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Leaves from the Journal
Tour round the West Coast of Scotland and Visit to Ardverikie 11 Aug 1847


Wednesday, August 11, 1847.

We proceeded from the Osborne Pier on board the yacht. Our two eldest children, my brother Charles, the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk, Lord Grey (Secretary of State), Lady Jocelyn, General Wemyss, Sir James Clark, and Miss Hildyard, accompanied us.

We have with us the following steamers: — The “Black Eagle,” “Garland,” “Undine,” “Fairy,” and “Scourge” (war-steamers). The two equerries are on board the “Black Eagle.”

We were soon under weigh, and as Osborne vanished from our sight, I thought of our poor children left behind.

On Board the Victoria and Albert,
in Dartmouth Harbour,
Thursday, August 12.

I have not much to relate. Our voyage has not been what we intended, mais Vhomme propose et Dieu dispose; for instead of being at Falmouth we are only at Dartmouth We started at five o’clock, and soon after felt the vessel stop, and on inquiring, heard that the fog was so thick it was impossible to proceed. At last Captain Smithett was sent out in the “Garland” to report on the state of the weather; and he soon returned, saying that all was clear enough to proceed outside The Needles (we were in Alum Bay). So we started again, and, after breakfast, we came on deck, where I remained working and talking; feeling quite well; but towards one o’clock the ground swell had increased, and we decided to run into the harbour we now are in.

On Board the Victoria and Albert,
Milford Haven, South J Vales,
Saturday, August r4.

Arrived here this afternoon at five. I will give an account of what has passed since leaving Dartmouth. Thursday evening, after dining with Charles, we went on deck, and found the whole town illuminated, and the effect of its curious high houses running down quite into the still sea, which reflected the illumination, was lovely, —the night being so fine and calm.

Friday, August 13. We started at four and reached the Stilly Islands at three in the afternoon; it had been very rough. The numerous little rocky islands, in the midst of which we are lying, are very curious.

St. Mary's, the principal island, has a little town, a church, and a small harbour. Exactly opposite, on the isle of Tresco, is "Mr. Smith’s house; he has the lease of all the islands from the Duchy of Cornwall. Farther to the left is St. Agnes, with a lighthouse and innumerable rocks.

Albert (who, as well as Charles, has not been unwell, while I suffered very much) went with Charles and Bertie to see one of the islands. The children recover from their sea-sickness directly. When Albert and the others returned, soon after five, we went with our ladies and gentlemen in the barge across the harbour,—where, blue as the sea was, it was still rather rough,—and landed at a little pier at St. Mary's. The harbour, surmounted by the old fort of the Star Castle, reminded me of the harbour of St. Haliers. We got into a pony carriage belonging to Mr. Smith, with Charles and Lady Jocelyn, and drove through the place, which looks like a small fishing town, and then round the fortifications of the castle, where there is a very pretty walk overhanging the sea; the rock being covered with fern, and heath, and furze. The extensive view of the islands and rocks around is very beautiful. The town is built upon a very narrow strip of land, with a small bay on either side. We got out at the old castle, which bears the date of one of the Edwards. The view from the battlements is very fine. We returned the same way we went, a little before seven.

Saturday, August 14.

We started at five o'clock, and the yacht then began to roll and pitch dreadfully, and I felt again very unwell; but I came on deck at three in the afternoon, the sea then was like glass, and we were close to the Welsh coast.

This harbour, Miferd Haven, is magnificent; the largest we have; a fleet might lie here. We are anchored just off Milford. Pembroke in front, in the distance.

The cliffs, which are reddish brown, are not very high.

Albert and Charles went in the Fairy ” to Pembroke, and I sketched. Numbers of boats came out, with Welshwomen in their curious high-crowned men’s hats; and Bertie was much cheered, for the people seemed greatly pleased to see the “Prince of Wales.” Albert returned at a quarter to eight.

A very pretty daily maid, in complete Welsh costume, was brought on board for me to see. We found Milford illuminated when we went on deck, and bonfires burning everywhere.

