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Days at the Coast
The Gareloch and Loch Long


Among the most beautiful and striking features of the Frith of Clyde are its lochs. Just as the estuary begins to expand, and, as it were, claim kindred with the sea—in which it is so soon to be engulfed—it sends into the bowels of the land a couple of strong but unequal arms, winding far and gracefully around the rocky feet of the mountains, and lending an added charm to their silent and solitary recesses. One of these noble inlets is Lochlong—a self-descriptive name—the other the Gareloch—also a comparatively descriptive designation, the word “gare” signifying “short” in the Celtic language. A third loch (to which we shall afterwards allude)—namely, the Holy Loch—is scarcely deserving of the name, as it partakes more of the character of a bay than of a loch. Lochlong—the opening of which is nearly opposite to Gourock, and which is flanked on the one side by the majestic promontory of Strone—stretches away in a northerly direction for about a distance of twentyrtwo miles into the interior, and at about half that distance, branches off in a north-westerly direction into Lochgoil. The Gareloch, on the other hand, although running parallel to Lochlong, and only separated from it by a single ridge of hills, is only about seven and a-half miles in length, reckoning from the extremity of Roseneath point. From the projection of the Row, or Rhue, where the loch may be said properly to commence, the length is perhaps about a mile less. Into this beautiful basin—for such, in truth, it is—let the reader imagine himself—say on board the good steamer “Alma accompanying us on one of those calm and sunny days, which form the pride of summer, when summer is at its highest noon. Leaving the projecting point of Row, with Roseneath and its wooded slopes and clustering cottages behind, we have an expanse of water of nearly a mile in breadth before us, bounded on one side by the swelling and continuous ridge that flanks Glenfruin, and on the other by the range which intervenes between us and Lochlong. There is nothing particularly striking in the sky-line on either side. The hills are lofty, but neither mountainous in their height nor picturesque in their general features. Above, they are brown, barren, and bleak ; but toward the shore, they relax into a fresher green, with a dense fringe of copeswood, extending close to the beach, and fretted at intervals by shallow ravines and water-courses, and dotted every here and there by snug and neatly-built cottages—either nestling in foliage and verdure apart, or clustered into sweet and inviting groups. Things to dreary of are these same scattered edifices—alone or congregated—and centres of sweetest associations to many a summer migrant from the stir and the turmoil of the dinsome and bustling city. The water o'er which we plough our foamy way, at the same time, is smooth as a mirror. In its depths we can see the ever-changing blue and white of the summer sky, while the old brown hills, and the sylvan slopes, and the straggling cottages and villas, and the green lawns, are seen in a watery shimmer reflected in either margin. A halo of peace and comfort and softest beauty seems, indeed, ever to hang over this calm and secluded lake, and over its environment of sheltering hills.

As we proceed, however, the solitary little clachan of Rochane u swims into our ken ”—a cluster of snowy and of weather-beaten cottages on the western shore; and on the farther side, a picturesque group of villas, with two edifices of greater pretensions occupying the central compartments. One of these, a chaste, retiring structure in the old Scottish baronial style, is Shandon Lodge, the seat of Walter Buchanan, Esq., M.P., one of the city members; and the other, “West Shandon,” a curious castellated erection recently called into existence by Robert Napier, Esq., the far-famed engineer. As a marine architect the enterprising proprietor of the latter deservedly occupies a foremost position. His ships are known on every sea as models of their kind; his mechanical productions in every land as masterpieces of their respective varieties. It is one thing, however, to build a ship, or to construct a steam-engine, and another to erect a castle. Mr. Napier’s taste evidently does not lie in the latter direction. This castle of his—a gimcrack house-of-cards kind of affair—is an eyesore to every voyageur on the loch which it disfigures, and with the scenery of which it is utterly out of keeping. Had it been couched on a spacious lawn and half hidden by stately trees, it might barely have been tolerated; but projected naked on the loch as it is, in all its native absurdity, it is really too much for the patience of any mortal who possesses even a spark of taste. And yet it is said that £40,000 were expended on the biggin, and that within its walls there is a collection of works of art which would do credit to any palace in the kingdom. What a pity that the casquet in which these gems are deposited had not been more worthy of its contents, and of the liberal-hearted gentleman to whom they belong.

