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Thurso and Tongue, 44 m., about 8
hours (including one stoppage of half-
an-hour for breakfast). There are
2 river ferries to be crossed by
chained boats. The country through
which the road passes is wild and bleak
until the neck of Holbuni Head is
crossed. The cliffs of Hoy in the
Orkneys are conspicuous for many
miles {see Rte. 74).

On rt. is the house of Brims, upon
the shore, beyond which the moor
has been broken up, making the
prospect more cheerful.

52 m. at the village of Forse, which
is pleasantly sheltered from the E. by
a thriving plantation, the tourist
crosses Forse Water, and near a foam-
ing waterfall passes rt. Forse House
(George Sutherland, Esq.), an estate
of 8U00 acres. The land on the oppo-
site side of the road belongs to Sir
Robert C. Sinclair of Stevenston.

9^ m. are the ruins of Bun Reay,
the ancient seat of the Mackays of

10^ m. rt. The village of Isauld
stands on high ground, overlooking
a small bay and the valley of the
Isaul AVater. Upon the opposite
side of the bay is Sandside (Captain
M 'Donald), in a charming situation,
well protected by trees. Just below
it is

11 m. the village of Reay (/7i??,fair),
where breakfast can be had. It is said
that a large village or town formerly
existed between the present one and
the sea, and that some of the buildings
were discovered in 1751 by means of
a waterspout. There are some caves
in the cliffs, one of which is called by


Route 72. — Thurso to Tongue.


the natives Glinggling, from the re-
verberation of the waves.

After leaving Reay a long ascent
has to be effected to tiie tableland,
the N. extremity of that mountain
range which at its other end goes
by the name of the Ord of Caithness
(Rte. 69). Here, as upon the E.
coast, it forms the boundary between
the counties of Caithness and Suther-
land, which latter the tourist now

16 m. rt. is Big House, once the
property of a branch of the Reays,
l3ut since bought by the Duke of
Sutherland. [On 1. is road to Helms-
dale, through the pretty glen of
Strath Halladale, 38^ m. There is
a fair inn at Achintoul, which serves
as a halfway house. Strath Hal-
ladale was the boundary between
Mackay's territory and that of the
Earl of Sutherland.]

The river Halladale is crossed by
a chain-boat, and the traveller reaches

18 m. Meloich Lin. A dull and un-
interesting moor, bare even of heather,
succeeds to this, beyond which Stra-
thy Head may be seen stretching out
into the North Sea. It is a pleasant
relief to reach the edge of this table-
land, and allow the eye to rest upon
the Free church, manse, and village
of Strathy, (24 ni.) which occupy a
pleasantly sheltered valley, well
Avatered by a river of the same name.
At its mouth a good number of
salmon are netted every year, but
the stream is too small for hrst-rate
fly-fishing ; but after a flood of some
duration grilse and sea-trout do find
their way up, and may be caught
with the" fly. Another bare ridge
lies between this glen and the next,
that of Armadale, in which there is
little cultivation, but some good rich
pasture, and the sheep of the district
have considerable repute in conse-
C|uence. There is a fine rocky bay
at the mouth of the valley,

32 m. The next glen, running

parallel with this last, is that oi Betty -
hill of Farr, dry and sandy. The
village is on the rt., and the Inn in
an airy and exposed situation farther
on. See the fine sculptured stone in
the ch,-yd. To the N. of the village
is a promontory called the Aird of
Kirktommie, where there is a long
tunnel by which boats pass under
the rocks, and Avhich Pennant de-
cribes as the most curious cavern in
the world. Bettyhill stands at the en-
trance of Strath Naver, a most lovely
glen, by far the most beautiful in all
Sutherland, and the only one to ex-
cite much admiration on this route.
About 6 m. from the entrance to the
strath lies Loch Monar, the waters of
which are believed to have wonderful
healing powers. At its N. end Strath
ISTaver is narrow, but it soon begins
to widen, and after leaving Bettyhill
it is to be seen stretching away to
the 1. as far as the eye can reach.
Amid clustering gi'oups of dwarf
birch are lawns of the greenest and
smoothest turf, round which the
stream meanders. [There is a good
road from this to Altnaharra Inn, at
the W. end of Loch Kaver, a beautiful
sheet of water 7 m. long at the N, E.
base of Ben Clibrech (3164 ft.) The
distance is 24 m. About halfway,
below Ehifael, is a Picts' House, in
excellent preservation, near the mouth
of a small stream running into the
Naver, while above Rhifael, on the
rt. bank of the Naver, is a consider-
able circle of upright stones.