Sunday, August 13:

We started again at four o’clock, but this time had a beautiful day, with the sea smooth the whole way. About eleven we saw the mountainous coast of Caernarvonshire; the hills, which are in fact high mountains, are bold and finely shaped, and, Albert said, reminded him much of Ischia, with the beautiful deep blue sea and bright sky.

Having arrived at the entrance of the Mtnai Straits, we all left the “Victoria and Albert," and went on board the “Fairy.” The “Victoria and Albert” with the “Black Eagle” (the two equerries having joined us), the “Undine” and “Scourge,” proceeded round the Isle of Amjksea by Holyhead, and, in the “Fairy,” accompanied by the “Garland,” we went into the Straits. As we entered, the view of the fine mountains with their rich verdure—Snowdon rising splendidly in the midst—and of the fields and woods below, was really glorious. To the left the country is extremely flat. Then Caernarvon came in sight, with its grand old Castle so finely situated. We stopped for a few moments off here, hut did not land. The mountains disappeared for a while, and then re-appeared more beautiful than ever. We passed dose to Paas Newydd, where we had spent six weeks fifteen years ago. I felt as if I remembered it all very well; but admired the scenery even more than I had expected from my previous recollection.

We passed the famous Swilly Pocks, and saw the works they are making for the Lube for the railroad, and then went under the Menai Bridge and stopped immediately on the other side. There were crowds of loyal people in steamers and boats, playing “God save the Queen,” and cheering tremendously. Albert and Charles landed and walked over the bridge. When they returned we went on again, and stopped in a most beautiful spot, with almost Swiss scenery, opposite Penrhyn Castle, Colonel Douglas Pennant’s (which I saw in the late possessor’s time unfinished), and near Bangor, with its wooded banks, through which one can see the high-road to Beaumaris. The purple hills, with the verdure below, and the blue sea, were extremely picturesque.

Albert and Charles went to see Penrhyn. As soon as they returned we dined below in the “Fairy,” and at eight we returned, with the children and all our people, to the “ Victoria and Albert.” The evening was beautiful and the day very successful.

Monday, August 16.

We woke soon after four o’clock, when getting under weigh, and were surprised to feel the yacht stop not an hour after. Something had gone wrong with the paddle-wheel—just as happened last year—and it took full two hours to set it right. Then at seven we started afresh.

A beautiful morning with a very smooth sea. By half past ten we were in sight of the Isle of Alan, which is a line island with bold hills and cliffs. A little before twelve we reached the point of the bay, on which is the town of Douglas, very prettily situated, with a picturesque castle near the lighthouse, on the extreme point of the bay. We stopped off here for ten minutes or a quarter of an hour,—the rocks were covered with people. From Douglas to Ramsay Bay the hills and cliffs are high and bold; though Ramsay itself is low.

For about two hours we were out of sight of land, and I was below writing. When I came on deck at three o’clock the Scotch coast was quite close; the Mull of Galloway, and then Wigtownshire. Albert declared he saw the Irish coast, but I could not descry it. At five we came in sight of Loch Ryan, and saw, to the left, Ailsa Craig rising more than 1,000 feet perpendicularly from the sea. Loch Ryan i; very fine, and the hills and glens are lovely, particularly little Glen Finnart. The loch is very large, and the hills here are very high and wooded. The little town is called Stranraer.

Tuesday, August 17.

At six o’clock we began to move. A beautiful morning. At about eight we were close to the Ailsa Rock or Craig, the formation of which is very curious. There were thousands and thousands of birds,—gannets,—on the rock, and we fired a gun off three times in order to bring them in reach of a shot—Albert and Charles tried, but in vain. We next came in sight of the beautiful isle of Arran. The finest point is when you are before the Holy Island, and in sight of the Goatfell range of mountains. The highest is about 2,800 feet; they are peculiarly fine from their bold pointed outlines. Before them is Lamlash. After passing Holy Island we came to Brodick Bay, which is beautiful, with high hills and a glen ; in front of which, and surrounded by wood, is the castle which Lord Douglas is building. Not long after this we came in sight of the Isle of Bute, and entered the Clyde, the view of which from Mr. Stuart’s and Lord Bute’s property is beautiful: high wooded banks, the river opening out and widening, surrounded by the distant mountains. A small place to the right called Largs is very prettily situated.

