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by Alexander Polson, J.P., F.E.I.S. (1920)


No one who wishes to have the fullest knowledge of Gairloch should fail to consult Mr Dixon's "GAIRLOCH AND LOCH MAREE," which is one of the fullest, most accurate, and interesting books published regarding any one parish. It has given the present writer many pleasant hours and much information. Mr O. H. Mackenzie of Inverewe has again revised the chapter on the Peat Bogs,. and he and several of the older inhabitants have revised the chapter on "Folklore." Rev. A. B. Scott, B.D., Helms-dale, has kindly revised the chapter on St. Maelrubha.

Without the assistance of all the teachers in the parish, the long Roll of Honour could not have been compiled.

The kind and ready help given by everyone to whom the author appealed for information is gratefully acknowledged.

The Book of Gairloch

THE struggle for existence seems to grow keener with the passing years. Everywhere men, women, and children are living at high pressure. In the towns there is the perpetual pursuit of wealth and pleasure. In the country those who work have on their bodies the, marks of honest toil, and on their faces the brand of care. Professional men, and men in business, wage the same fierce war which so often results in ruined health, shattered hopes, tearful lives, and early deaths; so that what the whole creation seems to want most is some breathing space in the struggle, some rest, so that renovation of the vital energies may be had for the weary one's pleasure and profit. For such a purpose there are very few places to equal the beautiful and quiet parish of Gairloch, as there are few places that offer the same variety of outdoor pursuits.

For such as love angling on lochs, salt or fresh, there is fish in plenty. Those who delight in shalls, or the natural history of the seashore, will, as Hugh Miller did, wonder at the immense variety found here. There is for geologists the old, old land question of the succession of rocks in the North-West Highlands, which has engaged the attention of such geologists as Macculloch, Hugh Miller, Professor Nicol, Archibald Geikie, and Peach and Home of the Geological Society.

There is a nine hole golf course for the many who enjoy that game; sandy beaches on which children can play in clean sand by the hour or wade in clear water; cosy corners where bathers—swimmers and non-swimmers—are safe. Many parts of the shore are rich in aquatic plants which, unsheltered, survive the winter here. For the artist the place is a veritable paradise, and many of those most famous in the world of art have spent months here; as the many combinations of mountains and moors, woods and waterfalls, winding lochs of salt and fresh water, appear to have added beauty when seen from different standpoints; and as light, shade, and colour vary all day long, as well as week by week, they must form for every artist tempting "subjects."

There are "studies" here for the sociologist and the sport.-man, as well as the antiquary and legend-monger. Happily, all may pursue their hobbies with that peculiar sense of calm and rest which becomes second nature to everyone who has lived for even a few weeks in the north-west of Scotland.


The Parish of Gairloch, in Wester Ross, with its area of 200,646 acres, is one of the four largest in Scotland. An idea of its size may perhaps best be got by comparing it with some of the Scottish counties. It is considerably larger than any one of the important counties of Dumbarton, Renfrew, or Haddington. it is more than twice the size of Linlithgow, four times as large as Kinross, and six times larger than Clackmannan. In this immense area there lived in 1911 only 3317 persons, as between Lochbroom and Applecross there is an immense block of moorland, having an area of about 195,000 acres, on which there live only a few shepherds and gamekeepers. The vast majority of the people live on the 4000 acres which skirt the western seaboard.

The public road enters the parish near Luibmohr, four miles from Achnasheen Station, and if it be followed by Gairloch, Poolewe, and Aultbea, forty-five miles will be traversed ere a traveller passes out of it at the Little Gruinard River. There are well nigh fifty miles of branch highways leading to outlying townships, as well as miles of private roads. It has a sixty-mile coast line, which is washed by the waters forming Loch Torridon, Gairloch, Loch Ewe, and Gruinard Bay.

There are in the parish no fewer than twenty-three peaks of two thousand feet, or over, in height, and no fewer than five of these rise to a height of more than three thousand feet, the highest being Ruadh Stac, on the south-west of Loch Maree, which is 3309 feet.

There are thirty fairly large fresh water lakes, as well as many mountain tarns.

There are woods on the Loch Maree islands; an indigenous wood with pine, birch, oak, rowan, etc., on the lower slopes of Meall a Gbuibhas; a larch plantation at Korrysdale, and a somewhat extensive wood at Talladale; a more particular description of many of these is given in connection with the villages and hotels.


One may reach Gairloch from Ullapool by means of the long beautiful drive described in the latter part of this book, or from Torridon or Aehnashellach, via Kinlochewe; but by far the easiest way is by rail to Achnasheen Station, on the Skye branch of the Highland Railway. If one comes north from Perth by the Highland line, and wishes to return by rail, the return journey may with advantage be made via. Aberdeen. A steamer, which calls at Gairloch, Inverasdale, Poolewe, and Aultbea, makes the round from Glasgow to Stfnoway and back each week. Visitors may get to know the particulars of any of these routes by consulting the railway and steamer time bills, which are necessarily subject to alteration from time to time.

When visitors arrive at Achnasheen Station, they would, ere they start, be well advised to have luncheon at the hotel, which seems a part of the station, and at which a motor awaits to take them via Loch Maree, Gairloch, and Poolewe right on to Aultbea. If they have motors of their own, they ought to have their stores replenished here before starting. If, however,. they wish to enjoy hill air of the keenest kind for a day or two, they will here certainly find themselves well attended to in very comfortable quarters; but, if they determine to go on, then for five miles the drive is over a level road alongside Loch Rosque, with surroundings that are considered tame, except it be for the large fir plantations surrounding the palatial lodge, behind which rises the slope of Fion Bheinn which forms part of a magnificent deer forest. Opposite the lodge gates may be seen an immense cage with two splendid specimens of the golden eagle. The road then rises pretty steeply, until at the summit it is 805 feet above sea level, and the steep descent of Glen Docherty is begun, and down, down, the coach goes, skirting precipices, with mountains rising steep from the edge of the road on the right, and descending in many places quite as steeply on the left; and it says much for the drivers that no serious accident has ever happened on any part of this route. At a curve on the road Loch Maree bursts on the view, and if the day be fine it is a sight not to be forgotten. This road, though still narrow enough, has been much improved during the past few years, and is likely to be still further improved in the near future. After the ten mile drive one is glad to rest at Kinlochewe Hotel—an old established house—and all who have stayed there rightly give it a high reputation for comfort. Very good angling locha are available for guests here.

Four glens converge here, each of them hemmed in by mountains of so unusual a character that those familiar with southern hills only, stare at them in surprise. From Kinlochewe, Ben Eay appears a mountain of marble. Opposite are the Coulin Hills, which, in Gaelic, have a name meaning "The Grey Heads," given them probably because the top of each hill is formed of white quartzite, overlying the dark brown Torridon rocks. From this place Slioch may be seen standing out prominently, and, separated from it by a dark narrow glen, showing plainly some of the most striking effects of glacial action, is Craig Roy, and together these hills form a picturesque group. Indeed, Kinlochewe is placed in the midst of a cluster of mountains which form quite a fancy picture.

A favourite drive or ride from Kinlochewe is to Torridon, eleven miles away. At first the road runs alongside the Garbh river, with its clumps of birch and rocky salmon pools, and in front are the beautiful Coulin Hills, the haunt of hundreds of deer. Four miles from Kinlochewe a private road branches off to the left and leads through this forest to Achnashellach Station, on the Skye line, six miles away. The road is kept in good condition, and at certain seasons there is no difficulty in obtaining permission to go by it.. The view from the top, looking towards Lochcarron, on a summer evening, is one not easily forgotten. The railway, far below, may be seen like a narrow ribbon lying on the side of the magnificent valley which, if the tide be in and the sun near its setting, looks as if floored with fire. During the steep descent to Achnashellach, the cyclist must needs proceed with great caution. The visitor to Torridon must, however, at the fork, keep the road to the right, and pass Loch Clair, near which he may see the seat used by St. Maelrubha when he journeyed between his two cells at Applecross and Isle Maree. By the roadside are to be seen heaps of stones made by passing funeral parties, for here one is 'in the midst of

"A land of wayside cairns—the place
Of resting for the biers of death
And tokens of a fading race,
And relics of forgotten faith,
Legend and rhyme and mystic rite,
The worship of a god unknown,
Stealthily done at dead of night
By sacred well or standing stone."

Further on, and on the left of the road, is a hollow, called in Gaelic "Cone Coud Cuoc" (The corrie of a hundred hillocks), because of the many tumuli which, at first glance, seem certainly artificial, but on closer examination are plainly the result of the eddying of water, the action of ice, and the debris of rocks, in the dim past. This also is a place made famous by the fights of cattle raiders in more recent times. The views onwards are quite unique in their way, because of the extraordinary precipices, corries, and peaks of bare quartz mountains. Liathgath is especially good, as on it lies a mass of rock peculiarly shelved and perforated, so as to make it appear like well planned fortifications with terraces and pillars. Then down the steep hill to the small village, and en route note the fine outline of Ben Alligin, which forms so striking a peak when seen from the Gairloch side.

It is well worth one's while to take a boat or follow the seven-mile path to Shieldaig in order to see the Alpine character of the scenery of this part of the West Coast. The return journey gives different and, some say, bettor views.

After two miles of level road from Kinlochewe Hotel, the little pier of Ru Nohar is reached, where passengers used to be taken aboard for the sail down Loch Maree. Those who keep to the road finds that it skirts the lake, and as the motor gets along the occupants cannot fail to notice that the Glas Leitre woods form one of the finest examples of nature-sown and nature-grown woods in the Kingdom. The grouping is perfect. The Scotch firs are of great age, with many crests and far-spreading limbs; the birches are graceful, and at least equal to those of Glen Affaric, painted by Macwhirter. Soon after passing the nineteenth milestone from Achnasheen, a halt is made at Loch Mares Hotel.

It is from this hotel that hill climbers will find it easiest to make the ascent of Slioch. A boat must be engaged to put one across to Furnace, near Letterewe, from which the easiest ascent is by Loch Garvaig. Another and shorter way is straight up the face by a gully of red sandstone, but the last part of this route is very bad. When the summit is reached, the loch and islands lie spread out like a map. Many surrounding peaks can be counted, and on a clear day, it is said, the town of Stornoway, in Lewis, may be seen; but often mist comes on pretty suddenly, and then, without a guide, the descent may prove dangerous. Some climbers, for variety, make their way down to Kinlochewe, but this involves a tramp of twenty-five miles.

After passing the Loch Maree Hotel the road runs close to the lake for a couple of miles, but only glimpses of it can be got through a screen of lovely trees. A little further on is seen the double cataract on the Garavaig river, known, since 1877, as the Victoria Falls. The road towards Gairloch then bends. away from the loch and ascends by a slope so steep in some places that most passengers by a horse-drawn coach get. out and walk, though some prefer to sit still and pity the poor pulling beasts. Those who walk behind are sometimes surprised to see how the metalled roadway bends beneath the wheels of the heavy coach as thin ice does under a skater. The explanation. is that the road was constructed over mossy ground, and as the makers never contemplated such heavy traffic as now passes over it they did not think it necessary to have a more firm foundation. One wonders that heavy motor wheels so seldom break through the upper crust. A little beyond the summit Loch Bad na Sgaiaig is to be seen. The road then rapidly descends, and nervous people would do well to sit on the right is on the left edge they sometimes think themselves sheer over a precipice, only as compensation they may, if they keep on this side, have an excellent view of the singularly beautiful double series of Kerry Falls. The higher of the two consists of five distinct steps, and if rain has fallen for a day or two before, the sight is well worth going far to see. The road soon afterwards passes through a plantation, and in a short time the Post Office is reached. On the left is to be seen the pier, and on the right Flowerdale House. The next house to be passed on the right is the local branch of what was the Caledonian Bank, now merged in the Bank of Scotland, the only bank passed since leaving Dingwall, and there is not another within many a long mile of it. Just on the left of the road, and opposite the Established Church, is the famous Leabaidh, and a little further on the Gairloch Churchyard, where once stood the Church of St. Maelrubha, and in which lie many who were known far beyond the bounds of the parish. In another minute or two the sandy beach in front of the hotel is to be seen, as well as the whole expanse of the loch, with the hills of Skye in the distance. The Free Church, just on the roadside here, is certainly a. neat., well-conceived piece of architecture. The hotel is reached in another minute. The size and handsome appearance of the buildings. at once attract attention, and strangers wonder why such an edifice should be erected in what they may have hitherto considered to be such an "outlandish place"; for to them it at first sight appears a waste of stone, lime, and labour to build here a place that can accommodate over a hundred sleepers, and has gardens and conservatories, in which grow all manner of flowers and fruit, and-where everything is done which modern science can suggest to ensure that visitors have every possible comfort. Two or three days in the locality are, however, usually enough to make them understand why the place is such a favourite one with those who are city pent during the greater part of the year.

The site of the hotel is worthy of note, and those who selected it certainly knew their business, as it stands on a commanding situation about seventy feet above, and close to, the edge of the large horse shoe-shaped bay. From all the front windows a wide view is got. Faraway, on a fairly clear day, may be seen the north end of Skye, as well as the south end of Lewis and Harris. During the summer months, and from a seat in front of the hotel, may, on many an evening, be seen one of the characteristic West Coast gorgeous sunsets, with the quickly-changing colour and brilliancy which one can wonder at, but can never properly describe by word or paint any more than they can the afterglow which seems to linger long among the hill-tops. Towards midnight in June the afterglow on the placid water gives a strange, weird, magical effect; indeed, June in this whole district, is altogether the best month of the year, as the weather is then generally dry and the temperature not too high.