But while we are fault-finding, the “Alma” moves steadily onward, and before we are aware, she is blowing off her superfluous steam at the pier of Garelochhead. This spot, it will be remembered, was a few years ago the scene of a terrible conflict. We have talked of the snowy cottages and the stately villas, and the beautiful watering-places of the Clyde. It must be borne in mind, however, that these scenes of quietude and comfort—these sunny “loop-holes of retreat”—are almost solely occupied during the season by those who have made some way in the world; those who have both a little time and a little money to spare. For the working classes, in the strictest sense of the phrase—u the hewers of wood and the drawers of water ”—no such retirement, no such luxury is possible. From Monday morning till Saturday night—unless on holidays, few and far between —these classes must continue their weary round of toil. They may yearn for a breath of caller air, for a sight of the green fields, and for the music of the wilding birds; but for them, unless on the one day in seven, the poor man’s day, there was no remede. Under these circumstances certain sympathizers with the sons of toil started a steamer on the Sundays, for the purpose of affording to such of them as desired it an opportunity of visiting the beautiful scenery of the Clyde. The scheme excited the most virulent opposition amongst those who are called the “rigidly righteous;” and at certain places on the coast the natives absolutely refused to permit the landing of the passengers. Among these was Sir Jame3 Colquhoun, of Luss, feudal lord of Garelochhead and the lands in the vicinity. The baronet alluded to claimed the proprietorship of the Garelochhead pier, and endeavoured, at first by remonstrance, but afterwards by main force, to prevent the passengers of the Sunday steamer from landing. Conceiving that they had a perfect legal right to the privilege to make use of the pier, the latter persisted in forcing their way. The result was that the baronet of Luss—in a style worthy of the good old times, when might was right, and the word of the laird was law—had a band of his gillies collected for the purpose of repelling the invaders. On a certain quiet autumnal Sunday the pier was barricaded and manned by the understrappers of Luss. The steamer approached the landing-place, and the passengers were preparing to enjoy a ramble on the beach, or a stroll over the adjacent braes. They were received with a hostile front. Their ropes were thrown into the sea, and threats of personal violence to any one who should attempt to land were uttered. Nothing daunted, certain individuals stepped coolly on the pier, when they were immediately grappled by the gillies. This was the signal for a general engagement.

A brisk volley of lemonade bottles, potatoes, and other miscellaneous missiles, were instantaneously poured upon the devoted heads of the offending gillies, while a landing party armed with walking-sticks speedily put them to the rout. The forces of Colquhoun had not the ghost of a chance. They had taken club law into their own hands, and by club law they were ignominiously vanquished. Fortunately there were no bones broken on either side. Since then the question has been submitted to the constituted authorities, and in several steps has been decided in favour of the Sunday voyagers; but how the plea may ultimately end, is—thanks to the glorious uncertainty of law—more than we shall undertake to predict. Latterly the pier was ordered to be thrown open while the case was pending, and the toll-keeper, notwithstanding his previous scruples of conscience, has no hesitation now in pocketing the coppers.

The Gareloch terminates in a Spacious curve, girt on either shoulder by straggling groups of cottages and villas. Some Of these are exceedingly elegant structures; and, with their embowering shrubbery, and neat patches of garden ground, present a very inviting appearance either from the water or from the passing carriage-way. On one side is the pier, a commodious enough erection, and adjacent to it, a handsome inn, which has recently been fitted up in a most comfortable style, by Mr. Dickson, late of the Crow, in this city, whose name is a guarantee for prompt attendance, and all that is requisite in the way of u entertainment for man and beast.” A neat church, in connection with the Establishment, and a few of the homely cottages which formed the original dachan, with a stranded fishing-boat here and there, and perhaps a few dark-brown herring nets hung up to dry along the beach, make up the tout ensemble of the locality. There is a profusion of copsewood and timber in the vicinity, however, which lends it a pleasant sylvan aspect, while the glimpses of the neighbouring loch and of the adjacent hills which are to be obtained from every point of view around the village, render Garelochhead a really delightful summer retreat.

