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Autumnal Rambles Among The Scottish Mountains
A Week in Skye in the Autumn of 1849


First Day

There is a certain order of men whom, during the autumn months, it seems to be the general object of society to starve and rain! This may appear a somewhat startling remark; but, when I point to the members of the medical profession as the objects of this conspiracy, all will readily admit the truth of the statement. At this season of the year, there is a general rush in quest of health by nearly the whole community; and were the object attained, what would be the fete of the poor doctors? From Queen Victoria to the way-side beggar, all are on lie toddle, in hopes of repairing their corporeal and mental frames, and thus reducing the poor sons of AEsculapius to their last shifts As implicated in this heartless combination, I left my home a few weeks ago, and met by appointment a fellow-conspirator in the Rainbow Hotel, close to the Ayrshire Station, Glasgow. This city may justly be regarded as the focus from which all Highland tourists can most conveniently emanate. Whether bound for the North or West Highlands, they will here meet with facilities not to be equalled anywhere else. Steam, ad infinitum, by land and sea, is at their service; and. as these two elements aie now pitched against each other in hostile strife, the charges are so moderate as to be easily met by tourists of almost every description. At the Broomielaw, elegant slender steamers are at all times to be seen struggling and panting like greyhounds in the slips, as if eager to start with their freights to every point of the compass. Then knapsacks, caapet-bags, dressing-cases, canteens, &c. &c., are displayed in such tempting array at many of the shops in the Trongate, Arcade, and nearly all the streets, that it is almost impossible to refrain from casting off as lumber good old articles, once the pride of our hearts, and which have been our companions by mountain and flood for many a long interesting day, and equipping ourselves with corresponding articles of more modem and tasteful quality and dimensions.

As strangers in Glasgow are often much perplexed in finding suitable accommodation, I may here mention that I have met with no place better adapted for travellers of moderate means than the said Rainbow, kept by Mr Menzies. It is close to the south end of the Broomielaw Bridge, one of the finest in the kingdom, and consequently adjoining not only several of the railway stations, but the steam-boat quays; and is thus in a central and convenient a position as can well be imagined. The accommodation is at once comfortable and genteel: first-rate cookery; civil, active waiters; and, though last not least, the charges are far from oppressive.

After partaking of an excellent dinner, I found I had a few hours for looking about me in this immense city, now the second in point of population in the three kingdoms, and the most handsome, with the single exception of Edinburgh. Though in former years well acquainted with Glasgow, I was not fully aware of its present merits, as I am sure all who have been there of late will agree with me in asserting, that it has progressed wonderfully in everything generally attractive to strangers. Its public buildings have multiplied astonishingly, and many of these are surpassingly elegant. The Exchange Beading Boom has for a number of years been much admired, and there seems to be no objection to the free admission of respectably dressed visitors. Among other handsome edifices, large and splendid Normal Schools, free and bond, attract the attention; while the mushroom architecture of the Free Ohurch meets the eye in almost every direction. The aspect of these imposing and costly structures contrasts strikingly with the model churches of Culsalmond, for country parishes, and that of Dr Candlish, in the Lothian Road, Edinburgh, which was to be the ne plus ultra of expenditure in towns, the plainness of the external structures being incalculably compensated by the purity of doctrine poured forth within. Poor human nature, however, soon put an end to these fond and fanciful notions. Vanity and pride must be pampered, and take the lead even in the most pure and spiritual of our sects; and thus Glasgow, like Edinburgh, is largely indebted to her Free Church zealots for many of her gayest and most costly places of worship.

While treating of these subjects, I must not allow -to pass unnoticed that magnificent triumphal arch, erected in honour of the late visit of her Majesty, at the north or city end of the Broomielaw Bridge. Though only $ temporary erection of wood, painted to represent granite, it is universally admired, and there is a very general desire that it may be permanently superseded by one of real atone. Its proportions are admirable; and, as the bridge is perhaps the most spacious in me kingdom, the obstruction as to traffic, if felt at all, must only be to an inconsiderable extent. The situation ie the best in Glasgow for a thing of the kind; and, when it is recollected that it was in passing through this fine massive, classic arch, the sun burst through all the celestial obstructions of the morning, and welcomed our beloved Sovereign into this centre of Scottish industry and wealth, the loyalty of thousands will glow with redoubled ardour. Let "esto perpetw", then, be the sentiment of every Glasgow merchant; and if the work were set about, while the memory of the honour done them is still fresh, I am convinced there would be no lack, of funds.

The Cathedral is allowed to be the finest and most entire in Scotland, and should be visited by all strangers. It has been recently repaired, and, notwithstanding former disasters, still bids fair to brave for centuries the ravages of time. It adds a pleasing interest to this noble pile that its venerable pastor, Principal M‘Farlane, was honoured with the arm of his Sovereign while engaged in pointing out to her its “long-drawn aisles and netted vaults”—a reward justly due to one who, in the most trying and perilous times of our Church, unflinchingly preserved his consistency till the storm was bravely encountered and triumphantly weathered.

In immediate juxtaposition to the High Church is the Cemetery, one of the first, if not the very first, of the kind attempted in Scotland; and one which, as regards situation and general interest, may well be compared with the most successful of them all. Here we found ready admittance, after entering our names in the janitor’s book. This burying-ground contains many interesting mementos of the mighty dead, among which that* of our great Reformer Knox is the most conspicuous, whose lofty statue seems superintending, as its guardian angel, that Church of Scotland which, under Heaven, owes its existence to his ardent piety and indomitable energies. With what transporting emotions would he have been animated, could he have anticipated the entire success of his exertions in behalf of the Protestant schools and churches of his native land! And it may be added, with what grief and indignation would he have recorded their contemplated ruin by a numerous and powerful body of near recreant children!

The Tartar, Captain Macdonald, sails from the Broomielaw for 8£ye every Tuesday morning, and from Portree for Glasgow every Friday morning. She is a strong good vessel, and her captain has long been a great favourite with the public. As ahe doubles the Mull of Kintyre, where the fall swell of the Atlantic proves generally too potent for the comfort of landsmen, many prefer the Crinan Canal as far as Oban, where the Tartar calls on the forenoon of Wednesday. My friend and I preferred this latter plan—so we went on board the Pioneer at 6 a.m. on the 28th August.

Though the Frith of Clyde is universally allowed to be the most grand and interesting of all our estuaries, yet, as it is so generally known, I shall not detain my readers with any description of its scenery. The weather was by no means favourable. Though not absolutely wet, it was thick and muggy, and anything but exhilarating. In passing through the Kyles of Bute, however, it improved so far as to open up these straits in a very interesting manner. The entrance to Loch Riddan is decidedly the finest portion of this scene. Here the coast is rugged and precipitous, and the receding hills assume the character of mountains. The son of an English divine has, for a considerable time, been located here with his family, and a more complete contrast to the parsonages of merry England can scarcely be conceived. Remote from the busy world, he may here "hunt the roe, the hart, the doe,” or whatever other game he has a mind for, without much danger from Episcopal superintendence.

The mountainous district of Arran was much obscured on this occasion, which is always greatly to be lamented by tourists. The lower portion of the mountains only was discernible; but we had a fine peep into the sequestered bay of Loch Ranza, and, with the naked eye, could readily discern its venerable ruined castle, and even some of the adjoining cottages. On entering the Crinan Canal, we found there was to be considerable delay in waiting for the boat which conveys passengers from both extremities; so, in company with two ladies and as many gentlemen, we resolved to walk to the nearest locks, about five miles off.

Lochgilphead is greatly improved of late years, and has now a neat and thriving appearance, being much frequented as a bathing-place by the gentry of Glasgow. The Crinan Canal, from its antiquity, has assumed very much the character of a stately fiver, having its banks fringed with ha&el, birch, alder, and all those shrubs and trees usually attendant upon our Scottish rivers; and, were it not for the constant traffic, I am persuaded it would afford first-rate sport to the angler. Much valuable ground has lately been redeemed from the marshes; and, as the work is still in progress, some thousands of acres will soon be added to the amount. Oak-field is very beautifully situated on the banks of the canal, surrounded with well-grown and well-selected trees, among which, no doubt, the “ monarch of the wood” maintains his boasted sway. As rain now fell in good earnest, the ladies became very anxious to reach the locks, and were most provokingly tantalised by the conflicting statements of the peasantry as to the distance. After nearly an hour's hard walking, we were told that we had farther to go than when we first inquired! At length, however, we reached a substantial inn, where there was comfortable shelter till the arrival of the boat, which came up at the canter, drawn by three horses, driven by two smartly-equipped postilions.