For those in search of health, climate, of course, counts for everything, and it is well known that here there is sea and mountain air in plenty, and therefore abundance of that unseen, but health-giving, ozone which sanitarians talk of. All nature around hero is pure and refreshing, and the water in sea and loch is clear to a degree almost unknown elsewhere. Of course, the weather is changeable, and if it rains, it rains; but somehow the warm westerly rain does not seem to have any bad effect op. strangers caught in a shower or on natives who have to submit to the sixty inches which is the usual amount of the annual rainfall; and then, when the rain is over, and the white fleecy clouds roll up the mountain sides, one cannot help admitting that such a sight is fairly good compensation for the wetting.

Very, very few are the southrons who wish to pass the winter or spring here, but there is no harm in their knowing that, as the Gulf Stream washes this coast, the winters are mild and there is very little snow, so that there are no skating or curling clubs; while in spring the mountains shelter the place completely from the east winds. Indeed, golf and fishing seem to be the engrossing outdoor pastimes all the year round.

As at many Highland hotels, there are here several fresh water lochs on which the fishing is reserved for the use of visitors only, but the sea fishing, which is so convenient and safe, seems the great attraction. A recent inquiry as to what it was received the following answer:-

"Last season visitors caught on the lochs in June 260 trout, weighing 60 lbs.; in July, 575 trout, 183 lbs.; August, 138 trout, 40 lbs., and in September, 54 trout, weighing 23 lbs.

"On the sea they had in June 168 haddocks and whitings; in July, the haddock, whiting, bream, and lythe numbered 2848; in August, 800; in September, 491 cod, ling, mackerel, etc., were caught, and in October 1360 of the same kind. The cod weighed from 6 lbs. to 17 lbs., and the lythe from 7 lbs. to 25 lbs."


There are many interesting drives and walks to be had in the vicinity. One of the most beautiful is to Flowerdale, which was built by the ninth laird, and second baronet, of Gairloch in 1738. Because of the profusion of wild flowers at the place he gave it its present name instead of continuing either of the old ones of Tigh Dige or Stankhouse. This gentleman, who refused to join the "rebels" in 1745, was invited at that time by the captain of a. man-of-war that came into the bay to come aboard. The worthy baronet, however, told the messenger to report that he regretted that he had another engagement that evening, and because of this reply he got as a parting salute, when the ship sailed away, a broadside, and for long the people of the place could see, as a memento of the fact, one of the balls sticking in the wall of, the house. It was at the "Island of Justice," not far from the house, that the lairds of Gairloch, in days long, long ago,' exercised their right of "pit and gallows." The laird, his jury of four, the accuser, and the accused, all stood at separate trees. Some little distance away stood the Gallows Hill, where the condemned had to "go quietly to please the laird," and had a "drop" down a ravine. It is related that the face of the sloping sock became smooth by the number of criminals who fell on it. If one mounts the hill immediately behind—Craig a Chait.—he will understand what giants were in Gairloch in days of yore when he sees the distance to the pier, and. hears that a famous archer once from this hill top killed with his arrow an enemy who mounted the mast of an enemy's boat just out from the jetty.

To visit the hamlets on the south side of the loch one may drive or cycle round by the 1rry Bridge, and after going through some naturally planted birch woods pass Shieldaig and get to Badachro, and there see how the catching and curing of fish are done. Then on to Opinan, where there are sand bills and a sandy beach, a cave worth exploring, and, if one is interested in bog iron, plenty of it may be seen in a dyke a little further along.

There is no village of Gairloch, but the scattered village of Strath is about a mile from the Hotel, on the north side of the bay, and here are several up-to-date shops. Near it is the Established Church Manse, to build a part of which Hugh Miller, the geologist, then a mason's lad, went from Cromarty, and in chapters xii. and xiii. of "My Schools and Schoolmasters" tells of how he got there and the treatment meted out to him after he reached; only Gairloch to-day is a very different place—"other times, other manners." His impressions, however, continue to possess a deep interest. There is not much of historic interest along the drive to Melvaig, and but for the exquisite distant views got at several points, the road would be dreary enough. It is worth while perhaps to explore a deep cave on the way thithe as it is one of several in the Highlands into which a piper is said to have led a band of men in search of gold and never returned. The sound of his pipes was heard in the neighbouring hamlets for many a year after his disappearance. The story shows how common over the world are legends similar to that which Browning so well tells in his "Pied Piper of Hamelin."

Another walk, albeit a steep one, is to the top of the bill just behind the hotel. This is a favourite one with those who profess some knowledge of geology. Other walks there are, quite as full of interest; and information regarding them is gladly given by any at the hotel or in the neighbourhood, and it will be surprising if visitors in any part of this wide parish do not find all the inhabitants courteous and possessed of that kindliness and good manners which seem innate in Highlanders.

(The Bed of the White Cow).

One of the most interesting spots in the neighbourhood is the This celebrated hollow is near the Parish Church and on the opposite side of the public road. In form the Leabidh is nearly oval and is not unlike the crater of an extinct volcano. It M generally believed to be of natural formation, but because of its symmetry some think it to be artificial, and tradition says it was made by Fingal of Ossianic fame as a bed for his white cow to calve. It is covered with short grass, and because of the sandy nature of the soil is always dry. It is now used by the Free Church for Communion services in June, which no one should miss attending if he be anywhere in the neighbourhood. When the Leabidh was first used for this purpose no one can tell, but to it the congregation went when the Parish Church was incapable of holding the thousands who flocked from far and near to hear such famous Gaelic preachers as the Rev. Lachlan Mackenzie of .Lochcarron; Dr Macdonald, Ferintosh; and Rev. John Kennedy, Killearnan. On these occasions the Leabidh, capable of accommodating about two thousand persons, overflowed. The Free Church was broken up by the Declaratory Act of 1892, and other churches have been built. so that now it holds the Free Church congregation comfortably.


The rainfall of the district has long been over-estimated, but the table of observations taken at Inverewe Gardens—twenty feet above sea level—for the past seven years may help to correct this, as the average fall for this period is 58 inches per annum. it has to be noted that the average for the months of May, June, and July—the months always most strongly recommended for visitors—are the lowest for the year, and next comes the month of September. The other months are pretty much alike in regard to rainfall. The averaga number of days on which rain fell works out at 184.


The following description of the Golf Course has been kindly supplied by Mr W. N. Gunn, Poolewe:-

The Gairloch Golf Course is prettily situated in a sheltered dip, and offers many attractions to the visitor.
As a "sporting" course it would be hard to beat Stretches of beautiful turf, intersected by sand dunes and henty hillocks, provide the golfer, whether he be an expert or a novice, with such entertaining positions and difficult "lies" as call for the highest skill.

 The course was planned and laid out by the energetic Captain Burgess, and is a monument to his ingenuity. The greens are all placed in strategical positions; and one marvels that so much could have been made out of so little, as, with the ground available it would appear at first sight to be a hopeless task to make it what it is. But Captain Burgess, being an enthusiastic golfer, set to work, overcame all difficulties, and to-day Gairloch has one of the finest natural nine-hole courses in the country. No professional player, with the exception of Willie Fernie of Troon—who had something very commendatory to say about the course—has ever played here. No crowds are met with to elbow and jostle one. If the southern golfer wants peace and quietness, combined with a low tariff, he—or she—shoula avoid the much-boomed courses and give Gairloch a trial. From this place "where, the reek of the tavern comes not, nor the crowded cries of the street," he would be a sordid soul indeed who did not return better in body and mind after a sojourn here, where "every prospect pleases" and not even man is vile.

The first tee is situated in front of the Club House, and the distance to the first hole is 270 yards. Right in front of the tee is the dreaded "Leabaidh-na-ba-baine," in which a topped ball is pretty sure to find a resting place. "Bed of the white ball" would be more appropriate to-day, as many a golfer knows. A pulled shot here meets with very severe punishment, as it is likely to land the ball in the wood to the left of the road. A slice, if not too bad, has a chance of a good lie. With the exception of a tree, which stands in the fairway, there are no other difficulties to be encountered on the way to this hole. With good play it should be taken in 4. The second hole is 180 yards, .lut rather difficult, as the green is situited on a sharp incline. With careful play a 4 should be registered. With cleek and mashie the green is easily reached'; but the bias is so great that extreme care is necessary when putting. Holing out on this green is a feat to be remembered. The fourth hole lies 230 yards from the tee; but as it is out of sight behind rising ground it is very difficult to play. A good drive or even a cleek shot ought to clear the ridge, and a careful mashie shot should find the green. Short pitching hero means trouble in a sand bunker, which provides some scope for practice with the niblick. This is a good hole in 4. The fifth is 190 yards. The green is small and placed on a plateau. Guarded by a sand bunker and rough bent. covered hazards in front and trees and broken ground on the right, great care is necessary in order to avoid disaster. The sixth bole—the 'short"—is 135 yards, clear ground all the way and the best green on the course. It is a somewhat featureless hole, and often taken in two. The seventh—the 'Targat"—is 220 yards, a blind hole, and guarded in every direction byken ground, trees, whins, and bunkers, rocks, and rabbit scrapes. Happy is the player who gets through this entanglement without mishap. A good hole in 4. The eighth—the "long"—is about 375 yards. Here one may find trouble from tee to green. As it is guarded on the right by bent-covered knolls and sand pits, and on the left by the Atlantic (the most comprehensive hazard of all) straight driving is necessary. The green is placed on top of a miniature mountain, known as "Spion Kop"—being difficult to take—and right in front yawns a mighty chasm, at the bottom of which the hopes of many daring drivers lie buried. The careful player goes slightly off the line to the right, thus avoiding the "big bunker." Once down in that pit double figures are almost a certainty. The last hole is about 150 yards distant, and as it is guarded in front by a hill and behind by a burn it presents some difficulties, and the unwary player often gets trapped. A well-played round would return a card of 36 to 38. The record for the course—twice round—is 67, and is at present held by J. M. Bain, one time secretary of the Club. The Club can turn out a fairly good team; and, so far, in their visits to other courses, have Totained an unbeaten record.

The ground on which the course is laid out was kindly granted for that purpose by Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, Bart. of Gairloch; and it is worthy of note that besides taking an active part in the game, Sir Kenneth has all along shown a deep interest in all that pertains to the prosperity of the Club. Much has also been done by the Lady Marjorie Mackenzie, who has stimulated the players and infused new life into the game by the presentation of beautiful trophies.


From Gairloch to Poolewe the road is a stiff one for pedestrians, cyclists, and horses. For about two and a half miles the ascent is steep and the surface rough. On both right and left of the road there are hummocky hills and tussocky grass, with outcrops of hard, cold gneiss rock in every direction. If the visitor has a garrulous guide he may have legends of every tarn and rock. Thus a tarn will be shown into which the vanquished warriors of the place were once compelled to throw their arms; a rock where two lads were killed and buried by rufflianly uncles, who brought away with them the bloed-stained shirts of their victims to prove thai they had done the deed; but how a friend of the lads' mother stole the shirts and had them used as evidence against the ruffians before the King, who gave the "commission of fire and sword' usual in such cases; a cairn where coffins are still laid down when the bearers are tired and need refreshments; "The Field of Blood," so called because there cattle were once driven to be bled, as blood and oatmeal were the necessary ingredients of the "black puddings" of the olden time.

Loch Tollie, on the right, is a delightful sheet of water, fished only by Gairloch Hotel visitors. It has an artificial island, or crannog, with an eventful history. The, road then descends, and at the point where the branch road leads down to Tollie pier one of the best views of the whole length of Loch Maree is to be got. Then down, down the steep Croft Brae, until one is close to the River Ewe, after which a good level - mile brings one to the


which is placed in the centre of the most picturesque scenery on the West Coast; at least so many artists think, and among many others who came to paint here are numbered Horatio Macculloch, W. B. Davies, and Weedon.

Perhaps it is because they are contented with the real beauties around that so few persons on the West Coast try to paint their surroundings, or perhaps the privilege of getting to know how, was not given them in the docile season of their youth, but it is more likely that the struggle for existence has always been too keen to allow time for the cultivation of the arts of architecture, sculpture, and painting. One notable exception to this has occurred at Poolewe, where Mr Finlay Mackinnon has raised himself to be one of the best modern painters of mountain scenery. At his studio here one cannot, when they see his pictures, which he courteously shows, but wonder how he has managed to transfer to canvas the indescribable bright, blue, hazy, mysterious something, peculiar to the West Coast mountains in summer.

The village is a single row of good houses and shops. Here arrangements can be made for sailing and sea-fishing on Loch Ewe, or fresh water fishing on several lochs, and past years show that even amateur sportsmen are able to have good sport on these lochs.

Sometimes the Glasgow steamer, which coasts along the West of Scotland, calls early at Gairloch, and many passengers walk or drive thence and again go on board here. On a good day the walk is certainly a good 'leg stretcher." There are two churches here, the Established and the Free Church, and none other.

Long ago Poolewe, once called Clive, was a place of much importance, and Pennant, the tourist, who was here 140 years ago, found it a place of much concourse, and he tells that here terminated the military road, which, beginning at Inverness, crosses from the east to the west sea. Even then, and for many a long year after, it was from this place that the packet regularly, or rather irregularly, sailed to Stornoway with the mails and passengers for Lewis, and now the telegraph wire for Stornoway becomes submarine near Poolewe.