Taking a stroll round the head of the loch, we are charmed with the ever-varying and ever-picturesque scenery. At every step a new combination of landscape beauties greets the eye, while on every bank and brae, and in every bosky dell, there is a profusion of wild flowers, and in every copse there is a cheerful chorus of birds. A stream of richest amber, also, comes stealing from the hills, and after turning and winding in the most fantastic curves, as if loath to leave the shelter of the “lang yellow broom,” glides quietly athwart the sands, and loses itself in the blue waters of the loch. It is but a tiny streamlet, and affords but little promise to the angler, yet it is the largest tributary which the Gareloch receives. Altogether, about twenty rivulets, or runlets, flow into the bosom of the loch, but owing to the close proximity of the surrounding hills, their courses are but short, and their volumes of water generally insignificant. Being so closely landlocked, and, consequently, well sheltered, and affording besides an excellent anchorage, the Gareloch is frequently resorted to by vessels about to leave the Clyde, for the purpose of adjusting their compasses.

We must now turn our back, however, upon this, the calmest and the sweetest of the lochs of Clyde, for the purpose of making—beyond the intervening range of hills—the acquaintance of her grander and more sublimely beautiful sister, Lochlong. At this point the two lochs are only separated by a narrow and not very elevated isthmus. The distance from shore to shore cannot be more, indeed, than one mile and a-half, and over this we must now direct our devious course.

Before turning our back upon the placid bosom and the gently swelling braes of the Gareloch, we may mention that the village at its head is one of the best starting points for a raid into the “land of the mountain and the flood.” Lochlomond, Loch-Katrine, Lochlong, Lochgoil, the Holy Loch, Locheck, and even Lochfine, with all their stately mountain accessories, are severally within the range of a day’s excursion from this central spot. Pass over the Glenfruin range, on the one hand, and Lochlomond, with its fairy isles and its monarch Ben, is brought within the tourist’s ken; scale the steep brown ridge on the other, and he is on the edge of Lochlong, opposite Ardentinny and the beautiful glen of Finnart, through which, with the aid of the ferry, he may easily find his way to the sublime cradle of Locheck, and adown the sinuous and foamy channel of the Eachaig to Loch Seante, or, as it is now more commonly designated, the Holy Loch. Another portal to the bosom of the Highlands —to the wild and solitary recesses of nature’s wildest grandeur—is over the isthmus we have indicated as so slenderly separating the Gareloch from Lochlong. Proceeding round the terminating curve of the loch, and crossing the pretty little streamlet we have mentioned, we turn off in a northwest direction, and after a few minutes of up-hill walking, reach a homely little hostelry, where beverages, varying from the pungent blood of the barley to the wholesome produce of the animals that browse on the neighbouring pastures, may be obtained by the thirsty traveller. This is Whistlefield, a spot where every passenger of taste should rest—teetotallers and all—not, perhaps, to cultivate the acquaintance of the landlord, or to pree either the contents of his cellar or his dairy, but to ascend one of the adjacent knolls, and refresh his eyes and enrich his memory with a snatch of scenery which is equally peculiar and beautiful. This is the cleaving point of the ridge which separates the two lochs, and which commands an extensive glimpse of both. Looking back in the direction we have come, we have the Gareloch spread out in all its length at our feet, with its waters quivering in a golden ripple, from the village at its head to the thickly-wooded promontory of Roseneath, while all its elegant mansions and all its cottages of snow are peeping out upon the margin from their leafy recesses in the shelter of the receding hills. This is, indeed, a picture to dream of—a thing of beauty to treasure in the heart. “Look upon this picture and upon that,” says the Lord Hamlet, addressing his guilty mother; and even so say we to our companions (a couple of prosy dogs, by the way) when, turning from our farewell gaze upon the Gareloch, we usher into their gaze the grander features of the sister inlet, just as the latter is sending out into the world her romantic daughter—her one fair child—Lochgoil. The parent lake lies before us in all her breadth, gloomy and mountain shadowed—as well she may amidst such a wilderness of mountain peaks—while, from her farther side, Lochgoil stretches away among her own stem hills, while the hoary ruins of Carrick Castle, begirt with one sweet spot of green, rises grimly with its old world associations in a solitary and sequestered recess. As we are dilating, however, upon the charms “of earth, and sea, and sky,” thus happily congregated, we can detect a sceptical snigger between our impenetrable mates. We at once “ put our pipes in the pock,” and make a disdainful down-hill dive into the vast cradle of Lochlong. It isn’t the first time pearls have been thrown away, so we shall content ourselves with recommending our readers, who, of course, are all admirers of the picturesque, if the opportunity ever comes in their way, to spend half an hour among the knolls of Whistlefield.