The west end of the canal is particularly striking. It is quite Highland, and I am persuaded that, were it not for the frequency of its being visited, there are few places in Scotland that would be more admired. The Bay of Crinan, though often resorted to by Cockneys, is very far, indeed, from being a Cockney scene. It is landlocked by precipitous islands and headlands^ whose bare, weather-beaten cliffs cannot fail to impress an admirer of Nature with a lively idea of me sublime; more especially when be inflects that these ate the » embankments reared by the Almighty to check the fury of the Atlantic, The situation of Duntroon Castle has been much and justly admired, and the present proprietor is laudably exerting himself, in many respects, for the improvement of this interesting district.

We were here transferred to that fine steamer, the Shandon, which, alternately with the Dolphin, navigates among the Western Islands. Though now m the Sound of Jura, we saw little of its rock-bound shore, and nothing of its mountains. We passed many of the Hebrides almost without being aware of their presence, so dimly did they loom through the dense fog; like the vision described in Job, though “ before our face we could not discern the form thereof.” This was a sad disappointment to many, especially to those who haa never been there before. It is an ill wind, however, that blows good to none; for many were thereby induced to have recourse to the tempting viands of the steward, who, in more propitious weather, would have treated them with disdain. Thus did we reach the unrivalled bay and town of Oban, where, in the course of tne evening, as other steamers and coaches arrived, the usual scramble for beds took place.

Third Day

Next morning, though not quite what could be wished, the weather was improved; so, after partaking of a truly Highroad breakfast with an old and much valued friend, we were apprised of the Tartar’s approach, and were soon en route for Skye. The day brightened as it advanced, so that the Sound of Mull was seen to much advantage. Tobermory is particularly interesting as seen from the bay, but a nearer approach by no means tends to heighten its charms* It is well wooded, and its rocky shores are adorned by some beautiful cascades, as well as by the elegant mansion and pleasure grounds of Drumfin; but the town itself is miserably ill-planned, and the inhabitants manifest a hearty contempt of all sanitary laws. It is surrounded by wretched hovels, and, though everywhere there is a steep slope to the sea, yet filth of every description stagnates at the very doors, so that* we regretted having left the Tartar, as it dissipated much of the enchantment which distance here lends to the scene.

On retiring from Tobermory, a splendid view of Ben More in Mull was opened up to us by the rising clouds. It ascends in two abrupt starts, as seen in this direction, and appeared to me a much finer mountain than I had ever previously given it credit for. The point of Ardnamurchan, with its stately new lighthouse, and bold rocky coast, next attracted our attention. There is something particularly savage in the aspect of this bare, barren headland, exposed to all the violence of the Atlantic billows; and, to heighten the interest of the scene, a very large eagle descended from the impending cliffe, and followed the vessel for about a mile, attracted, as we surmised, bur the scent of the fish, and other good things on deck. So near was he occasionally, that he might easily have been brought down with swan shot had we been so prepared. He eyed us askance with much significancy, as much as to say, "I’ll come in if you’ll come out.” The deep sea salmon fishery, at the mouth of Loch Shiel, seems in a very thriving state from the number of empty boxes that were here thrown out to be replenished. The entrance of many of these salt-water lochs is singularly grand and impressive, owing to the height and rugged forms of the mountains by which they are encompassed. Of these, Loch Nevis and Loch Houm are particularly deserving of notice. This was the country where the standard of rebellion was first unfurled in 1745, a measure which involved many of the oldest and best Highland families in misery and ruin.

We were now, while the shades of evening were closing around us, in the Sound of Sleat, and our anchor was soon dropped for the night in the commodious and beautiful natural harbour of Isle Oronsay. This is the best wooded and most civilised portion of Skye. Armadale Castle is one of the handsomest of which Scotland can boast. It is situated in the midst of extensive thriving woods, many of the trees being of stately dimensions. The “Lord of the misty hills of Skye” makes this his constant residence; and, in so far as his means permit, is most anxious to promote the well-being of the inhabitants; but it would require a princely fortune indeed to remove them beyond that poverty which bears so hard on this, as well as on many, if not the whole of these islands.

As we had to pass the night on board, and it was several hours from the usual time of going to rest, the male passengers had recourse to creature comforts of various kinds, and spent the interval in lively and amusing conversation. Perhaps the following anecdotes, then narrated, may interest my readers:—Some one speaking of the difficulty of getting beds on the west coast at this season, a gentleman said that he had never felt it more, tnan on the preceding evening. He had arrived at Oban very late, and was told at the hotels and lodging-houses that every bed was full. The night was wet and cold, and he did not relish the idea of spending it outside, so he resolved to try all the windows as he went along, in hopes of one or other of them being unsecured. After many fruitless attempts, he got admission into what he found to be a snug little diningroom. So in he stepped, and, after shutting the window, wrapt himself in his plaid, and slept comfortably on a sofa, till in the morning a servant girl came to clean out the room. "Bless me, sir” she exclaimed, "how cam’ ye here? Ye waur na here when we gaed to our bed! Does my maister ken o’ your being here?” “It would be very strange, indeed,” said he, "if he did riot. I came late, and did not like to give you trouble; but I find the boat will soon be off—will you give him my compliments, and say, I was so much hurried that I could not see him before starting?” So saying, he put a couple of shillings into her hand, and was politely curtsied to the door. On another occasion, when a boat was arriving at Oban, crammed with passengers, one of them particularly intent on comfort, sprung actively ashore, and calling out, "Hurra! for the first bed,” ran in the direction of a strong gas-light, which he had ascertained was in front of the Caledonian Hotel. He succeeded in getting the first bed, but it was just across the pier, in ten or twelve feet of water, from which he was not without difficulty extricated by some herring fishers, who happened to be still astir.

Fourth Day

At five o’clock a.m., on Thursday, 30th August, we weighed anchor, and left Isle Oronsay. This snug anchorage is right opposite the entrance of Loch Houm, one of the grandest scenes in the West Highlands. The mainland all along this coast, Inverness-shire, is remarkably rugged and interesting, and the channel being so strait, it is seen to great advantage. Not having undressed, I was on board before five, and enjoyed the view on both sides exceedingly, only lamenting that all my fellow-passengers were in the Land of Nod. The barracks of Eternera, though apparently deserted, add to the interest of the scene, as also the Church and Manse of Glenelg. Kyle Rhea is the narrowest part of the straits, and here there is a regular ferry from Skye to the mainland, the distance not exceeding half-a-mile. At Kyle Akin there is another ferry ; and close to it, in Skye, several respectable-looking houses have been built, with a view to their being the commencement of a trading village. On the opposite shore, an English gentleman possesses considerable property, and has his shooting lodge dose to the water’s edge. Purchasing of land by rich Englishmen has become very common throughout the Highlands, and cannot fail to bring much wealth as well as civilisation into a country which stands greatly in need of both. All along this coast there is no receding of the sea* It is so steep and rocky that a few feet perpendicular is all the difference made by the tide, so that vessels of heavy burden may tack close to either. shore. The tide, however, runs remarkably strong, giving it the appearance of a rapid majestic river, and rendering missing stays in a breeze a very dangerous matter.

On leaving this narrow channel, Scalpa, Raaza, Pabba, and various other islands, were opened to our view; the two former wild and rocky, the latter remarkably low, and apparently well cultivated. Duncaan, in Kaaza, is the only hill of considerable height; its abrupt sides and table-shaped summit are seen, from afar, and distinguish this from all the neighbouring islands. It has, not long ago, become the property of a gentleman who has been the architect ofnis own fortune, by means of that laudable persevering industry so characteristic of many of our countrymen. On this occasion, he, his wife, and son, were our fellow-passengers till we arrived at the village of Broadford, where my friend and I, with other two tourists, left the Tartar, with the view of visiting the Spar Cave of Strath Aird and Loch Corruisk. At Broadford, and all along during the morning, we were struck with the number of people, principally females, crowding into the vessel as often as opportunities occurred, and were informed that their object was to attend a Free Church sacrament at Snizort— a prodigious distance from their homes, but resorted to by hundreds far more remote.