From the front of the hotel, across the head of the loch, may be seen Inverowe House, which, with its wouderful gardens, is one of the sights of Wester Ross. The house was built as late as 1865, in a sheltered corner of Loch Ewe, with, at that time, surroundings which were in all conscience bleak enough, but seen from the village of Poolewe now it forms quite a picture, surrounded with woods in which trees of many names have since thriven exceedingly well, and by gardens reclaimed from a rocky hillside, and laid out with exquisite taste by the proprietor, Mr O. H. Mackenzie, who has proved that with a little care and forethought almost any plant between the tropics and the Arctic circle can be got to grow here; and a walk through the place, with Mr Mackenzie as guide, is a liberal education, as he can point out shrubs from North and South America, from Germany, France, Corsica, Northern Africa, China, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia flourishing side by side, some of them growing to a size which is simply marvellous in our climate. All the year round there is a wonderful profusion of flowers, whose peculiar vividness of colour is accounted for by the warm moist climate. Another garden worth seeing is that of Tournaig. It was once a. mere pit in the heather, but has been turned by much labour into a little fairyland of leafy and flowering luxuriance. It has been well said that it is rather a piquant experience to stroll of a. morning among flower beds that recall the beauties of a favoured Italian spot, and afterwards to go out ptarmigan shooting or deer-stalking on some of the most storm-beaten hills ; the whole breadth of the Highlands.

A favourite drive or cycle run from Poolewe is to Cove, eight miles along the west side of Loch Ewe. For a considerable part of the way it is dreary enough, but as the bay widens out the surrounding scenery becomes imposing in the distance, and this is perhaps best seen from the hilltop just beyond Inverasdale School, and before one descends to the pleasant Firernore Sands, a favourite haunt of happy summer picnic parties. Besides, it is possible that some visitors to the seaside hero may again come upon the cave full of weapons which is hidden from human sight by the Highland magical "sian," and is on view only for a short time once in seven years. Or if they ascend the low hill on the left they may discover a keg of gold, brought there after Culloden and hidden in the same magicul way by a, follower of Prince Charlie. Both cave of arms and keg of gold have been, in quite recent times, seen by women of the district, but, unfortunately, instead of helping themselves at once, they ran eagerly for help, and on their return could sft nothing of what they were so sure they could locate at any time. Further up the hill are many holly trees, and not far away the abode of a beneficent fairy. Beyond the end of the road is Cove, so named from its numerous puffing holes and caves. One of these, it is quite plain, was the haunt of smugglers, who devised for themselves an ingenious method of escape when tracked to their den. Close by is another large cave which has been transformed into a church, with seats and proper pulpit, round which, in the rocky crevices, grow some beautiful delicate ferns, while about the entrance honeysuckle, wild roses, and violets grow in profusion, though unfortunately nettles are allowed to show themselves as well. It is one of the two "temples not made with hands" in which the Free Church minister or his catechist used to preach. The other is at Sand, beyond Aultbea, in which the seats are of material similar to that which Jacob once used as a pillow.

It will be noticed here that Loch Ewe narrows again very considerably, and thus it is that the loch is nearly always calm and placid, and only at long intervals are there waves big enough to make fishing dangerous or unpleasant.

Another walk or drive, round one which many consider the beat in the district from a scenic point of view, is up the private road past Inveran, and near which is a small loch where white water lilies grow in myriads, and then along an Alpine-like road until Fionu Loch (the White Loch), to distinguish it from its darker and smaller upper part, the Dubh Loch (the Dark Loch). This is how a visitor, who travelled over the whole Highlands, describes it: -

"From an eminence on a spur of Rowan Tree Hill you at last look down on Loch Fiona. It is a large sheet of fresh water, seven miles in length, enclosed within winding shores, diversified by islands and surrounded by a. magnificent range of mountains, which stand about it on every side but the one next the sea. In fine weather it forms a splendid mirror, set in a fitted frame of Alpine carving seldom surpassed for wild and picturesque beauty. In storm it becomes a furious sea of crested waves, under driving rain, rolling mist, and howling winds. These descend with uncommon strength from frowning mountains, which guard a scene then almost as wild, dark, and grand as Coruisk itself. From its character and surroundings the lake assumes either aspect with equal ease."
A nice short walk of only about a mile along the Inverau road from the hotel is to Craig Bhan, a low hill from which, on the one side, a splendid view of Loch Maree is to be got, and on the other an equally good sight of Loch Ewe is to be had. As there are few works of any great antiquity in the parish, all the more interesting are the remains, at this spot, of one of the so-called Pictish brochs, of which there are so many, some of them wonderfully complete, in the county of Ross, and so few south of the line of the Caledonian Canal.

The road from Poolewe to Anitbea, measures seven miles, and is tortuous and rough, with little of interest by the wayside. In passing the plantation at Inverewe the great variety of trees to be seen should prove particularly interesting, and it may perhaps be a hard mental exe the passer-by to recall a place anywhere in Britain. The Eucalyptus grows to such a size, and unprotected during the whole year, as it does here. After passing Tournaig the garrulous guide is again of use, and if a passenger happens remark to him, as the coach goes over narrow bridges, unp. otected by bulwarks, "Surely this must be a dangerous road to drive on, especially at night," the reply will probably come, "You see. it is not on dangerous roads that accidents happen, as we are then particularly careful." When near the summit Isle Ewe is seen, and, on its east side, the snug farm recovered from the rocks and the heather shows what an expenditure of labour can do when well applied. This island is believed to be a favourite haunt of fairies, and the people of Aultbea often averred that they saw strange lights moving about on it, and even heard fairy music coming from it. The wide expanse of the loch will also bring out the tale of how a whale, that smelt the tar of a new boat once lying off the isle, came straight in from the Minch, struck and broke it so that three men were drowned, and how from that date the belief is entertained that whales cannot endure a newly-tarred boat.

Above the road may be seen the commodious shooting lodge belonging to the Marquess of Zetland, who, however, when on deer-stalking thoughts intent, prefers to stay at Letterewe, on Loch Maree side.

The Hotel here, on the water's edge, is new and commodious, and fresh water bobs may be fished from it, but most visitors find much keener delight in sailing and fishing round Isle Ewe, where large takes of white fish of many kinds are made almost daily. The Glasgow steamer sails from this place direct' to Stornoway, where a week may profitably be spent. If one goes along the same road to the township of Mellon Charles a sandy beach is passed, and later on a rocky coast with several caves, and as might be expected in such an old-world place there are some strange Celtic folk-lore tales to be heard. Further along the coast is Slaggan, made famous in the second part of the eighteenth century by Sandy Grant, "The Big Bard of Slaggan," so called not only because he was a giant in size and strength, but also because he was "great" on account of the popularity of his songs and his reputation as a "seer," or as one having "second sight"; though some of the stories told of him would seem to show that his "gift" may have been just cultivated 'cuteness rather than anything supernatural.

From Anitbea a run should be made to Mellon Udrigil, as from the point where the road turns to the left at Laide there are unrivalled views of Gruinard Bay, and from a point near may be seen the mountain tops from Applecross in the South to the Island of Handa at Scourie in Sutherland on the north, and in the dim distance the Island of Lewis and Harris on the west. Then there are the walls of the Chapel of Sand, one of the oldest,, if not the very oldest, churches on the Northwest coast. It is said to have been founded by St Columba himself. Half-way down to Mellon, and on the left side of the road, is the famous "Beast Loch," so named because of the water kelpie that long frequented it, and of which the story is told in the folk-lore chapter.

If one takes the road to the right at Laide the townships of First and Second Coast are passed, and then there is a long ascent till the top of Catha Beg is reached. All along the road here may be seen, as in many other parts of this parish, immense stone blocks, mostly of foreign formation, all testifying to the existence of the great Ice Age. Then comes the steep descent and the beginning of that drive which Professor Blackie said was unequalled for grand beauty and solitariness. At the foot of the hill the Little Gruinard river, which flows from the Fiona Loch, is crossed, and the traveller is in the parish of Lochbroom and on his way to Dundonnell and Ullapool. When the Gruinard River, which issues from Loch na Sheallag, is passed, Gruinard House, an ideal sporting residence with a picturesque bit of wood around, is reached. The tenant of this place has a fine salmon river at his door, a compact deer forest not far away, and a grouse moor close at hand, with good sea fishing and safe anchorage for a yacht in front. A little further on, at Mungasdale, the road takes one over a big hill and then follows the shores of Little Lochbroom, past Drumnainuck, Badcall, Badbea, Ard. jessie, until Dundonnell Hotel is reached—an ideal place for a quiet summer holiday.

During this drive, or walk, if one will have it so, the best views of the Challich Hills are to be had. The principal peak is An Teallach, the extraordinary formation of which attracts attention. It somewhat resembles a white cone placed in a red cup, and when the sun shines on either or both the contrasting colours are strikingly peculiar. The town of Ullapool by the shortest road is only eight miles away, but as the ascent and descent of the intervening hills are very, very steep, and the surface generally rough, it means a walking pace, and slow at that, for gigs and cyclists. The distance round by the head of Loch Broom is nearly three times as great.


When the environment and descent of the people are considered, their joys and sorrows are just what a student of sociology might expect. The climate is warmer, wetter, and windier than the average for Scotland. The rainfall is, as we have seen, for a great part of the year much above the average, and though this may help to keep the lower grounds and sheltered cornea all the greener during the year it has denuded the hills, until on every one of them the bare rocks protrude everywhere, and it is the experience of everyone, of the lower animals even, that rain has a depressing influence on the spirits of all who live under dripping skies. This rain sometimes has the effect of falsifying the summer's fair promise of a plentiful harvest, and the prospects of winter's food supply becomes dark. No less uncertain is the harvest of the sea. Though these circumstances do give rise to sadness as a prevailing note, yet the people are not without their seasons of gladness and the joy of hope. When in Spring, greenness comes here with wonderful quickness, and bright sunshine is on land and sea, their spirits quickly respond, and men and women have joyous meetings on the fields, hills, and seashore. To these conditions of climate as factors in the social life there falls to be added the effect of their surrounding scenery. Besides this it has long been recognised that those who inhabit mountainous countries are passionately fond of liberty, and Cho people here are no exception. Not with the love of liberty only, but with imagination also do the mountains and the sea seem to imbue them. The mountains, with their many forms, unconsciously perhaps, appeal to the imagination of the valley dwellers, as, with the lights on them changing hour by hour, and tints varying with the seasons and atmospheric changes, or, as bright with sunshine or dark under storm clouds they appear to those looking at them from below. More changeful still is the ocean, sometimes calm and placid as a sheet of polished steel, and again a veritable hell of waters, each in its way making a powerful appeal.

The mountains and streams and sea lochs operate in another way, as it is by them that the inhabitants of the scattered hamlets are often debarred from much intercommunication, and this has made them to a large extent dependent on their own resources.

Then the people are to all intents and purposes wholly Celtic, and one side of Celtic sensibility is a great openness to joy, a sprightly vivacious nature, loving dance and song. The other side is an equal openness to melancholy and despondency. Such a people are, as might be expected, naturally poetic, and poetic they are. They have their songs for rowing, marching, milking, spinning, etc., only beneath, above, and through all of them is there that touch of melancholy which is peculiarly Celtic. There is humour, pathos and passion, but scarcely one of them is there altogether free from this "cry of the weary," for to them truly "the sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought," and rich this parish has been in bards of the highest order.

One of the first of these was William Mackenzie, the lame catechist, who composed a satirical song on a wedding party, was summoned before the Kirk Session, and there asked leave to sing it. Leave was given, and old Mackenzie sang his song, with such glee that the sober ministerial judges were forced to laugh uproariously, but afterwards shook their heads and becomingly deposed him from his office of catechist. The most famous bard of all was William Ross, known all over the North as "The Gairloch Bard." He was born at Broadford, in Skye, in 1762, but his mother was a daughter of the famous blind piper. He was educated at Forres, and then joined his father as a pedlar, and travelled over the whole Highlands, and so got to know much of men and manners. At the age of 24 he was appointed master of the Parish School here, and endeared himself to pupils and parents by his tact and good humour. He could play almost any instrument, and composed Gaelic love songs unequalled for noble sentiments and sublime and tender passion to the fair maid who jilted him. Twenty-one of these are included in "The Beauties of Gaelic Poetry." Over his grave in the churchyard there is a monument with a suitable inscription, and the couplet: -

"His name to future ages shall extend,
While Gaelic poetry can claim a friend."

Here also lived Alexander Grant, the great Bard of Slaggan, but he to whom all Highlanders will always feel most thankful is John Mackenzie, piper, poet, and author, just because he collected and edited the work entitled "Beauties of Gaelic Poetry." Early in life he was apprenticed to a travelling carpenter, and during his travels he was always careful to note down the Gaelic songs and tales he heard, with all that was known of their origin. At Gairloch he spent twenty-one nights taking down William Ross's poems from Alastair Buidhe, and then gave himself up to the completion of "The Beauties," which occupied him twelve years, but which will always be a standard monumental work on Gaelic poetry. He wrote in Gaelic "The History of Prince Charlie." He was also the author of the English-Gaelic part of the Dictionary known as Macalpine's. He translated into Gaelic many religious works, and at the time of his death, which took place at Poolewe in 1848, he was preparing a. new edition of the Gaelic Bible. There now stands on a projecting rock outside the Gairloch Churchyard a handsome monument, on which is the inscription:—

In memory of John Mackenzie, who composed and edited "The Beaities of Gaelic Poetry," and also compiled, wrote, translated, or edited, under surpassing. difficulties, about thirty other works. In grateful recognition of his valuable services to Celtic literature this monument is erected by a number of his fellow-countrymen. 1878.

