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Guide to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland
Route IV: Branch C. Dingwall to the Western Coast of Ross-shire

Strathpeffer; Knockfarrel; Mineral Well, 1—Castle Leod; Auchterneed; Enlistment; Raven Rock, 2.—Ben Wyvis; Rare Plants; White Hare, 3.—Battleof Blarna-Parc; The Turning Stone, 4.—Contin; Coul, 5.—Excursion to the Falls of the Conon and Scuirvullin; Torand Loch Echiltie; Comrie; Scatwell; Loch Luichart; Scuir Marxy, 6.—Strathconon; The Black Rocks, 7.—Scuirvullin, 8.—Short Route to the West Coast, 9.—Strath and Loch Carve; Falls of Ro Rie; Sheep Farming, 10.—Loch Luichart; Strath Bran; Loch Carron, 11.—Road to Ullapool, Strath Dirie, and Dine More; Loch Fannich; Strath and Loch Broom; Croft System; Fisheries, 12.—Ullapool, 13.—Routes from Ullapool, Coigach, Little Loch Broom, Loch Greinord; Road to Poolewe, 14.—Road to Auchnasheen; Loch Torridon, 15. —Loch Dlaree, 16.—Gairloch; Flowerdale; Poolewe, 17.—Roads to Shieldaig and Applecross; The Bealiach; Applecross, 18.

To Kyle Akin

1. From Dingwall, the main parliamentary road to the west coast of Ross-shire proceeds through a succession of valleys, extending nearly to about the same length as the great glen of Inverness-shire. The first of these is Strathpeffer, stretching five miles westward from Dingwall. It was, till within a few years, a low marshy valley, occupied by stagnant waters, large reeds, and a few stunted alders. Now it yields the most luxuriant crops of grain, and is one of the richest and best-peopled districts in the country. On one side the parks and woods of Tulloch Castle (D. Davidson, Esq.) diversify the front of the hill which intervenes between the strath and the base of the mountain Ben Wyvis; and, on the other, the ridge, significantly called Druimchat, or the cat's back, which separates the valley from the policies of Brahan and Strathconon is crowned with the vitrified fortress of Knockfarrel, one of the most celebrated and, at the same time, one of the most beautiful and strongly marked hill-forts in the country.

The vitrified rampart at top encloses an oval area about 140 yards long by 40 wide, with breastworks proceeding down the adjoining slopes. There was a well or tank for rain-water on the summit; and the sections made long ago by Williams, one of the earliest writers on these forts, still remain open, and show the great extent of the vitrified matter, which is in some places from eight to ten feet deep. The fir woods stretching down from the southern side of this station embosom a beautiful little lake (Loch Ousie), with tree-clad islands and promontories, and which, especially from the southern shore, displays magnificent views of Ben Wyvis, with a soft and rich foreground.

Strathpeffer has, of late years, become a fashionable watering-place. Near Dingwall it contains some chalybeate springs, which, however, are not much used ; but at the opposite extremity of the valley a handsome pump-room has been erected over a well strongly impregnated with sulphureted hydrogen gas, and which is recommended as a cure for a great many diseases. Dr. Thomson, of Glasgow, on analysing this water, found that, while a quantity of it holds twenty-seven cubic inches of sulphureted hydrogen gas, a like quantity of the celebrated Harrowgate water contains only about twenty cubic inches. In the Strathpeffer Spa several saline ingredients also exist, which add much to its medicinal properties. The following are the results of Dr. Thomson's analysis of the well, till lately principally used; but adjoining it an older and much stronger and more abundant spring has this season (1850) been found.

An imperial gallon of the water attached to the pump-room yielded:-

Until of late years strangers found much difficulty in obtaining lodgings in the vicinity of this well. Several villas and neatly built houses, however, are now springing up about the place; and there are two good inns, at one of which, the Spa Hotel, visitors often arrange to mess together at a common table, when the charge for board and lodging is two guineas a-week for each person. In summer, private lodgings near the well cost from 10s. 6d. to 21s. and 50s. a-week. The season for drinking the waters in greatest perfection extends from the month of May till October. Their valuable properties are undoubtedly derived from the bituminous rock through which the waters flow, and which is a member of the old red sandstone formation. Composing the hill of Tulloch on the northern boundary of Strathpeffer, the rock passes by Castle Leod, and assumes its most characteristic form on the estate of Coul, that of a dark-coloured calcareo-bituminous schist, soft and foliated, and frequently much contorted and mixed with beds of shale, abounding with pyrites, or sulphuret of iron, the rapid decomposition of which by water obviously gives rise to the medicinal springs. This rock displays most singular and unaccountable contortions, more numerous and varied in aspect and position than almost any other rock in the Highlands. It also contains, in a few places, some small pieces of pure hard bitumen, which have occasionally been collected, and used as coal by the tenantry on the Tulloch and Cromertie properties, on which it is found. This anthracitic coal has also been discovered on the ridge north-west of the Dun of Castle Leod imbedded in primary gneiss rocks, a most unusual occurrence.

