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Guide to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland
Branch F. Strathnairn and Stratherrick


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Farr and Aberarder; Strathnairn, 1.--Stratherrick; Loch Farraline, 2—Pass of Inverfarikaig; Dundarduil, 3.—Ballachernoch Road; Dunriachy, 4.

FROM the Bridge of Craggy, on the Perth road, six miles south of Inverness, a road (nineteen miles in length) has been formed by the Parliamentary Commissioners, proceeding westward through Strathnairn and Stra,therrick, and joining the district road at Farraline. From Craggy, another district road, in an opposite direction, is continued down Strathnairn to Cawdor. (See Route iii. A.)

On the upper line there is one small inn, or dram-house, at Farr, five miles up the strath ; and another near Gortuleg, ten miles farther on; between which and the inn at Foyers there is another public house at Inverfarikaig, on Loch Ness side in one direction, and at Whitebridge, where the Foyers is crossed by the Fort-Augustus road, in another direction.

1. Strathnairn is a pastoral valley with a few patches of corn land, and is flanked by barren heathy mountains. Some clumps of alder and birch occasionally adorn the sides of the river, and follow its windings; but in general, there is rather a want of wood, except on the properties of Farr and Aberarder. A short way above the Craggy bridge an unusually great assemblage of gravel banks and terraces will be observed; and in fact, no river course in the Highlands is more distinctly marked with these indications than that of the Nairn, from its mouth upwards. In the more inland reaches of the river the valley widens considerably, and is but slightly inclined; and while the lower ridges and eminences have been rounded off by the currents which anciently swept along the surface, the higher rocks and summits are sharp and rugged, shewing that they had stood above the flood or the passing glacier. This district is inhabited by an ancient race, members of the clan Chattan, the principal names being Mackintosh, Macbean, Macgillivray, and Macphail, many of whom, in the midst of the general changes of opinion around them, still retain a zealous and simple-minded attachment to the Episcopal Church of their forefathers. The proprietors are Colonel Mackintosh of Farr, — Sutherland of Aberarder, C. 'Mackintosh of Glenmazeran, and Macgillivray of Dunmaglass.

2. A short ascent from the top of Strathnairn leads into Stratherrick, which is a broad upland valley, lying between the hills which skirt the south side of Loch Ness and the Monaliagh mountains, bordering on Badenoch and Strathdearn. It is in general bleak and moorish, being composed, like the moor of Rannoch, of hard undecomposing granite, which shoots up occasionally in the form of bare undulating hillocks, giving the country a gray, cold, and dreary aspect. Near the bases of the hills on the southern boundary, are a series of long uninteresting tarns, or collections of water, which, with the exception of Loch Farraline, possess neither islands, wooded banks, nor precipitous rocks, to render them attractive; and which appear the more singular, as, after rising from the level of Loch Ness, one is apt to expect that he had left the region of lakes behind him. The eastern portion of Stratherrick (a contraction for Strath Farikaig) is the finest and best cultivated, but the whole district is now being greatly improved; and around the small lake of Farraline (sixteen miles from the Perth road) there are several extensive fir and larch plantations on the improved estates of Farraline, Balnain, Errogy, and Gortuleg. This strath is peopled by a numerous race of the clan Fraser, who acquired it in the fourteenth century from the Grants and Bissets. The road we are pursuing joins the Inverness and Fort-Augustus road between Whitebridge and the Fall of Foyers, passing Loch Garth and Boleskine church. (As to the beautiful scenery of Killin, on the river Foyers, see Route i. page 153.)

3. From Loch Farraline a road deflects towards Loch Ness (two and a half miles distant) through the pass of Inverfarikaig, than which there is none more picturesquely beautiful and wild in the highlands. Woods of birch line the bottom and mantle the slopes of the deep ravine, from which a few groups and single trees extend along the face of the precipitous rocks above, waving their graceful twigs like flowery garlands along the mountain's brow. At the entrance of the pass from Loch Ness, the eastern side consists, for a considerable space, of a range of perpendicular and rugged precipices. As Loch Ness comes into view, the high and broad frontlet of the " Black Rock," surmounting an ample birch-clad acclivity, terminates the range of precipices, and on its summit we discern the green-clad walls of the ancient vitrified fortress of Dundarduil. We here join the road from Inverness to Fort-Augustus.

BALLACHERNOCH ROAD.

4. Besides the road now pointed out, there is another (fifteen miles long) from Inverness to Inverfarikaig and Farraline, which passes through a different portion of Stratherrick from that just described. It proceeds by Drummond (one mile west of Inverness), Torbreck, and Essich, over the ridge of Drumashie, and attains a great height above Loch Ness. Nearly opposite the end of this lake it passes a series of wild and black-looking lochs lying in the hollows of a moorish table-land; and beyond these it winds among some of the most barren and rocky hills of Stratherrick. At the west end of Loch Ruthven (one of these lakes, celebrated for its trout, and where the last shot was discharged for Prince Charles on the retreat from Culloden, sometimes called the battle of Drummossie Moor) there is a high detached conglomerate rock, on the summit of which is a stone structure called Dunriachy, "the stronghold of the ocean king," which appears to have been one of a chain of similar structures extending across the island, and which here seems to carry on the communication from the vitrified forts of Nairnshire and Craig Phadrick, to the valley of L rquhart and the shores of Loch Ness. The present fortress, though strongly walled round, is not vitrified. Soon after quitting it, the road branches into two, one part proceeding south through the central districts of Stratherrick, and joining the road already described between Abersky and Farraline; while the other branch keeps to the right hand and proceeds towards Loch Ness. It passes by Bochrubin and Leadelune, and a small hamlet called Ballachernoch, where the first and a most magnificent view of Loch Ness, backed by Mealfourvounie and the Glen Moriston hills, bursts on our sight. The road then descends the hill opposite Dundarduil by means of a series of traverses cut among the rocks, and joins the Fort-Augustus road at Inverfarikaig. This last route is well worthy of the tourist's notice, were it only for the sake of the splendid burst of Loch Ness from the plateau above these traverses.


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