Robert Naylor.

From John O'Groats to Land's End online

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During the singing of this, all the people remained seated except the
precentor, who stood near the pulpit. Then followed a prayer, the people
all standing; and then the minister read a portion of Scripture from the
thirty-fourth chapter of the prophet Ezekiel beginning at the eleventh
verse: "For thus saith the Lord God; Behold I, even I, will both search
My sheep, and seek them out."

Another hymn was followed by the Lord's Prayer; after which came the
sermon, preached by the Rev. Donald Fraser, M.A., of Marylebone, London,
a former minister of the church. He read the last three verses of the
ninth chapter of St. John's gospel, continued reading down to the
sixteenth verse of the tenth chapter, and then selected for his text the
fourth, ninth, and tenth verses of that chapter, the first verse of
these reading: "And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before
them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice."

The sermon had evidently been well thought out and was ably delivered,
the subject being very appropriate to a district where sheep abound and
where their habits are so well known. Everybody listened with the
greatest attention. At the close there was a public baptism of a child,
whose father and mother stood up before the pulpit with their backs to
the congregation. The minister recited the Apostles' Creed, which was
slightly different in phraseology from that used in the Church of
England, and then, descending from the pulpit, proceeded to baptize the
child in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The closing hymn
followed, and the people stood while the minister pronounced the
benediction, after which the congregation slowly separated.

[Illustration: INVERNESS CASTLE.]

During the afternoon we visited an isolated hill about a mile from the
town named Tomnahurich, or the "Hill of the Fairies." Nicely wooded, it
rose to an elevation of about 200 feet above the sea, and, the summit
being comparatively level and clear from trees, we had a good view of
Inverness and its surroundings. This hill was used as the Cemetery, and
many people had been buried, both on the top and along the sides of the
serpentine walk leading up to it, their remains resting there peacefully
until the resurrection, "when the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall
be raised incorruptible." We considered it an ideal place for the burial
of the dead, and quite a number of people were walking up and down the
paths leading under the trees, many of them stopping on their way to
view the graves where their friends had been buried.

In the evening we attended service in the cathedral, a large modern
structure, with two towers, each of which required a spire forty feet
high to complete the original design. Massive columns of Aberdeen
granite had been erected in the interior to support the roof of polished
oak, adorned with carved devices, some of which had not yet been
completed. The Communion-table, or altar, made in Italy and presented to
the cathedral by a wealthy layman, stood beneath a suspended crucifix,
and was further adorned with a cross, two candlesticks, and two vases
containing flowers. The service, of a High-Church character, was fully
choral, assisted by a robed choir and a good organ. The sermon was
preached by the Rev. Provost Powell, who took for his text Romans xiv.
7: "For none liveth to himself and no man dieth to himself." He gave us
a clever oration, but whether extempore or otherwise we could not tell,
as from where we sat we could not see the preacher. There was not a
large congregation, probably owing to the fact that the people in the
North are opposed to innovations, and look upon crosses and candlesticks
on the Communion-table as imitations of the Roman Catholic ritual, to
which the Presbyterians could never be reconciled. The people generally
seemed much prejudiced against this form of service, for in the town
early in the morning, before we knew this building was the cathedral, we
asked a man what kind of a place of worship it was, and he replied, in a
tone that implied it was a place to be avoided, that he did not know,
but it was "next to th' Catholics." Our landlady spoke of it in exactly
the same way.


_Monday, September 25th._


We rose early, but were not in very good trim for walking, for a mild
attack of diarrhoea yesterday had become intensified during the night,
and still continued. After breakfast we went to the post office for our
"poste restante" letters, and after replying to them resumed our march.
Culloden Muir, the site of the great battle in 1746, in which the
Scottish Clans under Prince Charlie suffered so severely at the hands of
the Duke of Cumberland, is only six miles away from Inverness, and we
had originally planned to visit it, but as that journey would have taken
us farther from the Caledonian Canal, the line of which we were now
anxious to follow, we gave up the idea of going to Culloden. We were,
moreover, in no humour for digressions since we had not yet recovered
from the effects of our long walk on Saturday, and our bodily ailments
were still heavy upon us. As we crossed the suspension-bridge, in close
proximity to the castle, we purchased a few prints of the town and the
neighbourhood through which we were about to pass.