2. The greater portion of Strathpeffer formed part of the estates of the old Earls of Cromarty (Mackenzies), which now belong to the Marchioness of Stafford, one of whose residences, Castle Leod, is in the immediate vicinity of the Spa. Placed near the base of a round-topped ward-hill, and surrounded with avenues and clumps of tall "ancestral trees," and large parks, which conduct to the entrance of an alpine valley and rivulet immediately to the westward, and which form a convenient pass on the ascent of Ben Wyvis, Castle Leod presents as truly venerable and baronial an appearance as any residence in the Highlands. [A single chesnut tree here was lately thrown down by the wind, which measured 2, feet in girth at the ground, and 18 feet breast high.]

Opposite the castle is the small rural village of Auchterneed, which straggles up the hill side with its little patches of corn land, originally allotments to the hardy veterans who returned unscathed from the great American war. There are a few still alive who remember the enrolment of the Highland corps ; and it but ill assorts with the free notions of the present day to think of the manner in which they were embodied. Their landlord, Lord Macleod, fixed a day for meeting his people at the castle; and taking the rent-roll of the estate, his factor and he arranged the number of young men that could be spared from each farm and homestead, and then announcing their resolves to the tenantry, their behests were most unhesitatingly and thankfully acceded to.

3. Ben Wyvis, or Ben Uaish, "the Mountain of Storm," is of easy ascent, but from the quantity of mossy ground at its base, and the great breadth of its shoulders, an excursion to its summit is generally regarded as very tiresome. Visitors may avoid much of the fatigue by riding part or most of the way, provided they can procure ponies accustomed to soft hilly ground. From the summit the view of course is most extensive; and a hundred-fold worth all the labour of climbing to it. Ben Wyvis is the king of Ross-shire mountains, and, indeed, of all the mountains on this side of the island; but its importance arises less from its altitude (by the late government trigonometrical survey ascertained to be 3426 feet, being less than that of Ben Dearig, on Loch Broom, which is 3551 feet) than from its enormous lateral bulk, and extensive ramifications. The noble proprietrix, however, need never be apprehensive of being unable to yield the return for which it is said she holds the mountain from her Majesty, that of producing a snow-ball from its corries on any day of the year. On the ascent, the pedestrian will be annoyed at the immense extent of mossy broken ground at the base ; but after passing the first snow wreaths in Aultcunire, which we recommend as the easiest track, he will find the whole upper acclivities deeply covered with a firm elastic moss, and from the cairn on the top, he may approach and look down the cliffs of Corie-na-feol or the Flesh Corry, from the number of deer and cattle that used to tumble into it, and which has of late been a very fertile ground of litigation, more expensive many times over than its intrinsic value. Moorfowl and ptarmigan abound on the heights, and white or alpine hares are also numerous. They burrow and bring forth their young in holes under the peat banks, and their habits are quite intermediate between those of the common hare and rabbit ; when disturbed they run first for a short distance, and then sit up on their hind legs and look at the intruder as a tame rabbit would. Ben Wyvis is composed of slaty gneiss, with numerous large veins of horneblende and granite, and intermixed with garnets. To the botanist this mountain is chiefly interesting for the earlier spring flowers, as Saxifraga oppositifolia, Arbutus alpina, Azalea procumbens, Betula nana, &c., and for its mosses, and as a habitat for the scarce grass, Alopecurus alpinus. The lower straths and woods are more prolific in rare species. Thus in the woods of Brahan, Linnc a borealis occurs in great beauty, and in the Coul fir wood, about a mile to the west of the Strathpeffer pump-room, the extremely scarce and beautiful little bell flower the Pyrola unijiora, has been detected in two or three large patches, as also Corallohiza innata, Jtalaxis paludosa, and Lycopodium inundatun.