Descending the hill, the Gareloch is speedily left behind, and in a few minutes we find ourselves among the woods and lawns of Finnart, the beautiful seat of our enterprising townsman, Mr. John M‘Gregor, of the firm of Todd and M‘Gregor, the celebrated iron-shipbuilders at the mouth of the Kelvin. This is a quiet, lovely, and sequestered spot. What a contrast there is between the music which greets our ears in these shadowy walks and that amidst which the laird of Finnart earned his well-won fortune! Here there is no sound more rude than the pipings of the leaf-curtained mavis or the soft liquid lays of the redbreast as he sings to his brooding mate. The multitudinous hammers of the Kelvin tell a different tale; and yet even here we can think with pleasure of that iron din, and its associations with a subtle ingenuity, with an industry that never flags, with an indomitable perseverance, and, in brief, with the advancement of civilization among men. Such individuals as John M‘Gregor, while benefitting their own fortunes, are, at the same time, benefactors of their species. By such men as he time and space have been to a great extent annihilated—oceans by them have been partially bridged over, and the divided families of man have been brought into a closer proximity. If “man to man the world o’er” are ever to be brothers, it must be by making them better acquainted with each other, and, by the golden link of commerce, uniting them one to another. This consummation Mr. M‘Gregor, and his talented partner, Mr. Todd, have rendered more easy of accomplishment by their gigantic labours as marine architects and engineers. We rejoice therefore in the prosperity of this eminent local firm, and were particularly pleased to find that Finnart was such a lovely spot, and that Mr. Ml Gregor’s rural habitation has been pitched in such an enviable situation. In the olden time, war was almost the sole passport to the possession of land. “There,” said an ancient baron, holding up his sword, “there is the title-deed of my property.” Mr. MlGregor and his compeers can show a nobler claim to their heritage. Let them point to the majestic fleets they have produced—fleets which may be seen on every sea— and proudly tell that these are the title-deeds alike of their worldly possessions, and of their claims to the honour of their fellow-men.

Our course, after passing the spacious policies of Finnart, lies along the side of Lochlong, towards Arrochar, at its termination. The distance from Finnart to the head of the loch may be about eight miles. The walk is so charming, however, and the scenery around is so incessantly changing —every few steps bringing a new combination of objects into view—that time passes swiftly as we go, and our pilgrimage is nearly ended before it seems to have well begun. We have heard some people object to the length and monotony of Lochlong, and of various other Scottish lakes. Into the feelings of such individuals we cannot enter; and it pains us to find that Wordsworth, the great poet of the English lakes, and the poet who prided himself most upon his sympathy with all the shows and forms of nature, should have seriously given utterance to a similar opinion. “In Scotland,” he says, “the proportion of diffused water is often too great. In most of the Scottish lakes this is the case.” “No doubt it sounds well,” he continues, “and flatters the imagination to hear at a distance of vast masses of water so many miles in length, and leagues in breadth, and such ample room may be delightful to the fresh-water sailor, scudding with a delightful breeze amid the rapidly shifting scenes. But who ever travelled along Lochlomond, variegated as the lower part is by islands, without feeling that a speedier termination of the long vista of blank water would be acceptable, and without wishing for an interposition of green meadows, trees, and cottages, and a sparkling Stream to run [like a dog, we suppose], by his side? In fact, a notion of grandeur as connected with magnitude, has seduced persons of taste into a general mistake upon this subject. “It is much more desirable,” continues this infallible pope of a poet, that lakes, “for the purposes of pleasure, should be numerous, and small, and middle-sized, than large, not only for communication by walks and rides, but for variety, and for recurrence of similar appearances. To illustrate this by one instance, how pleasing is it to have a ready and frequent opportunity of watching, at the outlet of a lake, the stream pushing its way among the rocks, in lively contrast with the stillness from which it has escaped; and how amusing to compare its noisy and turbulent motions with the gentle playfulness of the breezes that may be starting up, or wandering here and there over the faintly rippled surface of the broad water!” With all our respect for the memory of Wordsworth—and our admiration for the writings of that “old man eloquent” is second to that of few—we cannot but consider that in this passage he has libelled our noble Scottish lochs. His criticism, in our opinion, is hair-drawn, untrue, and tinged with the sickly sentimental. It is a criticism which would more have become a cockney, familiar with ponds and artificial waters, than one who had been privileged to scan the breadth and grandeur of Nature’s own works. It is such a criticism as we might have expected from a landscape gardener poet like Shenstone, but which is quite out of keeping with the simple natural tastes which we have always ascribed to the bard of Grasmere and Helvellyn. Too great a diffusion of water in the most of the Scottish lakes!” What could the man be thinking of when he penned such a passage? Why, there are lakes of almost every possible size in Scotland, from that of the tiniest mountain tarn—a mere glittering speck in the wilderness, which would fail to feed a single solitary heron—up to that of a Lochlomond or a Lochawe—those lovely inland seas, in which the sublime and the beautiful are so exquisitely blended. There is food for every taste in the infinite variety of the Scottish lakes, whether as regards extent of surface or style of beauty; and no traveller in our mountain land, whether cockney or critic, painter or poet, need fear a disappointment within its precincts.