Inverness is built in a delightful situation, skirting the Ness, which
here takes the form of a beautiful, shallow river moving peacefully
forward to its great receptacle, Loch Ness, a few miles away; but,
although the country near the town is comparatively level, it is
surrounded by mountain scenery of the most charming description. Our
route lay along the north-western side of the Caledonian Canal in the
direction of Fort Augustus, and we again passed the Tomnahurich Hill.
Near this we saw a large building which we were surprised to learn was a
lunatic asylum - an institution we did not expect to find here, for we
had only heard of one madman in the three counties of Scotland through
which we had passed. We concluded it must have been built for persons
from farther south.

[Illustration: CULLODEN MUIR.]

The diarrhoea still continued to trouble us, so we asked the advice of a
gentleman we met on the road, and he recommended us to call at the next
farmhouse, which, fortunately, happened to be only a short distance
away, and to "take a quart of milk each, as hot as you can drink it." So
away we walked to the farm, which we found standing a short distance
from our road, and, after explaining our troubles and wishes to the
farmer, were invited into the house, where the mistress quickly provided
us with the hot milk, which luckily proved to be a safe and simple
remedy. The farmer and his wife were as pleased with our company as we
were with theirs, and were just the sort of people that tourists like to
meet. We had a long talk with them about the crops, the markets, our
long walk, and, last but not least, the weather. Speaking of diarrhoea,
the farmer informed us that the water of Inverness often affected
strangers in that way, and that it had even been known to produce

After regaining our road, we had a lovely walk that day; the scenery
and the weather were both very fine, and, about a mile farther on, we
had a glorious view over Loch Ness, beside which our walk led us,
through a delightful country studded with mansions amidst some of
nature's most beautiful scenery. Presently we met a party of men,
consisting of two soldiers and three civilians, engaged in cutting
branches from the trees that were likely to interfere with the working
of the telegraph, which passed along the side of the road. It consisted
of a single wire, and had only just been erected, for we noticed each
post bore the Government mark and the date 1871. We asked the men if
they knew of a good remedy for our complaint, and one of the soldiers,
who had seen service abroad, recommended "a spoonful of sweet oil and
cinnamon mixed with it." Our former remedy had proved to be efficacious,
so we had no need to try this, but we give the information here for the
benefit of all whom it may concern.


We were certainly in for the best day's march we had yet experienced, if
not for distance, certainly for beauty of route; and if we had had the
gift of poetry - which only affected us occasionally - we should have had
here food for poems sufficient to fill the side of a newspaper. Mountain
rills, gushing rivulets, and murmuring waters! Here they were in
abundance, rolling down the rocky mountains from unknown heights, and
lending an additional charm to the landscape! Is it necessary to dilate
on such beauties? - for if words were conjured in the most delicate and
exquisite language imaginable, the glories of Loch Ness and its
surroundings are, after all, things to be seen before they can be fully
appreciated. The loch is over twenty miles long, and averages about a
mile broad; while a strange fact is that its water never freezes.
Scientific men, we were told, attributed this to the action of
earthquakes in distant parts of the world, their vibrations affecting
the surface of the water here; while others, apparently of the more
commonsense type, attribute it to the extreme depth of the water in the
loch itself, for in the centre it is said to exceed 260 yards.

As we loitered along - for we were very lazy - we decided to have a picnic
amongst the large stones on the shore of the loch, so we selected a
suitable position, and broke into the provisions we carried in our bags
as a reserve for emergencies. We were filling our water-boiling
apparatus from the loch, when we saw a steamboat approaching from the
direction of Glasgow. It presented quite a picture as it passed us, in
the sunshine, with its flags flying and its passengers crowded on the
deck, enjoying the fine scenery, and looking for Inverness, where their
trip on the boat, like the Caledonian Canal itself, would doubtless end.
There was music on board, of which we got the full benefit, as the sound
was wafted towards us across the water, to echo and re-echo amongst the
hills and adjoining woods; and we could hear the strains of the music
long after the boat was cut off from our vision by the branches of the
trees which partially surrounded us.