4. Strathpeffer, now the resort of the fair and the gay, as well as of the sick and decrepit, was, in days of yore, about the year 1478, the scene of a bloody conflict between the Macdonalds of the west coast and the Mackenzies, who were aided by parties of their neighbours, the Dingwalls, Baynes, Maccullochs, and Frasers, in which the latter were victorious. Gillespie Macdonald the nephew, or, as some say, the brother of the Lord of the Isles, headed one party, and the chief of the Mackenzies, whose residence stood on an island in the small adjoining lake of Kinellan, commanded his troops in person.

This chief had, for a slight offence, repudiated his wife, a sister of the Macdonald, and married another lady, a daughter of Lord Lovat. The clan, in revenge for the injured honour of their chieftain Macdonald, laid waste the lands of the Mackenzies. It is said they were challenged by the latter to meet them on this spot, and the combat which ensued was most desperate. A thousand of the Islesmen were either killed or drowned in the river Conon while attempting to escape. This conflict is generally known as the battle of Blar-na-caun or Blar-na-Parc, and was immediately followed by the utter downfall of the Macdonalds, Earls of Ross, and the complete establishment of the power of the Mackenzies. Kenneth-y-vlair, the conqueror in this battle, was afterwards knighted by James IV., and was buried at Beauly ; and, being succeeded by his son Kenneth Oig, (or the younger,) his estates were long managed by Hector, the uncle of the latter, and who was founder of the house of Gairloch. During his tutory, Sir William Monro of Foulis, harassed the Mackenzies, and it is said even carried of by force Seaforth's lady ; but the tutor of Kintail finally defeated him on the ridge of Knockfarrel, and the spot where the Monroes and their allies first gave way, is marked (a little below the pump room) by a stone pillar with an eagle—the Monroes' crest, rudely carved on it, and which is called Clachan-Tiom-pan, or the turning stone. This neighbourhood would admit of a guide-book for itself, so rich is it in varied and interesting scenery and traditionary story, and we have dwelt rather much in detail, as Strathpeffer is now a place of great resort. As our limits are circumscribed, we will only at present add, that Episcopacy was long of giving way here, and even after its overthrow, some of its old nonjuring clergy were quietly permitted to enjoy their stipends till their deaths. At Fodderty, however, the people for a long time, defied the Presbytery ; and at every attempt even for years after the beginning of last century to settle a minister, the old wives stoned him back and would not permit him to enter the church.

5. Quitting Strathpeffer, the road again brings us to the banks of the Conon, passing by the beautiful manse and island of Contin, and the mansion-house of Coul (Sir Alexander S. .Mackenzie, Bart). This is the proper and finest native woodland district of Ross-shire, and is, at the same time, greatly diversified with alpine and lake scenery, and fertile cultivated fields.

Crossing, a little below the beautiful residence just mentioned, by a handsome bridge, over the river Blackwater, which flows from Loch Garve, lying to the westward, the road ascends the birchen height on the west hank; but on passing Contin Inn, near the bridge, a branch road will be seen deflecting to the south, which conducts past Loch Echiltie and Comrie, to the falls of the Conon, and the strath of that name. As we would recommend an excursion in this direction to the visitors of Strathpeffer, as well as to tourists generally, we will here endeavour to thread them through its various beauties as succinctly and accurately as we can.

