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Gairloch in North-West Ross-Shire
Part IV.—Guide to Gairloch and Loch Maree

Chapter XI.—Excursions from Poolewe


[Pages 332 and 333 missing from the book]

which (both cave and weapons) had beep concealed long ago by means of the "sian," were seen by some women gathering lichens not many years since (Part II., chap. xiv.). Two miles away, to the left, the woods of Loch a Druing may be noticed clothing a hollow on the side of the range of hills beyond the Bac an Leth-choin. It was in these woods that the fairy called the Gille Dubh lived (Part II., chap, xiii.); and behind the top of the ridge is the Fedan Mor, where Duncan MacRae hid the keg of gold (Part II., chap. xiv.). The road is not passable for carriages beyond Stirkhiil, but a walk forward to Cove is strongly recommended. The primitive out-of-the-world character of the place and its inhabitants, the fine cave, the natural arch (see illustration), and the views from and general features of the coast, will well repay the pedestrian who spends an hour in the following stroll. The village of Cove begins very soon after you leave your carriage. The road is a cart road, until, on the left, a house is reached with a wing (formerly used as a school) at right angles to its main portion. Open the door of this wing and you see a curious room, which is a place of worship with its little pulpit, and is also a store-house of all manner of fishing implements and dresses. The house is the home of the catechist attached to the Aultbea and

Poolewe Free churches. The picturesque cove or harbour is to the right of the path, and when the many coloured boats are laid up on its shore it forms a charming picture. Go forward by the narrowing path, and ask some of the civil inhabitants to show you the cave where they worship. It is a romantic place with its old desk, and stones and pieces of wood arranged for seats, the nest of a mavis or thrush on a ledge of rock, and the narrow entrance veiled by a tangle of woodbine and eglantine. The sea can almost wash into this cave. A few yards from it is a hole which opens into another and smaller cave; there is a larger cave in the rocky headland nearer the harbour. A brief further stroll on the top of the low cliff reveals the curious detached rock standing out from the shore with its natural arch (see illustration), resembling similar arches at Torquay, Freshwater (Isle of Wight), and other places. The return from Cove is by the same route, or a boat may be hired to Poolewe. 2. Excursion to Fionn Loch.—This excursion (so far as beyond Inveran) can only be made by special permission of Mr O. H. Mackenzie of Inverewe, and that certainly cannot be obtained after July. Cross the bridge at Poolewe and turn to the right. The road follows the course of the River Ewe pretty closely. There is a picturesque little crag on the left called Craig an Fhithich, or "the raven's crag." The flat peat bog a little further on is called the "Shore." Between the road and the river, on the right, is the remains of the iron furnace called the Red Smiddy (Part I., chap. xx.). The next hill we pass, on the left, is called Craig Bhan. It was on this and other hills to the left and further on that Donald Maclean saw the visions of soldiers in red uniforms described in Part II., chap. xv. Observe the beautiful peeps of the river Ewe and Loch Maree, and the wooded rmls often called the Trossachs of Loch Maree. The road soon enters the Inveran woods, and after passing the Inveran farmhouse, where there is a fine view of the lower end of Loch Maree, arrives at a wooden bridge over the Inveran river or burn, the outlet from Loch Kernsary. To this point the road has been on the property of Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, but now enters that of Mr Osgood H. Mackenzie. The gate at this bridge is kept locked. A small loch (Loch an Doire Garbh), with abundant water lilies, is soon passed on the right, and then Loch Kernsary is reached, a fine sheet of water about a mile long. There is an artificial island, or crannog, with a grove of trees on it, now nearly destroyed by the rooks that nest here. Turning to the right the farm of Kernsary, with its sheltered fields and smiling woods, is reached. The small river is spanned by a frail foot-bridge, below which is the ford for carts and carriages. The cottage and byre on the hillside to the left are the place called Innis a Bhaird. A house was built here in the first half of the eighteenth century by the bard named Cross, who was called "Bard Sasunnach" (Part L, chap. xiv.). From Kernsary the almost Alpine road constructed by Mr 0. H. Mackenzie about 1875 gradually ascends to a height of 600 feet above the sea level. Both at Kernsary and for a mile further, near the road, are the remains of cottages or shieling bothies. The patches which were formerly cultivated are now mostly overgrown with bracken. The varied colouring of the landscape, especially to the right of the road, is wonderfully fine at any time of the year. At a distance of about six miles from Poolewe the road terminates at Fionn Loch, which is admirably described by Mr Jolly in chapter xiv. of this Part. This fine loch is 550 feet above the sea level, and contains some picturesque little islands, mostly wooded. Some of them are mentioned in Part III., chap. vi. The chief attraction of Fionn Loch consists in the amphitheatre of mountains round the head of the loch. Beinn Lair, broken off towards the north-east in a series of remarkable precipices, is the central object (see illustration, page 54); whilst the Maighdean to the east, and Meall Mheannidh to the west, form noble guards on those flanks. The horns of the crescent are completed by Beinn a Chaisgean on the east of Fionn Loch and Beinn Aridh Charr on the west, the latter presenting a series of magnificent escarpments. The south end of Beinn a Chaisgean has two fine spurs, Scuir a Laocainn and Scuir na Feart. Below Beinn Lair, and slightly to the east, are the lower eminences of Craig an Dubh Loch (a spur of Beinn Tarsuinn Chaol), streaked by veins of pegmatite, showing white even at some miles distance. Return to Poolewe by the same route. This excursion may be made also from the Gairloch Hotel, but in any case special permission must be obtained for it beforehand.

Other excursions by road from Poolewe Inn may be made in either direction towards Gairloch or Aultbea, and the excursions from Aultbea described in the next chapter may be accomplished from Poolewe.

Of water expeditions there are the voyage on Loch Maree (Part. IV., chap.xiii.), which can readily be done from Poolewe Inn, and boating expeditions on Loch Ewe either for purposes of angling or exploration.

Of walks and strolls there are many. Rambles on the west shore of Loch Ewe, or about the township of Londubh, or to Inveran farm and bridge, or to the splendid points of view of Loch Maree above Tollie, are all replete with interest. The old track continued from Tollie pier along the south-west side of Loch Maree is well worth following for a mile or more. Expeditions for angling purposes to any lochs which are open to those staying at Poolewe Inn furnish additional walks. There is a walk from Poolewe Inn to Craig Bhan which I particularly recommend. Cross Poolewe bridge; turn to the right, and follow the Inveran road (as if you were going to Fionn Loch). It is about a mile to the first small detached strip of natural birch wood just opposite the house (on the other side of the river) furthest away from Poolewe. Craig Bhan is the low hill that rises close above the road on the side you are on. Near the top, about one hundred and fifty yards from the road, you will find on the one hand a magnificent view of Loch Maree, and in the other direction of Loch Ewe. I know no finer point of view in the district. One of the brochs, or Pictish round houses (Part I., chap, xxi.), is to be seen on Craig Bhan.


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