Arrived at the inn of Broadford, we felt well appetized for breakfast, and, along with the two above-mentioned gentlemen, ordered it forthwith. Citiue dicto” however—done ere bid—is far from being the order of the day in Skye. After much delay, and visiting the scene of action, the kitchen, I found that absolutely nothing was done! On expressing disappointment, the reply was, "Oh! are ye in a hurry? we didna ken." —“Can we have herrings and eggs?”—“You can get plenty o’ eggs, but, we hae nae herrin’s.”—"Indeea! the boat which set us ashore was so full of them that we could scarcely find room for our feet.”—"Weel, then, we’ll see what can be done.” Notwithstanding our utmost efforts, much time was lost before we could manage our point; and, had we not lent a hand ourselves, it seemed questionable whether breakfast would ever have made its appearance. The people, generally speaking, in this island have no idea of the value of time. Many of them, unfortunately, having little to do themselves, conceive all others similarly circumstanced, and their great object seems to be to spin out every little job that occurs.

During breakfast, the weather, which had never been very promising, assumed a decidedly unfavourable aspect. The Skye mountains had at no period of the morning been visible; but now thick mist gradually degenerated into thick rain, so that our prospects of enjoyment were gloomy indeed. While thus lamentmg what no human power can obviate, notice was brought that a conveyance had arrived from the truly polite and hospitable minister of the parish, to conduct us to his residence five miles distant. His youngest son was our charioteer, and we were soon received with that hearty welcome for which our Scottish Highlands are so justly celebrated. All this day there was no relenting in the elements, but the reverse; for, as night approached, the rain increased. There was one comfort, however, we could not have been in better quarters. Topics of mutual interest were discussed with much zest till dinner was announced, the quality of which would have done credit to any manse in Scotland.

Fifth Day

Early next morning, the weather still looked doubtful. We were assured, however, by our entertainer, that the day would be good; and his prediction was verified, for it turned out splendid. Our two Broadford friends arrived to breakfast, having also letters of introduction here; and after a feast, which would have gratified the Court at Balmoral, we four visitors set off for Loch Slapin, in order to visit the Spar Cave. Our worthy host accompanied us to the boat, where we found five men ready for service under the direction of his son, to whose polite attention we were greatly indebted. The rowing was by no means first-rate, but in time we reached the cave, which far surpassed our expectations. It is so very different from Fingal's, in Staffa, that a comparison cannot well be drawn. The latter Js grand and solemn, but is seen, all at once, in the most satisfactory manner by the light of day. The former requires much time and the aid of artificial light. Besides ourselves and boatmen, we had several boys to assist us in holding candles in suitable positions, so that we saw the whole to the utmost advantage. The approach between lofty perpendicular rocks is very imposing; but soon after we would have been in utter darkness had it not been for our candles. After advancing a considerable way, there are two steep ascents, with distinct landing-places to each, and then a descent into a deep pool of limpid water, which bars farther progress, though the cave extends somewhat beyond it.

I pretend not to give a particular description of this freak of Nature; suffice it to say, that we were all delighted. Everything is on a large scale; the width and height are such that there is no creeping and soiling of clothes, as is often the case in curiosities of this nature. The ascents and descents were much facilitated by a strong rope held above and below by the boatmen. There is a constant dripping of water from the roof, but it is so pure and sparkling that it can scarcely be regarded as an annoyance. No doubt, there are many plants And minerals on this coast interesting to men of science in these departments who have time at command. I was particularly struck with one plant which grew from the crevices at the mouth of the cave. It consisted of bunches of very long broad leaves, and would have puzzled me greatly, had it not been for one of our new friends, a distinguished botanist, as well as mineralogist, who pronounced it to be a very uncommon species of fern.

On emerging from this singular scene, the day seemed particularly brilliant. The islands of Eigg and Bum were in front of us, the latter distinguished by lofty peaked mountains, while those on e mainland, Inverness-shire, were seen to great advantage. So clear was the atmosphere, that I am convinced I saw Ben Nevis, from the summit of which, many years ago, I had distinctly seen the Alps of Skye. Upon entering Loch Scavaig, these appeared in front of us in all their glory; and certainly I never saw any mountains so grisly, wild, and sublime, as the Cuchullins, or Coolins, as they are generally termed. The Arran Peaks resemble them a good deal; but in so far as granite is inferior to hypersthene in the power of resisting the ravages of time and the elements, in the same proportion are the former surpassed by the Coolins in sharpness and singularity of outline. The Arran mountains are also said to be considerably less elevated.

In approaching our landing place, we passed many desolate looking caves, in one of which the Pretender spent some dreary days while a price was set on his head. Here much caution is required, as sunk rocks are frequently discernible venr near the surface, surrounded by water almost unfathomably deep. On our left, rising abruptly from the sea, is Garsben, the nearest and most southerly of the range, which extends in a deeply serrated curved line around the head of Loch Corruisk, terminating in Scuir-nan-Gillean at the northern extremity. On our right we had Scuir-nan-Stree, Blaven, and several others of nearly equal height. On landing, we soon found ourselves, after a rocky scramble, on the margin of Loch Corruisk, without exception, the most terrific scene I ever witnessed. Here we all joined in a hearty repast, for which we were still indebted to our kind and provident hostess of the previous day. Not far off, we saw two gentlemen who had come from Sligachan for sketching and fishing, and they could not have found a spot more favourable for their respective pursuits. Some of us scrambled nearly to the upper end of the loch, two miles off, after which, and settling with our boatmen, my friend and 1 set off for Sligachan, while the rest of the party returned in the boat.

from Loch Corruisk the ascent is very abrupt, over a spur of the Coolins, which we crossed opposite Low-Corry; and let any man visit that scene if he be really anxious to witness the sternest and most impressive that Scotland can boast. The rocks, which are completely naked, are very dark and metallic-looking, their surface being encrusted with crystals, which occasionally glance vividly in the rays of the sun; and there are huge blocks here and there, placed in the most singular positions. From this dark den issues the stream that reaches the sea about a mile below the inn at Sligachan. The whole of this glen is magnificent; but, there being next to no track, and night fast approaching," we had some difficulty in finding our way to the inn, where we arrived between nine and ten, considerably indebted to the moon.

Sixth Day

The last day of August was to us one of unmingled satisfaction; the first of September one of grievous disappointment. On the former, we had seen the Spar Cave, with all its fairy-like tracery, Lochs Scavaig and Corruisk, and the "dark frowning glories” of the Cuchullins, in as great perfection as they have ever been, or can be viewed. We had from a great height descended into the abysses at the source of Ulen Sligachan, skirting the base of Scuir-nan-Gillean, scanning its shivered sides with a view of climbing its stately summit next day, one of the main objects of our going to ‘ Skye. But, alas!

“The best laid schemes o' mice and men Gang aft a’gley.”

The morning, though grey, still looked hopeful, and all the mountain tops stood out sharp and clear in the horizon. I took ‘an early walk in their direction to plan the best mode of ascent, and had fully satisfied myself that it was quite practicable, notwithstanding all that has been said and written to the contrary. Tradition says that the above mountain derives its name from several young men having lost their lives in a rash attempt to reach its summit.

A party arrived from Portree before breakfast, whom we had the pleasure of meeting in the Tartar. They had been at the Storr and Quirang, and were going to the Spar Cave and Loch Corruisk. We all breakfasted together, and had much agreeable conversation as to our adventures in the island and our future intentions. One of our party was a London lady of great spirit and vivacity, who, in company with her husband and another gentleman, had climbed the Storr on the previous Thursday, encompassed with mist, and in a deluge of rain, and yet she seemed only more determined to brave every difficulty. The inn at Sligachan is one of the best in Skye; still we should have found it no easy matter to get breakfast in decent time, had it not been for the help of this lady’s maid-servant. She tried every persuasive art to expedite the business, but failing, she set to work herself, and actually stupified the natives with her activity. They stared in mute amazement on observing one girl do more work than any half-dozen mountaineers, and seemed to regard her as some supernatural being of the Brownie tribe, whom it was scarcely canny to speak to, or even to look at.

