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Scottish Loch Scenery
Loch Maree


The first sight of this glorious loch, as the stage coach from Auchnashcen station brings the traveller to the top of a steep descent, is calculated to excite the liveliest emotions of wonder and surprise The road reminds one of some Alpine pass, while far below stretches the large sheet of water, with its western end eighteen miles away. If for a moment a feeling of the smallness of the loch should supervene, the huge hills dwindling it down by their enormous bulk, this soon passes away, and we feel to be in presence of one of Scotland's proudest lochs. The coach drive to Gairloch occupies six hours in all, including a short stoppage to bait the horses at Kinlochewe, and during the whole time the eye is filled with pictures of grandeur or of delight. After the tedious descent to the water's edge has convinced you that the feeling of smallness is a mistake, yon have time to observe the effect which such a mountain as Ben Slioch has in dwarfing all around it. Loch Maree is but six miles from the sea, with no great descent, so that the hill raises its mighty shoulders almost sheer from the sea level. From the road you perceive, skirting the loch on the other side, what seems a fringe of very small bushes. But anon a two-storey house appears among the bushes, which now, with a known standard of comparison, are seen to be tall trees! From the top of Ben Slioch, or any of the neighbouring mountains of first-class size, the view is grand, embracing at once the Atlantic and the German Oceans. On the opposite side from Ben Slioch is the Scottish Pentelicus, Ben Eay, whose brilliant white quartz pinnacle may sometimes be seen shining in the sun, like the famed marble mountains of Greece. On the bosom of Loch Maree, near its widest end, are several islands, the largest of which, Eilan Mhaolrubh, contains the remains of an old chapel, and a holy well that is even yet in high repute amongst the ignorant. It is sometimes said that the chapel, island, and loch got their name from the Virgin Mary, but this is now universally acknowledged amongst scholars to be an error. It was the Irish preacher, Maclrubha, (Latinised to Malrubius, then softened down in local tongues to Mulray, Mouric, and Marce,) who came over to Scotland in the seventh century, who gave his name to the place. Dr. Arthur Mitchell, in his Rhind Lectures on Civilization, has told in full the story of the curious superstitions concerning this island, of which examples as recently as twenty years ago are quoted. It is to be noted that when, a year or two ago, the Queen visited the island, great indignation was expressed in some quarters, because it was on a Sunday evening she got rowed over from her retreat at Talladale to see this interesting place.

The coach leaves the edge of the loch at Talladale, after a lovely and varied drive along its banks, now in the bosom of a dense wood, now in the midst of a rocky chaos,

'The fragments of an earlier world.'

A few miles down the road are found the romantic falls of the Kerry. The man on the box seat at the left of the coach looks sheer down the precipice over which the stream falls, as the coach with a swing turns the corner of the steep road, with little visible between the traveller and the dangers of that awful chasm!

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