To this day these bards have worthy successors, so that now this parish is a veritable Mecca for rich Highlanders interested in the poetry and music of their forefathers.

Where there is poetry there is music, and though there exist here as elsewhere some of the "unco guid" who would put down music and the rhythmic motion which it instinctively provokes, they might as well try to get the lambs to stop skipping or the larks singing as attempt to get the Gairloch youths to forego the delights of pipe and song, as it seems to be born in them, for Gairloch has long been "par excellence" the parish of Highland bards and pipers. The first of these pipers was Rory Mackay, who came with John Roy Mackenzie from the Reay Country in 1609, and was piper to four of these Mackenzie Chiefs of Gairloch, and was father of the "Blind Piper" who, to complete his musical education, spent seven years at the MacCrimmon College in Skye, where, when he excelled his teachers, they tried to put him to death. He composed twenty-four pibrochs and numberless Strathspeys, reels, and jigs, among the best of the being "Cailleach a Mhuillea.r" and "Cailleach Liath Rasaidh." It is only fitting that some of his songs and poems should have found the place they did in "The Beauties of Gaelic Poetry." His son and grandson succeeded him, and it is rather singular that four of these Mackays in direct succession were for almost two hundred years pipers to the eight Lairds of Gairloch, who also followed one another in direct succession during the same period. The pipes are therefore, as might be expected, the chief musical instrument in the parish, and a few years ago there were at least twenty proficient, if not professional, pipers in this district.

Where there is poetry and music there is, according to the late Professor Blackie, piety, and it would appear that they have been a religious people since St. Maelrubha came here and built his first cell on an island in Loch Maree, and planted the sacred holly, which still grows so well in the parish. From that time to this, Gairloch people have been noted for their piety. To the Sacramental gatherings people come from far and near with quite a settled gloom on their faces, and behave themselves so gravely and decorously that it is usual for those who do not understand it to sneer at this type of religion; but if it is to be judged by its fruits, then the laugh may well bo the other way about, as any who have stayed in the locality for some time have found the people hospitable, courteous, and especially helpful to any neighbour enduring trouble.

During the winter there are a few concerts, followed in some eases by a dance, the usual quota of marriage rejoicings with or without dancing, sometimes even, so we have heard, without sound of pipes, all according to the religious denomination to which the young couple belong; but apart from these there are few functions indeed at which young and old of both sexes may meet except at the prayer meetings held in most townships on one or two evenings each week, and at the Sacramental gatherings, which last from the Thursday forenoon till the following Monday afternoon.


Of course in a district of this kind there are the usual number of shoemakers, tailors, smiths, carpenters, and masons. There are farm managers and their servants and gillies galore. There are teachers, doctors, and ministers, but by far the greater proportion of the people are crofters and fishermen. There are altogether about four hundred crofts in the parish, with an average area of about four acres, for which the occupants each pay nearly four pounds annually as rent. In addition to the arable land each crofter has the right to graze a. considerable number of sheep and cattle on the bill pasture in connection with the township.

It is usual for people who are in the north for only a week or two in summer to consider crofters a lazy lot, but if they know what work they do in a year they would probably think they do more for their livelihood than almost any other class in the country. Towards the beginning of March they begin to turn over the land with the footplough—the caschrom —which has not yet here been ousted by the spade and plough, and the amount of ground a family can turn over in a few days with this primitive implement is simply marvellous. By the middle of April, if the weather is anything like favourable, Spring work is completed. The peats have then to be cut, fences have to get an overhaul, and all must be ready by the beginning of May, as then many of the able-bodied men set out for the West Coast fishing. During this month between two and three hundred men leave the parish, if not for the fishing, then for "season" places in the south. From the West Coast, the men proceed to the East Coast fishing, and it is towards the end of September ere they return. Then the crops have to be reaped, potatoes lifted, houses and outhouses prepared for the winter. Sheep have to be looked after, drain,-to be opened, nets mended, and, in fair weather, fresh fish have t. be got for the household. Peats are taken home, and this, during the winter, is largely done by the men, as the women are then busy at. their household work, when not carding, dyeing, spinning, or knitting, as during summer they could do none of these things as, in addition to their many household duties, they bad to see the peats dried and the croft kept clean. There is, indeed, very little rest for crofters or their families from one year's end to the other, and any who know how hard they work must consider the remuneration the whole yields scanty in the extreme.

Though fish of many kinds abound in the two lochs of the parish—Loch Ewe and Gairloch—it is only at Badachro, on the shores of the latter loch, that a regular fishery seems to be carried on, and there cod, ling, herring, haddock, flounder, etc., are systematically fished for, and regularly despatched by sea to the south via Kylo of Lochaish. Children all along the seaside gather large quantities of whelks, for which at certain seasons they get good prices in England. Large numbers of lobsters are got, salmon are caught in bag-nets all along the coast, and oysters are found at Poolewe at low tides, but the most interesting of all the work done are the


The various branches of the Scottish Home Industries have long been associated with different localities. Thus Shetland for shawls, Lewis and Harris for tweeds, and Gairloch for stockings; and it is interesting to note how shows and competitions bring this out. Year after year the Gairloch workers took, at the Inverness Home Industries Show, nearly all the prizes for stockings, ribbed and plain, fancy and plain coloured, as well as many for yarn and real homespun tweeds. By this work the women of this one West Coast parish make annually by their knitting a substantial addition to the family exchequer. The story of the rise of the industry is another proof that 'sweet are the uses of adversity." When in the years of the potato famine (1846-48) want confronted the people, large sums were raised to relieve them, and those then in charge of Gairloch parish undertook to support the entire population from February, 1848, till the following harvest, the able-bodied men by work on a road made by a grant of public money, and the women by kniting. An expert in knitting was brought into the parish, and she superintended the women's work, with the result that very soon the superior quality of the GairIoch stockings became known and a market was readily found for t em. he demand went on increasing, the local shops found it so lucrative to trade in them that other districts soon discovered it to be profitable to make imitations, and then, as a natural consequence, the demand fell off with the quality of the so-called Gairloch stockings. This for years injured the genuine workers' trade until the Scottish Home Industries Association was formed, shows and competitions instituted, prizes and patterns given, and now once more Gairloch stockings, so long famous for their shape, elasticity, softness, and wearing qualities, no less than for the designs worked into them, got their old high place when put into competition with others.

Some of these stocking patterns are elaborate to a degree, some are like a honeycomb, others have leaf, flower, and fruit designs knitted into them, and even twelve-pointed stags' heads have been worked into some. In some of the tartan hose as many as eighteen different threads have to be worked in, but patience no less than much skill is necessary in making such. Stocking-making here is, in all its branches, a home industry pure and simple. The crofters' own sheep yield the wool, which is teased, carded, spun, and dyed at home, and the colouring is in great part done with the natural dyes gathered from dykes, ditches, etc., as the workers prefer this to the aniline dyes they are sometimes compelled to use.

With the increasing use of knickers by cyclists and motorists everywhere, as well as by tourists, who find them a most convenient nether garment, there is an increasing demand for the best, and those who purchase them may also have the comforting assurance that they not only add to their own comfort but also help to brighten the lives of these industrious Highland women by so doing.


If Gairlbch had nothing to show but Loch Maree it is doubtful if any who have sailed it up and down ever can forget its wonderful beauty. By many it. is considered far and away the most beautiful in Britain, and certainly few can rival it in wild and gentle beauty. "Utterly savage and terrific" is how Dr Arthur Mitchell describes its scenery, while Macculloch, who travelled in the Highlands between 1811 and 1821 and wrote long letters to Sir Walter Scott, was constrained to write on the day he saw Loch Mares: "The first day of Creation was not more beautiful. July was in its full glory, a few thin silvery clouds rested on the clear blue sky, and the sun shed a flood of light on the bright surface of Loch Mares which reflected every rock and every tree that hung over its glassy surface. No one can know the full value of summer who has not known it in a land of mountains. No one can feel who has not felt it among such hills, the joy with which the sun can fill the mind." From whatever point the loch is seen the view seems to strike the stranger as wondrously picturesque.

The loch trends in a north-west and south-east direction, lying along a line of fault, whose throw is considerable and is accompanied by a certain amount of horizontal wrenchings. On its north-eastern shore rise a grand series of mountains, Beinu Airidh Charr, Beinn Lair, Slioch, and Beinn a Mhuirridh. The slope for the first thousand feet all along this shore is very steep, in many places exceeding 45 degrees. To the south-west rises Beinu Eighe, Beinn a Chearcaill, and Beinu an Eoin. But the two most striking features of Loch Maree are Slioch and Isle Maree. The huge sugar loaf form of Slioch, composed of Torridon sandstone, rising above a platform of the old gneiss, is seen from almost every part of the loch, and though one of the smallest islands, Isle Mares, owing to the colour of its trees, stands out against the dark background of the heather-covered islands and the cliff of the northeastern shore.

The level of Loch Maree is only 28J feet above the sea, and hence must have formed a sea loch in very recent times. In the following dimensions of the loch, taken from the Bathy. metrical Survey, there has been included a large portion of the piece of water styled "River Ewe." Soundings were taken in the so-called river down to the Pool Crofts, and these seem to indicate that down to here the water was only an arm of the loch, with a current flowing along it to the outfall. Just above the partly artificial dam, depths of 37 and 35 feet were obtained. Here it was that the old ironworkers built their dam to obtain water for working the "Red Smiddy." The length of the loch is 131 miles, and its maximum breadth is a little over two miles. Its waters cover an area of over eleven square miles, and it drains an area fifteen times greater. Its islands arf, very numerous and cover an area of nearly one square mile; in fact, Loch Maree has a greater area of islands for its size than any other large lake in Great Britain, just surpassing Loch Lomond in this respect. In the survey the greatest depth obtained was 367 feet, to the south-west of Ruth' a' Ghuibhais. The bottom of the loch at this point is 337 feet below the level of the sea. The volume of water contained in the loch is estimated at 38,500 millions of cubic feet, and the mean depth at 125 feet.

It is divided into three basins—the Ghruididh, the Slatterdale, and the Ardlair. The Ghruididh basin is the largest and deepest of the three, and the deepest part lies between th two transverse faults, one of which cuts the loch to the south-east of the River Ghruididh on the south-west shore, and the other where the stream from Lochan Fada enters the loch on the north-cast shore. The deepest part of the whole basin occurs where the great mass of Slioch on the one side and th heights of Kinlochewe Forest on the other, rise steeply up fiom the shore, and, as it were, compressed the valley into its narrowest. limits.

At first sight shallow water would be expected in the Slatterdale basin, but it must be remembered that the Torridon sandstone here was the Upper Torridonian, composed of soft shales and sandstones quite different from the hard and coarse arhoses which formed the islands to the north, and hence they would be much more easily eroded. Deep water is also to be met with round the western coast of Eilea.n Ruairidh Mor and round Ruth' Aird an Anail. The ridge which runs across from Eilean Ruairidh Mor to the mouth of Alt na Doire, separating the Ardlair and Slatterdale basins, is very marked, as its lowest part is only 83 feet below the level of the water. The shallow water to the north of the islands is more remarkable still. A large part of this area is under 50 feet in depth, and the deepest part that occurred anywhere between Creag Tarbh and Rudha Chailleach was 79 feet, though it is along this northern channel that the great fault must run.

On Eilean Subhainn, the largest of the islands, is a small loch, whose depth 'of 64 feet is remarkable. The level of its water was 57 feet above the sea and 30 feet above Loch Maree; hence its bottom was 36 feet below Loch Mares and 6 feet below sea level.

As to temperature, in July, 1902, when observations were made, these showed that that of the surface varied from 53.9 degrees F. to 57 degrees F., and that at the bottom was 45.6 degrees F.

Loch Fada lies to the north-east of Loch Mares, and runs parallel to it for a distance of nearly four miles. Its maximum depth is 284 feet, and & large part is over 200 feet in depth. Other large lochs in the district are Fionn (114. feet), Kerusary (93 feet), A' Bhaid Luachraich (143 feet), and Na Sheallag (2r7 feet).

At every point the clearness of the water is very noticeable, and even when flooded by heavy rains there is little of that peaty brown tinge so characteristic of Highland lochs. The water is almost absolutely pure, and because of this is still believed to possess valuable healing properties. It has, however, none of the palatable qualities possessed by waters rich in mineral "impurities."


Apart from its scientific and scenic interest there cling to its shores and islands legends and tales of "old, unhappy, far-off things, and battles long ago," possessing human interest of the deepest kind. One of the most interesting of these legends is that of the Danish Prince and Princess who were buried in one of the islands with their feet towards one another, and under stones marked by ancient crosses still to be seen. It appears that this young Prince lived with his fighting men in his great war galley, but during the winter encamped on one of tha islands. Here, by the side of St. HaeIrubha's cell, he built a tower, to which he conducted his happy bride, and there stayed during the winter. With the returning summer he had to tear himself away from her, but ore he left he proposed that on his return she should, to shorten the final moments of suspense, if all were well, hoist a. white flag, and, if anything were amiss, a black one. While waiting in her loneliness she. devised a scheme to test the reality of his affection for her. When at last the Prince's barge was seen the black flag was raised in the stern of a galley which came to meet his. The Princess lay pallid on a bier as dead, her maidens simulated intense grief. After a moment's gaze at the still white face, the Prince with a wild scream plunged his dirk into his heart. When the Princess saw the terribly sad result of her plot she rose, and with remorseful cries plucked out the dagger and drove it deep into her own breast, and here the unhappy lovers now sleep with the sacred hollies planted by St. Maelrubha still growing around.

