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Glen Albyne
Chapter II —On the Banks of Loch Lochy


WHEN the Caledonian Canal was formed in 1822 the course of the Lochy river was altered for some few hundred yards, the original river-bed being utilised in the formation of the canal. In its new course the Lochy tumbles into the Spean over a high fall which prevents salmon getting into the loch and_ higher reaches of the river. An attempt has been made to encourage the fish to ascend by means of a rude ladder, but so far efforts in this direction" have not been crowned with great success. A well-planned salmon ladder would add enormously to the possibilities of Loch Lochy as a fishing lake, and enhance the value of a large stretch of river as angling water. We may mention that ancient documents speak of these upper reaches, which to-day are practically worthless, as affording most excellent salmon fishing. It is curious to notice, as marking a changed order of affairs, that in 1841, James, the first Lord Abinger, obtained from Government for the sum of 600 a charter for the salmon rights of all the waters in the lordship of Lochaber. To-day the yearly rental obtained for these fishings is close on 3000,. or nearly five times the original purchase price.

In the angle formed by the junction of the Spean and the, Lochy stands the parish church of Kilmonivaig. To this church of old was attached the right of sanctuary, for whatever that privilege may have been worth in this wild and lawless district. A very ancient document curiously enough bears witness to the populous state of this part of the country in bygone times, and throws a sidelight on the manners and customs of the inhabitants; though the quaint phraseology leaves us in some doubt as

to whether the houses and inhabitants, or the wine, the ale, or the hazel nuts had their abode in the chapel, and seems to hint at wild orgies in the house of God. "There is a small town where a chappel was built of old . . . wherein the oldest men declare they did see in this chappel many houses and inhabitants of that town selling wine, ail, and aqua vita—the Scots quart of wine for 18 pennies Scots, a quart of wine, a quart of hazell nuts, and a quart oatmeal for three pennies Scots, and that this place was a sanctuarie among the country people."

The different values of coins and standards of measures was a continual source of bewilderment to the casual English visitor to Scottish soil. The pound Scots was only worth a few pence, whilst the Scottish pint held as much as a moderate sized bucket. An incensed English lackey said to his Scottish brother, "Out upon your master; he gave me a pound tip and I am but a penny the richer!" "That may be," dolefully replied the Scotsman—who dearly lo'ed his whiskey, O—'abut my curse upon the country that invented the small pint stoup!"

In our modern days of money and materialism it is the custom to deny all belief in ghosts, spirits, second-sight or miracles, and to scoff at any interference in material things by beings of an unseen world. But the spirit of superstition still lingers amidst the Highland hills, and well authenticated instances of second sight, if not so frequent now as formerly, are still far from uncommon throughout the north and west. Some hundred years ago the faculty of second-sight was so well known that we find the authorities in Rome ordering an enquiry into the matter on the part of the Catholic bishops of this country. One bishop wrote a full account to Rome, proving beyond doubt the existence of this power and the frequency of its display, and pointing out that this singular gift seemed to run in families, the Macdonalds of Morar, for example, possessing it in a particularly marked degree. The worthy bishop had also a theory to explain this singular phenomenon, but as he was not asked for any explanation he kept it to himself and it has been lost to posterity. This was, of course, long before the Psychical Research Society appeared upon the scene, with its cryptomnesia, hyperpromethia, glossolaly, dynamogeny, phantasmogenetic centres, psychorragic diathesis and a whole host of other lucid terms to supply a simple explanation of well-known facts. In those good old days the mantle of the Highlander seems sometimes even to have descended on the outsider, and an interesting case of second-sight occurred in this district, the broad facts of which we may give here, leaving the explanation to individual opinion. In the early decades of last century a certain Protestant landed proprietor, who in his youth had led a wild life, was smitten with remorse and became a most enterprising revivalist—a brand snatched from the burning—and having settled in this district, he used to preach up and down the country to those still sitting in the shadow of sin and death. His discourses were seasoned with many astonishing, if not altogether edifying, experiences of his own early life. One evening the worthy revivalist happened to pass the little country inn, and was attracted by an unwonted glare from the kitchen window. A few minutes later he was seen returning to the window with a friend, murmuring in deep, earnest tones: "The finest vision ever you saw; three fairies from heaven in diaphanous drapery sporting themselves by the fire. Step quietly, man, lest you disturb them and they wing their way back to the skies." His friend peeped through a chink in the blinds, and to his horror recognised his own wife and two lady friends, who had been caught in a thunderstorm, drying their "shifts" at the fire. The apparition passed, but the nymphs did not fly back to heaven. Some say that the honest revivalist knew better, and was speaking with his tongue in his cheek. But these manifestly are children of Belial who know not the workings of the Highland mind nor the ways of the Lord's anointed.