Our present business, however, is with Lochlong; and before we proceed upon our way, let us quote a few lines from another English poet, in its praise. Rogers is not to be mentioned as a man of poetic genius in the same day with Wordsworth, but in this instance he writes with a truer appreciation of Scottish scenery. After a brief but touching tribute to Lochlomond, and certain of his personal associations with it, he proceeds;—

“Tarbet! thy shore I climbed at last.
And through thy shady region passed,
Upon another shore I stood
And looked upon another flood;
Old Ocean’s self! (’Tis he who fills
That vast and awful depth of hills,)
Where many an elf was playing round.
Who treads unshod his classic ground,
And speaks his native rocks among,
As Fingal spoke and Ossian sung.
Night fell, and dark and darker grew
That narrow sea, that narrow sky.
As o’er the glimmering waves we flew,
The sea-bird rustling wailing by.
And now the Grampus, half descried,
Black and huge above the tide;
The cliffs and promontories there,
Front to front, and broad and bare,
Each beyond each, with giant feet
Advancing as in haste to meet
The shattered fortress, where the Dane
Blew his shrill blast, nor rushed in vain,
Tyrant of the drear domain.
All into midnight shadow sweep
When day springs upward from the deep!
Kindling the waters in its flight,
The prow wakes splendour, and the oar,
That rose and fell unseen before,
Flashes in a sea of light;
Glad sign and sure, for now we hail
Thy flowers, Glenfinnart, in the gale;
And bright indeed the path should be
That leads to friendship and to thee.”

This was written in 1812, before the advent of steam upon the bosom of Lochlong. It would appear that the poet was part of a night and morning upon his passage from Tarbet to Glenfinnart, adjoining to Ardentinny.

The walk along the margin of the water is, to our mind, infinitely preferable to a sail on its bosom. In the one case a sort of bird’s-eye view of its beauties is all that can be obtained, while on shore the pilgrim can linger at his own sweet will, now pausing to scan the successive landscapes as they appear, now halting to pluck a favourite flower, or' listen to a favourite bird, and anon to stoop and dip his cup in some wayside spring or sparkling runlet. Then every here and there is some tiny headland fretting the margin into a fresher loveliness, but all unseen, or seen but imperfectly from the deck of the passing steamer. It is pleasant, also, to peep through the portals of a mansion, or villa, or cottage, and to see the neatly-kept patches of garden, and the bright eyes occasionally beaming through the lattices, as their fair owners look askance on the curious wayfarers, and the brown-faced children, gathering into groups, watching the motions of the strangers with mouths extended, and a wild speculation beaming in their eyes. Many a sweet snatch of nature, animate and inanimate, thus greets the pedestrian on the leafy shores of Lochlong.