From Altnaharra to Lairg it is
21 m. farther, by Lord Beay's Green
Table (a hill with a flat top), at the
foot of which is the poor little Inn of
Craske. The road from here to Lairg
passes through a succession of moor-
lands and the equally desolate Strath
Terry, The Naver runs out at the
E, end of Loch Naver, and, though
early, is one of the best salmon
rivers in Sutherlandshire,]

The road now begins to lose its
excellence owing to the sandy base of
its foundation. Through the next


Route 73. — Tongue to Cdjje Wrath. Sect. YIT.

glen runs the little river Borcfie,
which emerges from Loch Slam. The
Torrisdale Burn connects this last
with Loch Laoghal or Loyal, a beau-
tiful piece of water 8 m. long, situated
at the foot of the bulky Ben Loyal
(2505 ft.). It is dotted with several
islands, and abounds in lake trout
(Salmo ferox), and char (S. salme-
linus) is taken in great quantities in
autumn. Tlie black and red throated
divers frequent Loch Loyal. At the
mouth of the river stands the old
castle of Borgie, one of the strong-
holds of the clan IMackay.

Upon the top of the long ascent
beyond, a fresh range of mountains
comes in sight. Due S. is Ben Clib-
rech, overlooking Loch Naver, 25 m.
away, and to the N.W. of that is
Ben Lo3'^al -with its four jagged
peaks, and still farther Croihreikdan,
or Watch Hill, which looks like a
little hill put on the top of a big one.
At the base of this last the Rabbit
Islands come into view, and farther
on is Koan Isle, with its S. face ris-
ing perpendicularly from the water.
Outlines of old red sandstone still
cling to the rocks (lower gneiss of
Murchison) near Tongue.

Tongue (Rte. 71a). Among the
plantations of Tongue there is a
road on rt. leading down to the
ferry, and those who intend to cross
it had better leave the car here, as it
goes on to the inn of Kirkiboll (good)
1 m. further.


Tongue to Cape Wrath, by
Durness and Smoo.

From Tongue it is 24 m. to Dur-
ness, the nearest Inn to Cape Wrath.
There is no admission to the light-
house on Sundays. Permission to
sleep there can be obtained only of
the Secretary to the Commissioners of

Northern Lighthouses at Edinburgh,
as the lighthouse-keepers are forbid-
den to take in any but storm-bound

Quitting the mail car at the en-
trance of the Tongue plantations,
there is a long hill down to the
ferry, where a signal must be made
for the boat, which is kept on the other
side the Kyle, The charge is 4d.
The traveller is now in Lord Reay's
country, or in Gaelic " Duthaic Mhic
Aoi " (the land of the Mackays),
Avhich extended from the Borgie river
to Assynt, and embraced an area of
800 square miles. The Moin, a
highly elevated boggy moorland,
stretches from the bases of Ben
Hope and Ben Laoghal to the sea,
and between the Kjde of Tongue
and Loch Hope, a distance of 7 m.
The passage of the Moin used to be
a day's journey, but since a good
road has been made across it by the
Duke of Sutherland, it can now be
done in 2 hours. The construction of
this road was a work tliat entailed
great expense and labour, it being ne-
cessary to construct an artificial foun-
dation with turf and faggots. The Mo in
House is a halfway refuge maintained
by the Duke for travellers overtaken
by storms. On one of the gables is a
large slab with an inscription en-
graved upon it stating the nature of
the hill, by whom the road was made,
and who were the managers of the
Duke's property at the time.

