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Leaves from the Journal
Expedition to Loch Avon 28 Sept. 1861


Saturday, September 28, 1861.

Looked out very anxiously. A doubtful morning; still gleams of sunshine burst through the mist, and it seemed improving all round. We breakfasted at a quarter to eight, with Alice and Louis, in our sitting-room; and started at half-past eight. Louis and Alice with us, Grant and Brown on the box, as usual. The morning greatly improved.

We drove along the north side of the river, the day clearing very much, and becoming really fine. We took post-horses at Castleton, and drove up to the Derry (the road up Glen Luie very bad indeed); and here we mounted our ponies, and proceeded the usual way up Glen Derry, as far as where the path turns up to Loch Etchan. Instead of going that way, we proceeded straight on — a dreadfully rough, stony road, though not steep, but rougher than anything we ever rode upon before, and terrible for the poor horses’ feet. We passed by two little lakes called the Dhoolochans, opposite to where the glen runs down to Inchrory, and after crossing them, there was a short boggy bit, where I got off and walked some way on the opposite side, along the “brae” of the hill, on the other side of which the loch lies, and then got on again. It was so saturated with water, that the moss and grass and everything were soaked, not very pleasant riding, particularly as it was along the slope of the hill. We went on and on, nearly two miles from the foot of this hill, expecting to see the loch, hut another low hill hid it from us, till at length we came in sight of it; and nothing could be grander and wilder, the rocks are so grand and precipitous, and the snow on Ben Muich Dhui had such a fine effect.

We saw the spot at the foot of Loch Etchan to which we scrambled last year, and looked down upon Loch Avon. It was very cold and windy. At length, at a quarter-past two, we sat down behind a large stone a little above the loch (unfortunately, we could not go to the extreme end, where the water rushes into it). We lunched as quickly as we could, and then began walking back, and crossed the hill higher up than in coming. I walked for some time, but it was not easy, from the great wet and the very uneven ground. Good Louis helped me often; Albert and Alice running along without assistance. Remounted my pony, which, as well as Albert’s, went beautifully, carefully led by that most attentive of servants, Brown. I had again to get off before we crossed by the Dhoolochons; but after that we rode back the whole way.

We had the same guide, Charlie Stewart, who took us to Glen Fishie last year, and who walks wonderfully. We had two slight showers going down, and saw that there had been much more rain below. We found the Ford of the Derry very deep, nearly 'up to the ponies’ girths; and the roughness and stoniness of the road is beyond everything, but the ponies picked their way like cats. We were down at the Derry by nearly six o’clock; the distance to Loch Avon being ten miles. Found our carriages there: it was already getting darkish, but still it was quite light enough to enable the post-boys to see their way.

At the bridge at Mar Lodge, Brown lit the lanterns. We gave him and Grant our plaids to put on, as we always do when they have walked a long way with us and drive afterwards. We took our own horses at Castleton, and reached Balmoral at ten minutes past eight, much pleased with the success of our expedition, and really not tired. We dined en famille.


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