On the slopes of Lochlong, and especially on the Argyle-shire shore, there are abundant evidences of the hateful clearance system. Every here and there the eye of the attentive traveller is arrested by the sad spectacle of ruined clachans and cottages, the ancient residences of the native population. Roofless and desolate, they are still lingering on the hillsides, memorials sad and suggestive of man’s inhumanity to man. From the land of their fathers—their own land by every right human and divine—the children of the Gael have been driven forth as exiles and outcasts. Where the blue smoke of the domestic hearth was seen to ascend in many a sweet sequestered nook, and where the voices of stalwart men, and lovely women and children were once heard rejoicing, morning, noon, and night—all is now silent and deserted, the silence only broken by the bleat of the mountain sheep, more precious in the eyes of the greedy, grasping, and sordid lairds, than the flesh and blood of their own kinsmen, and the solitude only broken by the lonely shepherds, but few and far between. These clearances have been principally effected within the last thirty years. One old man, a respectable farmer, states that within his own remembrance there cannot have been less than 200 human beings living on the hills between the foot of the Cobbler and the opening of Lochgoil. Now there are only three shepherds’ huts, if we except the houses of the gentry and those of their menials. This is indeed a sorry sight—a spectacle to make sad the heart, and to awaken the indignation of every honest, every upright man. But we must not talk of themes like these, or our wrath may boil over, and words escape which, however merited, had perhaps be better left unsaid.

“But there is a day that’s coming for a’,” and we betide the unjust and the unfeeling when that day arrives. The, majority of the Highland lairds, with all their accursed pride and poverty, may yet experience a dreadful retribution.

But as we approach the head of the loch, the mountains on either side wax more lofty and more picturesque in outline. Chief among these, however, is the majestic Ben Arthur, at the mouth of Glencroe, a wild and magnificent mountain mass, which towers to a height of some 2,389 feet, and which bears upon its fantastic crest a number of grizzly and shattered peaks, which rise in bold relief against the sky, and excite in the spectator a feeling of mingled admiration and awe. From the appearance of one of the peaks of Ben Arthur, which bears a striking resemblance, from certain points, to a shoemaker at work, the mountain is known in common parlance as the Cobbler. High on that airy pinnacle we have often watched the alpine mender of shoes at work, now clearly seen against the far blue sky, and anon disappearing in a frown amidst the clouds and gloom, which even in summer love that rugged resting-place, and which in winter are almost ever there. We had never, however, ventured to make a closer acquaintance of the Cobbler, although we had often desired to do so. Now is the opportunity. We are at present in the middle of one of June’s longest, loveliest days, and earth and air and sky are basking-in the radiance of her smile. The surly old Cobbler has doffed his nightcap; not even the shadow of a cloud is to be seen upon his furrowed brow. On the contrary, the veteran almost seems to smile a welcome to us, as we are calculating his altitude. There is no resisting the call; so on arriving at Ardmay, opposite the vast gorge of Glencroe, we take to the ferry, and are soon conveyed in one of the beautifully built boats of the brothers M‘Farlane, who here combine the several professions of fishermen, ferrymen, and boatbuilders.

Smart, active fellows are they both; and one of them, with very little effort, soon lands us on the opposite side of the loch, which is here about three quarters of a mile in breadth. Our landing-place is the beautiful little promontory of Ardgarten, a snatch of fertility and sylvaa beauty which Glencroe seems to have vomited from her huge mountain jaws, so that only barrenness and sterility might remain within her bleak but sublime recesses. It is in truth a sweet spot—sweet from its own charms—sweet from the glimpses of the lake scenery which it commands—and doubly sweet from the contrast of rude magnificence by which, on the landward side, it is begirt. There is a plain but neat mansion at Ardgarten, with a few cottages scattered in its vicinity.

