John Murray (Firm).

Handbook for travellers in Scotland online

. (page 56 of 73)
Online LibraryJohn Murray (Firm)Handbook for travellers in Scotland → online text (page 56 of 73)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


is to take the rail to Alford, where a
conveyance may be had, then drive
to Colquhonuy ; walk on to Skellater
and Corgarff, return to Cohjuhonnj"
to sleep, and next day drive to
Gartly Stat, on the G. N. S. line.

Quitting TviNTORE Junct. and
passing 1. Hallforest Castle (Rte. 55),
the line reaches the Don at

18 m. Kriiinatj Stat., to the L of
which is Kemnay House (A. Burnett,
Esq.) From the rly. bridge at the
stat. a good view is obtained of
Fettcrnear (trustees of Col. Leslie
of Balquhain), beautifully situ-
ated on the IST. bank of the Don.
It was once the country seat of the
Bishops of Aberdeen, and was made
over to William Leslie, the 9tli Baron
of Balquhain, by Bishop Gordon in



1566, for the service performed by
him in saving Aberdeen cathedral
from destruction.

At Kemnay are extensive Qua7'-
ries of a nearly white granite, em-
ploying 300 men ; it was used for
the Thames Embankment. The
modern Gothic Ch. here is of native
granite.

[2 m. to the S. is Castle Fraser
(Col. Fraser), which was anciently
known by the name of Muchalls,
and passed into the Fraser /amily
in the year 1532. Its main feature
is a square tower of the 16th centy.,
the lower part of which is of con-
siderable age, and lias been topped
with the ornamental turrets and
conical roofs of the early part of the
17th centy., the time when the tur-
reted style had reached its highest
development in Scotland. At that
time a round tower was added, and
from the angle Avhere this joins the
square mass, there springs a light
turret surmounted by an airy-looking
pavilion-shaped roof. A broad and
handsome moulding runs round the
building, which gives the upper part
a peculiarly rich and pleasing efiect,
especially as it is contrasted by the
singular plainness and almost studied
absence of ornament of the lower
storeys. Internally the hall is worth
notice from its elaborate ceiling.

21 m. Monymusk Stat. The vil-
lage (rt.), which is of considerable
antiquity, is neatly built, and is in
the form of a square, Avith some fine
old trees in the centre. Malcolm
Canmore is said, in the 11th centy.,
to have founded a prior}" on the spot.
It is probable that the tower of the
present ch., though not of this age,
did at one time belong to a priory
subsequently founded here by Bruce,
who, on his way to the battle of
Inverurie, bivouacked in a meadow
called the "Camp Field."

Monymusk House (Sir A. Grant)



Aberdeen. Route 54. — AJford; Craigkvar.



355



is beautifully situated on tlie banks
of the Don. The principal toAver is of
some age, but modern additions have
been made to it. The grounds are
well wooded, and in a part called
Paradise are some of the finest pines
and larches in Scotland. The jMrish
Ch. has an old tower, of architecture
resembling Norman. The chan-
cel and nave, probably of the same
date, are so much mutilated by
repairs that no trace of style is
visible. The original doors and win-
dows are abolished. The Mony-
musk Stone has a well-carved cross
upon it, and is supposed to have
been at some time a landmark on
the Prioiy property.

Higher up the Don are the ruins
of PitjicMe Castle, once the property
of General Urry, hanged in 1650 at
]\Iontrose. He began as a Royalist,
and then joined the Covenanters,
whom he deserted after their defeat
at Auldearn. To the X. is a ridge
of hill, of which the most prominent
feature is Bennachie (1440 ft.),
which overlooks the battlefield of
Harlaw (Ptte. 55). On the 1. of the
stat. is Cluny Cctstic (John Gordon,
Esq.), and the ruined castle of Tilly-
cairn. Cluny is an imposing struc-
ture, built in 1836, but its large
sash windows and other modern
appliances harmonise but poorly
with the pretentious exterior of a
Norman fortress.

24 m. Tillyfourie Stat., to 1. of
which are Correnny Hill and quarries.

28^ m. Wliitehouse, to the N. of
which (2 m.) is Castle Forbes, the
seat of Lord Forbes, a modern house,
finely situated estate of 13,621 acres.