At half past twelve we reached Greenock, the port of Glasgow. The shore and the ships were crowded with people, there being no less (as I since learnt) than thirty-nine steamers, over-filled with people, which almost all followed us! Such a thing never was seen. Add to these steamers boats and ships of all descriptions, moving in all directions; but not getting out of the way! We, however, got safe on board the “Fairy,” and steamed up the Clyde; it was hazy, and we could not see the distance well. We passed the small town of Port Glasgow, and about one o’clock were at Dumbarton Castle. Its situation is very fine, the rock rising straight out of the river, the mountains all round, and the town of Dumbarton behind it, making it very picturesque. We landed just below the Castle, and went with Charles and the children in a carriage to the fort. There was a great crowd, but excellent order kept. We went to the battery, but had to mount many steps to get to it. Wallace was confined here; and it was one of the last castles which held out for Mary Queen of Scots. From the battery there is a very extensive view of the Clyde and Dumbarton, and we ought to have been able to see Ben Lomond; but it was in mist.

We got back to the “Fairy” by half-past two, and returned to Greenock, escorted by nineteen steamers. Steamed past Greenock, and went on towards Loch Long, passing Roseneath to the right, where the present Duke and Duchess of Argyll live. Loch Longis indeed splendid, 15 miles in length, surrounded by grand hills, with such beautiful outlines, and very green—all so different from the eastern part of Scotland—the loch winding along most beautifully, so as to seem closed at times. Charles said it reminded him of Switzerland and the Tyrol. The finest point of Loch Long is looking towards Loch Goil. We had a very good sight of the mountain called The Cobbler; the top of which resembles a man sitting and mending his shoe! At the end of the loch we got a glimpse of Ben Lomond, and were, in fact, very near Loch Lomond.

We returned as we came. There was no sun, and once or twice a little mist; but still it was beautiful. We went on to Rothsay, which we reached at eight o’clock, and immediately went on board the “Victoria and Albert,” greatly tired but much amused and interested.

The children enjoy everything extremely, and bear the novelty and excitement wonderfully. The people cheered the “Duke of Rothsay” very much, and also called for a cheer for the “Princess of Great Britain.” Everywhere the good Highlanders are very enthusiastic. Rothsay is a pretty little town, built round a fine bay, with hills in the distance, and a fine harbour. When we went on deck after dinner, we found the whole town brilliantly illuminated, with every window lit up, which had a very pretty effect.

Wednesday, August 18.

A bright fresh morning, the hills slightly tipped with clouds. At eight o’clock we all went on board the “Fairy,’’ and went up the Kyles of Bute, which, as you advance, become very fine, the hills lying so curiously one behind the other, sometimes apparently closing up all outlet.

We saw Arran to the left, looking very grand in the distance. We have been turning about a good deal since yesterday, for we went by Arran and Holy Island, and then left Little and Great Cumbray to our left, and went up to Dumbarton and back, and on to Loch Long, and then to Rothsay, leaving Arran to our left; then, after passing Arran, we entered Loch Fyne. I, however, had a headache, and was obliged to lie down below, and only came on deck again when we were within an hour of Inverary; where the lake widens, and the hills on either side are very green and undulating, but not very high.

The approach to Inverary is splendid; the loch is very wide; straight before you a fine range of mountains splendidly lit up,—green, pink, and lilac; to the left the little town of Itinerary; and above it, surrounded by pine woods, stands the Castle of Inverary, square, with turrets at the comers.

Our reception was in the true Highland fashion. The Duke and Duchess of Argyll (dear Lady Elizabeth Leveson (lower), the Duchess of Sutherland, Lord Stafford, Lady Caroline Leveson Gower, and the Blantyres received us at the landing-place, which was all ornamented with heather. The Celtic Society, including Campbell of Islay, his two sons (one grown up and the other a very pretty little boy), with a number of his men, and several other Campbells, were all drawn up near to the carriage. We got into a carriage with the two Duchesses, Charles and the Duke being on the box (we had left the children on board the “Fairy”), and took a beautiful drive amongst magnificent trees, and along a glen where we saw Ben Sheerar, &c. The weather was particularly fine, and we were much struck by the extreme beauty of Inverary—presenting as it does such a combination of magnificent timber, with high mountains, and a noble lake.