The ascent of the Cobbler commences immediately after leaving Ardgarten. It is somewhat gentle speeling at first, but gradually it becomes more difficult. Keeping on one shoulder, we zig-zag along, now scrambling through a dense forest of brackens, now leaping from one tuft of green to another, as a marshy spot comes across us on our path, and anon climbing almost on hands and knees over some swelling and precipitous acclivity. The day is hot, and partly with the fierce heat, and partly by our laborious and continued exertions, our hearts are soon beating marvellously quick marches within our heaving chests, and an intense longing for water seizes upon our imagination. Every now and again we fling ourselves down upon the mountain side, partly to recover breath, and partly that we may scan the ever-extending range of scenery. Ardgarten gets small by degrees, and beautifully less. New reaches of the loch gradually come into view, while Glencroe opens more widely her expanding jaws, and shows us, far away in her bosom, a streamlet meandering to and fro like a vast serpent, and, on one of her sides, that dreary up-hill road, which so tries the patience of the traveller, but which, from our elevation, seems comparatively flat, and no broader in appearance than an ordinary ribbon. It is delicious in these pauses to feel the cool mountain breeze upon the flushed cheek and “ playing in the lifted hair,” and more delicious still to come unexpectedly upon some mountain spring, clear as crystal, and cold as ice, in beaded bubbles, oozing from the rock, and trickling down the hill. How delighted we all squat down in such happy spots! how immense are our libations, native from the hillside, or dashed with a slight modicum of the soul-inspiring dew! and how loath are we to arise and depart upon our toilsome upward march! Several times we had serious thoughts of postponing our visit to the heaven-kissing souter, and making a day of it with the genii of the gelid waters. Shame partly kept us from disclosing our indolent intentions to our companions, and partly we were kept to our original resolve, by the consideration, that if we failed to reach the summit, we should have but little chance of falling heir to the dukedom of Argyle. In ancient times —we know not how it is now—no individual, whatever his claims of blood may have been, was reckoned personally qualified to succeed to the chieftainship of the clan Campbell until he had demonstrated his prowess or strength of limb, by putting his foot upon the cowl of the Cobbler. And shall we fail in such a test? assuredly not, although we have our own doubts whether the reigning Maccallum More has ever accomplished the feat.

Slowly but surely we ascend, our difficulties increasing as we get up in the world Near the summit or summits, for there are several, the grandeur of the scene becomes awful; huge masses of embattled rocks seem to bid defiance to approach, and threaten to crush the aspiring climber. Indeed, several of the peaks are perfectly inaccessible. By dint of scrambling, crawling, and gliding, however, the crest is at length attained, and we seat ourselves on the cairn erected by the ordnance surveyors, to scan the glorious prospect which the spot commands. To describe it adequately is beyond the power of either pen or pencil. A perfect wilderness of mountains, and glens, and lochs, crowd upon our gaze wherever we turn, and defy enumeration. On one hand, we have Benlomond, Benvoirlich, and Benledi, with Lochlong, Lochlomond, at two points, Loch-Katrine, and the Gareloch. Turning in another direction, we have in succession Benlawers, Benlean, Bencruachan, Benmore in Mull, and Goatfell in Arran, with glimpses of Lochawe, Lochfine, Lochgoil, and countless mountain lakes and tarns. It would take a long summer day, indeed, to read the landmarks visible from this commanding peak. In our own immediate vicinity, the scenery is peculiarly wild and rugged. One scraggy and precipitous projection seems ready to topple over, and we almost tremble as we approach it for the purpose of taking a peep through a rift in its side called Argyle’s Eye-glass, lest our touch should send it thundering down. There are cliffs all round of immense depth, and the most harsh and jagged features, while projections of kindred repulsiveness shoot out on every side. Strange to say, we cannot discover the identity of the Cobbler. We scan every rock which might be supposed to resemble his outline, as seen from below, but cannot find him out, so that at length we are forced to depart without making the acquaintance of the old fellow. One of our companions suggests that after all he might not be at home, and hints the propriety of leaving our card.