During this meal the clouds caught hold of the highest points of the Coolins, and gradually crept down their ravines, attended by ram, till we saw that our purpose was altogether hopeless. To ascend almost any high mountain in mist, even though well known, is perplexing; but, in such circumstances, to have attempted Scuir-nan-Gille^n would have been absolute folly and madness, so with much chagrin we set off for Portree. I may here mention, that Sligachan is by far the best starting point either for climbing the Coolins, or visiting Loch Corruisk. I am persuaded that a persevering judicious pedestrian may leave the inn and stand on the highest peak, provided the weather be favourable, within three hours. The mountain above-mentioned is generally esteemed the highest; but I am much mistaken if there are not eight or, ten others in the immediate vicinity not two hundred feet lower, some of them nearly on the same level. Indeed Blaven, on the opposite side of Glen Sligachan, is by some reckoned the highest of them all; so that, if Scuir-nan-Gillean, as is allowed by scientific men, be above 3200 feet in height, there are many of its neighbours above 3000; and as they all start from the sea, sharp and rugged, stem and grim, it may readily be supposed they are well worthy of the tourist’s attention. Let him, however, beware of mist, for they are rarely entirely free from it, and be sure never to ascend unless he is certain of a safe retreat, as the latter is by much the more difficult. M'Culloch states that in five successivc summers he made seven attempts to see these mountains to advantage, and only once gained his object; so that, notwithstanding the above mishap, we considered ourselves fortunate in seeing them quite distinctly every day we were in the island, excepting the first.

The road to Portree from Sligachan is good and free from tolls, as are all the others in this island. The Storr, with its very extraordinary prongs, appeared in view when we were about half-way. It is six miles on the opposite side of Portree, and is justly regarded as one of the greatest curiosities in Skye. There are some neat villas near Portree, and the little town itself is beautifully situated. The bay resembles that at Tobermory. It is surrounded by steep, rocky, well-wooded hills, and is secure from every wind, as the island of Raasa defends it on the only side assailable by the sea. The inn is a very good one indeed, and the charges here as elsewhere reasonable enough, considering that a few months at this season are all they have to depend on for profitable custom. Though the morning had been unpropitious, the latter part of the day was good, ana the evening beautiful. The full moon shining upon this very interesting bay showed it off to great advantage. There is here a neat church, a bank, a post-office, and a jail; so that, though not containing above fifty houses, Portree may well be considered the capital of Skye. There is a good herring and salmon fishery also, which, in their season, gives the place an animated appearance.

Seventh Day

Next morning, the Sabbath, was very gloomy and wet; and, as there happened to be no public worship in Portree, we were confined to the house till mid-day, when it faired, so that we resolved to walk seven miles to be present at the Free Church sacrament at Snizort. In defiance of the heavy rain, Portree seemed emptied of its inhabitants. Every kind of vehicle was in requisition, and many were on foot The country towards Snizort is heathy and uninteresting; but the river there, being much swollen, and having a very rocky channel, was well worth seeing. The Free Church is neat enough, but the manse is one of the largest and finest I have seen. The place of meeting on this great occasion was an open heath, about a mile farther on than the church, and near a large fir plantation. The assemblage was immense, surrounded by numberless carts, gigs, &c., and the horses either running loose, or having two legs tied together. The tent was placed with its back to the wood, nearly surrounded by the strangest looking group we ever witnessed. The number present was estimated at about 7000; and, when it is considered that many had come from Lewis, Harris, Uist, and many other islands, as well as from the Mainland, it may readily be conceived that this was by no means above the mark. My mode of calculation was by comparing the space filled with the area of Tanfield at Edinburgh. The latter is said to seat 4000 people, and it appeared to me that the crowd here would have crammed it at least twice. True, there were many reclining; but, to compensate for this, there was a much greater proportion of children here than at Tanfield —not to speak of the worshippers in the wood, of whom there were of both sexes not a few.

We regretted much being too late for the sermon by the talented Mr Rtfderic M'Leod, who, I believe is the only Free Church ordained minister in the island, and whose sway is despotic. He is much liked and respected, not only by his own people, but by the people and ministers of the Establishment. The whole of the service was in Gaelic, and it is questionable if there were one hundred present who could have been edified by any other language. We heard two tables served; and, if power of lungs, and extravagant gesticulation constitute eloquence, there was no lack of it here. To do the people justice, it must be allowed they were all calm, and seemingly attentive. There was none of that agitation and screaming which were too common in such meetings a few years ago. This, it seems, instead of being connived at by their ministers as formerly, has of late been discouraged and suppressed, as it was bringing their religious assemblies into disrepute among the judicious and intelligent. The psalm-singing, to my taste, was most solemn and impressive. At the end of each line, after the precentor finished, the notes were prolonged by the remotest skirts of the multitude in a manner that appeared to me most appropriate to Divine worship. I never heard old Coleshill warbled so sweetly. Oh! how unlike the flippant new-fangled airs so much in vogue in most of our churches!

“Compared with these, Italian trills are tame;
The tickled ears nae heartfelt raptures raise;
Nae unison ha'e they wi’ our Creator's praise.”

In the evening, we went to hear English service in the church, the officiating clergyman being the first whom we heard at the tables. The .congregation did not exceed forty-five, including the minister. He was animated in the extreme, and had a noble text; but we agreed in thinking him more edifying in Gaelic. Though the Queen was now in the Highlands, no allusion was made in prayer either to her or her Court. Would this silence have been observed had she attended divine worship in the Free Church? As a patroness of an Erastian Church, they should surely have considered her the more in need of their prayers.

It is singular that any intelligent people should regard it as an argument in favour of the Free Church, that it has so many adherents in the North and West Highlands. As well may it be urged in favour of the Romish Church, that the priests carry the people along with them in the south and west of Ireland. They are alike ignorant, and incapable of conviction, and are thus mere tools for promoting any object their spiritual guides may have in view. Gaelic having only of late years been a printed language, and being differently spoken in every different district, it must of necessity be a very imperfect means of instructing those who are acquainted with no other. Johnson describes it as “ *e barbarous language of a barbarous people, who conceive grossly, and are content to be as grossly understood; ” and in this sentiment I entirely agree with regard to all those who can converse in no other tongue.

When we returned at night to Portree, I expressed surprise^ to the company in the inn that several of the elders assisting at the tables wore red and striped worsted night-caps, even the precentor

wearing one of the former flaming complexion. A gentleman, particularly conversant with everything connected with the Highlands, assured me that this was no mark of disrespect, but a badge of distinction ; that none wore these articles but such as had great spiritual attainments, and that they wore red, striped, or blue head gear, according to their /" various gradations in sanctity. I thanked him for his information, as, had it not been for his civility and superior light, I might have done “ the men great injustice by regarding that as a mark of slo? venliness in which they chiefly gloried, though I confess their taste still seems to me not a little questionable. At all events, as u the men ” have assumed the cardinal? s haty it seems but fair that their omnipotent and infallible spiritual guide should be decorated with a papal crown.

Eighth Day

Having resolved to visit Quirang, in the northwest comer of the island, and to go by sea, we secured the services of two active able-bodied sailors on the Saturday evening. Early on Monday, we left Portree, in an excellent boat, but too heavy for* rowing, and, as there was little or no wind, this proved a serious obstacle to our progress. It is about twenty miles to Stenchol, the nearest landing-place to Quirang. If there had been a breeze from any quarter, we counted on being only a few hours at sea. There was scarcely a breath of wind, however, and, as the heat was intense, we made provokingly little way.

About four or five miles from Portree, we landed to see a cave celebrated for having lodged the Pretender and several of his devoted followers for a considerable time. It is almost inaccessible by land; and, from its external appearance, no one could conceive its interior so capacious as it is. Had we not previously visited the Spar Cave, this one would have made a much stronger impression. It is wide, high-roofed, and extends a long way back, so that I should think fifty people might find in it tolerable accommodation, especially if the gibbet was the alternative. It seemed quite dark upon entering, but gradually we could explore all its recesses, and ascertain that, like the Spar Cave, it was much encrusted with beautiful stalactites.