[Illustration: THE WELL OF THE DEAD, CULLODEN MUIR. The stone marks the
spot where MacGillivray of Dunmaglass died while stretching out his hand
toward the little spring of water.]

We were, in reality, having a holiday compared with our exertions on
Saturday, and, as we were practically on the sick-list, considered
ourselves fully entitled to it. We thought we had travelled quite far
enough for invalids when, at fourteen miles from Inverness, and in the
light of a lovely sunset, we reached Drumnadrochit, a village on the
side of the loch.

Is it to be wondered at that we succumbed to the seductions of the
famous inn there, as distinguished men had done before us, as the
records of the inn both in prose and poetry plainly showed? One poetical
Irishman had written a rhyme of four verses each ending with the word
Drumnadrochit, one of which we thought formed a sufficient invitation
and excuse for our calling there; it read:

Stop, traveller! with well-pack'd bag,
And hasten to unlock it;
You'll ne'er regret it, though you lag
A day at Drumnadrochit.

One of the best advertisements of this hotel and Drumnadrochit generally
appeared in a letter written by Shirley Brooks to _Punch_ in 1860, in
which he wrote:

The inn whence these lines are dated faces a scene which, happily, is
not too often to be observed in this planet. I say happily, sir,
because we are all properly well aware that this world is a vale of
tears, in which it is our duty to mortify ourselves and make
everybody else as uncomfortable as possible. If there were many
places like Drumnadrochit, persons would be in fearful danger of
forgetting that they ought to be miserable.

But who would have thought that a quiet and sedate-looking Quaker like
John Bright, the famous M.P. for Birmingham, could have been moved by
the spirit to write a verse of poetry - such an unusual thing for a
member of the Society of Friends! Here it is:

In the Highland glens 'tis far too oft observed,
That man is chased away and game preserved;
Glen Urquhart is to me a lovelier glen -
Here deer and grouse have not supplanted men.

But was the position reversed when Mr. Bright visited it? and did the
men supplant the deer and grouse then?

[Illustration: DRUMNADROCHIT.]

Glen Urquhart was one of the places we had to pass on the following day,
but as we had no designs on the deer and grouse, since our sporting
proclivities did not lie in that direction, we thought that we might be
safely trusted to leave the game undisturbed.

(_Distance walked fourteen miles_.)

_Tuesday, September 26th._

We set out from Drumnadrochit early in the morning, and, leaving Glen
Urquhart to the right, after walking about two miles turned aside to
view Urquhart Castle, a ruin occupying a commanding position on the side
of Loch Ness and immediately opposite the entrance to the glen. The
castle was besieged by Edward I when he was trying to subdue Scotland,
and a melancholy story was told of that period. The Scots, who were
defending the castle, were "in extremis," as their provisions were
exhausted and they knew that when they surrendered they would all be
slain. The Governor, however, was anxious to save his wife, who was
shortly to become a mother, so he bade her clothe herself in rags and
drove her from the gate as though she were a beggar who had been shut up
in the castle and whom they had driven away because their provisions
were running short. The ruse succeeded, for the English, believing her
story, let her go; after the garrison saw that she was safe they sallied
forth to meet their fate, and were all killed.

[Illustration: URQUHART CASTLE.]

The approach to the ruins from the road is by upwards of a hundred rough
hardwood steps, and the castle must have been a well-nigh impregnable
stronghold in former times, protected as it was on three sides by the
water of the loch and by a moat on the fourth, the position of the
drawbridge being still clearly denned.

Beneath the solitary tower is a dismal dungeon, and we wondered what
horrors had been enacted within its time-worn and gloomy walls! Once a
grim fortress, its ruins had now been mellowed by the hand of time, and
looked quite inviting amidst their picturesque surroundings. To them
might fitly be applied the words: "Time has made beautiful that which at
first was only terrible."