As the train steams out of the station we get a glimpse of the ford in the Lochy where the whole of Prince Charlie's little force crossed the river on its way to meet the Government troops under Sir John Cope at the top of Corriearrick at the opening of the campaign in 1745. The following year, after Culloden had been fought and lost and the Prince had successfully remained hidden from his enemies for close on five months, he crossed this same river under very different circumstances, when on his way with a few faithful companions to get on board the vessel which was to carry him to France. The story may best be told in the quaint language of Donald Macpherson, given in the "Lyon in Mourning," a MS. in the Advocates' Library:

"As they approached towards Locheil's seat, Auchnacarry, they came to the river Lochy at night, being fine moonshine. The difficulty was how to get over. Upon this Clunes Cameron met them on the water-side, at whom Locheil asked how they would get over the river. He said 'Very well: for I have an old boat carried from Loch Arkaig, that the enemy left unburnt of all the boats you had, Locheil.' Locheil asked to see the boat. Upon seeing it, he said, 'I am afraid we will not be safe with it.' Quoth Clunes, 'I shall cross first, and show you the way.' The matter was agreed upon. Clunes, upon reflection, said, 'I have six bottles of brandy, and I believe all of you would be the better of a dram.' This brandy was brought from Fort-Augustus, where the enemy lay in garrison, about nine miles from that part of Lochy where they were about to cross. Locheil went to the Prince, and said,' Will your Royal Highness take a dram?' 'Oh,' said the Prince, 'can you have a dram here?' Yes,' replied Locheil, 'and that from Fort-Augustus, too;' which pleased the Prince much, that he should have provisions from his enemies. He said, 'Come, let us have it.' Upon this three of the bottles were drunk. Then they passed the river Lochy by three crossings: CIunes Cameron in the first with so many; then the Prince in the second with so many; and in the last Locheil with so many. In the third and last ferrying, the crazy boat leaked so much, that there would be four or five pints of water in the bottom, and in hurrying over, the three remaining bottles of brandy were all broke. When the Prince called for a dram, he was told that the bottles were broke, and that the common fellows had drunk all that was in the bottom of the boat, as being good punch, which had made the fellows so merry, that they made great diversion to the company as they marched along."

A few days later Prince Charlie, amidst the tears of his followers who had sacrificed everything for their loyalty to the Stuart cause, embarked on a small vessel and escaped in safety to the French coast.

Away beyond the pool where this incident occurred, a little further west on the opposite side of the Great Glen, stands the little farm of Moy. It was here that Dundee paraded his army before marching to Killiecrankie. Macaulay's famous description of this gathering of the clans is too well known to bear quotation here. Still further down the glen is the farm of Erracht, famous as being once the residence of Colonel Alan Cameron, who raised the 79th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. The raising of this regiment is a most singular instance of the martial ardour of the Highlanders and of the strength of the old clan spirit which caused the natives of Lochaber to rally round their leader. Letters of service were granted to Colonel Cameron in 1793, and no bounty was granted as in the case of other regiments raised in this way, the men being recruited solely at the expense of the officers, yet within six months the regiment was 1000 strong. Two years later, after suffering severely in the ill-fated campaign In Flanders, an impolitic attempt was made to disband the regiment, drafting the men into four other regiments. But the German commander-in-chief, who understood neither the spirit of the Highlanders nor the character of old Erracht, had reckoned without his host. Colonel Cameron demanded an interview, and plainly told the Royal Duke: "To draft the 79th is more than you or your Royal father dare do." The Duke replied: "The King my father will certainly send the regiment to the West Indies." Colonel Cameron, losing his temper, said : 11 You may tell the King your father from me that he may send us to hell if he likes, and 1 will go at the head of them, but he daurfta draft us." The fiery Highlander had his way, and the 79th entered upon a career which for loyalty, gallantry and brilliance of achievement has perhaps never been surpassed by any regiment in the service. Some two years later, when the regiment had been almost decimated by the unhealthy climate of the West Indies, it was once more in danger of being drafted, but old Erracht returned to Lochaber and in a few weeks raised a fresh body of 780 men.