Lingering a minute or two behind our companions, when we had descended about ten yards from the top of the mountain, with the view of culling a few specimens of alpine vegetation, we were startled by a faint bleat in our immediate vicinity. The last sheep we had seen were at least three-quarters of a mile farther down the mountain side, and not a living thing—bird, beast, or insect—had caught our eye since we had reached the more lofty and barren regions. A silence as of death hung over all. Seeing nothing to account for the sound, and supposing the noise must have been an illusion of fancy, we resumed our botanizing. We had scarcely done so, however, when the same sound—faintr low, and piteous—again attracted our attention. On this we looked about, and there, sure enough, in a small crevice of the rocks, a perfect trap, in that dreary place we discovered a little lambkin, “cabined, cribbed, confined,” without the possibility of getting out. It was the smallest creature of its kind that we ever saw, and hunger had evidently tended to diminish its bulk. The very bones were protruding through its snowy skin. All the grass and moss in its little cell were nibbled closely away, and the floor of the enclosure was marked by many a little footmark, indicative of the efforts the creature had made to escape. On seeing us, the small black face was turned imploringly up, and again was uttered the faint and plaintive cry. There was no resisting the appeal; we took it up in our arms, and carried it with all possible tenderness down hill, intending to leave it with the first flock of sheep we came to. Our companions, worldlings as they were, to do them justice, gave us every assistance in this our labour of charity. We soon came to some sheep, feeding with their lambs on the hillside. These “fat and greasy citizens,” however, would have nothing to do with our little protege, but scoured away whenever they saw it. On the other hand, the foundling of “the Cobbler” showed no anxiety to leave its benefactors. Several times we laid it on the green, within sight of other sheep, and made as if to go away. On perceiving this, it invariably ran after us, rubbing its head against our legs, and bleating piteously. Seeing this, we conveyed it to the nearest cottage in Glencroe, where we had it regaled with milk, and where, after telling its story, we proposed that it should remain. On taking our leave, however, and walking away about twenty yards, our lamb burst away from the shepherd and his wife, and trotted again to our heels. There was no resisting this; we could not desert our little woolly friend. Negotiations were entered into, and the result is that the little prisoner of the Cobbler is now located at a snug and rose-clad cottage on the Gareloch, with a happy group of children for its playmates, and no end of milk and pasture for its enjoyment. We may add that the little creature, which is now thriving amazingly, has been christened by the name of his grim old jailer, the “Cobbler,” and that he answers readily to the name.

But to our task. Crossing once more to Ardmay we soon arrive at Arrochar at the head of the loch. This is a quiet and secluded hamlet among the mountains. It consists, for the most part, of a church and a lengthened string of straggling villas and cottages, with a handsome hotel, embowered in trees, and two others of less pretensions, but perhaps of equal comfort. An old house, formerly the residence of the chief of the Macfarlanes, was formerly used as an inn, but it has now been devoted to other uses. There is nothing particularly interesting about the old edifice, nor apart from its scenery about the locality generally. Tarbet on Lochlomond is about two miles distant from Arrochar, and it is said that long, long ago the Danish invaders of our country sailed up Lochlong, dragged their boats across ttye isthmus, launched them again on Lochlomond, and carried fire and sword along its shores and among its islands, many of which were then inhabited, and departed by the same route, carrying away an immense quantity of plunder. In more recent times Arrochar and the surrounding districts belonged to the fierce clan Macfarlane—a clan which has achieved a degree of notoriety only inferior to that of their neighbours the Macgregors. Again and again their depredations are denounced in the old Scottish Acts of Parliament. At length their very name was suppressed, and large numbers of them were forced to flee the country. The watchword or slogan of the Macfarlanes was “Lochsloy! Lochsloy!” from a small loch of that name at the foot of Benvoirlich, in this parish, which was the rendezvous of the clan on occasions of war. The heritage of the Macfarlanes has now passed into other hands, although the name is still common in the neighbourhood.

In fine weather there is a splendid view of the loch from Arrochar. Bad weather, however, often prevails here, and the tourist is consequently apt to be disappointed. On one occasion an English traveller remained at Arrochar for several days, during which there was a most irksome continuance of clouds and rain. At first the landlord tried to keep up the spirits of his guest, by repeated assurances that the weather would soon break up. At last the stranger, on the fifth day, again accosted mine host with, "I say, landlord, have you ever—now this time ’pon honour—have you ever, I say, any other weather in this d-d place?” The landlord, whose assurances had so often been falsified by the result, with downcast look replied, “Speak nae mair, sir, speak nae mair; I’m jist perfectly ashamed o’ the way our weather’s behaving.”

And now let the reader suppose us bidding him good-by for the present, and making our way home by Tarbet and Lochlomond, one of the pleasantest routes which it is possible to conceive. Between Arrochar and Tarbet the walk is particularly delightful. The valley, if we may so call the low-lying isthmus, is somewhat level, but on either side the hills swell beautifully to the sky, while alternate woods, meadows, and pasture-lands rejoice the passing eye. Of Lochlomond and its isles of beauty it needs not that we now speak.


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