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More Leaves from the Journal
Visit to Inverlochy 9 Sept 1873


Tuesday, September 9, 1873

Got up at ten minutes to seven, and breakfasted with Beatrice at twenty minutes past seven. The morning was splendid. At five minutes past eight I left Balmoral with Beatrice and Jane Churchill in the landau and four (Brown on the rumble) for Ballater, whither General Ponsonby and Dr. Fox had preceded us. We had our own comfortable train; Jane Churchill came with us. Emilie Dittweiler, Annie Macdonald, Morgan, and Max-tead (Jane’s inaid) went in the dresser’s compartment, and Francie with dear Noble, with Brown next to me. After crossing the Bridge of Dim, where we were at halfpast eleven, we had some cold luncheon, and by a quarter to one we were at Stanley Jmidicn, w'here we left the main line from Aberdeen to the south, and turned into the Highland Railway. Here, alas ! the distance became indistinct, the sky grey, and we began fearing for the afternoon. At one we passed the really beautiful valley of Dunkeld, catching a glimpse of the cathedral and the lovely scenery around, which interested Beatrice very much, and made me think of my pleasant visits and excursions thence; then passed opposite St. Colme's, the

Another favourite and splendid collie

Duchess’s farm, by Dalguise, and saw the large Celtic cross at Logierait, put up to the late Duke of Athole; then Pitlochiy; after which we passed through the magnificent Pan of Killkkrankie, which we just skirted in our long drive by Loch Tay and Loch Tummel in 1866. The dull leaden sky which overhung Dunkeld continued, and soon a white veil began to cover the hills, and slight rain came down.

We passed close by Blair, which reminded me much of my sad visit there in 1863, when I came by this same line to visit the late Duke ; and I could now see the great improvements made at the Castle. From here the railway (running almost parallel with the road by which we went so happily from Dalwhinnie the reverse way in 1861) passes Dalnaspidal Station—a very lonely spot—then up Drumouchter, with Loch Garry and Loch Ericht. fine and wild, but terribly desolate and devoid of woods and habitations, and so veiled by mist and now beating rain as to be seen to but very little advantage. Next comes Dalwhinnie Station, near the inn where we slept in 1861, having ridden over from Balmoral to Glen Fishie, and thence down by Newton More; consequently, the distance across the hill is comparatively nothing, though, to avoid posting in uncertain weather, we had to come all this way round. At thirty five minutes past two we reached Kingussie. The station was decorated with flowers, heather, and flags, and the Master of Lovat (now Lord Lieutenant of Invrerness-shire) and Cluny Macpherson (both of course in kilts) were there. We waited till all our things were put into our carriage, and then got out, in heavy rain at that moment. We three went in the sociable, General Ponsonby and Brown on the box, Dr. Fox and my maids in the waggonette, the other maids and Francie with the dog and the remainder following in two other carriages.

We passed through the village of Kingussie, where there were two triumphal arches and decorations. and some of Cluny’s men drawn up, and then turned sharp to the left amongst the hills, through the village of Newlon More wild, heathery moors. The road skins the Spey, which meanders through a rich green valley, hills rising grandly in the distance and on either side. We passed rhe rock of Craig Dhu, and a castle amongst trees, where there was an arch, and the owner and his family standing near it, and where a nosegay was presented to me. Next we came to Cluny Castle, at the gate of which stood Mrs. Macpherson with her family. We stopped after we had gone past, and she came and presented me with a nosegay.

From here the road was known to me, if I can call going once to see it in 1847 knowing it. Very few inhabitants, and not one village after Newton More, only miserable little cottages and farmhouses, with a few people, all very friendly, scattered about here and there. We changed horses first at Laggan Bridge, having crossed the Spey over a large stone bridge, which I well remember; it is near Slrathmashie. Here we stopped a few minutes; and a little girl presented me with a nosegay, and the innkeeper gave Brown a bottle with some wine and a glass. We were preceded the whole way by the postmaster of Banavie, who supplied the horses; he was called McGregor, and wore a kilt. We had only a pair of horses all along and after the first stage—excellent ones. The roads admirable—hardly any hills, though we drove through such a hilly, wild country. The rain had ceased, and only occasional showers came on, which did not prevent our seeing the very grand scenery, with the high finely pointed and serrated mountains, as we drove along. Shortly after changing horses we left the river and came to the beautiful Loch Laggan, seven miles in length, along which the drive goes under birch, mountain-ash laden with bright berries, oak, alders, in profusion, and is really beautiful. I was quite pleased to see the loch again after twenty-five years—recognised it and admired its beauty, with the wooded promontories, its little bays, and its two little islands, its ferry (the only communication to the other side), and the noble hills, the two Ben Alders.

We stopped, soon after passing the ferry, in a very secluded spot at five, and had our (made) tea in the carriage, which was very refreshing. We at length came opposite Ardverikie, which I so well remember, recalling and relating, as we now drove along, many of the incidents of our month’s stay there, which was as wet as this day. Sir John Ramsden, who has bought the property, was standing with some other people by the roadside. At the head of the loch is Moy Lodge, a pretty little place in the style of Ardverikie, at which Mr. Ansdell, the artist, is staying. A little beyond this we changed horses at Moy (only a single house), and drove along through Glen Spean, which is very fine and grand in some parts, the road looking down upon the rapid, rushing, gushing river, as it whirls along imbedded in rocks and overhung with wood, while high ranges of hills, fine and pointed in shape, are seen in the distance rising peak upon peak. Along this road I had driven, but I had forgotten it. Before coming to the Bridge of Roy Inn, we saw some of the celebrated Parallel Roads quite distinctly, which are more clearly seen farther on, and which are very interesting to all geologists as being supposed to mark the beaches of an inland lake, which was pent back by a great glacier in Glen Spean, and subsided to different levels, as the glacier sank or broke away at three successive periods.