29^ m. The terminus of the line
is reached at.

Alforcl Stat. {Inn: Haughton
Arms, comfortable ; good fishing
quarters), a pleasant little village,
near which Montrose defeated the
Covenanters under Colonel Baillie in



1645. A cattle-market is held here
once a month, when a large quantity
of Aberdeen stock changes hands.
There are also some granite qiutrries
in the hills, or " howes," as they are
locally called, between this and
Strathdon. They yield a dark-
coloured or blue granite. Just be-
yond is Haughton House (R. 0.
Farquharson, Esq.), estate 4500 ac.

[An Excursion may be taken from
Alford, crossing the bridge, and at
the next toll-bar taking road to rt.
Dalpersie or Terpersie Castle, a
small fortified house consisting of a
quadrilateral building -v^ith a round
tower (internally octagonal) at the
diagonal corners. There are but three
storeys, with one room in each. On
one of the A^indow sills is the date
1561, also the crest of the Gordons,
a boar's head, beautifully cut.

The road on 1. at the cross roads
leads to * Craigievar Castle (Sir W.
Forbes). The estate belonged to
the Mortimers, and was purchased
by the Forbes in 1610. The build-
ing consists of three towers seven
storeys high, sunnounted by turrets,
high pitched roofs, dormer "uindows,
and mouldings and sculpture. " Its
uses as a fortress against the High-
land reivers, rather than a dwelling-
house, are recalled by all its attri-
butes of sullen strength, and not
less startlingly by the admonition
round the shield, by which the ad-
venturous intruder is warned against
the temerity of waking sleeping
dogs." The most interesting portion
of the castle is the hall, which has a
magnificent ceiling with pendants
and wall decorations. The house is
kept up in the original style, but sel-
dom occupied by the family. There is
a roadside public-house at Muggert-
haugh.

2 m. beyond Craigievar are the
ruins of Corse Castle and Corse
House (J. 0. Forbes, Esq.) The old
castle was built in 1581, and belonged



356



Route 54. — Alford; Kildrummie.



Sect. V.



at the beginning of the 17th centy.
to Patrick Forbes, Bishop of Aber-
deen, who was greatly respected for
his learning and goodness. It is said
that the devil paid him a visit here,
and being worsted in an argument,
went away in a rage, carrying with
him the whole front of the house.

The smaller road on rt. (from the
cross roads) leads to Cushuie (Mrs.
Lumsden), passing Hallhead (H. W.
Gordon, Esq.), and on to Tarland,
and by the ruins of Coul Castle to
Charleston of Aboyne. A t the corner
of the Hill of Coul, at a j)lace called
the Stack of Tilly Lodge, there is a
magnificent view. On a rocky emi-
nence near the ch. are the remains
of the old Castle of Coul, a fortitica-
tion of square form, with hexagonal
towers at the corners. It belonged
to the Durwards, a family of con-
siderable note in the time of Alex-
ander II., and it is said that the ch.
bell still rings of its own accord
whenever one of the name dies].

Distances. From Alford to Kin-
tore, 16 m. ; Hmitly, 20 : Craigievar,
4 ; Kildrummie, 10 ; Corse Castle, 6.

A good road runs along the N.
side of the Don, joining that through
Strathbogie.

Beyond the river is Breda House,
with its burial-place, and farther on
are the woods of Briix, once the pro-
perty of the Camerons. They being
at feud with the ]\Iowatts of Aber-
geldie, it was agreed that 12 horse-
men on either side should meet and
draw up articles of peace. The
Camerons came to the place of ren-
dezvous according to agreement.
The Mowatts brought 12 horses, but
2 men on each, who immediately
fell on the Camerons and slew them.
The property devolved on an only
daughter, who was then, or subse-
quently, wooed by a cadet of the
house of Forbes. She declared her
intention of marrying none save the
avenger of her father's murder.
Whereupon young Forbes challenged



Mowatt and killed him in single
combat, married the heiress, and
established the family of Forbes of
Brux. The last of his line, Jonathan
Forbes, was proscribed in 1715, but
concealed himself in the neighbour-
hood by working as a labourer. A
dyke built by his own hands may be
seen running up the hill from the
opposite bank. The road, leaving
on rt. Littlewood House, now enters
a beautiful pass, having the softly
wooded hills of Callivar and Coreen
Hill on the opposite side of the river.
It then crosses the Mossie Burn —