7 m. A long hill is descended to
the river Hope, which is crossed by a
chain-ferry as it emerges from Loch
Hope ; then a steep ridge has to be
ascended, from which a good view
is obtained of Ben Hope. Rounding
a corner. Loch Eriboll comes in
sight, and the little promontory of
Ardneachdie, upon which stands

9.T m., Heilim Inn ; good ; at the

Loch Eriboll is a fiord running
due N. and S., and about 12 m. in
length. There is a good road round

Scotland. Boide 73. — Loch Eriloll ; Dun Dornadil. 443

it, and a Ferry across it from Heilim
Tan to Port C'hamil, by using which
the pedestrian will save 12 ni.,
though carriages and horses have to
go round. Charge for the ferry 3d.
each person. This loch is an excel-
lent harbour of refuge in IST. E. gales,
and, vdih its calm clear water nest-
ling in the hills, is one of the most
beautiful inlets along the coast.

On the E. side of its mouth is
Kcnnagcal or Whiten Head, a splen-
did perpendicular cliff", in which,
towards the E., is a fine series of

[From Heilim Inn to Altnaharra,
21 m. there is no conveyance, but
the road is charming, ottering ex-
cellent views, and an opportunity
of visiting one of the most curious
relics of antic^uity in Scotland. 3
m. is Eriboll, a small hamlet on
the side of the loch. The road
then climbs the hill, from which a
magnificent view is obtained of the
whole expanse of Loch Eriboll ; and
a little farther on of Loch Hope and
Ben Hope (3011 ft). At Cashel
Dhu, 8 m., is one of the most dis-
tinct and comprehensive mountain
jjrospects in Scotland. The W. front
of Ben Hope has 2 teiTaces or divi-
sions, one above the other. The
lower range has upon its face a num-
ber of horizontal terraces clothed with
dwarf birch. The upper one, scarred
by numerous watercourses, is covered
by a short turf, upon which the
hardy little sheep maintain a precari-
ous footing and obtain a scanty
livelihood. On Ben Hope, alone in
Great Britain, grows the Alpine
plant Alsine rubella; Bctula nana
and Astragalus aljnnus also occur in
crevices of the rocks. Its summit is
famous for ptarmigans. In 1872 a
golden eagle and Avild cat were shot
on the mountain, and may be seen
stutt"ed in Kinloch shooting-lodge.
At Cashel Dhu there is a ferry-boat,
and an inn formerly existed, but the
house has been allowed to go to ruin.

The river, which S. of the loch is
called Hope River, is here the Strath-
more Water. Beyond the ferry the
road enters Strathmore, a beautiful
valley, with a lawn of smooth velvety
turf at the bottom. On either side
is a continuous wall of steep hill,
covered with short turf, and sur-
mounted by a perpendicular parapet
of barren rock.

The glen appears to be bounded
on the S. by the conical form of Ben
Hee (3358 ft.), but does not really
extend so far.

1. 11^ m. the Ault-na-Cailliach
(Old Woman's Burn) descends from
the top of the hills. A little farther
on is Dun Dornadil, an old Pictish
burgh, built probably in the 7th
centy. Som e have supposed this an d
other towers of a similar kind to have
been built by the Danes, but there
are many reasons against this view ;
and it seems more probable that it
was built by the original inhabitants
of the country, who go by the ambi-
guous name of Picts. Up to the be-
ginning of the present centy. Strath-
more was cultivated, and contained
a numerous population. Being so
close to the shore, these people would
be liable to a constant succession of
attacks from the northern rovers on
their way to and from the Hebrides,
who could land, carry off" ail that
was portable, destroy all that was
not, and be off" again before a general
rising of the natives or a change of
weather could prevent their depart-
ure. Lender these circumstances, it
is not improbable that a tower like
this should be built to afford protec-
tion to the sick, the women and
children, while the men drove the
cattle up into the mountains, and
gave notice to their neighbours of the
common enemy.

The circumference of the dun is
about 50 yards, and the internal dia-
meter is 11. The wall next the road,
which is propiied up behind, is pro-
bably the original height, ai)out 25


Route 73. — Cave of Smoo ; Balnaklll. Sect. YII.

ft. The entrance is very low, and
could only have been used on hands
and knees. Of any opening for light
or ventilation there is no trace.
From hence to Altnaharra it is 9 m.
On rt. a path leads to a shooting-
lodge of the Earl of Dudley, who
rents the Reay Forest from the Duke.