Whilst we were amongst the ruins, a steamboat which had called at
Drumnadrochit passed close alongside the castle, and we waved our
handkerchiefs to those on board, our silent salutations being returned
by some of the passengers. We afterwards learned we had been recognised
by a gentleman who had met us on the previous day.

About ten miles from Drumnadrochit we reached Invermoriston, and visited
a church which was almost filled with monuments to the memory of the
Grant family, the lairds of Glenmoriston. Among them was the tombstone
of the son of a former innkeeper, with the following inscription, which
reminded us of our own mortality:

Remember, Friend, when this you see,
As I am now so you must be;
As you are now so once was I.
Remember, Friend, that you must die.

There was also another tombstone, apparently that of his mother,


and on this appeared the following epitaph:

Weep not for me, O friends,
But weep and mourn
For your own sins.


We then went to visit the remarkable waterfall of Glenmoriston, where
the water after rushing down the rocks for some distance entered a
crevice in a projecting rock below, evidently worn in the course of ages
by the falls themselves. Here the water suddenly disappeared, to
reappear as suddenly some distance below, where, as if furious at its
short imprisonment, it came out splashing, dashing, and boiling in
fantastic beauty amongst the rocks over which it pursued its downward
course. We descended a few paces along a footpath leading to a small
but ancient building, probably at one time a summer house, in the centre
of which a very old millstone had done duty as a table. Here we were
fairly in the whirl of waters, and had a splendid view of the falls and
of the spray which rose to a considerable height. There was no doubt
that we saw this lovely waterfall under the best possible conditions,
and it was some recompense to us when we thought that the heavy rainfall
through which we had passed had contributed to this result. The thistle
may overshadow many more beautiful falls than the falls of Glenmoriston,
but we claim a share of praise for this lively little waterfall as
viewed by us in full force from this shady retreat.



[Illustration: FALLS OF FOYERS AND LOCH NESS. "Here in the whirl of
waters ... the spray rose to a considerable height."]

After refreshing ourselves at the inn, we started on our next stage of
ten miles to Fort Augustus, the loneliness of our journey through its
beauties of scenery being enlivened by occasionally watching the pranks
of the squirrels and gazing at the many burns that flowed down the
mountain slopes. Before reaching Fort Augustus we had a splendid view as
we looked backward over Loch Ness, dotted here and there with several
ships tacking and retacking, their white sails gleaming in the sunshine.
It had been a calm and lovely day; the sun was sinking in the west as
we entered Fort Augustus, but we had only time enough for a superficial
survey, for we had to proceed farther, and, however important the Fort
might have been in 1729 when General Wade constructed his famous
military road, or when the Duke of Cumberland made it his headquarters
while he dealt severely with the adherents of Prince Charlie, shooting
ruthlessly, laying waste on every side, and driving women and children
into the moors only to die, it looked very insignificant that night. The
Highland Clans never looked favourably on the construction of these
military roads, and would doubtless have preferred the mountain tracks
to remain as they were, for by using the Fort as a base these roads
became a weapon to be used against them; their only eulogy was said to
have been written by an Irish officer:

Had you but seen these roads before they were made,
You would lift up your eyes, and bless General Wade.

My brother said he must have been a real Irishman, with the eye of
faith, to see roads _before they were made_!


Fort Augustus stands at the extremity of Loch Ness, at the point where
its surplus waters are lowered by means of locks to swell those of Loch
Oich, so as to make both lochs navigable for the purposes of the
Caledonian Canal. We noticed some corn-stacks here that were thatched
with broom, and some small houses that were roofed with what looked like
clods of earth, so we concluded that the district must be a very poor

[Illustration: IN GLENMORISTON.]