" From Esset to Mosset,
From Bogie to Don,"

extended the original territory of the
Forbes family. At the toll-bar the
road divides, that on the rt. going to
Lumsden, Hill of Koth and Huntly
(Rte. 54), and on 1. to

10 m. Kildrummie Inn, fair.
Here is the old burial-place of Kil-
drummie, with its Norman wall and a
vault containing monuments of the
Elphinstone family and the Earls of
]\Iar. Beyond is the conical hill of
Drumgoivdrum, in a glen behind
which took place the massacre of the
Camerons by the Mowatts.

Kildrummie Castle was a roj^al
fortress in the days of Eobert Bruce.
His Avife and children were placed
here for safety, but the castle being
besieged by the Earls of Lancaster
and Hereford, they fled to St. Du-
thus's sanctuary at Tain, where they
were taken by the Earl of Ross, and
given up to Edward I. Kildrummie
was betrayed into the hands of the
English, and as for the garrison, the
chronicler relates concisely , " thai
wer.all hangyt and drawyn." The
castle is the most picturesque object
in the whole of Strathdon. It is said
to have been built in the reign of
Alexander II. by Gilbert, Bishop of
Caithness, and to have had 7 towers.
It stands on a rock overhanging a



ScoTLAiJD, Route 54. — Castles Toivie, Glenbucket, and Newe. 357



ravine, and consists of a square
court with round towers at the
angles. The material employed is
freestone, which must have been
brought from some distance, as the
stone of the country is granite. The
chapel with its 3-light window, in
imitation apparently of Elgin, is very
conspicuous among the remains.
" Kildrummie may be pronounced
the only castle in Scotland of which
a chapel forms a conspicuous fea-
ture. " Of the Snow TovN'er towards
the W., which is said to have been
150 ft. high, there is but little trace.
The road now enters the Den of
Kildrummie, a narrow picturesque
pass, with steep wooded sides. At the
end of this Morven appears in the
distance, and Towie in the valley.

8 m. Euins of Towie Castle, of
which the insignificant square keep
is left. In 1571 it belonged to
Alexander Forbes, and in his ab-
sence was besieged by Adam Gor-
don, brother of the Earl of Huntly.
On Forbes's wife refusing to sur-
render, Gordon set fire to the tower,
and burnt herself, her children, and
servants, 27 in all. Upon this tragic
incident is founded the ballad of
" Edom o' Gordon," though the scene
is there transferred to Eodes in
Berwickshire :

" But when the lady saw the fire
Come flaming over her head,
She wept and kissed her children twain,
Saj'ing, ' Bairns, we be but dead. ' "

In the ch. -yard is an old gravestone
with a sculptured cross. It has 8
branches with trefoiled ends, and a
gilt chalice, probably implying that
it covered the body of a priest.

Pass rt. Glenkindie (A. I^eith,
Esq.), and just before the next toll-
bar in the second field from the road-
is a very remarkable Picfs House.
It has two chambers, communicating
with each other by means of a small
aperture, 3 ft. from the ground of
•the outer chamber, but on the floor
level of the inner.



10 m. the Glenbucket river is
crossed [and a road is given off to
the E". up the glen, passing
under the Buck of Cabrach, 2377.
It ultimately divides ; one branch
down the valley of the Deveron to
Huntly, and another through Glen
Fiddick to Dufl'town.

About 1 m. up this road are the
ruins of Glenbucket Castle, built in
1590 (Lord Fife). An inscription
on the walls tells the visitor that
"n (ought) is left but famine" — al-
though there is not even much of that
about the place, as its history has been
lost. The proprietor took the part of
the Stuarts in 1715 and in 1745.

Moivatfs Stone, 4 m. up the burn,
marks the spot where the duel
between Mowatt and young Forbes
took place, which ended in the
death of Mowatt. An old-fashioned
dirk found near the place is now
in the Banff museum.] Continuing
up Strathdon, on rt. is Ben Newe
(the Holy Hill), and at the farm
of Buchan there is another Picfs
House in the garden. (Inquire at
the house for the key and a candle.)
It has one chamber, and winds
considerably. It was only discovered
a few years ago, though a tradition
of its existence was acknowledged —
an old "quoich" or drinking-cup
and some wood ashes were found
at tjie farther end. The Don is
now crossed — the road on rt. lead-
ing to Neive Castle (Sir C. Forbes),
a good view of which is obtained on
the opposite side of the river.

