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Leaves from the Journal
Loch Muich 16 Sept. 1850


September 16, 1850.

We reached the hut at three o’clock. At half-past four we walked down to the loch, and got into the boat with our people: Duncan, J. Brown, [The same who, in 1858, became my regular attendant out of doors everywhere in the Highlands; who commenced as gillie in 1849, and was selected, by Albert and me to go with my carriage. In 1851 he entered our service permanently, and began in that year leading my pony, and advanced step by step by his good conduct and intelligence. His attention, care, and faithfulness cannot be exceeded; and the state of my health, which of late years has been sorely tried and weakened, renders such qualifications most valuable, and indeed, most needful in a constant attendant upon all occasions. He has since (in December, 1865), most deservedly, been promoted to be an upper servant, and my permanent personal attendant. He has all the independence and elevated feelings peculiar to the Highland race, and is singularly straightforward, simple-minded, kind-hearted, and disinterested; always ready to oblige; and of a discretion rarely to be met with. He is now in his fortieth year. His father was a small farmer, who lived at the Bush on the opposite side to Balmoral. He is the second of nine brothers, three of whom have died, two are in Australia and New Zealand, two are living in the neighbourhood of Balmoral; and the youngest, Archie (Archiebald) is valet to our son Leopold, and is an excellent, trustworthy young man.] P. Coutts, [Now, since some years, piper to Farquharson of Invercauld.] and Leys rowing. They rowed mostly towards the opposite side, which is very fine indeed, and deeply furrowed by the torrents, which form glens and corries where birch and alder trees grow close to the water’s edge. We landed on a sandy spot below a fine glen, through which flows the Black Burn. It was very dry here; but still very picturesque, with alder-trees and mountain-ash in full fruit overhanging it. We afterwards landed at our usual place at the head of the loch, which is magnificent; and rode back. A new road has been made, and an excellent one it is, winding along above the lake.

Loch Muick. Balmoral Estate, Scottish Highlands
This easy circular walk of Loch Muick on the Balmoral Estate provides good views of the surrounding hills and pleasant stopping places. The walk takes in the impressive Glas-allt Shiel house built by Queen Victoria. It's a must if in this area of the Scottish Highlands.

The moon rose, and was beautifully reflected on the lake, which, with its steep green hills, looked lovely. To add to the beauty, poetry, and wildness of the scene, Coutts played in the boat; the men, who row very quickly and well now, giving an occasional shout when he played a reel. It reminded me of Sir Walter Scott’s lines in The Lady of the Lake:—

“Ever, as on they bore, more loud
And louder rung the pibroch proud.
At first the sound, by distance tame,
Mellow’d along the waters came,
And, lingering long by cape and bay,
Wail’d every harsher note away.”

We were home at a little past seven; and it was so still and pretty as we entered the wood, and saw the light flickering from our humble little abode.


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