John Murray (Firm).

Handbook for travellers in Scotland online

. (page 59 of 73)
Online LibraryJohn Murray (Firm)Handbook for travellers in Scotland → online text (page 59 of 73)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


migrated to Fife. Kear this is the
large Distillery of Glen Grant.

Elgin Junc. Stat. (Ete. 55).



Craigellachie Junct. to Banff.
Quitting Craigellachie and passing 1.
Kininvie House (G. A. Leslie, Esq.),
we ascend the Glen of the Fiddich
to

11m. Dufftovrn Stat. , which is 1 m.
from the village of modern origin,
founded since 1817, at the confluence
of the Kullan and Fiddich Waters
{Inn : Wilson's). Near the stat. is
Balvenie old castle, once the pro-
perty of the Athole family, whose
motto is on the front of it. No part
of the building is older than the 15th
centy. At a short distance from it is
the modern castle, the seat of the
Earl of Fife. Close to Dutttown is
Mortlach Kirk, on the steep banks of
the Dullan, originally founded as a
primitive cathedral ch. by Malcolm
II. It has, however, been modern-
ised with the strictest Presbyterian
ugliness, 2 round-headed windows
being all that is left of the old
building, besides some tombstones
in the interior. The limestone
scenery around Dufftown, Glen Fid-
doch and Dullan, is very beautiful,
and contrasts well with the granite
peaks of the neighbouring hills of
Uenrimies and the Convals.

[From Dufftown two or three
roads run S. through Glen Rinnes
and Glen Fiddoch to Glenlivat,
celebrated for its whisky. Its
principal historical importance is on
account of the battle of Glenlivat.
The Earl of Ai'gyle had been de-
puted by James VI. to reduce to
submission the Earls of Huntly and
Errol, and marched hither at the



head of the Campbells. The rebel
earls met him with a force numeri-
cally inferior, but chiefly composed
of gentlemen well aimed and
mounted. The Earl of Argyle was
defeated, and James YI. in conse-
quence took the field in person.
Huntly and Errol were not prepared,
or could not muster force enough, to
meet the king, who destroyed their
strongholds, Huntly and Slaines
castles. Overlooking Glen Fiddoch
is the tower of Anchindoun, wliich
was burnt by the clan Mackintosh
in the 16th centy., an event com-
memorated in an old ballad.]

The Railway next descends Glen
Isla to

Drummuir Stat.

E. is Drummuir Castle (Major
Gordon Duff).

Auchindachy — Earl's mill Stat.

Keith Junct. Stat, on the Railway
from Aberdeen to Elgin (Rte. 55),
which we follow as far as

49 m. Grange Junct., whence the
Strathisla branch is given off to Port-
soy and Banff", passing

3^ m. Knock Stat., at the foot of
Knock Hill (1640 ft.)

8 m. to Cornhill, rt. of which is
Park House (Major Duff Gordon
Duff).

10 m. at TiLLYN AUGHT JUKCT. Stat.
The Railway divides — rt. by Lady
Bridge Stat, to the sea, and along the
shore to

Banff Harbour Terminus, close to
the Pier {see Rte. 55a)

1. 13 m. to Portsoy Terminus,
a small seaport. The geologist
will find in the rocks in the im-
mediate neighbourhood a perfect
storehouse of mineralogical speci-
mens. Portsoy marble, a beautiful
variety of serpentine, and a peculiar



376



Route 55b. — Craigellachie to Banff: CuUen. Sect. Y.



flesli-coloured granite, are quarried
here.

A coach runs daily from Portsoy
Stat, to Fochabers, passing not far
from the ruins oiFindlater Castle, a few
fragments of which are on a rock jutt-
ing into the sea. The Norman family
of St. Clair obtained it by marriage
with Johanna of Findlater in the
reign of David II. It afterwards
came into the possession of the
Ogilvys, who were created Earls of
Findlater. The last Earl Findlater
died in ]811, and the estates passed
to the family which the Earl of Sea-
field now represents.