The rain ceased, and we walked a little before coming to the Bridge of Roy, where we changed horses for the last time, and directly afterwards passed a triumphal arch with heather and inscriptions, pipers playing, etc., and Highlanders as well as many other people drawn up, but we unfortunately drove past them too quickly. There was an inscription in Gaelic on one side, and on the other “Loyal Highlanders welcome their Queen.” The papers say that it was put up by Mrs. McDonell of Keppoch.

About three miles farther on we reached Spean Bridge, and it was already getting dark. Here there is only an inn, and Lord and Lady Abinger and their tenantry met us. Lord Abinger said he had been requested to express the people’s thanks foi my honouring their country with a visit, and his little girl presented me with a large nosegay in the name of the tenantry. We then drove on through rather desolate moors, and the rain began to fall again very heavily. It became quite dark, and we could just descry mountains under which we drove. At ten minutes past eight wc arrived at Inverlochy, entering by a lodge, which was lit up and looked cheery enough. The house is entered through a small, neat-looking hall, and I have three nice rooms upstairs, with the maids close by, and Beatrice and Morgan also, just at the other side of the passage. My sitting-room is very nice. It was nine before we got to dinner, which I took with Beatrice and Jane, Brown waiting on us as well as Cannon (the footman). The drawing-room is a large, rather handsome and well-furnished room. We soon went up to our rooms, and all were glad to go to bed.

Inverlochy Castle, Wednesday, September 10

Mist on all the hills, and continuous rain! Most disheartening, but the views from the house beautiful, especkuly from my sitting room, which has abow-windov with two small ones on either side, looking towardsBen Nads (which is close in front of it), and commands a lovely view of Fort William (farther to the right), and of Loch Linnhe, eta, a portion of Loch Eil (pronounced Lock Eel) which runs up a long way, nearly twelve miles, with the fine Moidart range close to Glen Finnan, as a background; and this, with Banavie and the hotel, dose to the Caledonian Canal, is distinctly seen from the other window. This very pretty little room does not open into any other; next to it is Emilie Dittweiler’s, next to that my dressing-room, and Annie’s room, all narrow and long, and next again is a really large and also long room, my bedroom, in which I had my own bed, which has been to Switzerland, Invertrossachs, Sandringham, and Baden. Downstairs is the dining-room, a good-sized room (in which the gentlemen dine), also the drawing-room, and, a small library, in which we take our meals. No room in the house opens into another. Though some of the bedrooms are larger than those at Invertrossachs, the servants are not so well off. After breakfast (which, as well as luncheon, Beatrice and I always took alone) at half-past nine, went upstairs again and looked at Brown’s room, which is a few steps lower than mine, in fact, only a very small bath-room. Beatrice is just opposite where I am, or rather round the corner. Jane Churchill and the two gentlemen, upstairs, have also good rooms. As the rain did not cease, Beatrice, Jane Churchill, and I walked out in the grounds to the stables, which we looked at, then out at the lodge and as far as the farm, where, however, no beasts were at the time, and on coming home we went through the house and kitchen, servants’ hall, etc., and were in at a quarter to one. There were short gleams of sunshine which lit up the splendid scenery, and I sketched from my window looking up to Bararie.

Played with Beatrice on the piano. The day seemed better, but again and again the sunshine was succeeded by heavy showers; still we determined to go out. So at twenty minutes to five we three started in the sociable, Brown on the box, with a pair of horses and a postilion who drove extremely w ell. We drove past the distillery (between this and Fort William), then turned to the right over the suspension bridge to Bannvie, about a mile farther, where there is a good hotel, quite close to the Caledonian Canal, which v-e crossed by a bridge, and drove through Corpach, a very small village, where the horses made a halt and turned another way, and Brown said nearly put us into a ditch ! but we seen got all right again, having to go on a little way to turn. We went along the upper part of Loch Eil, the sea loch, on which Fort William stands. It is very narrow at first, and then widens out into a large broad loch as you approach the head of it, beyond which is the very fine range of the Moidart Hills, high ar.d very serrated and bold. These are close to Glen Finnan. The road is excellent and not hilly, though it shines the hills the whole time and is very winding, with much wood, so that you drive a good deal under trees, ash, oak, alder, and the mountain ash which is now laden with red berries. The bright heather, growing in tufts of the richest colour mixed with a great deal of high tall bracken which is beginning to turn, has a lovely effect. Here and there were some very poor little huts, most miserable, of stone, wretchedly thatched with moss and grass, and weeds growing on the roofs, very dirty and neglected-looking, the little fields full of weeds choking the corn, and neglected bits of garden, bushes and brambles growing into the very window; and yet generally the people who looked most poor had a cow!

