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Leaves from the Journal
Ascent of Ben-na-Bhourd 6 Sept. 1850


September 6, 1850.

At half-past ten o’clock we set off with Lady Douro and Ernest Leiningen, [Our nephew] and drove to Invercauld, about three-quarters of a mile beyond the house, where we found our people and ponies, together with Arthur Farquharson, Shewin, and others. We then walked a little way, after which we mounted our ponies and began the ascent towards Ben-na-Bhourd; Macdonald leading my pony, good little “Loohnagar," and James Coutts Lady Douro’s. There is an excellent path, almost a narrow road, made up to within the last two miles and a half, which are very steep and rocky. The scenery is beautiful. We first rode up a glen (where a stone of the house in which Finla, the first of the Farquharsons, was born, is still shown,) through which the Glasialt runs. Further on comes a very narrow, rocky, and precipitous glen, called the Sluggan, said to mean the “swallow,” or “swallowing.” Some little distance after this the country opens widely before you, with Ben-na-Bhourd rising towards the left; and then you enter the Forest of Mar, which the Duke of Leeds rents from Lord Fife. There is a very pretty little shooting-box, called Sluggan Cottage, which is half way from Invercauld to the top of Ben-na-Bhourd. Below this is the Qiwich, which we forded. The last bit of the real road is a long steep ascent on the brow of a hill, the name of which means the “Tooth’s craig.” (Macdonald translated all the names for us.) The ascent, after the path ceases, is very stony; in fact, nothing but bare granite. Albert had walked a great deal, and we ladies got off after it became more uneven, and when we were no longer very far from the top. We came upon a number of “cairngorms,” which we all began picking up, and found some very pretty ones. At the top, which is perfectly flat, the ground is entirely composed of stones or wet swampy moss, and the granite seems to have stopped just a few feet below. We sat down at a cairn and had our luncheon. The wind was extremely cold, but whenever we got out of it, the air was very hot. The view from the top was magnificent and most extensive: Ben-na-Bhourd is 3,940 feet high. We saw Ben-y-Ghlo very clearly, Cairngorm and Ben Muich Dhai quite close but in another direction; the Moray Firth, and, through the glass, ships even could be seen; and on the other side rose Loch-na-Gar, still the jewel of all the mountains here.

After luncheon we began our downward progress, and walked the whole of the steep part till we reached the path; we came down very quickly, my pony making great haste, though he had half a mind to kick. Albert found some beautiful little rock crystals in the Sluggan, and walked the remainder of the way; we ladies left our horses about a quarter of a mile before we met the carriage. The whole distance from Invercauld to the top of Ben-na-Bhourd is nine miles, so we must have been at least 18 miles riding and walking. It has been a delightful expedition. It was six o’clock when we reached the carriage, and we were home at a little past seven.


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