About 6 m. to the W. is Cullcn,
{Inn : Seafield Arms, neat and
orderly), a modern town, pop. 2055,
of two cross streets sloping down to
a small bay, on whose shore rise three
rocks, called the " three Kings of Cul-
len." Here stood the castle where
the wife of Robert Bruce died. Close
to the town is the very picturesque
and handsome castellated man-
sion, the finest in these parts,
Cull en House, the seat of the Earl
of Seafield, charmingly situated on



the edge of a picturesque wooded glen.
It has been enlarged by two tall
flanking towers, and decorated in the
castellated style of the 17th centy.,
and contains a valuable collection
of portraits, including one of James
VI., by Mytens. The CImrch, which
is cruciform, has been well restored.
It was founded by Robt. Bruce, and
the bowels of his queen were buried
here. It contains the fine tomb of
Ogilvy of Findlater.

It is a privilege to be allowed to
drive through the tine woods of Cul-
len House on the way td Elgin.
Proceeding westward the road runs
under the Binn of Cullen, 1048 ft.
high, and through a well- cultivated
district called the Enzie, to Buckie,
where the stranger will be surprised
to filid a somewhat imposing Roman
Catholic Cathedral, the members of
this religion abounding in this
neighbom-hood. From Buckie it is
about

7 m. to Fochabers {see Rte. 55),
passing 1. Cairnfield (J. Gordon, Esq.)
and through Gordon Woods.



SECTIOISr VL

Western Highlands and Islands (Outer Hebrides)— Skte— Lewis —
Loch Maree— Loch Torridon — Glenshiel — Loch Alsh and Loch

DUICH.

INTRODUCTION.
§ 1. General Information. § 2. Princiijal Ohjects of Interest.

EOUTES.



56 Oban to Portree in Skye, by

Arisaig, Eigg, Kyle Akin,
and Broadfurd . . . 381

57 Strome Ferry to Skye,

Broadford and Portree
(steamer) to Quiraing, Starr
Rock, and Dunvegan . . 385

58 Balmacarra (Loch Alsh) to

Porrree in Skye, by Kyle
Akin Ferry, Broadford, and
Sligachan (Excursion to
Coruisk) . . . .389

59 Portree to Stornoway and the

Outer Hebrides . . . 393

60 Invergarry or Fort-Augustus



(Loch Oich) to Skye, by
Tomandouu, Glenshiel,

Loch Duich {Falls of
Glomach), Loch Alsh, and
Stroine Ferry . . .397
61 Shiel House Inn to Skye, by

Glenelg and Kijle Rhea . 400
Dingwall to Strome Ferry and
Skye, hy Sir athjyeffer, Garve,
Achnasheen, and Loch Car-
ron (Skye Eailway) . 401
Achnasheen to Loch Maree
and Gairloch, LochTorridon,
Shieldag and Applecross. —
Shieldag to Loch Carron . 403



62



63



1. General IxroRiiAtioN.



" The Hebrid Isles,
Placed far amid the melancholy main."

Thovison.

From the N. side of the Great Glen of Scotland (the line of the
Caledonian Canal) branch several nearly parallel valleys in a N.W.
direction — Glengarry, Glenmoriston, and Glen Urquhart — all
leading to splendid scenery. Glens Garry and Moriston conduct to
Skye by Glen Shiel, which is pre-eminently the grandest approach
to Skye (Route 60). Another line of access from the E. side of
Scotland is by railway from Dingwall (19 m. N. of Inverness) to
Strome Ferry, whence a daily steamer plies. This line of rail also
gives access to the gloomy and grand scenery of Loch Maree and
[Scotland.] r 2



378 § 1. General Information. Sect. VI.

Loch ToiTidon, and the smiling beauties of Gareloch. Loch Hourn
opening into the mainland opposite Skye, accessible from Glenelg
or Glen Quoich, is not to be surpassed for grandeur.

From Beauly or Invermoriston the wanderer may explore
the unrivalled scenery of Kilmorack, the Druim, the Chisholm's
Pass, Strath Affrick, Strathglass (Geusachan), the Pas sof Kintail, and
the Falls of GlomaJc, which are also accessible from Shiel House
Inn.

The Inn accommodation of the district is very fair, good, and
convenient. Shiel House Inn, at the mouth of Glen Shiel, is close
to the lovely sea-lochs Duich and Alsh, and within a walk of Loch
Hourn. Balniacarra and Strome Ferry, opposite Skye, are pleasant
quarters. There are fair Inns at Loch Carron Station and other
stations on the Dingwall line, and at Beauly is a large hotel. Strath
Alfrick lias a smaller Inn, quiet and comfortable.