We passed Fassifern, which belonged to the father of the Colonel Cameron killed at Quatre Bras, now merely a farmhouse, and surrounded by fine trees. I think the drive to near the head of the loch must have been nearly ten miles! It was a beautiful drive, in spite of the frequent heavy showers of rain.

We came home at twenty minutes to eight. Good accounts of Leopold, but the weather has been bad. Dined as yesterday. Played on the piano with Beatrice in the drawing-room, and then we went upstairs.

Thursday, September 11

A pouring wet morning after a pouring wet night. Could not go out all the morning. It, however, cleared up in the afternoon, and became very bright and fine. Just as we decided to go out at a quarter past four, it began raining again ; however, as I left with Beatrice and Jane in the sociable, it cleared, and was very fine for some time. We drove out the way we came on Tuesday as far as Spean Bridge, and then turned sharp to the left along the Spean, under fine trees which abound in the valleys, and in view of scattered birches which creep up the hills. We changed horses after passing High Bridge and an old neglected-looking churchyard, from which a funeral party was evidently returning, as we met “a good few” (i.e. a good many) farmers in black, and saw the gate open and a spade near it. The road ascends to High Bridge, commanding a very fine view over the Ben Nevis range and the hills above Loch Lochy, of which, as we approached the Caledonian Canal and came to a lock, we caught a glimpse. We changed horses at Gairlochy before crossing the canal, by the side of which flows the Lochy. The road ascends and goes along the western side high above the canal and river, commanding a splendid view of Ben Nevis and the surrounding range of hills, “ the Grampians.” The road is, as all the roads here are, very good and most picturesque, winding through trees, with small and wretched but picturesque cottages with little bits of fields dotted here and there and with Highland cattle grazing about. It was again rainy and showery after we came to Gairlochy. We came down again to Benavie, the hotel at which seems excellent, and were at home by a quarter-past six. Beatrice and Jane took some tea in the dining-room, and then took a short walk in the grounds, coming in at seven. Wrote. It was still raining, but not blowing. Played after dinner on the piano with Beatrice, and then went upstairs, and Jane Churchill read.

Friday, September 12 A most beautiful bright sunshiny day. After breakfast Mr. Newton, the artist, brought some lovely sketches. Sketched and painted, for the views are quite lovely, from my room. At eleven drove in the waggonette with Beatrice and Jane Churchill, General Ponsonby being on the box with Brown, to and through Fort William, which is three miles and a half from Laver lochy, passing the celebrated Ben Nevis Distillery, which is two miles from here, and through a triumphal arch, just beyond the bridge over the Nevis Burn, by an old, very neglected graveyard, to the right, in which is an obelisk to McLachan, a poet, and past the Belford Hospital, a neat building, built by a Mr. and Mrs. Telford; then a little farther on, entered the town, where there was a triumphal arch, the fort, now private property, belonging to Campbell of Monzie. Here Glencoe came to take the oath to King William III.

The town of Fort William is small, and, excepting where the good shops are, very dirty, with a very poor population, but all very friendly and enthusiastic. There are four churches (Established, Free Church, Episcopalian, and Roman Catholic). We drove on along Loch Ell (called Loch Linnhe below Corran ferry) a mile, and turned at Achintee, and down to old Inverlochy Castle, which is nearer to Fort William than the new castle. We got out to look at the ruin, but it is uninteresting, as there is so little of it and literally nothing to see. About a quarter of a mile from the house we got out and walked; home by half-past twelve.

Friday, September 12

At a quarter-past three, the day being most splendid, started with Beatrice and Jane Churchill, the two gentlemen following in the waggonette (with Charlie Thomson on the box), and drove by Banavie, the same road we came home yesterday, as far as where we crossed the canal at Gairlochy—only, instead of going down to it, we kept above, and went to the left: it is a beautiful road, coming in sight of Loch Lochy, which, with its wooded ban! s and blue hills, looked lovely. Leaving the main road, we turned into a beautiful drive along the river Arkaig, in Lochiel’s property, reminding one very much of the Trossachs.

As you approach Achnacarry, which lies rather low, but is surrounded by very fine trees, the luxuriance of the tangled woods, surmounted by rugged hills, becomes finer and finer till you come to Loch Arkaig, a little over half a mile from the house. This is a very lovely loch, reminding one of Loch Katrine, especially where there is a little pier, from which we embarked on board a very small but nice stream steamer which belongs to Cameron of Lochiel.

He received us (wearing his kilt and plaid) just above the pier, and we all went on board the little steamer. The afternoon was beautiful, and lit up the fine scenery to the greatest advantage. We went about halfway up the Loch (which is fourteen miles long), as we had not time to go farther, to the disappointment of Lochiel, who said it grew wilder and wilder higher up. To the left (as we went up) is the deer forest; to the right he has sheep.

Both sides are beautifully wooded all along the lower part of the fine hills which rise on either side, and the trees are all oaks, which Cameron of Lochiel said were the “weed of the country,” and all natural—none were planted. A good many grow up all the hollow-s and fissures of the hills and rocks. Eight ahead, where we turned, was seen a fine conical-shaped hill called Scour-na-nat, and to the left Glenmatry, to the north Muir Logan, and Giusach and Gerarnati on either side. Before we came to the turning we three had our tea, which was very refreshing. I tried to sketch a little, but the sun shone so strongly that I could not do much.