After toiling at their oars a couple of miles farther, we asked the men to put us ashore opposite the Storr, which we were anxious to ascend, while they proceeded onwards. The ascent for five or six hundred feet from the water’s edge was very steep and toilsome, as the sun was unclouded, and it was near mid-day. After surmounting this difficulty, and finding the Storr was still several miles off, my companion preferred u the way of the plain,” proceeding northward, just above the high ridge overlooking the sea. Being determined to explore the recesses of the above most fantastic mountain,

I toiled on through bogs and by the side of a lake, till I came to the last ascent. About half way up I got among the prongs, whose appearance amused us so much when approaching Portree. Some of -these are perpendicular, others oblique, and they must be several hundred feet in height. Opposite

them, in the mountain-side, from which they seem to have been detached by some convulsion of Nature, are corresponding ravines of a truly terrific appearance. Alter surveying them, I looked back towards Portree, and witnessed a scene which for sublimity and singularity I shall never forget. The atmosphere was remarkably clear, so that the wild towering cliffs of the Coolins were seen through the fangs of the Storr, while the extreme background was filled up by the serrated ridges of the Glenelg and Loch Hourn Mountains, and others in that direction.

My work, however, was here only about half finished. In ascending the upper part of the Storr, my progress was frequently intercepted by the ravines above mentioned, which, being sheer precipices, and composed of a very crumbly rock, must in thick mist expose the climber to imminent danger. On the summit there is a large mound of turf, and the walls of a cottage, raised by the sappers and miners when engaged in their scientific pursuits. The view from this was truly magnificent, comprehending, besides the whole of Skye, the mountain scenery of Sutherland, Boss, Inverness, and Argyle Shires, with many of the Hebrides. My old enemy Ben Wyvis, some sixty or seventy miles due /east, was distinctly visible, and scanned with much interest, as there, last season, along with two friends, owing to our being benighted, we had nearly climbed our last.

Descending in a sloping direction towards the sea, I rejoined my friend, who, after losing sight ot me for about five hours, had become somewhat uneasy, as a broken or even a sprained limb in such a solitude would have been attended with serious consequences. We found our boatmen waiting for us in a very remarkable creek, overhung by rocks, whose shadows shone conspicuous in the deep, green, unruffled sea. After labouring long at the oar, a slight breeze having sprung up, our sails were , hoisted, but what little wind there was being right a-head, we made very little progress; so that, seeing it would be long after midnight before we could expect to reach Stenchol, we agreed to go ashore and make the best of our way by land, allowing the men to return to Portree.

All this was very discouraging; still we had seen a magnificent rocky coast, with its natural arches, caves, and buttresses; and, in particular, a splendid waterfall into the sea, of perhaps two hundred feet perpendicular. After a scrambling walk of about a mile, we came to some cottages, where we were supplied with excellent milk, and soon found a road lately made from the funds of the Destitution Society. This proved to us a mighty boon, as it had become dark, and the natural face of the country is of a very rough and impervious description. At length we readied what is called the Inn of Stenchol, to us a most welcome sight, though I question if there be another like it in Scotland. Luckily, we were the only guests, so we had all the accommodation at our disposal, and all the attendance of the inmates, and most anxious they were to please us. The peats, however, being wet, and the epidemic slackness particularly prevalent, if we had not bestirred ourselves, we should have been ill off indeed, especially as our principal waiter could not speak one word of English.

Ninth Day

Next morning was fine, but foggy. Having an introductory letter to the quoad sacra minister, about a mile distant, we called on him, just as he and a chance guest of the preceding evening (who, luckily for himself as well &s us, had mistaken the manse for the inn) were beginning breakfast. After they had finished, we all set off for Quirang, about three miles distant, under the guidance of an old Waterloo man, who had served twenty years in the 42d regiment, during the most eventful period of the war. As we ascended the heights of Quirang, the heat was most oppressive, particularly to the minister, who, not being in first-rate condition, earnestly and pathetically urged us "not to make a toil of a pleasure.” On preaching the singular scene, we were much gratified. In some respects it much resembles the Storr, but differs in that there is here, among the lofty spire-like cliffs, about an acre of level ground covered with beautiful soft grass. This on one side is bounded by the mountain, on the other three by those insulated prongs, whose summits never were, nor can be, reached by mortal man without artificial means. The whole scene much resembles the gigantic ruins of some mighty cathedral, such as might be the subject of a dream. Around these peaks, on this occasion, floated thick, fleecy, white clouds, and between them the blue sea occasionally made its appearance, rendering the scene still more attractive and fantastic. It seems to be generally allowed, that this must at one time have been the crater of a volcano, and it would be difficult to account for the aspect of the rocks in any other way.

The whole of this mountain range, from the Storr to Quirang, is composed of the same species of rock, and assumes in various places corresponding singularity of appearance, hut nowhere nearly to the same extent. The Storr is by much the highest point, Quirang being the next highest.

We descended on the opposite side to that by which we had reached this strange scene. Our guide took us to one of the mo&t copious and delightful springs we ever saw, close to the road leading to Uig; and here we parted from him and the minister, having to proceed to Portree on foot, by Uig and Snizort, a distance of twenty-five miles. For six or seven miles there is a black heathy country, extending to the sea on the opposite side of the-island. The bay of Uig is very beautiful. It is embosomed in steep, but not very rocky hills, and contains many cottages with considerable patches of com. There is here a cascade well worthy of attention, also a place of worship, and a burying^-ground, sadly overgrown with nettles—no uncommon sight in Scotland, but which in England would be reprobated as shamefully neglectful, and disrespectful to the dead. It is high time we were taking a leaf out of our neighbours’ book in this respect; and surely, when around Edinburgh and Glasgow there are seen such interesting places of interment, the provinces will at least in some degree approve and imitate.

On emerging from the high ground about Uig, the splendid Coolins again became visible. The evening was fine, and we greatly admired the situation of the Manse of Snizort, where, having an introduction, we were hospitably received. Here, however, we could not tarry. The minister gave us a Highland convoy of about two miles, and we went on our way rejoicing. We came up again with the gentleman who accompanied us to Qui-rang, who, though of considerable standing in the navy, and the scion of a noble English family, felt pleasure in roughing it on foot among these High-land fastnesses—an example not frequently imitated by men of high rank and fashion. He drove before him a small ricketty Shetland pony, with a mere trifle of luggage, and entered Portree without coat or waistcoat, these being on such a day regarded by us all as superfluous incumbrances.

On the night of the 4th September, the scramble for beds in Portree was almost unprecedented. Having secured ours, however, before leaving it the pre-.vious day, we were not incommoded. Late in the evening, 3 coach-and-four arrived full of ladies, but how or where they were lodged we could not conjecture, as every corner was occupied long before their arrival; very probably they were indebted for night-quarters to the vehicle in which they had travelled. This I know, that some half-dozen gentlemen were glad to wrap themselves up in their cloaks and plaids, and squat for the night on the floor of the sitting-room; there being no alternative, they wisely submitted with a good grace.

As the Marquis of Stafford steamer from Stornoway was to call here next morning, we resolved to avail ourselves of her as far as Oban, much regretting that our time would not permit us to return by one or other of the splendid routes through the glens to Fort-Augustus, or Fort-William. But what we most of all regretted was our not having a couple of days to revisit the Coolins, as the weather was still very favourable for their ascent. Upon the whole, however, considering the general character of the Skye climate, we thought ourselves very lucky in having so much fine clear weather. It would have required a few days more to have gone to Dunvegan, Talisker, and Bracadale; and if tourists have time enough to accomplish this, along with what we had seen, they may be said to have made a very complete survey of the island; for the Sleat district is far from being particularly interesting, -excepting that part of it seen from the Sound. The Spar Cave, Loch Corruisk, Glen Sligachan, the Storr, and Quirang, are the main objects worthy of attention; and if I were to particularize which of all these interested us the most, I would decidedly say Loch Corruisk. It is the most sequestered and inaccessible of all Scottish lochs. Dark, deep, and desolate, it reflects the lofty Coolins from their highest pinnacles down to the very water’s edge. In this pellucid mirror, auld Nature’s sturdiest bairns may survey their dingy charms from head to foot. But in storm and tempest, when foaming cataracts dash from the precipices, when the forked lightning darts from the splintered crevices, and a thousand echoes reverberate the crash of the thunder, what imagination can conceive a more tremendous scene? The powerful pencils of Turner and Horatio M‘Culloon have indeed been splendidly employed in the delineation; but as they could not be actually present in the elemental strife, many features of it must have been omitted or misrepresented. In crossing over from the head of the loch to the source of the Sligachan, the tourist may safely assert that he has witnessed a scene unrivalled in her Majesty’s dominions. I am familiar with the scenery of Glencoe and Arran, but, greatly though I admire it, I must very decidedly give the palm to what I have been attempting to describe. Let no tourist therefore omit this district of the island; but let him be sure to start early, and to attempt climbing none of the mountains excepting in clear weather, as the distances are most deceptive, and the mountains of a character not to be trifled with. M'Culloch and others have stated tfyat many of them have not and cannot be climbed; and, very probably when M*Culloch wrote his tour, no one excepting shepherds had ever been among them; but I have the best authority (the ministers of Strath and Portree) for asserting, that an active, cautious, persevering pedestrian, may, without imminent danger, reach all the highest points of the Coolins.