Achnasheen Stat, is the starting-point for visiting Loch Maree.
At the foot of that lake is the well-known Inn of Kinlochewe, and
.*) m. farther the new Hotel of Talladale, on its margin, commanding
the finest reaches of the lake. Loch Torridon, which has no Inn
but the small public house at Shieldag, may be visited from Kin-
lochewe. Drumnadrochit is a favourite Inn near the shores of
Loch Ness, from which pleasant excursions can be made to the Fall
of Foyers, to Strath Aflrick, etc.

Shje also is well provided with Inns, at Kyle Akin, Broadford,
Sligachan (rough, but fair), Portree (2), and Uig, as well as a new
Inn at Steinscholl, near Quiraing.

" stranger ! if e'er thine ardent step hath traced,

Tlie northern realms of ancient Caledon,
Where the proud Queen of Wilderness hath placed.

By lake and cataract her lonelj' throne ;
Sublime hut sad delight thy soul hath known,

Gazhig on pathless glen and mountain high.
Listing where from the cliffs the torrents thrown

Mingle their echoes with the eagle's cry.
And witli the sounding lake, and with the moaning sky.

" Such are the scenes, Avhere savage grandeur wakes

An awful thrill that softens into siglis ;
Such feelings rouse them by dim Rannoch's lakes.

In dark Glencoe such gloomy raptures rise :
Or further, where, beneath the northern skies.

Chides Avild Loch Eribol his caverns hoar—
But, be the minstrel judge, they yield tlie prize

Of desert dignity to that dread shore,
That sees grim CooUin rise, and hears Coriskin roar."

Scott.

The Isle of Skye may be approached —



Introd. § 2. FrincijMl Objects of Interest. 379

1. from Strome Feriy Stat, of the Dingwall Ely. by daily
steamer to Portree (in 3^ lirs.), calling off Broadford.

2. By ferry-boat from the pier near Balmacarra to Kyle Akin,
a strait about 1 m. wide, or by ferry at Kyle Rhea.

3. By the coasting and cargo steamers from Glasgow and Oban
twice a week, a voyage of 15 or 16 hrs.

The island is so indented by sea-lochs and inlets that it is said
no part is distant more than 4 m. from the sea.

The climate of Skye is variable and rainy, the annual rainfall
averaging 101 inches ; but it is not so bad as has been described.
June and July are pleasant months, and though in August and
September the weather is often broken, the traveller, well prepared,
will find no more serious impediments to his -movements than in
other parts of the Highlands.

§ 2. Principal Objects of Interest,

There are 3 principal objects of interest in Skye : — (a.) Coruish,
the most original, which is reached most easily in a yacht or
steamer from Loch Scavaig. This approach is a scene of unrivalled
grandeur — splintered and shivered mountains of bare rock, so black
that, after rain, they look as though pitch had been poured over
them, overhang the sea-shore. On Saturdays during Summer (wind
and weather permitting) a steamer lands passengers on the shore of
Loch Scavaig, wdthin half-a-mile of Coruisk. It is generally
approached from Portree and Sligachan, w^hence it is a very roman-
tic but severe walk or ride of 9 m. Coruisk is also accessible from
Broadford — driving 5 m. to Torrin — boating thence round 2 pro-
montories, and landing at the mouth of the Glen. The landlord at
Broadford (Mr. Eoss) can make an arrangement with the Torrin
boatman, and this is by far the easiest route if you can count upon
fine iveather; and Portree, which is 9^ m.from Sligachan, is the nearest
point to the other great sights — Quiraing and Storr Rock.

(b.) Quiraing is 21 m. from Portree, and you can drive to
within 1 J m. of it. (c.) The Storr Rock is 8 m. from Portree, and
can be reached only on foot — a hard walk. Each of these 3 excur-
sions requires a day to itself, but instead of returning to Portree
from Quiraing the pedestrian may sleep at Uig or SteinschoU, and
set out thence for the Storr. The high-level Route, following the
tops of the hills and high plateau all the way from Quiraing to
Storr and Portree, a suggestion of Mr. Nicolson, is recommended to
the notice of hardy pedestrians. Cars and post-horses may be had
at Kyle Akin, Broadford, Sligachan, and Portree.