Mr. Cameron, who was with Lord Elgin in China, came and explained everything, and talked very pleasantly. His father had to let this beautiful place, and Lord Malmesbury had it for fifteen years. The Cannings used to go there, and I often heard Lady Canning speak of its beauties, and saw many pretty sketches which she made there. Thirteen years ago his father died, and he has lived there ever since. Alfred was there in 1863.

It was, as General Ponsonby observed afterwards, a striking scene. “There was Lochiel,” as he said, “whose great-grand uncle had been the real moving cause of the rising of 1745—for without him Prince Charles would not have made the attempt—showing your Majesty (whose great-great-grandfather he had striven to dethrone) the scenes made historical by Prince Charlie’s wanderings. It was a scene one could not look on unmoved.”

Yes; and I feel a sort of reverence in going over these scenes in this most beautiful country, which I am proud to call my own, where there was such devoted loyalty to the family of my ancestors—for Stuart blood is in my veins, and I am now their representative, and the people are as devoted and loyal to me as they were to that unhappy race.

We landed at the little pier, but walked over the small bridges (the carriages following)—on which a piper was playing—a few hundred yards to a gate (on the side opposite to that by which we came), where we got into the carriages again. We drove through a beautiful road called the Dark Mile—dark from the number of very fine trees which overhang it, while on the left it is overshadowed by beetling rocks with a rich tangled undergrowth of bracken and heather, etc. The heather grows very richly and full) in these parts, and in thick tufts. We sawr here the cave in which Prince Charles Edward was hid for a week. We came out of this road at the end of Loch Lochy, which looked lovely in the setting sun, and drove along the water’s edge till nearly where we joined the road by which we had come. It is all Lochiel’s for a long way—a splendid possession.

And now' came the finest scene of all—Ben Nevis and its surrounding high hills, and the others in the direction of Lech Laggan, all pink and glowing in that lovely afterglow (Alpenglilhon), which you see in the Alps. It was . glorious. It grew fainter and fainter till the hills became blue and then grey, and at last it became almost quite dark before we reached Banavie, and we only got home at a quarter-past eight. As we drove out I sketched Ben Nevis from the carriage.

Quantities of letters. The post comes in after eight and goes out at ten, which is very inconvenient.

Our usual little dinner only, about nine.

Saturday, September 13

Another splendid morning, of which we were very glad, as we meant to go to Glencoe, which was the principal object of our coming here. Our nice little breakfast as usual. Sketching.

At eleven we started, just as yesterday, Francie Clark [My Highland servant since 1870, and cousin to Brown.] and Cannon going on the box of the second carriage. We drove through Fort William, on as we did yesterday morning by Achintee, and down the eastern side of Loch Eil, which was beautifully lit, the distant hills intensely blue. The cottages along the roadside here and there hardly deserve the name, and are indeed mere hovels— so low, so small, so dark with thatch, and overgrown with moss and heather, that if you did not see smoke issuing from them, and some very ragged dirty old people, and very scantily clothed, dishevelled children, you could not believe they were meant for human habitations. They are very picturesque and embedded in trees, with the heathery and grassy hills rising above them, and reminded me of Switzerland. There were poor little fields, fuller of weeds than of com, much laid by the wet, and frequently a “coo” of the true shaggy Highland character was actually feeding in them.

The road, which runs close above the loch, commands an excellent view of the fine noble hills on the opposite side of the loch. At Corran Ferry (eleven miles; are seen across the loch Conaglen, and Ardgour, Lord Norton’s, at the entrance of a very fine glen. He has bought a large property in these parts, which formerly belonged to the Macleans. South of Corran Ferry the loch is called Loch Linnhe, and the road turns inland westwards, soon after passing up along the shore of Loch Lever, which is, in fact, also an arm of the sea. After three miles we passed a few cottages called Onlclt, the high hills of Glencoe beginning already to show. All was so bright and green, with so much wood, and the loch so calm, that one was in perpetual admiration of the scenery as one went along. Four miles more from Corran Ferry brought us to Ballahulish at a little before one o’clock. The situation of the hotel—the large one—on the opposite side, at the foot of the hills close to the ferry, is extremely pretty. There was a smaller and less handsome inn on the north side, by which we had come. Here we got out, after all our things —cloaks, bags, luncheon baskets, etc.—had been removed from the carriage, which we had to leave, and walked down to the boat. The small number of people collected there were very quiet and well behaved. Beatrice and Jane Churchill and I, with General Ponsonby and Brown, got into the boat, and two Highlanders in kilts rowed us across to the sound of pipes. On the opposite side there were more people, but all kept at a very respectful distance and were very loyal. A lady (a widow), Lady Beresford, who owns the slate quarries, and her daughter, in deep mourning, were at the landing-place, and one of them presented me with a bouquet. We got at once into two carriages (hired, but very fair ones), Beatrice, Jane, and I in a sort of low barouche, Brown on the box. We had a pair of horses, which went very well. The two gentlemen occupied the second carriage. The drive from Ballachulish, looking both ways, is beautiful, and very Alpine. I remember Louise, and also Alice, making some sketches from here when they went on a tour in 1865.