Bungling seems early to have been the leading characteristic of the War Office, though, unfortunately, there has not always been a Colonel Cameron at hand to bring it to its senses. A few years later a plan was in contemplation by which the Camerons were to be deprived of the kilt and clad instead in tartan trews. Before putting the order into execution, Erracht was asked to state his private opinion as to the expediency of the change. He replied in four vigorous and pithy sentences whicn need not be given here. Suffice it to say that the gallant Colonel had his way, and the ancient proverb anent the Highlander and his national dress is still verified as regards the 79th, "Ye canna tak' the breeks aff a Hielandman."

Rounding the next corner we traverse a barren moss and see below us the village of Gairlochy, with its little whitewashed inn rejoicing in the name of the "Teapot." Why so named is not conspicuously clear. It lies in the old bed of the river Lochy, which was diverted from its course during the construction of the Canal. It was in this neighbourhood that the incident is supposed to have occurred attributed by Crockett i0 his "Lochinvar " to

Coll of Keppoch. A storm-stayed traveller having sought refuge in one of these huts from the fury of the elements was refused admittance. In desperation he cried out, "Is there no Christian here who will grant me one night's shelter?" "Na, na, we are a' Camerons," was the prompt reply, and he had to seek a haven elsewhere.

Looking back from this point we get a good view of Ben Nevis. It is often a puzzle for the stranger to distinguish this loftiest of Scottish peaks from the great mountains which surround it. On the Irishman's method of singling out the bull from the herd of cows lying down in a field, we may note that the hill which to the perfervid Celtic imagination is supposed to resemble a recumbent mummy with knees slightly drawn up, is not Ben Nevis; but the summit standing out against the sky just beyond it is the site of the famous observatory and the highest hill in Britain. The top of the mountain is as a rule capped with mist, but on a clear day the observatory buildings can easily be seen on the sky line between the two highest of the three peaks which rise like turrets above the steep hill face.

In a few moments the train is bowling along Loch Lochy side. On the opposite shore, embosomed amid a grove of splendid trees and lying back a little from the deep bay, we see Achnacarry Castle, the seat of Locheil, the chief of the Cameron Clan.

The origin of the Camerons, like that of many other Highland clans, is buried in obscurity, but the names of Sir Ewen, Donald Cameron, junior—the Gentle Locheil of the '45—and Dr. Cameron, would alone be sufficient to render the sept famous; while the authentic records of the clan throw much light upon the manners and customs of the Highlands in early times. We find one of the first chiefs engaged in thirty-five battles before he was thirty-two. But this was too hot to last, even in the Highlands, and he did not live to complete his thirty-third year.

The military genius of Sir Ewen, who soon after succeeded to the chiefship, must have singled him out for distinction in any age or country. At a time when the Royalist army and every other chief had surrendered to the Roundheads, alone at the head of a small band of his followers Sir Ewen defied all the might of the Commonwealth and of General Monk, Cromwell's right-hand man. Threat, entreaty, bribe, were all tried in vain, and as a last resource Monk established a garrison at InverIochy, now Fort-William, in the heart of the disaffected country.

Nothing dismayed, Sir Ewen set himself down in the close neighbourhood to await developments. They were not long in coming. He was so successful in harassing the Government troops and defeated them so often that Monk was compelled to grant him honourable terms of peace. It is significant that the acceptance of this truce was only obtained from Locheil by an appeal to his higher nature. In the course of the numerous conflicts between the Highlanders and the English, a mutual regard had sprung up between the officers and Sir Ewen. This soon passed into friendship and out of pity and respect Locheil accepted the terms of peace, full indemnity being granted to himself and his clan for all losses occasioned by the conflict. A full account of his exploits would here be out of place. They may be read in "Pennant's Tour in Scotland" of 1769. But one well-known instance may be quoted as an example of his versatility.

"Five days after their arrival at Inverlochy, the Governor dispatched 300 of his men on board of two vessels which were to sail westward a little, and to anchor on each side of the shore near Achdalew. Locheil heard their design was to cut down his trees and carry away his cattle, and was determined if possible to make them pay well for every tree and every hide; favoured by the woods, he came pretty close to the shore, where he saw their motions so perfectly that he counted them as they came out of the ship, and found the number of the armed exceeded 140, besides a number of workmen with axes and other instruments.