The Coollin Hills, which encircle Coruisk, are described by



380 § 3. P'lds' Castles. Sect. VI.

Boswell as "a prodigious range of mountains, capped with rocky
pinnacles in a strange variety of shapes. They resemble the moun-
tains round Corte in Corsica." Sir Walter Scott tells us they take
their name from the Ossianic hero, Cuchullin. The geology of Skye
possesses considerable interest. The Coollin or Cuchullin Hills are
composed of a peculiar rock called, from its excessive hardness,
Hypersthene, One of the most striking views of this very remark-
able group is presented from the sea.

About 2|- m. N. of Portree a fine section of the Beds of the
Oolite, from the Cornbrash to the Lias, is exposed, with ammonites,
belemnites, and other characteristic fossils.

The telegraph wires, carried through Skye, afford facilities for
ordering beds and conveyances.

§ 3. PiCTs' Castles.

Peculiar to the N. of Scotland, beyond the Great Glen or line
of the Caledonian Canal, are certain round towers, called burghs or
brocks, or Picts' castles, of unknown age and origin. The most
perfect type is the Tower of ]\Iousa, on an islet in Shetland. From
this example, and others less perfect, they appear to be cylinders of
masonry tapering upwards into a truncated cone, or waisted like a
dice-box. The walls are composed of an outer and inner concentric
shell of untrimmed stones — evenly set, but without mortar. This
rude masonry is bound together by 4 or 5 courses of slabs of slate
placed crosswise, so as to leave in the thickness of the wall a
gallery or inclined plane winding up to the top like a corkscrew,
and lighted by small openings or slits in the inside. The rest
of the wall is filled up with loose stones, and it may measure in
thickness from 10 to 15 feet. The towers vary in height from 25
to 40 ft., and in diameter from 30 to 50. They were not roofed,
but the inner slits open into a circular court. A low door on the
ground level led into this and communicated with the winding
galleries or cells, which in some instances are so low and narrow
(3 ft.) that it is difficult to understand how any but a race of
pygmies could have traversed them.

Sir Walter Scott compares the Tower of Mousa to a ruined
pigeon-house.

More than 400 examples are known of these towers in the N.
and N. W. of Scotland and in the Isles, for the most part more or
less ruined. They are thus distributed — in Shetland, 75 ; Orkney,
70 ; Caithness, 79 ; Sutherland, 60 ; Long Island, 38 ; Skye,
30, etc.
*^* See " Hints for Yachtsmen," in the General Introduction
to this Handbook.



P.o^//^ P^a^nhnn fn ^hvP- Fir/ri 881



Inverness.



Route 56.—^ Oban to Shje : Elrjg.



381



EOUTE 56.

Oban to Portree in Skye, by
Arisaig, Eigg, Kyle Akin, and
Broadford.— (Steam Voyage.)

A steamer calls at Oban twice a
week for Skye ; coming round from
Glasgow by the Mull of Cantyre.
Beyond Oban it makes repeated
stoppages, so that punctuality must
not be looked for. The time taken
in the transit varies with the amount
of cargo and the number of places
at which the vessel calls ; but in
general it may be calculated from
12 to 18 hours. Generally speaking
the fare is good, and the officials are
always remarkable for their attention
to their guests, as, indeed, is the case
in all Messrs. Hutcheson's fleet of
steamers. Resist firmly all attempts
at extortion by boatmen in rowing
out to the steamers. We have seen
a threat of throwing them overboard
bring them to their senses when they
attempted to pull ashore on their
rapacious demands not being satis-
fied.

The route is the same as that
described in Kte. 35 as far as
Tobermory and the N. extremity of
the island of Mull. Then the steamer
rounds the cliff's of Ardnamurchan
Point, having on 1. the distant islands
of Tu-ee and Coll, and in front those
of Muck, Eigg, Rum, and Canna.
Muck (" Insula Porcorum," the
Isle of Sea Swine, i.e. Porpoises)
is very small, not above 1^ m.
in breadth, and contains nothing of
interest. Its geological constituents
are trap and basalt. To the N.
is Eigg (N. Macpherson, Esq.), off"
which the steamer calls. The land-
ing is difficult, and there is no
anchorage. It is distinguished by a
peculiarly shaped hill terminating in
a lofty peak, 1346 ft. in height, called
the Scoot or Scuir of Eigg, and formed
of pitchstoue and porphyry — the