We went on, winding under the high green hills, and entered the village of Ballachulish, where the slate quarries are, and which is inhabited by miners. It was very clean and tidy—a long, continuous, straggling, winding street, where the poor people, who all looked very clean, had decorated every house with flowers and bunches or wreaths of heather and red cloth. Emerging from the village we entered the Pass of Glencoe, which at the opening is beautifully green, with trees and cottages dotted about along the verdant valley. There is a farm belonging to a Mrs. MacDonald, a descendant of one of the unfortunate massacred MacDonalds. The Cona flows along the bottom of the valley, with green “haughs,” where a few cattle are to be seen, and sheep, w hich graze up some of the wildest parts of this glorious glen. A sharp turn in the rough, very winding, and in some parts precipitous road, brings you to the finest, wildest, and grandest part of the pass. Stern, rugged, precipitous mountains with beautiful peaks and rocks piled high one above the other, two and three thousand feet high, tower and rise up to the heavens on either side, without any signs of habitation, except where, half-way up the pass, there are some trees, and near them heaps of stones on either side of the road, remains of what once were homes, which tell the bloody, fearful tale of woe.

The place itself is one which adds to the horror of the thought that such a thing could have been conceived and committed on innocent sleeping people. How and whither could they fly? Let me hope that William III knew nothing of it.

To the right, not far on, is seen what is called Ossian's Cave; but it must be more than a thousand feet above the glen, and one cannot imagine how any one could live there, as they pretend that Ossian did. The violence of the torrents of snow and rain, which come pouring down, has brought quantities of stone with them, which in man} parts cover the road and make it very rough. It reminds me very much of the Devil’s Bridge, St. Gothard., and the Goschenen Bass, only that is higher but not so wild. When we came to the top, which is about ten miles from Ballachulish, we stopped and got out, and we three sat down under a low wall, just below the road, where we had a splendid viewr of those peculiarly fine wild-looking peaks, which I sketched.

We sat down on the grass (we three) on our plaids, and had our luncheon, served by Brown and Francie, and then I sketched. The day was most beautiful and calm. Here, however—here, in this complete solitude, we w ere spied upon by impudently inquisitive reporters, who followed us everywhere; but one in particular (who writes for some of the Scotch papers) lay down and watched with a telescope and dodged me and Beatrice and Jane Churchill, who were walking about, and was most impertinent when Brown went to tell him to move, which Jane herself had thought of doing. However, he did go away at last, and Brown came back saying he thought there would have been a fight; for when Brown said quite civilly that the Queen wished him to move away, he said he had quite as good a right to remain there as the Queen. To this Brown answered very strongly, upon which the impertinent individual asked, “Did he know who he was?” and Brown answered he did, and that “the highest gentleman in England would not dare do what he did, much less a reporter”—and he must move on, or ho would give him something more. And the man said, “Would he dare say that before those other men (all reporters) who were coming up?” And Brown answered “Yes,” he would before “anybody who did not behave as he ought.” More strong words were used; but the others came up and advised the man to come away quietly, which he finally did. Such conduct ought to be known. We were there nearly an hour, and then began walking down a portion of the steep part.

The parish clergyman, Mr. Stewart, who had followed us up, and who had met us when we arrived at Ballahulish, explained the names of the hills, and showed the exact place of the dreadful massacre. He also said that there were many Episcopalians there from the old Jacobite feeling, and also Roman Catholics.

There was seldom frost in the glen, he said, but there was a good deal of snow.

A short distance from where Ossian's cave is shown there is a very small lake called Loch Treachian, through which the Cona flows; and at the end of this was a cottage with some cattle and small pieces of cultivated land. We drove down on our return at a great pace. As we came through Ballachulish the post-boy suddenly stopped, and a very respectable, stout-looking old Highlander stepped up to the carriage with a small silver quaich, out of which he said Prince Charles had drunk, and also my dearest Albert in 1847, and begged that I would do the same. A table, covered with a cloth and with a bottle on it, was on the other side of the road. I felt I could hardly refuse, and therefore tasted some whisky out of it, which delighted the people who were standing around. His name, we have since heard, is W. A. Cameron.

We drove to the same small pier where we had disembarked, and were rowed over again by two Highlanders in kilts. The evening was so beautiful and calm that the whole landscape was reflected in the lake. There is a high, conical-shaped hill, the commencement of the Pass of Glencoe, which is seen best from here ; and the range of hills above Ardgour and Corran Ferry opposite was of the most lovely blue. The whole scene was most beautiful. Three pipers played while we rowed across, and the good people, who were most loyal and friendly, cheered loudly. We re-entered our carriages, and drove off at a quick pace. When we were on the shores of Loch Eil again, we stopped (but did not get out) to take tea, having boiled the kettle. The setting sun cast a most glorious light, as yesterday, on Ben Nevis and the surrounding hills, which were quite pink, and gave a perfectly crimson hue to the heather on the moor below. The sky was pink and lilac and pale green, and became richer and richer, while the hills in the other direction, over Fort William, were of a deep blue. It w as wonderfully beautiful, and I was still able to make, or at least begin, a sketch of the effect of it, after we came home at a quarter to seven, from Beatrice’s window.

Resting and writing. Leopold has had far less fine weather for his excursion than we have had.

It was dull, and there had been some rain, but it cleared, and the day was fine, though not bright.

