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Guide to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland
Branch C. Loch Arkaig


Valley of Arkaig; the Dark Mile, 1—Achnacarry; Mementos of Prince Charles,2. —Loch Arkaig; Deer Herds, 3.—Kinloch Arkaig; Barracks; Prince Charles in his Wanderings, 4.

1. THIS beautiful sheet of water, though only two miles distant from Loch Lochy in the Great Glen, through which so many travellers are now daily passing, is scarcely known to any but the shepherds who live in its vicinity. It is separated from Loch Loehy, into which it pours a dark and sluggish stream, by a valley which is traversed longitudinally by a line of rocky knolls, clothed with oak and birch trees, among which are scattered some large and hoary trunks of ash, alder, and hawthorn.

The scenery within these knolls is exactly of the same description as the Trosachs of Perthshire ; and in one part the road through them is so completely overshadowed by the branches, as to have obtained the name of the dark mile.

2. On the west bank of the river Arkaig is the house of Achnacarry, the paternal mansion of the lairds of Lochiel, chiefs of the clan Cameron; and close by the present building (which is in the modern castellated style) are the walls of the old fabric, burnt by the Duke of Cumberland in 1746, and the orchard and summer-house where the "undaunted Lochiel" and the emissaries of Prince Charles Edward hatched the plans of the rebellion.

After the defeat of Culloden, the prince found a refuge in the hills to the north of Achnacarry, in one of which the cave is still shown where he abode. The following is the description of his appearance at this time, given in the Journal of Mr. John Cameron, chaplain at Fort-William, and for sometime companion of his wanderings:—"He was then bare-footed, had an old black kilt-coat on, a plaid, philibeg, and waistcoat, a dirty shirt, and a long red beard; a gun in his hand, a pistol and durk by his side. He was very cheerful and in good health, and, in my opinion, fatter than qn he was at Inverness."

At Achnacarry is a double-barreled fowling-piece, of an old-fashioned make, (having only one lock,) which the prince was in the practice of using frequently, and which bears the appropriate inscription, "Tu ne cede malls, sed contra audentior ito."

3. Loch Arkaig is fourteen or fifteen miles long : it throws itself in among the mountains in three bold and magnificent sweeps, and the level course of its banks is continued on from its western extremity through a beautiful pastoral valley called Glen Dessary, to the coast of Knoidart, so that a road could be carried in this direction with great ease. The parliamentary road reaches no farther than the foot of the loch, about nine miles from Corpach, passing near the mouth of the river the farm-house of Clunes. At the lower end of this lake a small wooded island has been for ages the burying-place of the family of Lochiel; the banks of the loch, till lately, were all along covered with a magnificent oak and pine forest, now cut down; but the shoots and saplings rising from the old stocks are again fringing with a green tufted mantle of brushwood the sides of the hills and the low grounds along the edges of the water. Lochiel's celebrated herds of red-deer (among the most numerous in Scotland) frequent the banks of this lake, and are extremely prejudicial to the young forests, and to the labours of the few husbandmen, who here rent some patches of cultivated grounds. Among the mountains at the head of the lake, a grand assemblage of rugged peaks, are the following glens, leading into the adjoining districts:—Glen Dessary, already noticed ; Glen Cuernan and Glen Pean, communicating with Arisaig and Morar; Glen Camagorie, striking into Glenfinnan and Loch Shiel, and Glen Kingie, which conducts to Loch Quoich and Glen Garry.

4. At Kinloch Arkaig (which is about twenty miles from the side of Loch Lochy) are the walls of an old barracks, erected in the style of those at Inversnaid and Bernera, by order of the Duke of Cumberland, after the battle of Culloden, in 1746. This was one of the most distant and inaccessible of these outposts; it was raised with the view of overawing the Clan Cameron; but it is said not to have been used for more than six months.

Prince Charles and his small party, eight in all, having made a precipitate and narrow escape from 200 of Lord Loudon's men, removed from his retreat near Achnacarry to the top of the high mountain of Mullantagart, in the braes of Glen Kingie, where he remained without fire or any covering, and durst not rise out of his seat. "The Prince slept all ye forenoon in his plaid and wet hose, altho it was an excessive cold day, made more so by several showers of hail. From thence we went that night to the strath of Glen Kenzie, killed a cow, and lived merrily for some days. From yt we went to the braes of Auchnacarie. The water of Arkeg, in crossing, came up to our haunches. The Prince in yt condition lay that night and next day in open air, and though his clothes were wet, he did not suffer the least in his health." Mr. Cameron concludes his journal by a merited compliment to the patient and cheerful deportment of the Prince under his adverse fortune. "He was cautious qn in ye greatest danger, never at a loss in resolving qt to do with uncommon fortitude. He regretted more ye distress of those q suffered for adhering to his interest, than ye hardships and dangers he was hourly exposed to."


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