trap overlying a forest of petrified
trees. ' ' The Scuir of Eigg is a veri-
table Giant's Causeway, like that
on the coast of Antrim, taken and
magnified rather more than 20 times
its height, and then placed on the
ridge of a hill nearly 900 ft. high.
This strange causeway is columnar
from end to end ; but the columns,
from their great altitude and deficient
breadth, seem mere rodded shafts in
the Gothic style — they rather re-
semble bundles of rods than well-,
proportioned pillars. Under the old
foundations of this large wall we find
the remains of a pine forest, that,
long ere a single bed of the porphyry
had burst from beneath, had sprung
up and decayed on hill and beside
stream in some nameless land — had
then been swept to the sea — had been
entombed deep at the bottom in a
sand of the oolite — had been heaved
up to the surface and high over it
by volcanic agencies working from
beneath — and had finally been built
upon, as arches are built upon piles,
by the architect that had laid down
the masonry of the gigantic Scuir
in one fiery layer after another."
Hugh Miller, "Cruise of the Betsy."
The tree which formed this fossil
wood has been long known to geolo-
gists by the name of the Pinites
Eiggensis.

The island is sometimes visited
for the purpose of seeing the cave
{Uamh Ehraing), in which all the
inhabitants of the island were
smothered. This cave is 250 ft. in
length, and about 25 ft. in height
and breadth, and is situated in the
S.E. corner of the island, not far
from the landing-place.

Some of the Macleods of Skye,
having been thrown ashore upon
Eigg, were hospitably treated by the
Macdonalds ; but in consequence of
some of them off'ering an insult to one
of the women, they were bound hand
and foot, and turned adrift in an open
boat. They were picked up by some
friends



382



Route 56. — Scoot of Eigg ; Canna. Sect. YL



with a large force to avenge their in-
juries. The inhabitants took refuge
in the cave, and couhl not be found,
and Macleod was on the point of re-
embarking his warriors, when a man
was discerned on the shore. Land-
ing again, they tracked him by his
footsteps (there being a light snow
on the ground) to the mouth of this
cave. There they lit a fire and
stifled the whole population : —

" A numerous race ere stern Macleod
O'er their bleak shores in vengeance

strode,
When all in vain the ocean cave
Its refuge to itsvictiins gave."—

Lord of the Isles.

Hugh Miller mentions that in the
Bayof Lagg, which is to the N. of
the island, is an oolitic sand, which
on being struck emits a distinct
musical sound — a metallic ring like
that described as existing in the
mountains of Jebel Nakous, near the
Isthmus of Suez.

Some 4 m. to the K of Eigg is the
island of Rum, called by Sir Walter
Scott, " Rona, " the magnificent peaks
of which appear to rise immediately
from the water's edge. It is seldom
visited, save by the geologist —
the island having undergone several
changes, the struggling peasantry,
who starved in their upland wig-
wams, having been removed to
make room for a gigantic sheep
farm. "The geology of Rum is
simple but curious. Let the
reader take from 12 to 15 trap hills,
varying from 1000 to 2300 ft. in
height ; let him pack them closely
and squarely together, like bottles
in a case-basket ; let him surround
them with a frame of old red sand-
stone, measuring rather more than 7
m. on the side, in the way the basket
suiTounds the bottles ; then let him
set them doA\ai in the sea a dozen m.
off the land, and he will have pro-
duced a second island of Rum, similar
in sti'ucture to the existing one." —
Maculloch.

On the E. coast of Rum is the inlet



of Loch Scresort, at the head of
which is the mansion-house (Captain
Macleod), whence a glen of red sand-
stone can be followed across the
island to Scoor More 1509 ft., which
contains the bloodstones or helio-
tropes for which Rum is celebrated.
The most lofty summits are to be
found in the S. of the island, in the
peaks of Haskeval 2667, Scoor-nau
Gillean 2553, and Halival 2367 ft.