Having fully satisfied himself, he returned to his friends, and asked their opinion. The younger part of them were keen for attacking; but the older and the more experienced remonstrated against it, as a most rash and hazardous enterprise. Locheil then enquired of two of the party who had served for some time under Montrose if ever they saw him engage on so disadvantageous terms; they declared they never did. He, however, animated by the ardor of youth, or prompted by emulation (for Montrose was always in his mouth), insisted in a short but spirited harangue, that if his people had any regard for their King or their Chief, or any principle of honor, the English should be attacked: 'for,' says he, 'if every man kills his man, which I hope you will do. I will answer for the rest.' Upon this, none of his party made further opposition, but begged that he and his brother Allan should stand at a distance from the danger. Locheil could not hear with patience the proposal with regard to himself, but commanded that his brother Allan should be bound to a tree, and that a little boy should be left to attend him; but he soon flattered or threatened the boy to disengage him, and ran to the conflict.

"The Camerons being some more than thirty in number, armed partly with musquets, and partly with bows, kept up their pieces and arrows till their very muzzles and points almost touched their enemies' breasts, when the very first fire took down about thirty. They then laid on with their swords, and laid about with incredible fury. The English defended themselves with their musquets and bayonets with great bravery, but to little purpose. The skirmish continued long, and obstinate  at last. the English give way, and retreated towards the ship, with their faces to the enemy, fighting with astonishing resolution. But Locheil, to prevent their flight, commanded two or three of his men to run before, and from behind a bush to make a noise, as if there was another party of Highlanders to intercept their retreat. This took so effectually, that they stopped, and animated by rage, madness and despair, they renewed the skirmish with greater fury than ever, and wanted nothing but proper arms to make Locheil repent of his stratagem. They were at last, however, forced to give way, and betake themselves to their heels; the Camerons pursued them chin deep in the sea; 138 were counted dead of the English, and of the Camerons only five were killed.

"In this engagement Locheil himself had several wonderful escapes. In the retreat of the English, one of the strongest and bravest of the officers retired behind a bush, when he observed Locheil pursuing, and seeing him unaccompanied with any, he leaped out, and thought him his prey. They met one another with equal fury. The combat was long and doubtful. The English gentleman had by far the advantage in strength and size; but Locheil exceeding him in nimbleness and agility, in the end tript the sword out of his hand: upon which, his antagonist flew upon him with amazing rapidity; they closed, and wrestled till both fell to the ground in each other's arms. The English officer got above Locheil, and pressed him hard; but stretching forth his neck by attempting to disengage himself, Locheil, who by this time had his hands at liberty, with his left hand seized him by the collar, and jumping at his extended throat, he bit it with his teeth quite through, and kept such a hold of his grip, that he brought away his mouthful: this, he

said was the sweetest bite he ever had in his life time. Immediately afterwards, when continuing the pursuit after that encounter was over, he found his men chin deep in the sea; he quickly followed them and, observing a fellow on deck aiming his piece at him, plunged into the sea and escaped, but so narrowly that the hair on the back part of his head was cut, and a little of the skin ruffled. In a little while a similar attempt was made to shoot him: his foster-brother threw himself before him, and received the shot in his mouth and breast, preferring his Chief's life to his own."

It is said that some years later when Sir Ewen was paying a visit to London he went into a barber's shop to be shaved. In the course of conversation the barber said, "I see, sir, you come from the north." "Yes," answered Locheil, "I do. Have you any friends in the north?" "No," bitterly replied the barber, "nor do I wish to; they are all savages up there. Would you believe it, one of them tore my father's throat out with his teeth! I only wish I had the scoundrel's throat as near me as I have yours just now!" Sir Ewen, not in the least disconcerted, sympathised with the fellow, but did not go back to the same shop again to be shaved.

On another occasion, with only one hundred and fifty men, he cut off and almost annihilated a force of some five hundred from the garrison who had come out to gather firewood, not a single officer escaping. Almost the Iast appearance of Sir Ewen in a military capacity was at Killiecrankie; but after the fall of Dundee, in disgust at the petty jealousies and ignorance of warfare displayed by the leaders, he returned to Achnacarry, leaving the clan under the command of his son.

Hard by the present mansion house stand the ruins of the former castle burnt by Cumberland on the 28th May, 1746. The marks of the camp fires where the soldiers boiled their kettles are still to be seen on the stems of the fine avenue of plane trees leading towards the castle.