Tlie road now winds round the
base of Ben Hee, passing Loch
Meadie on the 1., to

21 m. Altnaharra. Good Inn.]

On ascending the hill, turn to the
rt. and leave on rt. 4 m. Rispond,
situated in a small creek, and sur-
rounded by bare rocks. It was once
the earliest station for the herring-
fishery. But since the Minch Fisheiy
has been established at Lewis the
supply of fish has diminished.

The road here turns to the "W.,
passing 7 m. rt. the Coa-c of Smoo,
on the shore below, of which Sii'
W. Scott in his Diary has given a
most glowing account (perhaps alittle
exaggerated). On the opposite side
of the road is seen the burn descend-
ing into the inner cave by a natural
opening. The cave consists of 3 cham-
bers, and opens at the extremity of a
deep cove, hollowed out of the lime-
stone rock, which rises in lofty cliffs.
The outer chamber is 33 ft. high,
and 203 ft. long by 120 broad,
but has probably at one time ex-
tended farther out to sea. It
is perfectly light, and at low water
easily accessible, though neither
the roof nor ground is dry. On
a sunny day the light upon the
seaside rocks when seen from the
back of the cave is very picturesque,
though the effect is somewhat marred
by an irregular-shaped hole in the
roof, called in Gaelic "Nafalish," or
"the Sun."

On the W. side there is a pool of
water at the foot of an arch 15 ft.
high, the passage through which is
obstructed by a barrier of 3 ft. For
those who wish to see the cataract
and the inner cave, a boat must be

lifted over this ledge, a tough job
for 4 men, and therefore not to be
done for less than 7s. 6d. or 10s. The
length of the inner cavern is 70 ft.
by 30 broad, the floor being entirely
under water. The visitor is pushed
into a niche in the rocks, from whence
the -vdew by torchlight is very strik-
ing. At the back is the cataract de-
scending perpendicularly through
the roof, a height of 80 ft. Beyond
this is the third chamber, or rather
passage, also containing a pool of
great depth. In old times it was
supposed that these caverns were
tenanted by spirits, and formed the
entrance to another world.

Dryas odopctala is to be found on
the slope at the upper end of the
cavern. The limestones of this dis-
trict are particularly interesting to
the geologist, Hugh Miller believing
them to be the representatives of the
old red sandstone and Caithness flags
of the E. coast, while Prof. Kicholl
thought that they were metamor-
phosed carboniferous rocks.

But the discoveries of Mr. Peach
satisfied the Geological Survey, with
Sir Roderick Murchison at its head,
that these limestones and quartzites
of Durness are of Lower Silurian age,
and the representatives of the Trenton
limestone of America.

8 m. Durness (Rte. 68), stands on
the E. side of the Kyle of Durness,
and is a large and straggling village
of about 800 Inhab. To the N.W.
Farout Head juts 3 m. out to
sea, and at its extremity rises to a
height of 400 ft. N. the view ex-
tends to the cliffs of Hoy in the
Orkneys. The Inn is well situated.
Two dog-carts are kept, and may be
hired for excursions to Cape "Wrath.
Plenty of salmon and sea-trout when
the river is in order. Landlord can
give permission to fish.

Gold \ya.s found in the 16th centy,
in the protozoic rocks of Durness,
and was coined into money.

Balnakill, a little to the IST.W.,
was once the summer abode of the

Scotland. Route 73. — Durness; Cape JFrath.


Bishops of Sutherland, afterwards of
the Lord Reay. It is now converted
into a farm-house, and has lost all
appearance of antiquity. Beyond it
is the old Church of Durness, formerly
a cell connected with the Augustine
monastery at Dornoch. It has been
unroofed many years, but its ceme-
tery is still used. In the centre is a
granite Obelisk to the memory of Bob
Donn, aZi'asCalder, alias ^VKdij, the
Gaelic poet, who died in 1777. Upon
the sides of the pedestal are inscrip-
tions in Greek, Latin, English, and
Gaelic. In the 5 Latin hexameters,
which being on the S. side are most
easily read, there are no less than 5
false quantities.