On Isle Maree may still be seen the wishing tree, to which visitors made an offering of some metal by attaching it in some manner, and hundreds of nails have been driven into its trunk. The most common of modern ways, however, is to drive in a coin, usuall3 copper, edgeways, and then silently to wish something, which it is said will certainly be realised thereafter. The initials of many who have done this are carved on the trees around. If there exists any would-be robber of these offerings he is to remember that with them he may expect to bring ill-fortune to himself, and there is the highest probability that his dwelling will sometime thereafter be consumed by fire. If the offering happens to be that of an invalid, he may expect to take the sick one's disease just as Gehazi took that of Naaman the Syrian.

Close by is the sacred well, long famous for the cure of insanity. Whittier, the American poet, was so struck by the story of the strange power attributed to the well that he wrote:

"And whose bathes therein his brow,
With care or madness burning,
Feels once again his healthful thought
And sense of peace returning.
O restless heart and fevered brain,
Unquiet and unstable,
That holy well of Loch Maree
Is more than idle fable."

There are also tales current here of Prince Charlie. It is told that one day, after Culloden, a stranger, with yellow hair and clad in tartan, came to a bothy and asked for shelter and some refreshment. He drank of the milk given him, and returned the bowl with a gold piece in it. The news that a stranger with gold was in the neighbourhood soon spread, a shot was heard in the night, and when search was made the dead body of the young man was found, robbed of all valuables. It afterwards transpired that the yellow-haired laddie was Prince Charlie's valet, who in the corner of his plaid was carrying gold which had been sent from France. Two vessels had appeared at Poolewe a day or two before then, presumably to take off this lad and the money.

Queen Victoria visited the shores of the loch in 1877, and stayed from 12th to 18th September. In "More Leaves from the Journal of a Life in the Highlands" she tells of the drive along the shore to Loch Maree Hotel. "The windings of the road are beautiful, and afford charming glimpses of the lake, which are quite locked in by the overlapping mountains. There are trees above and below it, of all kinds, but chiefly birch, pine, larch, and alder, with quantities of high and most beautiful heather and bracken growing luxuriantly, high rocks surmounting the whole. Here and there a fine Scotch fir, twisted and with a stem and head like a stone pine, stands out on a rocky projection into the loch, relieved against the blue hills as in some Italian view." She visited Isle Maree, and fixed her offering to the wishing tree. The only drawback was the midges, which, on warm calm evenings, are sometimes a veritable plague, and she might well echo the sentiment of the visitor who wrote of Loch Maree:

"I love her silver birken trees,
But I detest the midges."

In memory of this visit there has been carved on a boulder opposite the hotel a. Gaelic inscription, which, on being literally translated, reads: -

"On the twelfth day of the middle month of Autumn, 1877, Queen Victoria came to visit Loch Maree and the country round it. She remained six nights in the hotel opposite, and, in her kindness, agreed that this stone should be a memorial of the pleasure she experienced in coming to this quarter of Ross."


Perhaps it is because that much of the water power in the Highlands could nowadays easily be utilised for the production of the electricity necessary for light and all kinds of work that there appears at present to be a hunting after localities where, perchance, gold, copper, marble, granite, &c., could be worked profitably. It does not seem to be generally known that hundreds of years ago the Highlands were "The Black Country" of Scotland, and that several of what are now the loneliest districts were once hives of industry, as is quite apparent from the many large slag heaps found all over the North.

Thus, in Sutherlandshire, remains of old ironworks have been found in eleven different places. In sites have been identUd in at least thirteen different places, the chief of them being on the shores of Loch Maree In Inverness-shire sites can be seen in at least fourteen widely separated places. Twelve sites are known in Morayshire, and fivq in Nairn. In Aberdeenshire there are at least two. In Argyllshire there are seventeen, three in Banff, eight in Bute, one in Dumbarton, ielve in Elgin, twelve in Perthshire, and one in Stirling, and from them all it is pretty plain that the earlier inhabitants of Scotland knew how to get iron to make weapons for defence, if not for the chase and agricultural purposes. The older of the works were built high up on hillsides, or in valleys with little water, so that the workers might have the advantage of the prevailing winds for blast purposes. After the return of the Crusaders water power was taken advantage of, and the later works are placed near streams, by means of which a greater heat was obtained, as is shown by the denser slag found at such places.

It is rather difficult to say with certainty whence the supply of ore for these works came. From the nature of the slag it would appear that what is known as bog ircn was that most commonly used, which was formed by the action of water on iron-bearing rocks and strata, and accumulated at the bases of peat bogs. In process of time it formed granulated masses of something like iron rust, which in some places covered considerable areas. This deposit is continuous, and grows in a few years. In Sweden the bog iron deposits are removed within certain areas in rotation, several years being allowed for each new deposit, but, strange to say, no bog iron has been found in proximity to any of the remains of the old Scottish ironworks. In any case there are very few instances of iron mines being worked in Scotland for these old works, and it seems likely that the ore was imported, as it could be easier to bring the ore to the north where there were dense woods than to bring the timber to the south, though so far there seems to be no record of ore being brought from England ox the south of Scotland earlier than the seventeenth century.

The fuel used appears to have been either wood or peat charcoal, and the process for its manufacture was well enough known for ages. Up to the middle of last. century people made it in their kitchens, as it was often necessary for them to bring such fuel with them to smithies when they wanted horses shod.

The late Mr W. Ivison Macadam, in a paper read to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, tells that the district round Loch Maree was the seat of very early ironworks; probably originated to supply local wants, but gradually, through the force of circumstances, the district became a veritable iron forge for the whole of Britain. The reason for so great a development of this trade, at a point so remote, may be presumed to have been due to some special resource of the locality. The earlier works required bog iron ore, which, being open and porous, was the more readily reduced to the metallic form. The fuel was either wood charcoal or peat charcoal, and all those substances abounded in the district.

The three principal sites of the more recent ironworks were at Fasagh, Letterewe, and Red Smiddy. The Fasagh works were of great extent and covered acres of ground on the south bank of Abhuinn an Fasaigh, or Fasagh Burn, which flows from Loch Fads to Loch Mares. They were situated close to the shore of the loch. At Loch Fads there are evidences of a sluice and dam, as if to retain the water at certain seasons. The whole site is surrounded by immense heaps of iron slag of the oldest black type. The only ore found in these works consisted of fragments of bog ore iron, which was contained in the slags. Whilst there is no direct evidence as to a connection with the other large works on Loch Maree, tradition points to the workers having been English, or at least English-speaking, for a spot of ground a little further down the loch is known as "Cladh nan Sasunnach," or the burying-ground of the English, and a pool in the cent-re of the marsh is pointed out as a place where the workers deposited their tools on leaving the district. This Fasagh furnace was evidently one of the last works in existence at which bog iron ore was smelted with charcoal direct.

Furnace, Letterewe, is of great interest, as the earliest historic ironwork in the country. It is situated on the north bank of Furnace Burn, which flows into Loch Maree about a mile to the south of Letterewe House. The foundations of the furnce are still to be seen, although by no means perfect. They stand on the top of the bank of the burn, which must have materially altered its course since the works were in existence. The first mention of these works was in 1610, when Sir George Hay obtained the woods of Letterewo for use in his ironworks. This Sir George probably obtained his knowledge of the manufacture of iron in Perthshire, for in 1598 he obtained from James VI. the Carthusian Priory of Perth and the ecclesiastical lands of Errol, and this county was an early seat of iron manufacture. The reason why Sir George found his way to the extreme north-west of Scotland may be found in a grant (1598) to the "Fife Adventurers," who obtained from the Crown the right to colonise the Lews. The road to the Lews lay in those days to Poolewe via Loch Maree, and thence per boat. Probably Fasagh was then at work, and Sir George could at once see that with the great abundance of ore and wood on the spot a lucrative business could readily be established. At any rate the works appear to have been a going concern in 1608, and so rapidly was the countryside denuded of wood that in January, 1609, an Act was passed "commanding, charging, and inhibiting all and sundry of His Majesty's lieges and subjects that none of them presume nor take upon hand to work or make any iron with wood or timber underpain of confiscation of the whole iron." But Sir George had sufficient influence to havo this Act repealed, and besides, he got in 1610 the privilege of making iron and glass within the whole kingdom of Scotland, and in 1621 he got the right of selling his iron in any royal burgh. Sir George grew rich on the proceeds, and died Earl of Kinnoul in 1634.

The very extensive works at the Red Smiddy were situated on the River Ewe at the spot where the navigable part of the river from Loch Maree ceases. It is close to the place where the ore brought to Poolewe was re-shipped for transit via Loch Marco to the Letterewe Furnace. Why this position was chosen can only be conjectured, but we may suppose that it had to do with the rafting of wood down Loch rtraree from the extensive forests. It occupies a splendid natural situation for the then ironworks.

It is difficult to form any opinion as to who started or worked these furnaces. Sir George Hay is never referred to as having any other furnace than that at Letterewe, and the only link of connection between him and the Red Smithy lies in a statement made by Pennant, that he was told by the Rev. Mr Donnie that he had seen the back of a grate marked "S. G. Hay," for Sir George Hay. There is no certainty as to when the works were closed, but Mr Alexander Mackenzie of Lochend told Knox, a tourist, that cannons were still made at Poolewe in 1668. This dato may be considered approximately correct, though local tradition says that the work was in existence for a much longer period. Mr George Turner of Glasgow, who wrote an article on "The Scottish Iron Industry" in "Scotia" for Whitsunday, 1907, says: "The works at Loch Maree were closed in 1668 because of their having been employed in casting cannon used in the rebellion."


A very large part of Wester Ross is covered by peat bogs, and to the mere passer-by the bog lands, with their characteristic vegetable life—most noticeable of which, in summer and autumn, is the white cotton plant (Cannach)—seem uninteresting, if not depressing; but only let any who feel thus, look in imagination a little ahead and see the time when every cubic yard of them will be worth much more than at present., to the time when the moss will be made into vegetable charcoal or briquettes, and in this form take the place of steam coal, or to the time when they will be used for the manufacture of an illuminating gas, with valuable sulphate of ammonia as a by-product. Others prophesy another future for them. At present peat moss litter seems to be their most valuable product, and it is well enough known that for packing breakable articles it is better than straw, and that meat and fish can safely be sent per rail or steamer packed in peat dross. Then if only a fabric could be woven from the fibres, which are the remains of the reeds and grasses in these bogs, it would be one possessing unique qualities. To the toughness of linen it would add the warmth of wool, an absorbent power greater than cotton, and the indestructibility of asbestos. An Austrian savant told some time ago that he had managed to make the peat fibres weavable, and that from it he could make coats, hats, carpets, rugs, ropes, matting, pillows, &c. One of the latest reported uses of peat is the making of paper from its fibres, paper of almost every variety of weight and quality, with toughness and durability equal to that of paper from any kind of vegetable pulp. When these things become plainly practicable, then for the population of the future.—perhaps the near future—there may be work and wealth in these so desolate-looking bogs.

If any look far away backwards they may find much of intense interest, and much on which to exercise their imaginations. Much has been done to elucidate the geology of West Ross; little effort has been made to unravel the mystery of the bogs, though they ought to prove a mine of information for scientific investigators. From these mosses may yet be obtained the remains of animals that lived in the Highlands long ere human foot trod cautiously over them, bones perchance of mammoth, reindeer, bear, and elk; remains of the first woods and vegetation, as well perhaps as some solution of the conditions under which they grew, flourished, fell, and were then covered with peat.

Mr O. H. Mackenzie, of Inverewe, who has all his life has set the ball a-rolling in the matter of investigating the Gairloch bogs, and has, with his customary courtesy, placed at the writer's disposal a paper he wrote on the subject for the Inverness Field Club, and as it must be new and suggestive to most of those who read this book it is a pleasure to be able to give most of it here. He says -"I have often rather wondered why so much energy has been expended in writing and theorising on the fundamental gneiss and the Torridon red, whereas no one seems to take any notice of the thick, black layer which usually covers both these ancient rocks in this part of the county. The American tourists profess to be always interested in what they amusingly term 'The elegant ruins of the old country.' Now, though my peat is undoubtedly a ruin, and a very old one, I fear I cannot exactly lay claim to its being elegant (being certainly more useful than ornamental), but I do think it deserves to be classed among the most interesting natural phenomena of our land, and not only is the actual peat itself interesting, but still more interesting are the many objects preserved in it. What excitement there is when, in Egypt, or at Pompeii, there are found grains of wheat in a mummy, or well preserved figs or walnuts taken from under twenty feet of volcanic ash; and why should I, in my humble way, not be quite as much elated when, from the bottom of one of my bogs, I take out handfuls of hazel nuts as perfect as the day they dropped off the trees; or still more wonderful, when I find the peat full of countless beetle wings, still glittering in their pristine motallic lustre, and which may have been buried in these black, airtight silos before Pompeii was thought of. To mark the manner in which the climate of our earth has changed at different periods since the Creation must always be an interesting subject to the student of nature, ancient, or modern, and I cannot help thinking that, if the lower strata of some of our very deepest peat bogs were carefully examined, with the help of the microscope, etc., the botanist and entomologist would, at anyrate, derive information which would give us some approximate idea of their age, and would prove that a somewhat different vegetation covered the earth when the peat began to form, and that our country was then the abode of plants and insects (if not of still higher forms of animal life) which are either very rare or quite extinct with us now, and what were indigenous plants are becoming extinct from various causes, chiefly, I fancy, climate. I know that in my grandfather's time the woods of this country were full of 'epipactis ensifolia,' a most lovely white orchidaceous plant., and which is so rare now that I have only once in my lifetime seen one here, though I have found them in abundance in the woods of the Pyrenees. The beetle wings found, appear to be those of the rose beetle, which is now rather a rare insect with us, but, to judge by their debris in the peat, they must have swarmes at one time, like the locusts in Egypt in the days of the plagues. Nowadays one comes across only a few of them, in sunny places, facing the south, but these remains are in a dark hollow, looking due north. Perhaps in the good old beetle days the climate was so hot that they chose the shade for preference.