At twenty minutes past eleven walked out with Beatrice. We walked first to look at the kitchen garden, which is large, and has some very nice hot-houses with good grapes. From here we went out by the lodge, meeting not a soul, and past the farm, going down a road on the left to a small burn, over which there is a foot-bridge. Finding, however, that it only led to a keeper’s house, Brown advised us to return, which we accordingly did, coming by the back and the stables, and in at ten minutes to one o’clock. Rested, wrote, and then read prayers with Beatrice, and part of Mr. Campbell’s sermon, which Beatrice was so pleased with that she copied it entirely. Luncheon as usual. Painted and finished the view looking towards Port William.

At five drove out with Beatrice and Jane Churchill in the waggonette. We drove past the distillery; and then just beyond the bridge, which must be very little over two miles from Inverlochy, we turned off the main road. We drove up for four miles along the Nevis, a fine rapid burn rolling over large stones and almost forming cascades in one or two places, under fine trees with very steep green hills rising on either side, and close under and along the base of Ben Nevis, which rose like a giant above us. It was splendid! Straight before us the glen seemed to close ; halfway up we came to a large farm, the drive to which is under an avenue of ash trees. But there is no other habitation beyond this of any kind; and soon after the trees become fewer and fewer, though still a good many grow at the burnside and up the gullies of the hills. Sheep were grazing at a great height. The road became so rough and bad that wc got out and walked almost a mile, but could go no farther. We were delighted with the solemn solitude and grandeur of Glen Nevis; it is almost finer than Glencoe. There was no one when we first entered the glen, but as we walked back we met several people coming out to look. After getting into the carriage again, I stopped a little to take a rough sketch.

The farm belongs to Mrs. Campbell of Monzie, only daughter of the late Sir Duncan Cameron of Fassifern, who owns a good deal of Ben Nevis. Every hill has a name, but I cannot remember them, though I have them written down by the keeper at Inverlochy. As it was still a little too early to go home, we drove as far as the Fort and turned back, coming in at a quarter past seven. Writing. The post comes in at a most inconvenient, hour, a little past eight.

Dinner as usual. My favourite collie Noble is always downstairs when we take our meals, and was so good, Brown making him lie on a chair or couch, and he never attempted to come down without permission, and even held a piece of cake in his mouth without eating it, till told he might. He is the most “biddable” dog I ever saw, and so affectionate and kind; if he thinks you are not pleased with him, he puts out his paws, and begs in such an affectionate way.

Jane Churchill read.

Monday, September 13

The mist hung about the hills, but the sun struggled through. It was very mild and became beautiful. We decided to go up Glenfinnan and to lunch out. Painted and finished two other sketches looking up Loch Eil and towards Banavie, and then wrote, after which at a quarter to twelve took a short turn in the grounds with Beatrice.

At twenty minutes to one started with Beatrice and Jane Churchill in the sociable (Browm going each day of course with us on the box), the two gentlemen following (with Francie Clark and Charlie Thomson), and drove past Banavie through Corpach and up Loch Eil. When we had come to the head of the loch, the road turned towards the right, winding along through verdant valleys, with that noble range of Moidart before you, rather to the left. In one valley, which became very narrow’ after passing a large meadow in which they were making hay, we turned into a narrow sort of defile, with the stream of the Finnan flowing on as slowly as an English river, with trees and fir trees on the rocks, and unlike anything I had seen in Scotland, and then you come at once on Loch Shiel (a freshwater loch), with fine very high rugged hills on either side. It runs down twenty miles.

At the head of the loch stands a very ugly monument to Prince Charles Edward, looking like a sort of lighthouse surmounted by his statue, and surrounded by a wall. Here it was that he landed when he was brought by Macdonald of Borradale—whose descendant, now Macdonald of Glenaladale, has a house here (the only habitation to be seen)—to wait for the gathering of the clans. When Prince Charlie arrived at the spot where the monument stands, which is dose to the loch and opposite to Glenfinnan (the road we came going past it and on up a hill to Arisaig; twenty-five miles farther on), he found only a dozen peasants, and thought he hail been betrayed, and he sat down with his head in his hands. Suddenly the sound of the pipes aroused him, and he saw the clans coming down Glenfinnan. Soon after the Macdonalds appeared, and in the midst of a cheering host the Marquis of Tullibardine (Duke of Athole but for his attainder) unfurled the banner of King James. This was in August 1745. In 1746 poor Prince Charles was a fugitive hiding in the mountains on the sides of Loch Arkaig and Loch Shiel. As we suddenly came upon Loch Shiel from the narrow glen, lit up by bright sunshine, with the fine long loch and the rugged mountains, which are about three thousand feet high, rising all around, no habitation or building to be seen except the house of Ghnaladale, which used to be an inn, and a large picturesque Catholic church, reminding one, from its elevated position to the right and above the house, of churches and convents abroad, I thought I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot, or one which told its history so well. What a scene it must have been in 1745! And here was I, the descendant of the Stuarts and of the very king whom Prince Charles sought to overthrow, sitting and walking about quite privately and peaceably.

We got out and scrambled up a high hillock off the road, where I lunched with Beatrice and Jane Churchill and then sketched, but did not attempt to colour. We walked about a little, and then came down to the road to speak to Mr. Macdonald of Glenaladale, whom General Ponsonby had been to speak to, and who had never seen me. He is a stout, robust-looking Highlander of about thirty and a widower. He is a Catholic, as are all the people in this district. The priest is his uncle, and lives with him. He showed me some curious relics of Charles Edward. An old-fashioned, strange silver snuff “ mull ” which had been given by him to Macdonald’s ancestor, with the dates 1745 and 1746 engraved on it, for at Borradale Prince Charlie slept for the last time in Scotland; a watch which had belonged to him, and a ring into which some of his fair hair had been put, were also shown.