These mountains are said to be frequented by red deer; of this, however, we had no ocular proof, but we saw a few ptarmigan in passing over the ridge between Locn Corruisk and Lot-o’-Corry. Game does not seem to abound in Skye, as we saw no grouse, dead or alive, all the time we were there, though we passed over much very likely ground. Goats are to be seen in many places. When climbing the Storr, several rather large stones came bounding past me, which, at first, I thought might have been wantonly thrown over the precipice by some one who had got the start of me. Upon investigation, I saw they had been dislodged by a couple of most grotesque-looking goats, which had found their way to a ledge of rock that seemed inaccessible to any animal without wings. We were shown two eagles’ nests; one on Scuir-nan-Stree, the other among the cliffs at Quirang. Of the latter we had a pretty accurate view; it was secured from rain by a projecting brow of the rock; and what we remarked m both was, that there seemed to be water trickling from the crevices close to the nests, which is perhaps indispensable during incubation. It will be a great pity if these noble birds should be extirpated from our land, as has been the case with the capercailzie. Their haunts for hatching their young are indeed inaccessible, but there are so many sportsmen now intent on signalising themselves by bringing down an eagle, and rifle-shooting has attained such perfection, that their extirpation is by no mean unlikely.

The rivers and lakes are not large, but I have no doubt of their affording excellent sport to the angler, as there seem to be very few so occupied; At Broadford, Sligachan, Portree, Snizort, and Stenchol, there were streams that looked most inviting ; and, as there is ready access from the sea, red trout and salmon must be abundant The river which flows from Loch Corruisk has a very short course, certainly not above three hundred yards, but it has every appearance of abounding with nsh, and the loch is said to be full of salmon and trout of the finest quality; whoever goes there, however, from Sligachan, the nearest inn, if he has to carry his own nsh, will soon find he has caught enough.

The inhabitants of this island, in so far as we saw, are inoffensive and civil, not given to quarrel* ling nor drinking; and though there are evidently a great many of them oppressed with poverty, I do not think we met with a beggar all the time we were there; so that greediness is not one of their besetting sins. Between Stenchol and Uig we saw many women spinning on the distaff while walking along the road—a pretty good proof of their being industriously disposed. The want of English od their part, and of Gaelic on ours, prevented the intercourse of speech, but they always looked good-natured, and anxious to oblige. Owing to the soil and climate, agriculture makes but little progress. The rearing of black cattle and horses is their chief dependence. Among the rocks we observed miserable patches of potatoes and oats, some of which were not above four or five yards square; and as the potatoes were diseased and the oats would never ripen, it may readily be conceived they had bad prospects for the winter. The Highland Destitution Society has given a good deal of encouragement in road-making, and at Uig we were privileged by being admitted to a committee room, where wool was given out for stocking-making and other purposes. The entrance to this most primitive emporium of fashion was through a byre. It was full of women, young and old, who were receiving wool from a shopkeeper in Portree, sad money for the stockings they had wrought Though mid-day, this busy scene was lighted with candles, and exhibited altogether such a saleroom as none of us had ever before witnessed. Lord McDonald has been much blamed for his behaviour to the inhabitants of North Uist, but if they who blame him reflect on the extreme poverty of the people, and the enormous expense to which his Lordship has been exposed by supporting them, while, in many instances, he receives not a shilling of rent, fault-finders may see cause to alter their opinion. Like the Irish, the Highlanders are indolent and inactive at home, but in almost all cases are industrious and excellent workers abroad. Emigration, therefore, seems the only effectual remedy for the evil; and, in such an emergency, there is much to reconcile them to the prospect, provided whole families remove from the same district, and are not separated beyond seas.

Before taking leave of Skye, it is but fair to allude to one circumstance, which ought ever to be remembered in honour of its population. We have had occasion repeatedly to allude to Prince Charles Edward, or the Pretender, as we have ventured to designate him. Whether they were right in favouring the claims of one whose family had been proscribed by the simultaneous voice of Britain, on account of their cruelty, treachery, and bigotted attachment to the Pope, is a question which I mean not now to discuss; but, after having committed himself to their protection, their disinterested fidelity in shielding him from violence cannot sufficiently be admired. Skye was the placie where he principally skulked after the fatal battle of Culloden. A reward of £30,000 was put on his head, and, though very many, even of the poorest of the people, knew of his haunts, not one of them, so far as known, ever harboured an idea of betraying him I Very probably they knew little of the merits of the case; or, as a national bard has beautifully pleaded their cause—

“’Tis true that our reason forbad us,
But tenderness carried the day.”

However this may be, their views of the matter were strikingly in unison with the best feelings of our nature, and will be warmly responded to by every generous heart.

If any would satisfy themselves as to the demerits of the Stewarts, let them read Macaulay’s history of James II., and they will no longer doubt of his doom and that of his family being a just one. I will not, by any means, subscribe to the clever, sarcastic, couplet of the poet—

"An idiot race, to honour lost,
Who knew them best despised them most.”

But this I maintain, that, having committed themselves implicitly to the dictation of the Jesuits, they were utterly unfit for protecting the liberties and promoting the honour and welfare of this great nation.

Tenth Day

In returning to Oban, a striking instance occurred of the uncertainty of human life. Near Armadale, Lord McDonald came alongside with some friends, by whom we were informed of the sudden death 01 Captain Beatson, R.N., at Armadale Castle. This gentleman had been our fellow-passenger to Skye, when he seemed in excellent health and spirits, and a finer-looking man could scarcely be seen. On account of this mournful event, our flag was hoisted half-mast high for the whole of that day.

Excepting that we lay to for goods and passengers at the island of Eigg, there was nothing to distinguish our return from our progress northward. This island, though less, is better cultivated than its neighbour, Bum, and about equally populous ; the latter, however, has greatly the advantage in the picturesque outline of its mountains. The whole of Rum is, I believe, the property of Lord Salisbury, whose yacht, as well as that of our fellow passenger, Campbell of Jura, and several others, came repeatedly very near our course. Core seems a place of some note in Rum, as the flash term Rum Cove, in juxtaposition in our maps, amused us not a little.

Near this we bid adieu to the noble Cooling, I should be sorry to think for the last time. Now that the Caledonian Curling Club is making suck a splendid figure, its spirited Secretary might engage in a worse speculation than establishing a manufactory at Loeh Scavaig for furnishing the heroes of the broom with their implements of war. Hypersthene is so renowned for hardness, closeness of texture, and specific gravity, that there can be no doubt of its capabilities ; the only fear is, that if it does not belie its name, the weapons may last for ever, and thus injure the stone-market. Joking apart, might not some wind-bound vessels lay in a store of good sound blocks, and establish a curling-stone mart at the Broomielaw?

The approach to Oban on this occasion was particularly interesting. The weather being brilliant, the mountain scenery appeared to the greatest possible advantage. Ben Cruachan, straight in front, made a most conspicuous figure, not having its base screened by inferior mountains, as was the case with Ben Nevis and those of Glencoe. T© view Ben Nevis to advantage, it must be approached by the canal, or the glens north of Cor-pach. There is no screen on that side, so that the impression made on a mountain-fancier is not easily eradicated. Often though I had been Oban, I never saw it look so well as this evenings As the sun was near setting, every person pos-sessed of taste for such scenery repaired to the little rugged hills behind the town, and I am sure none who were there on the evening of the 5th September will forget the glorious scene. Along with many others, I went to the flag-staff. The no clouded sun was just sinking behind Mull, and an extensive distinct view of this and many other islands, as well as of numberless mountains on the mainland, with a vast extent of sea, was the rich reward of our very trifling exertion. The sky!    was    tinged    with    blue,    .green,    red,    and    yellow, blended together in the most fanciful and beautiful manner imaginable, insomuch, that some well acquainted with the Continent declared that no talian nor Grecian sky could surpass it; and yet, strange to relate, there were some of our friends who preferred reading old newspapers in the hotel.