"Now, as to when the peat began to form. It is evidently a. post-glacial deposit, because, when out deer-stalking, I notice beds of it lying on the top of ice-polished slabs of gneiss. Geologists can give us no idea of the age of the rocks, though they can tell us that some rocks are young in comparison to others. I wonder whether they can make any guess at the date when the snow and glaciers began to recede uphill from high water mark. To look at some of the ground in the Torridon and Gairloch deer forests, one would say that the final disappearance of the glaciers from some of their high cornea would not be such a very old story, as in some places neither peat, nor even plants, have as yet managed to cover the slabs of glaciated rock, which have still nothing on them but carried stones and boulders of every shape and size, just as they were dropped on to the slabs when the ice departed. One cannot help wondering what the climate was like when the ice began to disappear—if it was like the climate of Switzerland in the present day (hot and dry in summer, and cold and dry in winter), it would not encourage a growth of peat. If, on the contrary, it was cool and wet, it would encourage a growth of the 'sphagnum' mosses, which I look on as the main formers of peat. If the peat commenced to grow immediately on the departure of the ice, it would be most likely that the low grounds were then covered with Arctic plants, such as 'Azalia procumbens,' 'Betula mana,' 'Saxifraga oppositifolia,' which our climate has banished to the highest tops. Now how interesting it would be if, when microscopically examined, traces of the 'Azalia.,' with its hard twisted roots and stems, were found at the bottom of the peat bogs at the sea level. Last year I found quantities of yellow seed at the base of a nine fees cutting in the solid peat. So I sent some of them, all washed and clean, to the late Professor Dickson, of Edinburgh. He showed them to my friend, Mr Lindsay, the Curator of the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens, and said he had come to the conclusion that some hoax had been played upon me, and that the seeds were modern and not ancient. But I determined not to give up my interest in them. So I began looking for the seeds again, and found in the lowest part of the peat, where it rested on the subsoil, the seeds in quantities. I had other bogs examined, and there they were also found among the compressed brown sphagnum below a great depth of solid black peat. So I sent them this time to Mr Lindsay, and have his reply saying that at first. he was in doubt as to whether they were whin or broom seeds, but on comparing them with modern seeds of both these shrubs, he had come to the conclusion that they were whin seeds. Notwithstanding my having faith in Mr Lindsay as a botanist, I cannot take in the idea that these seeds are 'whin.' East Coast gentlemen will perhaps be astonished to hear that neither the whin nor the broom are native plants here. One hundred years ago, the only broom plants in the district were a few sown round the garden of my far back predecessors in this place, and the first whins that ever grew anywhere near here were produced from seed sown by a minister on the Poolewe globe, and some sown also by a member of the Letterewe family at Udriga.l. It is certain it was not an indigenous plant here in modern times, whatever it might have been in the beetle days, and there can be no doubt that the shrubs or plants which produced these seeds and the beetles lived contemporaneously. We now find hazel, birch, alder, and willow in the most perfect state at the bottom of the bogs, with the silvery bark on the former kinds as perfect as the day they were growing; but no one has ever found the gnarled, twisted stems of the whin or broom in any bog in this country; A very intelligent man, who has taken a lively interest in these seeds, has been struck with the idea that they may have been the seeds of the buck or bog bean, as the places we found them in had evidently been at one time the bottoms of lochs which have been filled up, but Mr Lindsay says that they are not.

"There is, I think, an impression abroad that peat is a. very modern growtb and is quickly formed. That it is very modern compared with our rocks is certain, but still I hold to the belief that our peat is a very old formation, though still growing slowly. Can anyone tell when was the Bronze Age up here We found a perfect bronze spear head in one of the peat bogs, pretty near the surface, with a deer's antler lying close to it; and to show what a preservative peat is, part of the wooden shaft of the spear was still to the fore when the spear head was found. Now, in the days of the savage who owned this spear, this peat bog must have been very much what it is now, otherwise the spear would not have been so very high up. There was also a very valuable find of bronze antiquities in this neighbourhood a few years ago, and on going to examine the place I found that the peat was not three feet deep, showing that it had not grown much since the day when the wild owner had buried his treasures, as it would not be likely he would have hidden them in a place having less than a couple of feet of peat at least. Close to my house there is a bog in a hollow, enclosed all round with a rim of rock, and on trying to drain it we found it impossible to do so without cutting the rock. We probed the peat, and found fourteen feet.

"Usually the trees found under the peat have their roots fixed in the subsoil and their stumps are close to the bottom, but it is not always the case, for near the surface of this bog we found several immense stumps, and on attempting to count the rings in some of the roots we sawed off, we arrived at the conclusion that the tree was four hundred years old when it ceased to live. Now, it is about four hundred years since my ancestors cams to Kintail and took possession of Gairloch by a 'coup de main,' and we know that at that time, and probably long before then, these shores had a. resident population; it is, therefore, unlikely that these trees would have been allowed to remain standing so close to the sea shore at the head of Loch Ewe for very long after the place became inhabited. Supposing these trees, then, to have been dead some five hundred years, and that. they were four hundred years old when destroyed, that takes us nearly one thousand years back. Query then, how old is the lowest layer of peat in the bog which lies fourteen feet below the stumps? I have beard of a bog at Kinlohewe which was drained and improved, and in it were no less than two distinct sets of fir roots, one above the other, with a considerable layer of peat between each.

"Nearly all the bog stumps in this country have marks of fire on them and charcoal about them. Now it would seem that in this case two successive forests have sprung up, grown to maturity, and been destroyed, and that between each crop of firs there had been a sufficient interregnum for the peat to form and to cover up and preserve each set of roots. It would be what the lawyers would call 'a nice question' as to how many centuries the remains of the two forasts and the layers of peat represent.? One must not, however, judge altogether of the age of peat by its death. The best peat I have ever seen for burning purposes was only one foot in depth below the top sod, and had grown on blue clay, so that, as we cut the fuel, the lower end of each peat had the clay attached to it, and turned into red brick in the fire. These peats were nearly equal to coal, and were evidently, like the Irishman's pig., very little and very old, which is much more a merit in peat than in pigs.

"Peat may also be seen at the bottom of lochs, and submarine peat bogs may be seen at low spring tides. These must be very old, but they have never been perfectly examined."


Notwithstanding all that has been done in the way of opening up intercommunication in the Highlands it is surprising to find how the descendants of the clan originally holding any district seems to stick to its own locality; and the circumstances which brought those bearing any other name into that district are comparatively so recent that it is quite well known to the natives. In the more remote districts this is, of course, more marked. Gairloch may be taken as typical in this respect. The parish has for centuries been the land of the Mackenzies, and its population in 1911 was 3317, and of these the names of 1725 are on a recent Parliamentary roll. Between them they have 77 different surnames, of which no fewer than 36 are those of clans or clan septs, and these account for 1021 voters, so that the bearers of the other 41 patronymics account for only 704. Of the 499 clansmen here no fewer than 232 Maekenzies are on the roll. Next in order come 78 Macleans, 46 Maclennan, 96 Macraes, 100 Urquhart, 71 Macivers, 68 Macdonalds, 54 Macphersons, and 43 Frasers, with 56 Macleods, while there are 19 Chisholms, 26 Camerons, and only 34 of the famous Campbells. There are 19 Gunns, 13 Grants, 4 Munros, 7 Rosses, 5 Forbeses, and 20 Macaulays. There are 18 Macaskills, 9 Mackintoshes, and 5 Mathesons, while there are 4 Mackays and 6 Mackinnons. The following are also represented: —Logan, Maceallum, Macbeath, Macgillivray, Macintyre, Macmillan, Robertson, Macalister, Macnab, Poison, Rose, and Stewart. There is not a single Sutherland, Sinclair, or Murray, quite evidence enough that the chiefs took their brides from the south or west, never from. the north—as many of the other clan names occurring can be traced back to those who came as retainers of the daughter of a clan chief when any such came as a Lady Mackenzie. It is well known that the Kemps, Crosses, and Beatons came with. the iron workers; the Lawries, Boas, and Stewarts in connection with the sheep walks, while the Taylors are descendants of an English lad shipwrecked on the coast. Commerce or sport account for nearly all the others.

As to Christian names by far the most common here, as elsewhere, is John, which no fewer than 196 bear. Next comes Alexander, 156 being called by that name. Then follow the Highland names of Kenneth, 76; Duncan, 66; Murdo, 75; Roderick, 60. There are 46 Williams, 78 Donalds, 28 Hectors, 21 Georges, 12 Jameses, 4 Roberts, and only 3 Anguses. One wonders that there should be only three each bearing such common names as Thomas, David, and Andrew. Archibald, Lewis, Hugh, Neil, Myles, Anthony Osgood, and Norman have two representatives apiece. That few English people have ever settled here is proved by the fact that there is only one each of the names of Henry, Francis, Peter, and Charles, and not a single Richard. One would have expected more than one Dugald, Ronald, Torquil, and Simon, but these names are for some reason not popular. Altogether there are no more than 38 different Christian names on the roll. Presiding officers at a poll must, however, need to have their wits about them, as there are no fewer than 61 John Mackenzies on the roll of this one parish.


Place names are for many an interesting study, and those of Wester Ross have all the interest attached to such. Most of the place names of Wester Ross are, to those who know Gaelic, plain, while a few are a puzzle even to experts in this subject.

This becomes very evident if the names of places passed on the way through Gairlcch be considered. Thus:-

Achnasheen is from the Gaelic Ach-na-sin, "The field of storms," and

Loch Rosque is the Anglicised form of the Gaelic Loch 'Chroisg, meaning "the loch of the crossing"; the crossing being that from Kinlochewe through Glen Docherty, and so on to the Lowlands.

Glen Docherty itself means "the glen of excessive scouring," a name which truly indicates how well its sides and base is scoured by spates.

Kinlochewe means "at the head of Loch Ewe," though now it is at the head of Loch Maree. The name of this place suggests the time when Loch Ewe rolled its salt waters to the head of what is now Loch Maree. Another name which indicates the same thing is

Letterewe, "The slope to the Ewe," though it now slopes to Loch Maree. The little steamer starts from
Rhu Nohar, a Gaelic word for "The Giant's Points." The name of

Loch Maree is not from the Gaelic for Mary, as one might at first suppose, but from Mouri, another name for Saint Maelrubha, as on Isle Mares this saint had a cell.

Then the names of the mountains are all of Gaelic origin.


Ben Eay is the Gaelic Beinn Eighe, "The file peak," a name derived from its serrated outline as seen from Kinlochewe. The upstanding rocks which form the teeth of the file have a Gaelic name, meaning "The black earls of Ben Eay."

Slioch, not Ben Slioch, is "The Spear,' through the likeness is scarcely clear

Ben Airigh a Charr is "The mountain of the rough shieling," and rough the sides of it were for those who, long ago, went to the shielings here. At the

Ardlair promontory are two rocks, one known as "The mare," and the other as "The foal." Ardlair means 'The mare's promontory."

Tollie is "a place of holes," and a place of knolls and hollows it continues to be.

Kerry River is said to be the Norse for "The copse river," which is still quite descriptive. Gaelic people call Kerry by a name which means "The little fairy knoll." The word

Gairloch itself means "The short loch," probably to distinguish it from the other longer winding sea locks on the West Coast.

Flowerdale is a new name given to proprietor's house, because of the profusion of wild flowers that flourish here. Achtercairn is "The field of the cairn."

Poolewe is merely "The pool of the Ewe." The natives call the village "Abhainn lu," or Ewe River.

Aultbea means "The Birch Burn," which is some little distance from the village.

Note.—Those who wish to make a study of this subject are recommended to consult the exhaustive and scholarly "Place Names of Ross and Cromarty," by Professor W. J. Watson, B.A., of Edinburgh University.


Folk lore, or all that pertains to the popular traditions, superstitions, and old world customs of a people, was not so very many years ago treated with contempt, and relegated to the nursery. Now it is regarded as worthy of the antiquary's study because of the light it throws on the beginnings of human history and primitive thought, as for early man his folklore was to him his theology, philosophy, and science. With the, growth of civilization old beliefs and tales lost much of their intense reality, yet they were handed down from sire to son and conceptions, which were once an earnest attempt to understand what to them was the mysterious, were perpeuated, and many of them survive to this day. To those who study this subject the essential unity of the mental constitution of even different races is very obvious. The same stories appear in widely different parts of the world clothed in garments varying with the environment, so that similar beliefs seem to spring up everywhere under similar conditions.