The distance to the ferry across
the Kyle of Durness is 24m., the
strait is fully a mile long, and Cape
Wrath is 11 m. beyond, making the
journey there and back a good day's

Distances. — From Durness to
Tongue, 24 m ; Cape Wrath 13 ;
Smoo Cave, 1 ; Loch Eriboll, 8 ; Rhi-
conich, 1.5 ; Laxford Bridge, 18 ;
Scourie, 25 ; Bonar Bridge, 66 m.

Those who wish to drive to Cape
Wrath must send their horses 2 m.
farther up the Kyle, where they can
cross at low water, there being no
horse-boat, but a dog-cart can be
taken by the ordinary ferry-boat.

The whole road to Cape Wrath is
very uninteresting, passing over a
bleak moorish tract known as the
'■'■ Taiyh" forest, without an inch of
cultivated ground. 2 m. from the
ferry there is a shepherd's hut at the
bottom of the glen. The road from
this ascends a long hill, having be-
hind it Ben Spionn (2535 ft.), with
the tops of Ben Hope and Ben Laog-
hal behind it. In front is Fashven
(1504 ft.) with its broad, bare, and
peaked summit, and presently Scrish-
ven (1213 ft.) appears upon the rt.,
sloping gradually to the E., but with

a bare precipitous face of red gi-anite
upon its W. side.

9 m. a road on rt. , at the bottom,
leads to the small harbour and quar-
ries of Clashcarnach. At the top
of the hill the Minch comes in sight,
and round the corner stands the
lighthouse of Cape Wrath, which,
with its regular and turreted walls,
looks like a small fort. It was built
in 1828 at a cost of £14,000, is 70 ft.
high, and is provided with 20 revolv-
ing lights, displaying alternately a
red and a w^hite light every minute.
The granite of which it is composed
was dug from the quarries of Clash-
carnach, but all the other materials
had to be brought from a great dis-
tance. The whole of the shore is
very precipitous, and composed al-
most entirely of red granite. ' ' Cape
Wrath, the Parph of ancient geo-
gi-aphers, is composed of a huge gneiss
wall, interspersed so abundantly by
rich pink granite veins, that the face
of the cliff glows with a roseate hue."
On the rt., separated by a narrow gulf,
in which vain endeavours have been
made to keep up a staircase to the
water's edge, is the highest point, a
mass of rock rising 600 ft, above the
sea, with a fine arch at its base.
Primula Scotica grows in abundance
about the Cape, and Pinguicula hisi-
tanica in the neighbouring bogs.

To the E. lies the sandy, well-
sheltered bay of Kearvaig, and far-
ther on the Kyle of Durness, the view
on that side being bounded by Far-
out Head. On the seaward side may
be seen, on a clear day, the Stack
Rock, 37 m. to the IN'.E., the island
of North Bona 40 m. to the N.W.,
the Butt of Lewis 40 m. to the W.,
the Holy Cliffs, in Orkney, are also
visible ; while to the S. are the island
of Balquie, the solitary peaked rock
known as the Herd, as grand a pin-
nacle as the Storr in STcye, and be-
yond them the bay of Sandwick.


The Orkney and Shetland Islands.


74 The Orkney Islands, Wick
to Kirkwall^ Alaeshow, Stcn-
nisSy Stromness, Hoy . 446


76 The Shetlands, Lerwick,

Mousa, Fetlar, etc. . .455


The Orkney Isles — "Wick to
Kirkwall— Mae show, Stenniss,
Stromness, and Hoy.

