, which made £6000 to Jimmy Thomson, buying for Kelsocleugh Farming, at Kelso – incidentally, this sheep is the same way bred, sired by Whitchesters Raptor, as one bought by his son, Willie, for the Hownam Grange flock, recently at Lockerbie for £4500.

McCaig Farms also added to the float home by paying £5500 in a joint purchase with Rhigolter, for one of two at that price from Badanloch Estate, Kinbrace. 'Herded by Hughie and Jan MacKenzie, the Badanloch flock's joint best was sired by the home-bred Badanloch Beast which had been used at home before being sold to Joyce Campbell for her Armadale flock for £4000.

Dunbeath Estate, Caithness, matched that bid for another Badanloch sheep, Badanloch Vodka Coke, which is a three-shear son of North Loch Naver Nomad, a sire which had been bought privately for £1500 and which last year bred an £11,000 Badanloch ram.

These two sheep were also bolstered by a run of high price rams, giving Badanloch one of the best averages of the day of more than £3433.33 – which was down a little on the £3800 achieved last year. These included a 4800gns son of Nomad, which was bought by Norman Douglas, Catslackburn, at Yarrow.

Also away from Badanloch was a £4500 three-shear which was bought by David Baillie, Calla, Carnwath. This one is also by Nomad.

Two by Beast also went to good homes – one at 4200gns to Leslie and Tina Robertson, for their Inkstack flock at Barrock, Thurso; and the other at £3000 to Will Sutherland, Brackside, Reay, Caithness.

The Linhope Farming company, from Alnwick, in Northumberland, got in on the top trading with the sale of a two-shear ram off its Hartside flock at £5500. Signing the cheque was Neil Barclay, Harestone, Banchory.

Bowmont Farming's Attonburn flock had money in the bank before its big purchase off Woodside, taking in more than that for its top two out of the pen which made £3800 apiece.

Both were sons of the home-bred Attonburn Watch Out, which is by a Potholm sire, with the first going to Achentoul Farms, Kinbrace, and the other going to Andrew Elliot, for Balnakeil, at Durness, near the very top of Scotland's mainland.

Kirsty MacLennan's foundation stock from her dad, Ruairidh Mackenzie's Heathmount flock, stood her in good stead again, when a son of Inverbrora Full of Beans attracted £3000 from the pocket of Joyce Campbell, buying for her Armadale flock, on the north coast of Sutherland.

Also paying that for the best out of Wilma Robertson's 3 Borgie pen, from Lairg, was Allan MacKay, buying for Hope and Melness Estate, on the Kyle of Tongue.

EWE SALE REPORT (to come, maybe!).