As darkness was now coming on, we were anxious to find lodgings for the
night, and, hearing that there was an inn at a place called Invergarry,
seven and a half miles from Fort Augustus, we were obliged to go there.
The moon was just beginning to relieve the darkness when we reached
Invergarry, and, seeing a servant removing some linen from a
clothes-line in a small garden, we asked the way to the inn; she pointed
to a building opposite, and said we had "better go in at that door." We
entered as directed at the side door, and found ourselves in a rather
large inn with a passage through it from end to end. We saw what we
supposed to be the master and the mistress snugly ensconced in a room,
and asked the master if we could obtain lodgings for the night. He said
"yes," but we heard the mistress, who had not seen us, mutter something
we could not hear distinctly. My brother said he was sure he heard the
words "Shepherd's room." The landlord then conducted us into a room at
the end of the long dark passage, in which, we found several shepherds
drinking and conversing with each other in Gaelic. One of them said to
us "Good night," and as we returned his salutation they all retired from
the room. We were now able to look about us, and found the room
contained two tables, four forms, and at least two beds ranged
lengthways along one side. Presently a servant came in and began to make
one of the beds, and then another servant came who, we thought, eyed us
rather closely, as we were holding our faces down to conceal the
laughter which we could scarcely restrain. When she had made the other
bed my brother asked if both the beds were for us. The servant said she
couldn't tell, but "Missis says they are both to be made." We had
evidently been taken for shepherds, and at first we were inclined to
feel angry, for no one came to ask us if we required anything to eat or
drink. We could have done with a good supper, but fortunately we had
replenished our bags at Fort Augustus, so we were in no danger of being
starved. We scribbled in our diaries by the feeble light of the candle
which the servants had left on one of the tables, and as no one turned
up to claim the second bed we occupied both. There was no lock or
fastening on the door, but we barricaded it securely with two of the
forms - and it was perhaps as well that we did so, for some one tried to
open it after we were in bed - and we slept that night not on feathers,
but on chaff with which the beds or mattresses were stuffed.

(_Distance walked twenty-seven miles_.)

_Wednesday, September 27th._

"The sleep of a labouring man is sweet," and so was ours on the
primitive beds of the shepherds. But the sounds in the rear of the hotel
awoke us very early in the morning, and, as there was every appearance
of the weather continuing fine, we decided to walk some distance before
breakfast. We asked one of the servants how much we had to pay, and she
returned with an account amounting to the astounding sum of sixpence!
Just fancy, ye Highland tourists! ye who have felt the keen grip of many
an hotel-keeper there - just fancy, if ye can, two of us staying a night
at a large hotel in the Highlands of Scotland for sixpence!

We followed the servant to a small room at the front of the hotel, where
a lady was seated, to whom the money had to be paid; the surprised and
disappointed look on her face as we handed her a sovereign in payment of
our account was rich in the extreme, amply repaying us for any annoyance
we might have experienced the night before. What made the matter more
aggravating to the lady was that she had not sufficient change, and had
to go upstairs and waken some unwilling money-changer there! Then the
change had to be counted as she reluctantly handed it to us and made a
forlorn effort to recover some of the coins. "Won't you stay for
breakfast?" she asked; but we were not to be persuaded, for although we
were hungry enough, we were of an unforgiving spirit that morning, and,
relying upon getting breakfast elsewhere, we thanked her and went on our
way rejoicing!

About a mile farther on we reached the ruins of Glengarry Castle, which
stand in the private grounds of the owner, but locks and bolts prevented
us from seeing the interior. This castle remains more complete than many
others and still retains its quadrangular appearance, much as it was
when Prince Charlie slept there during his flight after Culloden, and,
although not built on any great elevation, it looks well in its wooded
environs and well-kept grounds. A story was told of the last Lord
Glengarry who, in 1820, travelled 600 miles to be present at the
Coronation of King George IV. He was dressed on that magnificent and
solemn occasion in the full costume of a Highland chief, including, as a
matter of course, a brace of pistols. A lady who was at the reception
happened to see one of the pistols in his clothing, and, being greatly
alarmed, set up a loud shriek, crying, "Oh Lord! Oh Lord! there's a man

Online LibraryRobert NaylorFrom John O'Groats to Land's End → online text (page 10 of 66)