15. m is Colquhonny Inn (good),
standing 1100 ft. above the sea,
and adjoining it are the ruins of
Colquhonny Castle, begun by one
of the family of Forbes of Towie,
but never finished ; for it is said
that three of the lairds fell from the
top and were killed, a disaster so
ominous that the works were discon-
tinued.



358



Route 55. — Aberdeen to Inverness: Kintore. Sect. Y.



[From Colqiihonny to Gartly Stat.
is 21 m.] 16 m. on 1. a group of trees
on the opposite bank marks the site
of the old house of Colquhonny ; and
above it is to be seen the Hill of
Lanach, with a cairn on the top
erected to commemorate the acqui-
sition of a baronetcy by the father
of Sir C, Forbes of Newe. In the
valley, near the water's edge, stands
Bellabeg — the original property and
habitation of the family, Near the
confluence of the Nochty is the
Dune of Invernochty, an elliptical
mound 40 ft. high, and 970 ft. in
circumference at the base. Around
the top may still be traced the foun-
dations of walls, and at the bottom
there was a moat. It is probably a
natural eminence (perhaps an ex-
ample of drift) adapted to the pur-
poses of a fort. The Brichjc of Pol-
dullie over the Don was built in 1715,
by Black Jock Forbes of Inverernan,
as testified by the insoiption. As-
cending the hill beyond, a good view
is obtained of Morven on the left,
and Ben Newe behind. Opposite
Candacraig is Glen Conry, where the
Earls of Mar are said to have kept
their hounds. Lonach Hill is in
front.

17 m. At the confluence of the
Ernan are Inverernan (Gen. Forbes),
and Forbes Lodge.

At 18 m. Lonach there is a de-
cent little Inn. The road bejond
passes through a beautiful bit of
scenery, rounding the base of Lonach,
while the hills on the opposite side,
clothed with birch and firs, close in
like an amphitheatre. Beyond this
Pass the road rises rapidly, and at
the top of the first hill is Skellater
House, after which the country be-
comes bare.

At the head of the Strath the high
road from Ballater to Toraantoul
runs northward. To Ballater, 1 3 m. ;
Tomantoul, 83 m.

At the point of junction is the
ruined Castle of Corgarff, supposed to



have been built by one of the Earls of
Mar for a Imnting-seat. It was sub-
sequently purchased by Government,
and kept up as a small military
station for the repression of smug-
gling. Near it is Allargue House
(Ts. of the late R. Farquharson Esq.).
A bridle-road continues , westward,
passing very near to the source of the
Don, and crossing the great backbone
of Avon Forest ; it then descends
Glen Avon, and at the Bridge of
Bruan falls into the Tomantoul and
Cromdale road.



ROUTE 55.

Aberdeen to Inverness, by
Huntly, Keith, Elgin, Forres,
and Nairn, Great North of
Scotland Railway.

108 J- m., 4 trains daily, and those
very slow (time occupied, 6 hours).
The tourist who cares for ecclesiastical
architecture should stop at Elgin to
visit the ruins of the cathedral, and
those of Pluscardine Abbey.

For the country between Aberdeen
and 74 m- Dyce Junction, see Ete.
53. From thence the line keeps the
S. side of the Don to

lOf m. Kinaldie Stat., where a
bridge crosses the Don to Fintray
village and House (Sir W. Forbes).

13| m. Kintore Junct. Stat.
The town of Kintore (on 1.) is a
Pvoyal and Pari. Burgh. Pop. 659.

About 1^ m. distant are the ruins
of Hallforest Castle, an old building,
said to have been a hunting-lodge of
the Earls of Mar before Bruce's time.
It has only two storeys, with vaulted
roofs, and each of these could be
divided by a temporary floor into two
rooms. But there are no traces of
staircase, which must have been at the.
outside. The castle was granted to



Scotland. Eoute 55. — Inveramsay ; Balquhain.