This is the district called Moidart, and from the highest hills the Isle of Skye is seen distinctly. Lord Morton’s property comes up close to Loch Shiel, and to the right are Lochiel, etc., and Macdonald of Glenaladale’s in front, at the head of the loch. The family used to live at Borradale near Arisajg, but acquired Glenaladale from the former Macdonalds of Glenaladale who emigrated to Prince Edward’s Island after the Forty-five.

Beatrice, Jane Churchill, and Brown went up with Mr. Macdonald to the top of the monument, but said the ascent was very awkward and difficult. General Ponsonby had been into the church, and said it was very expensively and handsomely decorated, but we have since heard there are only about fifty people in the neighbourhood. We left this beautiful spot about half-past four, having spent two hours there. The evening was not so bright as on Friday and Saturday, and there was no after-glow on the hills, Ben Nevis having its top covered with mist, as it often has. The horses were tired, and went rather slowly. I observed a flower here, which I have not seen with us at Balmoral, viz., instead of the large white daisies—“Marguerites,” as the French call them, and of which such numbers are seen in the fields in England— there is a large yellow one,t just the same in form, only the petals are bright yeliow.

The heather, as I before observed, is of a very full and rich kind, and, as we drove along, we saw it on the old walls, growing in the loveliest tufts. We met those dreadful reporters, including the man who behaved so ill on Saturday, as we were coming back. We got home at twenty minutes past six. Had some tea. Wrote and put everything in order. Alt had been settled about money to be given, etc. Our last nice little dinner, which I regretted. Came up directly after and wrote.

Tuesday, September 16

Had to get up by seven, and Beatrice and I breakfasted at a quarter to eight. The morning was fine.

The real name of the place used to be Toriuniy, which is the name of the “lochie,” or “tarn,” below the house, in the middle of which there is a little island on which there are ducks. The property, which is very large, sixty-four miles in extent, was purchased from the late Duke of Gordon by the late Lord Abinger, who began a house, but it was burnt down; the present Lord built this one, in fact, only ten years ago, and added to it since. He has called it Inverlochy Castle, after the old fortress, which is supposed to have belonged to the Pictish kings, but the present ruin is thought to date from the time of Edward I. The Marquis of Montrose defeated the Marquis of Argyle there in 1645, an incident described in Sir Walter Scott’s “Legend of Montrose.”

At a quarter-past eight we left Inverlochy Castle, where we had spent very pleasant days. The gentlemen had gone on before.

We drove to Banavie, where a good many people were assembled, and stepped on board the steamer which was on the Caledonian Canal. Here were Lord and Lady Abinger, whom I thanked very much for their kindness. I left an illustrated copy of my book and prints of Albert’s and my portraits at Inverlochy for Lord Abinger. She is an American lady from the Southern States, a Miss Margruder, and they have five children, of whom one only is a boy. They left the steamer, and we began moving. The steamer is called the “Gondolier.” It is built on the same principle as the one we had on Loch Lomond, with a fine large cabin with many windows, almost a deck cabin (though it is down one flight of steps), which extends through the ship with seats below, open at the sides far forward. In this large cabin sixty-two people can dine. We remained chiefly on deck. We steamed gently along under the road by which we had driven from Goirlochy and Aciniacarry, Lochiel’s to the left or w'est, and Lord Abinger’s to the right. Ben Nevis, unfortunately, w'as hid in the mist, and the top invisible, which we hear is very generally the case.

We came to one lock, and shortly afterwards to Gairlochy, after which you enter Loch Lochy. The Caledonian Canal is a very wonderful piece of engineering, but travelling by it is very tedious. At each lock people crowded up close to the side of the steamer. As the river rises from Banavie to Loch Oick (which succeeds Loch Lochy), the canal has to raise the vessels up to that point, and again to lower them from Loch Oich to Inverness. The vessel, on entering the lock from the higher level, is enclosed by the shutting of the gates. The sluices of the lower gates are raised by small windlasses (it was amusing to see the people, including the crew of the steamer, who went on shore to expedite the operation, which is not generally done, run round and round to move these windlasses), and holes are thus opened at the bottom of the lower gates, through which the water flows till the water in the lock sinks to the lowest level. The lower gates are then opened, as the water is on the lowest level, while the upper gates keep back the water above. The same process raises the ships in the lock which ascend. About five or six feet can be raised or depressed in this manner at each lock. (I have copied this from an account General Ponsonby wrote for me.)