The pipers walked before the carriage, and the Highlanders on either side, as we approached the house. Outside stood the Marquis of Lorn, just two years old, a dear, white, fat, fair little fellow with reddish hair, but very delicate features, like both his father and mother: he is such a merry, independent little child. He had a black velvet dress and jacket, with a “sporran,” scarf, and Highland bonnet. We lunched at two with our hosts; the Highland gentlemen standing with halberds in the room. We sent for our children, who arrived during luncheon time. We left Inverary before three, and took the children with us in the carriage. The Argylls, the Duchess of Sutherland, and the others, accompanied us on board the “Fairy,” where we took leave of them.

The light on the hills was beautiful as we steamed down Loch Fyne. At five we reached I.ochgilp, and all landed at Lochgilphead, a small village where there were numbers of people, and, amongst others, Sir John P. Orde, who lent his carriage and was extremely civil. We and our people drove through the little village to the Crinan Canal, where we entered a most magnificently decorated barge, drawn by three horses, ridden by postilions in scarlet. We glided along very smoothly, and the views of the hills—the range of Cmachan—were very fine indeed; but the eleven locks we had to go through—(a very curious process, first passing several by rising, and then others by going down)—were tedious, and instead of the passage lasting one hour and a half, it lasted upwards of two hours and a half, therefore it was nearly eight o’clock before we reached Loch Crinan. We instantly went on board the “Victoria and Albert,” but it was too late to proceed to Oban; we had, therefore, to lengthen our voyage by a day, and spent the night at Crinan. It is a very fine spot, hills all round, and, in the distance, those of the island of Jura. The yacht had had a good passage round the Midi of Cantire. We dined with Charles, and went on deck; and the blaze of the numerous bonfires—the half moon, the stars, and the extreme stillness of the night— had a charming effect.

Thursday, August 19.

A beautiful day. At nine o’clock we left Crinan, proceeding to the right, up splendid passes, with myriads of islands, and such enchanting views, that I cannot enumerate them. We passed first up the Sound op Jura, where numbers of people met us in small boats, decorated with little flags; then up the Pass of Kerrera to Oban, one of the finest spots we have seen, with the ruins of the old Castle of Dunolly and a range of high mountains in the distance. To the left, after leaving Oban, we saw the Isle of Kerrera, and to the right Diinstafnage Castle, whence came the famous stone which supports the “Coronation Chair,” in which the sovereigns are crowned at Westminster Abbey. Alexander II. is said to be buried here. We passed close by the flat rock, called The Lady's Rock, on which a McLean left his wife, hoping she would be washed away—she was saved however.

We then came into the Sound of Mulley Tobermory, a small place prettily situated, and from thence the views continued beautiful. At one o’clock we were in sight of the Isles of Rum, Eig and Muck (rather large islands, which Lord Salisbury bought a few years ago). Next we passed the long, flat, curious islands of Coll and Tiree. The inhabitants of these islands have, unhappily, been terrible sufferers daring the last winter from fumine. A little farther on we saw, to our right, the Treshinish Isles, very curiously-shaped rocks: one is called The Dutchmans Cap, and has the most strange shape, thus—

At three we anchored close before Slaffa, and immediately got into the barge with Charles, the children, and the rest of our people, and rowed towards the cave. As we rounded the point, the wonderful basaltic formation came in sight. The appearance it presents is most extraordinary; and when we turned the corner to go into the renowned Nilgai's Cave, the effect was splendid, like a great entrance into a vaulted hall: it looked almost awful as we entered, and the barge heaved up and down on the swell of the sea. It is very high, but not longer than 227 feet, and narrower than I expected, being only 40 feet wide. The sea is immensely deep in the cave. The rocks, under water, were all colours— pink, blue, and green—which had a most beautiful and varied effect. It was the first time the British standard with a Queen of Great Britain, and her husband and children, had ever entered Fingal's Cave, and the men gave three cheers, which sounded very impressive there. We backed out, and then went on a little further to look at the other cave, not of basaltic formation, and at the point called The Herdsman. The swell was beginning to get up, and perhaps an hour later we could not have gone in.