The conditions, social and physical, obtaining in Gairloch are, for example, very different from those of Easter Ross and Caithness, where there is a much larger variety of beliefs and customs relating to good luck and an altogether richer abundance of medicinal folklore than in Gairloch; but these districts are much poorer in tales of second sight., hobgoblins, water horses and fairies, such as people for long, if not even yet, delight to tell round their winter peat fires. The newspapers, with the intense interest naturally taken in the war, has ousted these social talks and legendary tales in which the lively fertile imagination of the Celt living in sight of the grand mountains always revelled.

In Gairloch there is still to be gleaned much of interest to the folklorist as conditions have been favourable. No railways yet touch the parish, steamboats do not call daily. The people are social and live their quiet lives in an environment which must be favourable to the formation of strange beliefs. There are always the lofty mountains which, if not covered with mist, have that hazy blue covering which suggests the mysterious, and in the mysterious, as has been said, Highlanders always revelled. In the valleys are treacherous floes which quietly take a toil of their animals, if not of men, who go out to seek the lost. Many a time there has been sorrow on the sea as squalls seemingly sent by some evil spirit wreck boatmen who went out dreading no evil. The roar of angry sea waves on the rocks is carried to lonely hamlets and, mingling with the wind, makes moan as it passes through clumps of trees. There are many dark sullen tarns and dreary moorlands, across which flits Will o' the Wisp. It is not to be wondered at that such places should in imagination be peopled by creatures having peculiar powers, whose favour they would do well to court if they could devise no sure means of overcoming them.

It is not to be supposed that what follows is common knowledge with all the people, or that any native, however superstitious, numbers a tithe of them among his beliefs. Some have evidently been recently imported, while others bear the impress of a hoary antiquity. In any case, there are few spots in this interesting parish to which there does not cling some legend of happy, or, more usually, unhappy doings of long ago.

There are beliefs which cling round every period and important change in life, most of them, of course, connected with a desire to see behind the veil which separates us from the unknowable future, so that, if possible, means may be devised to avert the ills and ensure the good that may be got. It is this which justifies the thought that superstition is the remains of a religion anterior to Christianity, and which Christianity has not yet rooted out in any part of the kingdom.

A clearer view of these notions may be got if those entertained be given in the order of life's progress.


The hour of birth is significant, as it is thought that a child born at midnight will grow up "to see things" hidden from others—to have in short the gift of second sight. It would be interesting to know of cases in which those who do have this gift were born at this hour when churchyards yawn.

There is no rhyme similar to the Lowland

Sunday's child is full of grace.
Monday's child is full of face, etc.

Here, as elsewhere, it is common belief that if the little one has a caul or thin membrane over its head when born it will be especially fortunate, and cannot in any circumstances be drowned su long as this caul is preserved, and there is little chance of the fairies effecting a change in such an unusual case. Much more firmly believed is that the "evil eye" has power to do harm, a danger which is averted by baptism. It seems strange that any superstitions should be associated with the sacred rite of baptism, but such do exist here. it is considered wise that the infant should be baptised in the parish and year in which it was born, so that there are usually more baptisms during December than in any other month of the year. Then, whatever arrangements parents may make as to the little one's name, no one else gets to know it until first pronounced by the officiating clergyman. The child should be carried to the ceremony—part of the way at least—by a young unmarried lucky girl. When children of different sexes are to be baptised at the same time, care must be taken that the girls are baptised first, for it is thought that if this order be reversed, and they be baptised out of the same water, the girl will have more hair on her face than she likes and the boy correspondingly less. To be lucky, the child ought to cry when the water falls on it—a, belief supposed to have originated in the fact that unclean spirits cried aloud when driven out by our Saviour. It is not considered lucky to have the child measured or weighed, but it is the proper thing for a visitor who sees a child for the first time to place a piece of silver in its hand. If the child omit will surely grow up "close fisted," but if not, it may safely be believed that it will be "open-handed."

From this time, till marriage is to be thought of, the youth is liable to no special danger from evil eye, witches, or fairies, and attention is paid only to those precautions which it is necessary all should take.


There is a considerable lore connected with courtship and marriage, but not so many as seem to obtain elsewhere. A Gairloch maid may have few means of charming the young man on whom she has set her heart,—her motto seems to be the old Lath' one, "Si vis amari, ama" (if you wish to be loved, love)—but naturally she is anxious to know all she can of her future partner, and takes any chance afforded her to know his form, features, character, and means. By counting the cuckoo notes when first she hears them in Spring she gets to know the number of years she must continue single, but here there is no divining by means of the dandelion, cabbage plot or hempsced, but prognostication by plates on Hallowe'en is practised. Dreams, however, are regarded as of some importance, and if after eating a salt herring the girl dreams that she sees a lover approach to offer a drink, marriage will ensue. The courtship period comes to an end by the formal betrothal or reiteach--a function still possessing some of its pristine glory. Between the reiteach and the wedding day a period of about two weeks is allowed to pass. Not here, any more than elsewhere, is May regarded as a lucky month. All others are regarded as good enough, but December is the favourite, and Thursday is thought the luckiest day, if not the most convenient. On the wedding day there are several small things which the bride must attend to, such as the putting on of the right shoe first, and it is well that she wear

"Something old and something new,
Something borrowed, something blue,"

and she should have a silver coin, if not in her stocking, then in her pocket. When the happy couple leave the church or house in which they are married, they should be preceded by a luck insuring married couple. While going homeward it is bad to be caught in a shower of rain, but infinitely worse to be met by a funeral. There is, of course, the usual happy rejoicing, and when We bride leaves her father's house there is the usual throwing of old shoes, etc. After this the young couple settle down to their new life, and while health and a competent portion of good things continue, they pay little heed to auguries and charms.


The years glide on, and by and by the dark messenger comes, and his advent the people have, in common with nearly all Highlanders, investe1 with peculiarly painful premonitions. Certainly they always seem to be mindful of their latter end, and many are the omens which foretell its advent. Animals generally are in this matter assigned a sharper vision than human beings. The howling of a dog is a sure omen, and the direction in which the head is pointed, just as the head of a cock which persists in crowing more than usual and late at night indicates that the angel of death goes that way. Horses when driven along a road sometimes shy without apparent reason at some place, and this is supposed to be because it sees the phantom of a funeral. Birds tapping at a window, or the demoniac laughter of the owl—the bird of ill omen—surely denotes a coming death. Village carpenters aver that days before a coffin is required there is a rattling of boards in their workshops, and a conveyance sometimes used to carry coffins is believed to indicate in some strange way that it is soon to be again used for this purpose. "Corp candles" are often said to have been seen, and are meant to warn the beholder to prepare for "the change," as death is here euphemistically spoken of by the kindly neighbours. Older folk affirm that an infallible proof of approaching death is the appearance of a moving flame—"Will o' the Wisp." When the dead are laid out, friends who 'visit the house see and touch the face of the dead—a touch which prevents their having unpleasant dreams of the deceased. When a phantom funeral is seen the beholder should quietly stand aside and offer no help. By some it is believed that when anyone dies with some burden of work undone, or some mystery unsolved, the spirit returns until it can get someone to do the work, or declare the secret, and then only will the spirit rest in peace. There can be in Gairloch no doubt of neighbourly help and sympathy at such times, though tales told at latewakes are often gruesome enough.


The journey from birth to death is seldom accomplished without much intervening suffering, and the mass of folklore which preceded the modern bookioro and first aids is believable only when it is remembered that for each of the many ills which flesh is heir to there are many remedies. The Gaelic proverb is "Chan eil euslainte gun ioc-shlainte, agus cha'n'eil tilleadh air a bhas" ('there is no disease without a remedy, and there is no turning back of death). Some translate "ioc-shlainte," "compensation" or "sacrifice," as suffering is the sacrificb made for violence done to Nature's health law, which perhaps is justified by the other Gaelic proverb, "Tha an duine sian gu nadurra" (man by nature is healthy), and how health is here regarded is shown by the proverb, "Is i an oighreachd an t-slainte (Health is an inheritance or estate to be bequeathed to one's children). Gairloch people now, for any serious illness, are quite as anxious as people anywhere to have professional medical advice, and there is perhaps less medical folklore than in other parts of the north, but still one having some "eolas" (charm, skill) may perhaps be found. Here is one told some time ago of "Eolas beum sula" (charm for a mote in the eye). A woman while working at corn got something into her eye, and it could not be extracted by the usual homely methods. She therefore went to a married woman some distance away who had this charm, and told her trouble. The woman went to a neighbouring well opening to the north, muttered some words, lifted some water with her hand into her mouth, put it out again and in that mouthful was the beum! There was curiosity as to the words used, but when questioned the woman said she got them from her father ere he died, and was told that she must divulge them only to her son, and he in his turn to his daughter. There is also a "Eolas casga fala" (a science of blood staunching), which gives some the power to stop the flow of blood from any wound, but concrete cases are awanting.

There still lingers a belief in the power of the seventh son of the same father and mother, especially to cure scrofula, or king's evil. To effect a cure the "doctor" must visit the patient on seven successive mornings before partaking of food, wash the afflicted part with water got from a well facing the north; during the process repeat some incantation which neither doctor nor patient would divulge, and conclude by spitting on the sore. In one case at least this did not effect a cure, For the more common ailments there are dozens of remedies. Thus for toothache, some think that a piece of juniper given to a child to chew when teething is a life preventive. If this precaution has not been taken it is said that the cheek bone of a sheep carried in the pocket charms the pain away, which reminds one that in Yorkshire carrying a potato in the pocket is supposed to cure rheumatism and gout. Others once thought that carrying a worm in the mouth "dumb" from one estate to another afforded relief, but here again definite modern concrete cases are awanting. For the removal of warts the writer has received quite a. score of specifics. The following are the most interesting: -.

(1) Wash them with pig's blood.

(2) At new moon go to a graveyard, wash the warts with the water on a flat gravestone, and before next new moon they will be gone.

There are elaborate cures for consumption and heart disease, and minor ailments had their own simpler ones. Thus sore eyes are almost everywhere believed to be cured by wearing ear-rings. Other methods of effecting cures there are, but few are now openly practised, and no patient wishes a, second person to know that he has tried any.

It is a pity that it has to be added that although only specialists have the power of giving good health, it is believed that any malevolent person can give ill health by means of the "corp creadh" (clay body). For this purpose a clay effigy of the doomed one is made, pins are stuck all over it, and then it is placed under falling water which, as it washes the clay away, will in some sympathetic manner sap away the strength and means of the condemned one.

The power of the evil eye is still generally believed in, and tales showing that it was thought that some people had the power of doing harm by merely looking at those they wished to harm, One such will suffice. A lad was taking in cattle from the hill, and in doing so had to chase one wild heifer. As he, pretty tired, was about to enter his home an old woman exclaimed, "What a fine heifer and what a pretty boy." Next day it was found that both boy and heifer were ill. In haste seven smooth stones were got from a place where the living and the dead pass (underneath a bridge), water was carried "dumb" from a well, and after copper, silver, and gold were placed in it, some was sprinkled over him in the name of the Trinity, and he was made to drink some of it. The same treatment was meted out to the heifer, and in two days both boy and heifer were well again.


Though the belief in the power of witches seems to be dying fast, it is as yet by no means dead. Some people base their belief in them on the injunction in Exodus xxii. 18., "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." These witches are capable of doing many things, but the doing of harm to milch cows and milk seems to be their favourite sport. They had the power of depriving milk of all its valuable food properties, and many cases are recorded of men and women who could do this as well as of those who could restore these very properties. It was a case of "Set a thief to catch a thief." In any case, when one has milk to spare and refuses to give or sell it to a neighbour, he is more likely to have this punishment meted out to him than one who is of a more kindly disposition. These witches were supposed to assume the form of one of several animals, but that of a hare seems to have been the favourite, and the only way to kill one in this form was with a crooked sixpence shot from a gun. Modern dairy teachers explain scientifically how "the butter will not come," but a silver coin at the bottom of the churn will make it come quickly and will prevent the "substance" being taken from the cream by sinister influence.


Fairies are still believed in, and though the means of intercommunication between this parish and the rest of the world must have been for ages limited enough, yet the fairy tales current here are those common to almost all mankind, so that it would seem that the tales which originally were the delight of men in the childhood of the world, have now become, because of their simple charm, the delight of childhood. Fairies are represented as little men and women dressed in green, living a life of jollity in chambers under the green knolls of which there are so many in this parish. They do little harm beyond exchanging their own children for those of some of the people around them; though even their own do not take kindly to the change, as they continually cry in their new homes and depart only when fire or water is applied to them. As they are represented as already possessing all things most desired in this world, it is conjectured that like the Pens of the East, they may be descendants of fallen angels and wish to get wilted to mankind in the hope of retrieving their position. One of them is said to have answered when asked who he was, "I am not of the seed of Adam or Abraham." This perhaps accounts for the belief that they are unable to steal a baptised child, and "God bless you" is said to save an unbaptised one. This expression is indeed enough to terrify them at any time.