359



Keith, Earl Marisclial, for services at
Bannockburn. It was inhabited as
late as 1639, and the present family
take the title of Kintore from the
property.

At this junction the Alford Valley
Line is given oif. The main line
passes 1. Thainston (D. Forbes-Mit-
chell, Esq.) Rt. of the line is seen
Keith Hall (the seat of Lord Kintore),
formerly called Caskieben, and once
the property of the Johnstones. The
Scottish Latin poet, Arthur John-
stone, was born here in 1587. It is
an estate of 17,000 acres. The rly.
now crosses the Don and arrives at

16 5 m. Inverurie Stat. [Inn : Kin-
tore Arms ; fishing). It is a neat
small town, with 3 churches and
several modern villas, a Pari. Burgh
(Pop. 2856), on the banks of the river
Urie. Inverurie is said to have re-
ceived the privileges of a royal burgh
from Robert Bruce, in commemora-
tion of a victory gained near here over
Comyn, the adherent of Edward I.
Rt. of the rly., at the S. end of the
town, is a mound, partly artificial,
called the Bass, supposed to have
been the seat of justice, or a hillock
to mark the gi'ave of a Pictish king.
Concerning this mound, which is in
reality an example of drift, there is
a local prophecy : —

" When Dee and Don run both in one,
And Tweed shall rim in Tay,
The bonnie water of Urie
Shall bear the Basse away."

[A branch of 5 m. is given off rt.
to Old Meldrum, Ij^ng on the high
road from Aberdeen to Banff". To the
S. of the town is Barra (Col. Ramsay),
on the hill above which is a fort,
marking the locality of the battle
between Robert I. and the English
army under Comyn, Earl of Buchan.
To the N". of the town is Meldrum
House (B. C. Urquhart, Esq.)]

Crossing the Frie river the line
reaches

21 m. Inveramsay Junction,
having on rt. Harlaw^ where was



fought the bloody battle, in 1411,
between the Earl of j\lar and Donald
of the Isles, who had invaded Scot-
land and burnt Inverness to make
good his claim to the earldom of



Here a Railway branches to Banff
(Rte. 55a.)

The Garioch is the name of the
district, celebrated from its fertility
as the " gimel " or meal-j)ress of
Aberdeenshire.

On the 1. side of the rly. and 1. m.
from Harlaw, are the ruins of Bal-
quhain, a ruined tower belonging to
the old family of Leslie of Balquhain.
Here Sir William Leslie had the
honour of entertaining Queen Mary
for two da3^s during her progress in
the north, 1562. It is stated that
the Duke of Cumberland, on his way
to CuUoden in 1746, ordered the
castle to be burnt, and there is a
local tradition that one of the tenants
averted the calamity by filling his
bonnet full of silver pieces and off"er-
ing them to the soldiery ; the bribe
was accepted, and the vaults filled
with damp straw, which produced
such a dense smoke that the duke
was satisfied that his orders had been
executed. Several illustrious mem-
bers of the family of Leslie were bom
at Balquhain, and amongst others
Walter, Count Leslie, who served
with distinction in the Austrian
army, and was created a Count of
the Holy Roman Empire ; also James,
who succeeded him in his German
estates, and was second in command
at the siege of Vienna. On the hills
behind the castle are some tumuli.

1 m. from Balquhain is the village
of Chapel of Garioch, and 1 m. be-
yond that is the Maiden Stone, about
10 ft. high, and ornamented on all
four sides. On the E. side are three
compartments — in the lowest, a comb
and mirror — common emblems on
Scotch sculptured stones — in the
middle, an animal like an elephant,
and in the upper one, a dog. It is



360



Route 55. — Pitcapk; Huntly.



Sect. V.



probably an early Cliristian monu-
ment.

Quitting Inveramsat Junct. the
main line reaches

2U m. Pitca'ple Stat. {Inn), to rt.
of which is Pitcaple Castle (H. Lums-
den, Esq.) and Logie (Sir James
Elphinstone), and on 1, Pittodrie
(Mrs. Knight Erskine). Pitcaple
was formeiiy a seat of the Leslie
family, and in 1640 the Earl of
Montrose, on his way south as a
prisoner, was allowed to rest here for
a night, the lady of the house being
his cousin. Hartliill Castle ruins
(on rt. ). This fortress was built in
1638 by Patrick Leith, and burnt
soon after by the Covenanters.