We returned to the yacht, but Albert and Charles landed again at Staffa. They returned in three-quarters of an hour, and we then went on to Iona; here Albert and Charles landed, and were absent an hour. I and the ladies sketched. We saw from the yacht the ruins of the old cathedral of St. Oran. When Albert and Charles returned, they said the ruins were very curious, there had been two monasteries there, and fine old crosses and tombs of ancient kings were still to be seen. I must see it some other time. On Albert’s return we went on again, and reached Tobermory at nine. The place was all illuminated.

Friday, August 20.

A wet morning when we rose at half-past seven, and it was pouring with rain when we left Tobermory at halfpast eight. I went down, and drew and painted. It cleared up about half-past ten, and I came on deck. The scenery in Loch Linnhe was magnificent — such beautiful mountains. From Loch Linnhe we entered Loch Eil, and passed the entrance of Loch Leven to the right, at the end of which is Glencoe, so famous for its beautiful scenery and for the horrible massacre of the Macdonalds, in William III.’s time.

A little before one we arrived at Fort William, a very small place. The afternoon was very bright, and the scenery fine. After luncheon Albert and Charles set off in the “Fairy” to see Glencoe. They returned at twenty minutes past seven, and Albert thought Glencoe was very-fine, though not quite as much so as he had expected. They had driven in an extraordinary carriage, with seats for thirty. The people, who recognized Albert, were so loyal that they took the horses out and insisted on drawing the carriage.

The evening was excessively cold and showery.

I am quite sorry we shall have to leave our yacht to-morrow, in which we have been so comfortably-housed, and that this delightful voyage and tour among the Western Lochs and Isles is at an end—they are so beautiful, — and so full of poetry and romance, traditions, and historical associations.

Ardverikie, Loch Laggan,
Saturday, August 21.

Alas! a very wet morning. We were ready long before nine o’clock, but had to wait, as our carriages were not ready. At last we all landed at Fort William, where there was a great gathering of Highlanders, in their different tartans, with Lord Lovat and Mr. Stuart Mackenzie at their head. We got into our carriage with Charles and the two children; there was a great crowd to see us off. We went by a very wild and lonely road, the latter part extremely fine, with mountains and streams that reminded us of Glen Tilt. We changed horses only once, and came at length in sight of Loch Laggan. It is a beautiful lake (small in comparison to what we have seen) surrounded by very fine mountains: the road by its side is extremely pretty. We saw Lord Abercorn’s house of Wverikie long before we came to it. At Laggan there is only a small inn, and at the end of the lake, a ferry. Here, in spite of the pouring rain, were assembled a number of Highlanders, with Macpherson of Cluny (always called Cluny Macpherson) and three dear little boys of his, Davidson of Tulloch, and others, with Lord Abercorn, in full Highland dress. We stepped out of our carriage and stood upon the floating bridge, and so crossed over in two or three minutes. We then drove on, in our pony carriages, to Ardverikie, and arrived there in about twenty minutes. It is quite close to the lake, and the view from the windows, as I now write, though obscured by rain, is very beautiful, and extremely wild. There is not a village, house, or cottage within four or five miles: one can only get to it by the ferry, or by rowing across the lake. The house is a comfortable shooting lodge, built of stone, with many nice rooms in it. Stags’ horns are placed along the outside and in the passages; and the walls of the drawing-room and ante-room are ornamented with beautiful drawings of stags, by Landseer.

There is little to say of our stay at Ardverikie; the country is very fine, but the weather was most dreadful.

On the 28th, about five o’clock, Albert drove me out across the ferry, along the Kingussie road, and from here the scenery was splendid: high bold hills, with a good deal of wood; glens, with the Pattock, and a small waterfall; the meadows here and there, with people making hay, and cottages sprinkled sparingly about, reminded us much of Thuringen. We drove to the small farm, where Colonel Macpherson now lives, called Strathmashie, and back again, 10 miles in all. We were delighted with the scenery, which is singularly beautiful, wild and romantic, —with so much fine wood about it, which greatly enhances the beauty of a landscape.

Thursday, September 16.

Albert left at six this morning to go to Inverness and see the Caledonian Canal.