Eleventh Day

There one two early coaches during summer from Oban, one running to Inveramen at the head of Loch Lomond, the other to Inverary, both enabling passengers to reach Glasgow at night. As it was my intention to climb Ben Cruachan, I took my place by the earliest, while my friend preferred going by Inverary, not having been there before; So here we separated. The morning was beautiful, though thick, dry, fleecy clouds hovered all around, occasionally obscuring the mountains. There were plenty of passengers, chiefly young sportsmen and tourists; and at Taynuilt we found a first-rate breakfast ready to be devoured. On approaching Ben Cruachan, it was at times so beclouded, that I all but despaired of fulfilling my intention. It soon, however, became almost quite clear, so that, on coming to the Bridge of Awe, I left directions with the guard as to my little luggage, and soon after began the ascent.

I may here mention that this is by far the best side for climbing the mountain, and that, in going from Oban, the tourist should not leave the road till he has passed the first ravine after crossing the river. He may then proceed in a direct line to what seems the highest point. The ascent may be divided into three distinct portions of nearly equal height. The first is very steep; the second much longer, but not nearly so steep; the third almost totally divested of vegetation, and, towards the summit, the steepest of all.

This last division consists entirely of huge masses of granite, and, as the smaller blocks are loosely huddled together, much caution is required, lest a broken limb should prove the consequence, of their being disturbed. As I saw the clouds were gradually rising from the valleys and lakes, and conjectured they might soon be more familiar than was agreeable, I availed myself of the short time I had to plan my descent towards Dalmally; and it was well I did so, as in a quarter of an hour after reaching one of the summits, I was quite enveloped in the thickest mist; so very dense was it, that J could not see above forty yards in any direction!

This was a grievous disappointment, but it might have been much worse. The appearance of the mountains over the clouds, while tnere was a clear sky above, was most singular. I saw the Glencoe mountains, and beyond them Ben Nevis, quite distinctly, as also all those in Appin, Morven, and Mull, and in several of the other islands. The mouths of many of the salt water lakes were also quite visible, while the upper and most interesting portion of Loch Etive seemed close beneath me, and looked very beautiful. Towards Rannoch, Strath Tay, and Ben Lomond, scarcely anything could be seen, though, wherever there was .a high mountain, the dense white fog was thrust up into the blue sky.

Ben Cruachan has, as far as I could discern through the mist, three distinct tops. The first 1 came to was that seen from the road at the foot of the mountain, and is not the highest. I found on it several small cairns, and it was from it I planned my descent. The next I went to is the highest, and is very sharp, with one cairn about ten feet high, built of large stones, which must have been quarried, as there were none around capable of being lifted. Just before reaching this, the fog became extremely dense, so that, after waiting impatiently for more than an hour, I lay down to rest, and slept soundly for nearly two. On awakening, I found matters as bad as ever. All this, however, had been anticipated, and, as the day was far advanced, I resolved to descend. There are some dreadful precipices on the N.E. side of the mountain ; but, having plenty of time, I steered my course among them very warily, till I got from beneath the clouds into as clear a sunshine as could be seen. Being still at a great elevation, nearly 3000 feet, the view was splendid, particularly of Loch Awe; and of the corry into which I was descending, without exception the finest I ever be-beld. Like many of our highest mountains, such as Ben Wyvis, Ben Aulder, &c., Cruachan is hollowed out, the upper ridge being semicircular, and the concave side very precipitous. This is strikingly exemplified here; and if I were ascending again, I would keep the serrated ridge the whole way till within a few miles of Dalmally, where it terminates; or else reverse the process, if proceeding from that to Taynuilt.

I was by no means sorry, however, that my course was different on this occasion. The stream by the side of which I descended, is called Eas-Ben, or cataract of the mountain, and is said to have been a favourite haunt of Rob Roy. Its course is very rugged, containing many fine cascades, which, on approaching Loch Awe, are beautifully wooded with oak, mountain-ash, birch, &c. This stream falls into the Loch near the seventh milestone from Dalmally, and these seven miles may be said to exhibit as fine scenery as Scotland can boast. Among other interesting objects, the well-wooded islands of Loch Awe and Castle of Kilchura particularly arrest the attention. Unlike most of our Scotch ruins, such as all those in the Sound of Mull, this seems really to have been a fine building, and may be ranked with the castles of Dunstafihage, Doune, Bothwell, and Carlaverock. The situations of all these are good, but that of Kilchum is unrivalled in Scotland, and probably not surpassed anywhere. The whole of this part of Glenorchy, indeed, has been justly celebrated for its romantic beauty. The site of the church and manse is as fine as can well be imagined; but the sight of the very comfortable inn was to me the most welcome ot all, as it was now fully ten hours since I left the coach at the Bridge of Awe; and, hearty though my breakfast had been, I felt , that additional refreshment was by no means supers fluous. Here, as almost everywhere, I met with some very agreeable young Englishmen, who seemed delighted with Scotland, and declared they would spread such a report of its charms in the South, as would increase the swarms of visitors next season; so let our masons and carpenters see that their tools are in order.

Twelfth Day

The morning after climbing Ben Cruachan, was one of the loveliest that ever dawned, there not being a speck of mist on the hills, nor a cloud to be seen. To be on*the top of Cruachan on such a day would be the greatest gratification of the kind in Scotland, as no mountain in it commands such a varied and extensive prospect of mountains, lakes, islands, and ocean. Let no tourist, therefore, who has an entire fine day at his disposal, and who has the free use of his nmbs, visit Taynuilt or Dal-mally without climbing Cruachan. It is the highest mountain in Argyleshire, starts from the sea, and is supposed to have a more extensive base than any other in the kingdom, excepting, perhaps, Ben Wyvis.

The Oban coach arriving at Dalmally about nine A.M., I travelled by it to Inveramen. The whole of this route is quite Highland, and very interesting. The road for a considerable way is so steep that most of the passengers walked. We passed along the base of Ben Loy, perhaps the second highest mountain in Argyleshire; and if I had been aware of its being quite in the line of Tyndrum, the first stage.

I would most certainly have been off on foot by six % o’clock, and been on the top of it before breakfasting at said inn. This might easily have been accomplished before the arrival of the coach, and such a day it would have been a rich treat indeed* It is a sharp, clean, steep, but easily climbed mountain. and tne view from it cannot be much inferior to that from Cruachan.

The inns of Tyndrum and Taynuilt have been mightily improved since I first knew them. Of the former, M‘Culloch mentions its “unspeakable badness and dirt;” and the latter he characterises as a "vile pot-house.” I make no doubt of his then being quite correct, though both are very different now, especially Tyndrum. When the Doctor wrote they were visited by few but drovers, excisemen, and worn-out pedestrians, who are glad to repose their limbs under cover of any description. Now, during summer and autumn, they are resorted to by the rich and noble in splendid carriages, and the lazy habits of the people are vastly improved by the coach and steam-Tboat conveyances, which render quickness and regularity imperative. On approaching Tyndrum, I looked with no little interest on the stately pyramidal summit of Ben More, the second highest mountain in Perthshire, from which, many years ago, I saw the sun descend into the Atlantic, after one of the severest walks I ever encountered At Tyndrum we waited the best part of an hour for the Fort-William coach, upon the arrival of which we started for Loch Lomond with no fewer than twenty-one adults, and much luggage, in and on a common stage-coach! Scarcely one of us expected to reach the loch without an accident. The driving, however, was first-rate, and nothing occurred to mar the complete # appreciation of one of the very finest mountain glens in Scotland. It astonishes me that more has not been said and written about Glen Falloch. Its mountains, waterfalls, and woods, cannot be surpassed for grandeur and beauty, and the near approach to Inveramen is more like fairy-land than anything I have seen. There were many groups of finely dressed ladies and gentlemen rambling through the woods, and among the rocks, awaiting our arrival, while music from various instruments awakened the echoes all around.