One tale may be given as typical of many. A father set out to have his child's name entered in the session books and to bring home whisky for the christening. As he and his friends were returning, they, weary with their long walk, sat down on a hillock, from which they heard the sound of music and dancing. The father, anxious to see what was going on, went a few steps into an opening not far away and disappeared. The friends went home. A week passed and still there was no sign of the lost father's return, and the friends were then accused of murder. They begged for a year and a day to confirm their tale. They often repaired to the spot, and on the last day of the respite one of them entered the cavern, stuck a knife in the door to prevent its being shut on him. He saw the father, caught him by the sleeve, and pulled him out. "Bless me, Alastair," said he, "why could you not let me finish my reel!" "Bless me," rejoined Alastair, "Have you not had enough of reeling this last twelvemonth?" "Last twelvemonth?" said the other, and would not believe he had been in but a few minutes until he reached home and found his wife sitting at the door with a yearling child in her arms.

Isle Ewe, one of the Loch Maree islands, Ormiscraig, and Loch Druing, have always been accounted special haunts of the little peaceful people, and wondrous tales are told of their doings at these places.


There are many strange tales of water horses and bulls in this parish. The best known is that of "Loch na. Beiste (The loch of the beast), near Melon Udrigil. Several people whose evidence was believed to be conclusive solemnly asserted that they had seen it, and the proprietor was, on strong representation being made to him, induced to take means to get rid of it.. First, pumping the loch was tried, but this was unavailing. Then fourteen barrels of raw lime were emptied into the deepest part, and it is said the beast has never again been seen, though people are still afraid to be in the neighbourhood of this "beastie loch" on a dark night. That many ungathered tales regarding kelpies exist may be proved by any teacher who tells the pupils of his senior division some such tale, asks them to repeat it at home to some aged relative, and ask for another which they may write next day. The following is a specimen of the kind usually got: -

A man who lived by the side of a lake was one Spring short of a horse for the ploughing. He happened one morning to see a strange grey horse by the water's edge, but as he had his suspicions that it might be a kelpie, he thought over the precautions it was necessary to take, filled a pail of water, and went quietly along between it and the loch, and when he got near enough he threw the, contents over the animal's neck. It scampered off for a hundred yards and then stood quietly. He went up to it, brought it home, and in the stable poured another bucketful of water over its neck. Before he took it out in the morning, this was again done. The animal worked beautifully all Spring, but he was particularly careful to have it drenched with water morning and evening. When Spring work was completed, he told his son to take it to the hill with the others, and it was to be left out there grazing all summer. Next morning the lad brought the horse out, but omitted the water ceremony before he mounted, and set off. The horse began to trot, then to gallop, and at last raised itself into the air and dropped into the loch. Neither horse nor lad were ever again seen.


Equally strange are the stories of the camouflaging 'Seun" (spelll still told. The story of its Norse origin is as follows: - The Norsemen on one of their harrying expeditions were worsted by Gairloch men, who hotly pursued them as they made for their ships. Ere they leaped from a rocky ledge into their boats the men threw down their arms in a heap, the leader touched the heap with his spear, pronounced the magic formula, and the whole then became invisible. The Norsemen pulled out to sea, intending after dark to return for their arms, but a storm came on and they never again saw that place, which is now called "Uamh an Oir" (cave of gold), as someone, who once saw it open, declared that at the innermost recess there appeared to be a beautiful stair. Now the hiding place opens only once in seven years to give the people a chance of discovering it It was further believed that if any fugitive struck the rock at this place with a hazel stick, it would open to receive him into one of its dark recesses and shut up again ere his pursuers reached the spot. He was turned out again when darkness fell. Another condition was that the fugitive must not on any account look back, as a certain Neil Macleod did when pursued by a Mackenzie. Poor Neil stood on the rock, looked round for his pursuers, by whom he was at once shot. The usual cairn was raised above Neil, and every Mackenzie must needs, when passing, spit on it if he is to be lucky. To this day the "spittle cairn" is a well-known landmark.

The Seun was much in evidence in the time of Prince Charlie, when French ships were trying to land arms and gold for the Prince's use. On one occasion it was used to hide the kegs of gold landed on Isle Ewe. At that time a man of the name of Macrae who was in possession of the seun undertook to carry these kegs to the Prince, who was in hiding in Skye. While travelling with them he was surprised by the Royalists, and with his companions ran down the deep gorge known as Fedan More. As the pursuers were near he pronounced the magical words, and the gold became invisible, but not the men, who were captured and put to death, and the kegs are there to this day. Once a year, however, at sunrise, on the 22nd June, they become visible.

Some years ago a woman who was herding cows here saw the earth open, and as she knew what it meant she stuck her staff at the spot and ran for help. When she returned with a few men, neither staff, opening, nor kegs were to be seen. In later days the charm was possessed by a famous Gairloch smuggler named Alasdair the Hunter. At one time Alastair was among the Minch fishermen measuring out whisky for sale, when the crew tremblingly shouted to him that the Government boat was coming straight on their track. Alastair knew that his crew had descried the cutter ere any of the officials had seen them, and therefore that he was safe, as the spell would work, and went on with his work The cutterpassed quite near but none of the crew saw the smugglers. When Alastair wanted venison he stalked a deer, became invisible, and then somehow drove it in the direction of his home and there shot it, and so saved himself the trouble of carrying it far.


Devices to insure luck are probably much more common elsewhere than in Gairloch, and, though the belief that luck can be coaxed is held, there are really not many years since some of the more common southern beliefs were introduced here. Thus spilling salt was not always considered unlucky, nor is it yet by many; indeed, such a belief would be very awkward for those who cure fish. Neither was it thought unlucky to walk under a ladder; nor have many years elapsed since it was believed that the bitting down of thirteen at - table meant the death of one of the party ere a twelvemonth passed. The breaking of a looking glass is not considered of much importance, and it does not matter whether or not a child notices its own reflection in such a glass before it is a year old, but some now have the idea that it is unlucky to see the new moon through glass, or empty handed, and that the best thing to have in the hand at such a time is a piece of woollen cloth or a silver coin. As regards the moon itself the belief is openly expressed that a change of weather is to be anticipated at each quarter and that it is best to embark on any new venture when the moon is waxing, and that he who does so when the moon is waning courts failure.

There are many interesting ways by which those, who, like fishermen, have their prosperity depend upon the uncertain result of their labours, may be lucky. One of the strangest is that it is very unlucky for them to meet a minister or a hare while on their way to sea. They also have a certain aversion to take a minister aboard. This arises from the belief that the prince of the power of the air thinks that while they are on the water he may by exercising his powers get these men who are the enemies of his kingdom out of the way, or perhaps it arose from the fact that Jonah was supposed to have brought a storm on the vessel in which he sailed. In common with nearly all seafaring men, Gairloch fishermen believe that whistling will be followed by wind, and that sticking a knife in the mast answers the same purpose.


The literature of holy wells and lochs is everywhere the same, but Gairloch has something in the well on Isle Ma.ree quite distinctive. Some wells cure blindness, others deafness, &c., but this one cures insanity after a peculiar ritual. Dr Arthur Mitchell tells the story thus—

"In our own day, belief in the healing virtues of the well on Inch Maree is general over all Ross-shire, but more especially over the western district. The lunatic is taken there without consideration of consent. As he nears the island, he is suddenly jerked out of the boat into the loch; a rope having been made fast to him; by this he is drawn into the boat again, to be a second, third, or fourth time unexpectedly thrown overboard durng the boat's course round tho island. He is then landed, made to drink of the waters, and an offering is affixed to the tree. Sometimes a second and third circumnavigation of the island is thought necessary, with • repetition of the immersions, and of the visit to the well."

The well lost much of its power, so the story goes, because a shepherd who had a mad dog took it to the well and pushed it in headlong. Next day the dog died and a week afterwards the shepherd!

Strange things are still being done to secure luck and good health, and for the purpose of avoiding ill luck and sickness. Peculiar means are even yet used all the year round by some old people for the purpose of getting a peep into that unknowable future which is mercifully shrouded from as all. But these old world fancies are being steadily laughed out of existence, giving place to the newer and more fashionable superstitions of crystal gazing, palmistry, and spiritualism. Gairloch people have a more tender regard for their parish on account of all these early and familiar imaginings because they go back to the infancy of parish history. They have also learned that

"The tree
Sucks kindlier nurture from a soil enriched
By its own fallen leaves; and man is made
In heart and spirit from deciduous hopes,
And things that seem to perish."


If it were only for its connection with St Maelrubha, the most famous of Celtic saints, Loch Maree would be famous. Just as, according to the poet. seven cities contend for the honour of holding the dead Homer, so four parishes.—Applecross, Perintosh, Gairloch, and Farr—claim the honour of being that in which lie the remains of St Maelrubha, the greatest of Celtic saints, and by whom throughout Scotland no fewer than 22 churches have been founded, viz. :_Applecross, Lochcarron, Gairloch, Isle Maree, Contin, Urquhart, Strath, Bracadale, Portree, Arisaig, Harris, Muckairn (near Loch Etive); Craignish, in Argyle; Kilarrow, in Islay; Strathlachian (east of Loch Fyne); Fordyce, Keith, Fovres, Rafford and Lairg. in Sutherlandshire.

But the interest Highland people have .taken in their patron saints has, during many a long year, been of the smallest, and there are now few parishes in the North where the worshippers can tell anything of the saints to whom their church, when founded, was, according to custom, dedicated. The interest in them is, however, reviving, and traditionary tales connected with these Northern saints are being brought to light.

He was AB. of Applecross (Aber-crossan or Apur-crossan), in Wester Ross, for fifty-one years and, not excepting his great predecessor, St Columba, no ecclesiastic has done so much for the North-West Highlands as this same St Maelrubha, who is known under such diverse names as St Rufus, Muiroy, Mulruve, Murie, and the Red Priest,

Like Columba, he was an Irishman, and his pedigree is given in the Irish MSS. called "The Book of Lecan" and "The Book of Ballymote," and the old Irish historian Tighornach has given us quite a number of particulars about him. From these books it would appear that he was eighth in descent, on his father's side, from Niall of the nine hostages, Sovereign of Ireland, and on his mother's side he was akin to St Comgall, the great Abbot of Bangor, in County Down. He was, so says the chronicler, born on 3rd January, 642 A.D.. trained at Bangor, and in 671 AD., he, like Columba, sailed for Alba (Scotland), and after some time spent at Jona went northward, and in 673 A.D. founded at Applecross, where he was driven ashore, the church 'f which he was AB. till he died. Ho, however, by no means confined his labours to his own parish, but rather willingly travelled all over the Hebrides and Highland mainland preaching Christianity, and there is little doubt that he founded a church and stayed for some time on Isle Marce or Mourie, from which the surrounding beautiful loch geis its name. By the church there stood "Mourie's Well," the water of which he blessed, and has therefore for ages been accredited with miraculous healing powers.

So great a reputation for sanctity did Maelrubha acquire by his absolute devotion and unwearied energy in the service of His Master that the people held him in awe, believed he could work miracles, and therefore in his lifetime almost worshipped him, and, indeed, the impression he made was so lasting that the Presbytery of Dingwall nearly a thousand years after he was in his grave met at Applecross, and found that, "amongst other abominable and heathenish practices, that the people in that place were accustomed to sacrifice bulls at a certain time upon the 25th August, which day is dedicate, so they conceive, to Saint Mourie, as they call him; and that there were frequent approaches to some ruinous chapels and circulating of them." Even as late as sixty years ago people in Ross-shire have been known to pour an oblation of milk upon the hills associated with Mourie in the hope of securing themselves good fortune, or at least averting evil.

The Saint's personal appearance heightened this awe, for, according to tradition, he was a fearful-looking person. Old folk there still tell that when walking about a pastoral staff supported him, and a coarse close-fitting hooded wrap served as a covering from the cold, and at the same time gave him an air of savage wildness, while it concealed every article of underdress. Long red hair flowed down his back, waving heavily as he moved. From beneath his deep and shaggy eyebrows a pair of eyes like two balls of living fire gleamed, the glance of which no human being could bear. In short, his dress and aspect gave him the appearance of one who held converse with scenes and beings of another world, and whose business with this was only to pronounce irrevocable and unalterable decrees. Revelations of things to come passed vividly before his mind, and he told them in words of fire.

Stories of his prophecies are still told, and many of them seem to correspond with those of the Brahan Seer. One writer definitely affirms that the saint died at Ferintosh while discharging his sacred office on Tuesday, 21st April, 722 A.D., at the age of 80, and that those who arranged to carry his body to Applecross were mysteriously aided in what they expected to be a toilsome journey. It is told quite as definitely in the Breviary of Aberdeen that he was slain by a band of the Norsemen who wrought such havoc on West Coast churches, and –that they then exposed his body in the forest to be eaten by wolves. Whether this be true or not, another traditional grave of the saint is marked out in the Applecross Churchyard by two little headstones, while not far away the place where he landed is marked by four trees planted in a square, near which is another "holy well," and the district for six miles around had the privilege of sanctuary, and monkish chroniclers relate the usual stories of Divine vengeance falling on those who violated it, and claim that no one can commit suicide within it, while those who pocket even a very small quantity of the mould under which Maelrubha lies is certain to get home in safety, whether he travels by land or sea, and that those who cultivate the holly, a tree he consecrated to himself, and which is found to flourish well in Wester Ross, will be bleed.

The present name of the district, Applecross, suggests the holy cross and apples, and the legend is that every apple on a certain tree in the monks' orchard had a cross marked on it, but, unfortunately for the legend, very little research has shown that it was an 18th century proprietor who changed it, as he thought this a better name than the old one of Apurcrossan, which is otherwise Abercrossan—the mouth of the Crossan.


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