Friday, September 17.

At two o’clock I left Ardverikie with the children, and reached Fort William at half-past six, where I had the happiness of finding Albert on board the yacht. All had gone off well; but the weather had been very bad. Albert said Dochfour was beautiful; the house new and very elegant, with a fine garden, and Mr. and Lady Georgiana Laillie very pleasant people.

Albert had to go to Inverness, and to stay for a ball that was held there; and he was everywhere extremely well received. This morning he saw the Falls of Foyers, which, he tells me, are very grand indeed; and of a great height; and he says that the Caledonian Canal is a most remarkable work.

Loch Ryan, Saturday, September 18.

At five o’clock we left Fort William. Rather a fine morning; but very squally, and the sea rough, even where we were. When we came on deck, we were close to the Isle of Fura, which has such a fine, bold outline. We went on to Loch Crinan, where we got into the barge: here it was very rough and pouring with rain, so unlike the beautiful evening when we were here a month ago. We landed at Crinan. Mr Malcolm, whose castle is just opposite, received us there, and we entered the canal boat at ten. We proceeded more quickly than the last time; the people kept running along as before, and there was a piper at each lock. It rained almost the whole time. We reached Lochgilphead at twelve, in pouring rain, and embarked on board the “Black Eagle.” The yacht had again to go round the Mull of Cantire and meet us at Campbeltown. What a contrast to the weather we had when we came!

We got under weigh, and proceeded by Kilbrannan Sound and Arran. We went on deck for a little while, but were driven below by the rain; later, however, it was possible to keep on deck. We reached Campbeltown, a small and not pretty place, at the foot of Cantire, at twenty minutes to five. About half an hour after we arrived the yacht came in, with the “Garland,” “Fairy,” and “Scourge,” and we immediately went on board. They had had a very bad passage, and Captain Crispin said he was very glad that we had not been on board the “Victoria and Albert.” This rather alarmed us for the next day’s voyage, the more so as the evening was squally and the sky very unpromising. There was a long consultation as to what was to he done, and at last it was decided that we should start at four in the morning, and if it were very rough, we should either run into Loch Ryan, the Mull of Galloway, the Ray of Ramsay, or into Douglas in the Isle of Alan.

Loch Ryan, Sunday, September 19.

We set off at four o’clock, the yacht rolling considerably; but it was quite bearable; however, at seven they came to shut down the port-holes, expecting a heavy sea, and Lord Adolphus saw Albert, who had just got up, and said it would be very rough; upon which it was decided to put back a little way, and to go into Loch Ryan; we accordingly did so, and anchored there at half-past eight;-—such a dreary rainy day—one could hardly recognize what was so fine when we were last in here.

Both now, and the time before when we were in Loch Ryan, Lord Orkney very civilly sent us game and all sorts of things.

At twelve o’clock Lord Adolphus read the short sea-service. We then talked over our voyage, and what could be done;—the day was very wretched,—pouring with rain and blowing hard. It was at last decided to start again at three, and get this evening to the Mull of Galloway, which would only take us three hours, though it would probably be rough. As soon as we were out of the loch the yacht began to pitch, and the sea was dreadfully rough. I was very ill. Albert, however, stood it perfectly, and the children very tolerably. Presently we came in sight of the Mull of Galloway, a great rock with a lighthouse on it; —and this was our last glimpse of dear Scotland.

Monday, September 20.

At six o’clock we got under weigh, and after considerable “rockings,” which lasted for nearly two hours, we were near the Isle of Man, in smooth water, and at halfpast eight anchored in Ramsay Bay.

Albert went on shore, and meantime the Bishop of Sodor and Man, with others, came on board. Albert returned at twelve. At one o’clock we started again. We had to go slowly at first, as our paddle-wheel again got wrong, and because we should otherwise have arrived before we were expected.

We anchored at seven in Fleetwood Harbour; the entrance was extremely narrow and difficult. We were lashed close to the pier, to prevent our being turned by the tide; and when I went on deck there was a great commotion, such running and calling, and pulling of ropes, &c. It was a cheerless evening, blowing hard.

Tuesday, September 21.

At ten o’clock we landed, and proceeded by rail to London.


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