24^ m. Oyne Stat, (pronounced
een. ) " To the S. is the beautiful ridge
of Bennachie, mentioned as the place
looking down on the battlefield of
Harlaw.

The traveller will call to mind the
fine ballad in the "Antiquary :" —

" The Coronach's cried on Bennachie,
And down the Don and a' ;
And hieland and lawland may mournfu' be
For the saix field of Harlaw."

From the summit (1440 ft.), which
is characterised by a number of gran-
ite peaks, is a charming view of the
valleys of the Don and the Urie.
In ancient charters it is called the
" Eoyal Forest of Bennachie."

On rt. a road leads to Wcsthall
(Lady Leith), the old seat of the
Horns ; another on 1. leads to the
Gaudie river, on rt. bank of which
is Likelyheacl, a seat of the Forbes
in 1629. 2 m. farther up the stream
is Leslie Castle, one of the most con-
venient of these ancient structures.
This also was built by the Forbes
in 1661, and consists of three towers
joined together and turreted.

28 m. Iiiscli Stat., lying at the foot
of the conical hill of Dun o' Deer,
with an old fort on the summit, of
the date of the 14th cent v. Hector



Boece says " that the sheep that
gangs on this mountain are yellow,
their teeth hewit like gold." "On
the 1, is the hill of Christ's Kirk, a
suppressed parish, where a fair, called
'iThe Sleepy Market,' was at one
time held during the night. It has
been supposed that it is the scene of
the old poem of ' Christ's Kirk on
the Green,' ascribed to King James
I." — Oliver.

Conspicuous on the K. are the
Foudland Hills, on the old coach-
road to Huntly, which, although of
no great height, were in "^dnter the
terror of travellers on account of the



31 m. Wardhouse Stat, and House
(C. P. Gordon, Esq.).

33 m. At Kennethmont Stat., to the
rt. of which is Leith Hall (Colonel
Leith-Hay), the line enters the valley
of Strathbogie, and the country be-
comes more wild and hilly. Looking
S.W. the traveller sees the peaks of
the Buck of Cabrach, between Strath-
bogie and Strathdon ; while to the
W., near at hand, is the conical sum-
mit of the Taj) of Noth (1830 ft.), a
conspicuous landmark from the Ger-
man Ocean. The archaeologist should
visit it for its vitrified fort, which is
very perfect, enclosing a large area
by a rampart some 15 ft. high, with
a single opening at the S. E. corner.
From the extent of the outworks it
is plain that the fort must have been
one of the greatest importance.

36 m. Gartly Stat. There is a
good road up to Strathdon. It is 21
m. to Colquhonny Inn (Rte. 54).

ilvix. Huntly Stat. {Inns: Gordon
Arms, Strathbogie Arms). The
town stands at the head of Strath-
bogie, at the confluence of the Bogie
with the Deveron, and consists prin-
cipally of 2 streets that cross one
another at rt. angles, forming a
spacious market-place, in which is a



SCOTU-ND. Pioute 55. — HuntJy ; Keith; Fochahers.



3C1



statue of the 5th Duke of Eichmond.
Hard by are the ruins of Huntly, or
Strathhogie Castle, as it was called till
the year 1544, cradle and seat of the
Earls of Huntly, the most powerful
chieftains in the N". down to the
16th centy. An old fortress here
belonged in early times to the
Comyns, but very little is left but
the vaults. It was granted, along
with the barony, by Robert Bruce
to Sir Adam Gordon, founder of the
family, whose head, in the time of
Queen IMary, held three earldoms, and
ruled more like a monarch than a
subject from Deeside to the \Y. Ocean.

It was dismantled by James VI.
in 1594, on account of the rebellion
of the first Marquis of Huntly and
his murder of the Earl of j\loray. It
was rebuilt by Patrick, E. of Strath-
more 1696. At the end of the last
centy. it ceased to be inhabited, and
much of the material has been used



Online LibraryJohn Murray (Firm)Handbook for travellers in Scotland → online text (page 56 of 73)