Inveramen is, in my opinion, the most picturesque inn I ever saw. Its ‘Style of architecture is fanciful, and resembles that among the English lakes and in Wales. Our guide-books are una<*-countably dumb as to its merits, while they are often loud in praising scenes not to be named with it. Many admire the inn at the Trosachs, but I am certain evenr person of real taste will admit that it is unspeakably inferior, in point of romantic beauty, to Inveramen.

By far the grandest and most impressive portion of Loch Lomond lies between the head of it and Luss, the lower division being comparatively tame and uninteresting. It suits very well to sail up the loch, but to reverse the process is a severe test. The mountains at the upper end are beautifully grouped, and being dose at hand, their forms as you advance are constantly changing; while the natural wood at their base is of the finest description. Inversnaid, with its cascade, where the boat stops to accommodate passengers to and from Loch Katrine, is one of the prettiest scenes on the loch. But the most fascinating spot of all is just between Ben Lomond and the comical old Cobbler. On this occasion, the splendour of the day showed them to the greatest advantage. So clear was the atmosphere, that they seemed ready to tumble on board of us, and looked like two old cronies hob-nobbing across the lake.

I shall say nothing more of Loch Lomond. It is too well known to require minute description from my pen; and, to say the truth, the Water Witch was so full of guzzling Glasgow folk, whose chief enjoyment seemed to consist in eating and drinking, as materially to impair the interest of the noble scene. At Balloch, were many land con* veyances of all descriptions, with smart tchips, arrayed in London toggery, touching their hats, and recommending their various turn-outs in eloquent strains. In one of these wte found accommodation, which soon whirled us through Dumbarton to the centre of the best representative of London in her Majesty’s dominions. The sun setting over the mountains of Kintyre was a truly splendid object, as we drove up the Clyde, illuminating the noble estuary for many miles, covered with steamers and shipping from every quarter of the globe.

Thirteenth Day

At the Rainbow, I found every accommodation a reasonable being could wish for; and early next morning I left Glasgow by railway. Arriving at Symington about ten, Heft the train to climb Tinto, the day being particularly favourable. Though I did not take the most direct line, I was smoking my cigar on the top of the cairn within an hour ana a quarter after leaving the station-house. The view in every direction, excepting towards Edinburgh and Glasgow, was very commanding, as may well be supposed, from its isolated position. The smoke of these cities, with that of the great coal and iron works, &c., obscured the whole horizon between and around them, though 1 can readily conceive that, in clear breezy weather, the view of the Highland mountains would greatly enhance the gratification. All around the hill seems to be remarkably well farmed. The adjacent country has a dean tidy appearance, and, as there is little wood and. few fences, it seems the very beau ideal of a coursing country.

The direct road to Tinto from the Symington Station is also the best. Turnoff the high road at the second cottage from the station, and proceed right onward to the cairn by the side of a nr plantation* By this route, even any lady, of ordinary pedestrian prowess, may be on the top of the hill in an hour and a half remain half-an-hour there, and return in good time for the next train. While waiting for it, an express dashed past like the swoop of an eagle darting on its prey. In the station-house I saw some articles of iron, the use of which I did not at first comprehend, but conceived they might be some portion of the railway machinery. By and by, it dawned upon me that they might De quoits, implements with which I am not entirely unacquainted. . They were nearly a foot in diameter, ana about 10 lbs. weight each! The science and dexterity of that fine national game are entirely destroyed by the use of such tremendous weapons, which make it far more a trial of strength than of skill. Whoever has the lead, if a tolerable player, has a mighty advantage. I will venture, however, to assert, that I have seen players of quoits not exceeding 4 lbs, each, who would beat any man with these 10-pounders in a 51 shot game. In all probability the heavy quoits would take the lead, but,

in the end, a really dexterous player of 44b. quoits would prove the winner. If a strong man must have weight let him have it; but in fairness, and for the love of science, let the diameter be restricted to six, or at most seven inches.

I have now finished my little tour; and, if my readers have enjoyed the perusal of it as much as I have its narration, I shall be greatly gratified. That many have done so, I have good reason to believe as I have been frequently urged to publish it in a collective form, along with otner ramblings in previous years.

Before finishing, I may mention that of all the Guide-books 1 have seen, Black’s and Anderson’s seem to me the best for the Scotch Highlands. Anderson’s is the most scientific and carefully got up of the whole, and a new edition of it, judiciously superintended, with good illustrations, would entitle it to the first place. "Rhind’s Scottish Tourist” is prettily got up: its maps and plates axe particularly so. M'Phun’s two little volumes are well enough for their size and price, but their maps are very defective as to the mountains and sea-coast.

M‘Culloch is rather antiquated. He is learned; dictatorial, sarcastic, and amusing. Though full of prejudice, there is a fascination in his ponderous volumes, which may be regarded as a good mine for others to dig from who follow in his wake. His descriptions seem deeply tinned with the spirits in which he happened to be while writing; and he is too anxious to signalise himself by finding surpassing charms in scenes overlooked by others, especially if they have furnished him with a savoury dinner or two. Thus he is most abusive of Inverary, while he lauds Loch Erne, Blair, the Pass of Leny and many other third and fourth-rate places to the skies. Though I am an enthusiastic admirer of Loch Corruisk, yet I cannot go the length of stating with him—“Corruisk is a giant, before which Glencoe and Glen Sannox sink into insignificance." These are both magnificent, though certainly surpassed by the former.

In his abuse of the Moor of Rannoch, I most cordially agree. He describes it as a hideous, interminable, a huge Serbonian bog, a desert of blackness and vacuity, solitude, and death.” My dear-bought experience of this horrid quagmire entirely justifies him here; and when he describes himself as having been miserably fed, and cheated by a Highlander lending him a horse to travel through this bog,u twenty miles square,” every person must sympathise with him. The following quotation will amuse the reader not a little—“ As to the horse, ' he might as well have remained at Glencoe. A ride this was not by any figure of speech. I cannot even call it a walk; for half of the space was traversed by jumping over bogs, and holes, and ditches, and pits, which were generally so wide as to demand much serious meditation. I may fairly say that I jumped half the way from Glencoe to Ran-noch.” After such an achievement as this by a learned doctor from the West End of London, we cannot expect to find him in the best possible humour, especially as he had to pay two guineas for the loan of nis steed for one day.

Talking of steeds, the best of all for the Highlands are a man’s own legs. In no directi.on can mountain scenery be viewed so satisfactorily as on foot. Let the tourist, therefore, provide himself with shoes, neither too heavy nor too light, too large nor too small; such as none know better how to make than the Messrs Homel in Kirkcudbright. I have used John Homel’s for many years in my pedestrian excursions, and have never suffered from a blister. When such an annoyance does occur, let not the patient anoint with whisky, or any such combustible, as is often done, but let him turn his stocking inside out, and moisten it plentifully with grease from the candle opposite the part affected; this is by far the best specific I ever tried.

"Si quid norwti rectras illis, candide imperti—
Si non, his utere mecum.”

If on these subjects you have clearer views,
To make them public pray do not refuse.
If not, with me these homely counsels use.

Postscript.—March,1850.—The representation of the Coolin mountains, at the beginning of the volume, is from a drawing by a friend reduced from a sketch taken on the spot by Professor Forbes, whose permission to make use of it I beg to acknowledge. The sandstone rocks on the right occupy a more conspicuous place in the Prolessor’s sketch than perhaps they ought, in order to illustrate a remarkable geological feature of Loch Seavaig.

Having been assured that I have underrated the difficulty of ascending Scuir-nan-Gillean, I take this opportunity of guarding myself against the chance of unqualified pedestrians putting themselves into peril on my authority, I beg, therefore, to state that, as I have been only very recently informed, Professor Forbes did ascend the peak in 1836, along with Macintyre, Lord Macdonald’s keeper; that the keeper had twice failed before; and that they succeeded by turning the left shoulder of the mountain as approached from Sligachan, and, on arriving at the opposite side of it, climbed the ridge which there buttresses the peak. The Professor was given to understand that the summit, which is really a peak of only a few square yards in extent, had not been reached before; and ne recommends that no one should make the attempt alone. On learning that the ascent was practicable, General Colby immediately made Scuir-nan-Gillean one of his trigonometrical stations;

Before receiving this account, it was certainly my impression that the easiest and quickest ascent would be turning the right shoulder of the mountain. In approaching it from the above inn, any person would regard this as quite practicable. Of course, however, I must defer to the learned Professor, who has actually been on the summit.


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