As we entered Loch Lochy, which looked beautiful, we saw where Loch Arkaig lay, though it was hid from us by high ground. The hills which rise from Loch Lucky are excellent pasturage for sheep, but the lower parts are much wooded. After eight miles’ sail on Loch Lochy we came to Loch Oich, which is entered by another lock at Laggan. Here Mr. and Airs. Ellice (who is a first cousin of the Greys) were waiting, and came on board. They had wished me to get out and drive round their fine place, lnvergarry, to rejoin the steamer at the next lock, but I declined, preferring to remain quietly on board, though the process of going through the locks is slow and necessarily tedious. It is nervous work to steer, for there is hardly a foot to spare on either side. Mrs. Ellice went on shore again, having given us some fine grapes, but Mr. Ellice remained on board till the next lock, Callochy. A road much shaded runs along the side of the loch, and here wre passed the small monument by its side, put over the well into which a number of heads of some of the MacDonalds, who had murdered two of their kinsmen of Keppoch, wore thrown after they had been killed in revenge for this act, by order of MacDonald of the Isles. It was erected in 1812. We next came to the old ruined castle of Invergarry, embosomed in trees, close to which, but not in sight, is Mr. Ellice’s new house. He has an immense deal of property here on both sides. The hills rise high, and one conically shaped one called Ben Tightowers above the rest. At Callochy Air. Ellice left the steamer. Air. Brewster, formerly Lord Chancellor of Ireland and nearly eighty years old, was standing on the shore here. Francie and one of the policemen got out with good Noble, and walked to meet us again at Fort Augustus. While we were stopping to go through one of the locks, a poor woman came and brought us a jug of milk and oat-cake, which with their usual hospitality the country people constantly offer.

After this, and at about ten minutes past twelve, Beatrice, Jane Churchill, and I went below and had some hot luncheon. The people from the locks looked down upon us, but it was unavoidable. We had now reached Fort Augustus, where there was again some delay and a great many people, and where there was a triumphal arch. Here on this very day thirty-six years ago my beloved Albert passed, and he saw poor Macdonald the Jager here, and took a liking to him from his appearance, and, being in want of a Jager, inquired after him and engaged him. He was keeper to Lord Digby and Colonel Porter then, and brought some game for dearest Albert from them, and Albert was greatly struck by his good looks. He was very handsome, especially in the kilt, which he habitually wore.

There had been a heavy shower, but i: was over when we came up on deck again. We entered Loch Ness here. It is twenty-four miles long, and broad, the banks wooded, with many pretty places on them. "We passed Invermoriston in Glen Morriston the property of the Grants of Glen Morriston. Foyers, the celebrated falls, which are much visited, could just be seen, but not the falls themselves. Everywhere, where there were a few houses or any place of note, people were assembled and cheered.

Next, to the left comes the very fine old ruin of Castle Urquhart, close upon the Lochan Rocks, where there were again a great many people. The Castle has stood several sieges, and one in particular in the fourteenth century in the reign of Edward I. It belongs to Lord Seafield (head of the Grants), who has a very large property here, and whose own shooting-place, Balmacaan, is up in the glen just beyond. The fine mountain of Mealfounonie rises above it. It is two thousand seven hundred feet high, but the peak alone is seen from here. I tried to sketch a little, but in vain, the wind in my face was so troublesome.

At about twenty minutes to four (or half-past three) we passed Dochfour House, Mr. Baillie’s, which I think stands rather low', and in which Albert passed this night twenty-six years ago. A few minutes more brought us to Dochgarroch, quite a quiet place, but where a good many people had assembled. We waited to see every one and all our luggage landed and packed in and off before we stepped on shore. It was an amusing sight. There must have been two or three carriages besides ours. The last to drive off was the one in which Morgan, Maxted, and Lizzie Stewart got, with Francie Clark and Noble on the box. Mr. Baillie and Lady Georgiana, whom I had not seer, for iong, were at the end of the landing platform, as well as Mr. Evan Baillie and Mrs. Colville, their son and daughter. Two little girls put down bunches of flax for me to walk upon, which it seems is an old Highland custom. There is a small village where we landed. Lady Georgiana Baillie is quite an old lady, aunt of the Duke of Manchester, and grand-daughter of the celebrated Duchess of Gordon.

Beatrice, Jane, and I got into a hired (not very beautiful) open landau (on the rumble of which Brown sat, as in crowds it is much safer to have a person close behind you) with a pair of post-horses and a postilion. In the second carriage went General Ponsonby, Emilie Dittweiler (sitting next to him), Dr. Fox, and Annie, every available place being necessary. We were escorted by the 7th Dragoon Guards, which was thought better on account of the great crowds in Inverness, where no Sovereign had been seen since my poor ancestress Queen Mary.

The mixture of half state and humble travelling (we being in our common travelling dresses) was rather amusing.

The evening was beautiful, and Inverness looked extremely well on the blue Moray Frith. We passed a magnificent building, which is the county Lunatic Asylum. We had to drive six miles to the town, through a small portion of which only tve passed, and had to drive quickly, as it was late. The streets were full of decorations and arches, and lined with volunteers. Great order prevailed, and the people were most enthusiastic. The fine-looking old Provost was there, and the Master of Lovat, who walked up along the station with us. A great squeeze, which Brown, having a great heap of cloaks etc. to carry, had some difficulty in getting through. But every one, including the dog, got safe in, and we travelled by train as before. We went the same way as last year, but never stopped till we got to Keith, where last time our door got wrong. After this, about six, we had some warm tea and cold meat, which was very refreshing; A fine evening.

We reached Balater at five minutes to nine, and started at once in the open landau and four, preceded by the outrider with the lamp. There were a few drops of rain, but very slight. At twenty minutes to ten we reached Balmoral safely, very thankful that all had gone off so well.


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