No man sacrificed more domestic comfort through loyalty to the Stuart cause than Donald Cameron, younger of Lochiel, who led the clan in 1745. No man had clearer views of the result. On hearing that Prince Charlie had landed at Borrodale he hastened in person to dissuade him from the attempt. On the way he passed his brother's house at Passifern. Having stated the object of his journey, his brother implored him to express his views by letter, for, he added, "I know you better than you know yourself; if the Prince once sets eyes on you, he will make you do anything he pleases."

The event proved the wisdom of his judgment. The Prince taunted Locheil with cowardice, and stung by his reproach, in the enthusiasm of the moment the chief exclaimed, "I will share the fate of my Prince, and so shall every man over whom nature or fortune has given me any power." With these words he hurried away to raise the clan. Had Locheil persisted in his refusal to raise the clan, says Home, no other chief would have joined the standard and the spark of rebellion must have been instantly extinguished. Badly wounded at Culloden, Locheil lurked for six months in the Highlands, sharing in the famous "cage" on Benalder side, the fortunes of his Prince and Macpherson of Cluny ; finally he escaped to France and died in exile.

The forfeited estates were restored in 1806. During that period the clan paid the usual rent to the Government and also contributed to maintain their chief and his family abroad. When the family returned the tenants clubbed together and from their holdings re-stocked Achnacarry.

Not far from the present house is a row of fine trees, but planted in defiance of all approved laws of forestry, even the German. The story of these trees is as follows4 Locheil was engaged in planting and beautifying his grounds at the time the news came of the landing of Prince Charlie. When he raised the clan, as told above, the seedlings were hastily placed in a trench with the intention of being taken out and planted in their proper places when the chief returned from the war. Of course Locheil never came back, and the seedlings remained in the trench to grow into the row of stately trees we see to-day.

Leading up towards Achnacarry from the loch is a stretch of road known as the dark mile, from the fact of its being so densely shaded by the great plane trees that rise on either side, flinging their leafy boughs across the road that even on the brightest summer day scarce a ray of sunshine falls on the road beneath. Winter storms have now considerably thinned the trees, but a little past the milestone about the centre of the avenue there still stands "Prince Charlie's Tree." Tradition has it that hidden in the hollow trunk the Prince, from the round hole facing the west, took stock of Cumberland's troops as they passed in quest of him. From the hundreds of initials cut on the trunk we may judge that Jacobite sympathisers still linger in the north, and that the British tourist may be recognised not merely by tracing figures with his walking stick in the dust but also by inscribing his name on every available monument.

Straight behind the tree there rises a steep and rugged hill, and amongst the grey rocks at the top may still be seen the cave in which Prince Charlie found shelter during his wanderings after Culloden.

A little below where the river flows out of Loch Arkaig the beautiful falls of Kaig are well worth the attention of one who visits this neighbourhood. The loch itself reaches back some ten miles into the very heart of the great rampart of mountains that girdles the west coast of Scotland. The loch has an interest of its own independent altogether of its scenic splendour and the glamour of romance. On the 8th May, 1746, two French vessels carrying seven barrels of gold - 37,000 louis d'or from the King of France, to assist the ill-fated expedition of Prince Charlie, touched at Borrodale. After landing the money the sailors heard of the desperate condition of the enterprise—Culloden had been fought some three _weeks previously—and demanded the restoration of the money. They might have known the Highlanders better. They even landed a party in search of the seven barrels, but all in vain, and two English vessels appearing on the coast they had to forsake their quest and fight their way to the open sea. The treasure was then carried to the head of Loch Arkaig, where a council of war was held. With the English soldiers scouring the country far and wide it was impossible to carry the gold from place to place, so enough having been removed to relieve immediate wants, the rest was buried part in the little river that runs in at the head of Loch Arkaig and the rest near the lower end of the same lake. Later the treasure was dug up again and re-buried, and later searches failed to discover the place of concealment. A very considerable portion of the 37,000 louis d'or has never yet been satisfactorily accounted for. We have it on good authority that a gentleman of the country—who must for the present be nameless—did discover some at least of the long lost treasure, but it is more than possible that a rich find yet remains for the enterprising and intelligent seeker.

A little rise in the foreground now hides Achnacarry from our view, and in a few moments we cross the lattice steel girder bridge across the GIoy. Pew who have not lived in the Highlands could conceive the force of this harmless streamlet, which flows below, when swollen by winter rains. So suddenly does the water rise that not long ago a large number of sheep and the best part of a little herd of cattle grazing on its banks were surprised and swept into the loch. Before the days of roads and bridges perils of this sort by water formed an important item in the daily life of the Highlanders.


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