Steamers from Granton Pier, Edin-
burgh, to Orkney (Kirkwall) and
Shetland (Lerwick) twice a week,
calling at Aberdeen, Wick, and

The Orkneys are separated from
Caithness, the N.E. point of Scotland,
by the Pentland Firth, about 8 miles
broad at its narrowest part. Of the
whole group about 20 are inhabited
islands, the rest being pasture holms
or skerries clothed with seaweed.
The largest island is named Main-
land by the natives, and Pomona by
geographers and mapmakers, pro-
bably from a mistranslation of So-
linus, as such a misnomer has never
obtained local currency with Pict,
Northman, or Scot. Like the Scot-
tish Mainland, the Orkneys are
mountainous only on their W. or
Atlantic face, sloping on the E. into
arable plains, with corresponding
varieties of climate and productive-
ness ; the rainfall in the W. district
reaching an average of 36 inches,
while that of the E. is under 30. In
them all the climate is much milder
than the latitude would indicate ; the

Gulf Stream not only encircling them
with its temperature, but winding
like an arterial system of tepid Avaters
through every sound and inlet.
There is therefore less frost and snow
than in most parts of Britain, and
while the temperature of winter sel-
dom falls below 30°, that of the
tourist's summer rarely exceeds 70°.
The same brilliant twilight, which
for weeks before and after Midsum-
mer bridges over the brief space be-
tween sunset and sunrise, adds pro-
portionally some hours of light to the
six hours' sun of Midwinter. Culti-
vation is spreading more rapidly than
in most counties of Britain, and the
large steadings and broad squares
of systematic and continuous hus-
bandry, entitle many of the islands
to the description of a "slice of the
Lothians surrounded by the sea."

The archipelago, containing the
two counties of Orkney and Zetland,
was conquered by Harold Harfager,
King of Norway (895), given by him
to Kognwald, Jarl of Mora, and
governed by their own jarls of that
race, vnth more or less dependence
on the crown of Norway, till 1469,
when the sovereignty, and skatt or
tax payable by Odal proprietors, were
mortgaged to James III. of Scotland,
in security of his Queen Margaret's
dowry of 60,000 crowns. The same
prince purchased from William Sin-


Houte 74. — Orhiey.


clair, the last Orkneyar jarl, the
lands of his Scandinavian fathers,
thereafter called the Earldom Estate,
which Queen Mary, in the end of
the 16th cent., gave to her bastard
brother, Eobert Stewart, Earl of
Orkney and Lord of Zetland. His
son. Earl Patrick, so abused his
jiowers as proprietor of the Earldom
estate, Tacksman of the Church
Lands, Donatory of the Skatts, and
Governor of the Islands, that the
unanimous complaint of the other
proprietors, feudal, odal, and cleri-
cal, at last reached James VI., who
had the miscreant tried and executed
(1615). The greater part of his for-
feited estates was distributed among
other feudatories, mostly of Scottish
families, with little regard to the
rights and unwritten titles of their
odal neighbours. The scattered relics
of the ep.rldom estate, with the skatts
and feu-duties of the other proprie-
tors, were mortgaged to James, Earl
of Morton (1707), and the mortgage,
being declared irredeemable (1742),
was sold to Sir Lawrence Dundas
(1765) ; and his descendant, now Earl
of Zetland, is still one of the largest
proprietors in both counties, and Dona-
tory of the unredeemed crown rents.
Steamer carrying the mail from
Scrabster Bay (Thurso) to Stromness
daily in 3 to 4 hrs.

A steamer leaves Wick for Kirk-
wall (4 hours) twice a week, the pas-
sengers embarking in bad weather
at Ackergill Bay, 3 m. IST. of Wick.
Bounding the bold Head of Noss*
(the Beruljium of Ptolemy), with its
lighthouse, we pass the ruined castles
of Sinclair and Girnigo (1.), ancient
strongholds of the Earls of Caithness,
Ackergill Tower (Sir G. S. Dunbar,
Bart.), Keiss Castle (Duke of Port-
land), and Ereswick (W. T. Sinclair,
Esq.), near the older Castle of Eres-
wick, the Lambaborg of the sagas.

* Noss, Norwegian, Nos, means a nose ;
Wick, a bay ; Gjo, a rocky creek ; and Ey,
an island — in tlie Norse the source of all
Orkney nomenclature.

From Freswick the steamer stands
out to sea, to avoid the restless cur-
rent of the Pentland Firth, and
passing within sight of the heads of
Duncansbay and Dunnet, the Hoy
Head Cliff hills (1200 ft. high) are
seen over the island of Stroma. Then

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