6. Behind the conflux of the rivers Conon and Blackwater, which unite a little to the east of Contin village, a broad alluvial flat will be seen, extending to the base of a beautiful rounded birch and pine-clad hill, from which a long undulating ridge declines to the westward. This hill is called Tor Echiltie, and is an excellent botanical habitat. It exhibits an interesting junction of the old red sandstone and primitive gneiss rocks, the former being seen abutting against the others on the eastern frontlet, at a high angle; while all along its base, and on each side of the adjoining valleys, the eye will be struck with a succession of beautiful terraced banks, on which several sweetly-placed cottages have been erected. A private drive round Tor Echiltie to the southern side, proceeds through splendid oak and birch copses, overhanging the bed of the river Conon. Returning, however, to the branch road which, as we mentioned, strikes off at the inn of Contin, on the Blackwater, we shall find that it leads us past the pleasure-grounds of Craigdarroch, lying at the base of an oak-covered rocky bank of that name, to Loch Echiltie, an exquisitely beautiful sheet of water, about three miles in circumference, which is embosomed among birch-clad knolls, formed of the terminating ridges of Tor Echiltie on the south side, but which, on the opposite hand, rise into higher, and bolder, and more picturesque eminences. Two or three small islets at the lower end, and several wooded promontories projecting into the lake, afford beautiful foregrounds to the view; while the extreme distance is closed in by the sharp blue-toned peaks of Scuirvullin in Strathconon. The carriage-road keeps along the northern shore, and after a few abrupt ascents and descents among the birken knolls, it leads us past a series of little circular lochs or ponds, (the edges of which are surrounded by magnificent belts of the broad-leaved white water-lily, and their coves the nestling-places of water-fowl), and then ushers us, two miles on, to the smooth green plain of Comrie, and the beautiful pastoral valley of Scatwell, watered by the combined streams of the Meig and the Conon. [A fine heronary, with numerous nests, exists in an island on a lake a little to the north-west of Loch Echiltie.] The former river flows from Strathconon, which lies almost due south from the spectator, its direction being strongly marked by the great guardian peaks of Scuirvullin; while the latter is found to turn to the right hand, and is discovered to proceed through an opening of the mountains at the lower end of Loch Luichart. This lake, which is celebrated for its trout, is the parent reservoir of the Conon, which, for the first mile of its course, tumbles over a series of gneiss rocks, dashing its waters through them in several picturesque low cascades, or running cataracts. The hold rocky frontlet which overhangs the lake and these falls on the southern shore, is called Scuir Marxy ; and, although not above 1600 feet high, we can recommend it to the botanist as exhibiting, at this low elevation, several interesting and truly alpine plants, as Rubus (lhamcemorus, Tlialictrum alpinum, Circea alpina, Arbutus alpina, and in connexion with the ridges stretching westward to Mossford, whole forests of the suberect but beautiful dwarf birch, or Bet ula-nan a. Its gneiss rocks, also, abound in large crystals of shorl, inclining to tourmaline. Tor Echiltie is the extreme westward limit of the common whins and broom, neither of which are found as native plants further inland, nor on the west coast, though it has there been extensively introduced.

7. We have now led our readers six or seven miles westward from Contin; and, before returning to the main road, we would advise them to pursue their course through Strathconnon to the top of Scuirvullin, which lies not more than eight miles farther on. A ford across the rivers Conon and Meig will be found near their junction, through which horses can pass, if the weather is fine and dry; but the regular ferry-boat, which lies a little farther down, opposite Milltown of Scatwell, near the beautiful residence of Captain Douglas, will be preferred by strangers, especially if the waters are high. Attaining the southern bank, a fine new road, which commences at the Muir of Ord near Beauly, where it leaves the main post road, and conducts along the side of the valley, leads us, a mile on, over a high and bare rocky ridge, to the entrance of Strathconnon. It is a green, narrow, pastoral plain, once the bed of an ancient lake, the waters of which, in cutting through the barrier of rock at the lower end, penetrated to a great depth, and formed a channel for the present river Meig, which here presents the unusual but very interesting appearance of a continuous cataract nearly a mile in length, rushing along at the bottom of a narrow, savage gorge, which few heads can bear to look into. Some scattered birches, oaks, and roan trees in the clefts of the "Black Rocks," as they are called, give us an index to their height; and perhaps the passenger in the summer season may enjoy the additional excitement of beholding the tenants of a neighbouring hamlet descend these steep rocks for salmon, which they catch in wicker baskets suspended over the falls below, or which they spear while resting themselves in the still pools and eddies at the sides of the river. A false step in this descent would prove instant destruction; and when the waters are swollen with rain, no man could stand against their stream if once fairly involved in it.