About the same distance to the
N.W. of Rum is Canna Island, cele-
brated for its " Compass Hill " on the
I*^.E., so called from the variation in
the compass experienced by vessels
which pass it, a phenomenon which
Maculloch says is by no means
confined to Canna, but is frequent
through all the basaltic islands of
the coast, owing to the quantity of
iron present in that rock. In a
pretty bay opening towards the E.
there is a lofty and slender rock, de-
tached from the shore. Upon the
summit are the ruins of a very small
tower, accessible only by a steep and
precipitous path. Here it is said
that one of the Lords of the Isles
confined his wife, a beautiful foreigner,
of whose fidelity he entertained sus-
picions : —

" Stern was her lord's suspicious mind,
Who in so rude a jail confined

So soft and fair a thrall !
And still when on the cliff and bay
Placid and pale the moonbeams play.

And every breeze is mute.
Upon the lone Hebridean's ear
Steals a strange pleasure mixed with fear.
While from that cliff he seems to hear

The murmur of a lute."

As the steamer sails N., the travel-
ler obtains magnificent views of the
ranges in the mainland, embracing
the mountains of Morven, Ardua-
murchan, Sunart, and Arisaig, at
which latter port the steamer calls
once a week. The enti-ance into the
harbour is difficult and dangerous.
From the village (a good Inn) runs
a very picturesque road to Glenfinnan
and Bannavie (Rte. 37).

Occasionally the steamer touches



Scotland.



Route 5Q. — Ohan to SJcye : Loch Nevis.



383



at Loch Moidart, overhanging which
are the rnins of Castle Tyrim, an old
fortress of Clanranald, burnt by the
proprietor when he left in 1715 to
join the cause of Prince Charles
Edward.

As the tourist approaches the coast
of Skye, nearing the promontory of
Sleat, superb views are gained of the
rifts and black precipices of the
Coollin Hills and of Blaven, which,
if the evening be fine, are lighted up
by the setting sun with magical effect.

Entering Sleat Sound, the steamer
passes 1. Arviadale Castle, the seat
of Lord Macdonald, the lineal de-
scendant of the Lords of the Isles,
and head of the clan Macdonald.
The modern Gothic castle is pleas-
antly situated amongst woods and
conifers round the house and garden,
in which standard fuchsias attain
unusual size, with a background of
hills. It was built about 1815, and
is not, therefore, ' ' the small house
on the shore" in which .Johnson ajid
Boswell were entertained so inhospit-
ably in 1773. "Instead of finding
the Lord of the Macdonalds sur-
rounded with his clan and a festive
entertainment, we found a small com-
pany, and cannot boast of our cheer. "
— BosiveU. The present house is
ornamented with a window of stained
glass, representing Somerled, Lord
of the Isles, and founder of the fam-
ily. To the clan ]\Iacdonald Napoleon
was indebted for one of his best
marshals. There is a small Inn at
Armadale, and a good road thence
to Broadford.

On the opposite coast is the en-
trance to Loch Nevis, up which the
steamer occasionally goes for wool.
It is a fine wild fiord, running some
15 or 20 m. inland, girdled on each
side by steep mountains, and sepa-
rating the districts of Morar and
Knoydart. About half-way up on
the N. side is the little village of
Inverie, at the foot of Scoor-nan
Gour ("Goat Peak") 2466, and at
the very head is the hamlet of Sour-



lies, from whence a road runs through
Glen Dessary to Loch Arkaig (Pte.
37).

The steamer now passes on 1. the
grey and ruined Castle of Knock,
and then calls at Isle Oronsay (St.
Oran's Isle), where are the ruins of a
small chapel formerly belonging to
a nunnery and a lighthouse. Over-
looking this island, on the E. shore
of the Sound of Sleat, is Dimsdale, a
handsome modern seat of L. D. Mac-
kinnon, Esq., with gardens. Oppo-
site this is the opening of Loch
Hourn, which separates the district
of Knoydart from that of Glenelg.

Loch Hourn is a narrow sea-arm,
extending inland about 25 m.,
through a series of mountains even
finer than those of Loch Nevis, Ben
Scrccl on the N. side being no less
than 3196 ft, and Laorbhein ("Hoof-
HUl"), on the S., 3341 (Rtes. 60-
61). The Coollin mountains of Skye
also contribute to the grandeur of



Online LibraryJohn Murray (Firm)Handbook for travellers in Scotland → online text (page 59 of 73)