A few large alder trees and birch copses line the margin of the river and the sides of the valley of Strathconnon, which is seldom half a mile wide; but which retains still the melancholy proofs of having once been thickly peopled, in the numerous deserted and ruinous houses and hamlets strewn over its now lonely pastures. Part of an old estate, the owners of which were attainted for their participating in the rebellion of 1745, Strathconon has never since regained a proprietor's family, attached by old recollections and kindly services to the poorer inhabitants; and being long in the hands of creditors, and exposed to all sorts of experiments in the arts of sheep and cattle grazing, many fires have in consequence been extinguished in it, which were rekindled no nearer than the other side of the Atlantic; and gloomy, therefore, must be the feelings with which the stranger will now trudge on over its almost silent fields. Several rather large farm-steadings and shepherds' cottages, however, are still to be seen; and when the tourist approaches near the base of Scuirvullin, he will descry the white walls of the government church, and the neat, respectable manse of the minister of the district, with the large shooting-lodge of Mr. Balfour, the recent purchaser of the estate, near to which the road crosses the river by a bridge, but as yet it has not been carried farther. [Great quantities of honey are raised in this district; and the gardens at lower Scatwell brink to perfection almost every variety of fruit, and of the most delicate foreign flowering shrubs.]

8. Scuirvullin may be ascended without a guide, and the outer breastwork, which composes its base, may be scaled along the course of a small burn immediately to the north-west of the church. This is the most arduous part of the ascent; for, having surmounted it, the higher acclivity is found to be a gently inclined and mossy plane, which is nowise steep. Close by the summit the rocks jut out, and, for a short way, make the ascent to the highest central peak more abrupt. The other two pinnacles, which are much sharper, are not nearly so accessible; and the eastern one is separated from the main body of the mountain by a deep, circular hollow or corry, at the base of which lies a small lake or tarn. The fundamental breastwork composing the lower acclivity rises, as a continuous wall of rock, nearly G00 feet high, all round the mountain; proceeding westward past Strath Bran, and turning thence round by Strath Manic, which skirts it on the south, it deflects into Strathconnon, thus sheaving the mountain to be isolated, and contained between three great valleys, its circumference extending at the base to nearly eighteen miles. Scuirvullin is an isolated three-topped mountain, with a deep corry and lake between two of the summits, about 2500 feet high, and it consists entirely of micaceous schist, inclining in some places to gneiss. All the common alpine plants are to be seen on it; but the dryness of its surface, and low elevation, prevent our recommending it as a peculiarly good locality for the examination of the botanist.

9. The tourist must now return to Contin by the way he left it; but if desirous of gaining the main road from Dingwall to Loch Carron, he can proceed directly across the northern shoulder of Scuirvullin, by a continuation of the Strathconon road into Strath Bran, and he will attain his object after crossing some rather soft ground, being ushered to the parliamentary road half way between Auchnanault and Auchnasheen. The country people, in passing to and from the west coast, always adopt this route; and, from experience, we can assure our readers that in summer it is quite safe, much more interesting, and greatly shorter than the other, especially if the journey is undertaken from Inverness or Beauly, in which case the road by Arcan, Fairburn, and Strathconon, should be exclusively followed. But to return to the Dingwall road.

10. Ascending from Contin towards Strathgarve, the next valley towards the west, over a series of birch-clad hills, the picturesque waterfalls of Rogie, which have been likened to those of Tivoli in Italy, present themselves in the river below us, and to which the proprietor has formed. an accessible footpath, and connected the opposite banks by a neat airy bridge, now, however, requiring to be repaired.

Loch Garve is a fine open sheet of water, with extensive green meadows and plantations at the west end. The inn is small, but comfortable; and here, whether he has to proceed on to Loch Carron, or over the Dirie More to Loch Broom, the traveller takes leave of the cultivated and wooded scenery. Those immense sheep-tracts here commence, which supply the great staple commodity of this county—the farms varying in size, being capable of accommodating from 2000 to 10,000 sheep, or more, some of them occupying whole estates, and one gentleman having almost an uninterrupted sheep-walk from the pastures of Wyvis to the western sea. One hundred pounds is the average rent applicable to the pasture of 1000 sheep; and to shew the change of value of the land, we may mention, that the hill grounds of Fannich, were rented, not above 70 years ago, for five pounds, while they now yield annually nearly as many hundreds. A system thus requiring the land to be exclusively and quietly devoted to the "beasts of the field," could not admit the presence of the old Highland peasantry; and hence they have had to emigrate, or to be crowded into small hamlets of turf-built huts, each with a croft or a few roods of enclosed amble ground, (for which, however, they pay from three to five guineas a-year, a rent which the land itself cannot produce), or they are still found densely huddled together on some bye corner or promontory of the west coast, where they are allowed to squat, and eke out a livelihood by fishing.

11. Loch Luichart, with its heaving braes and fine rocky screens on the southern shore, where the summer-sunset effects are exquisitely beautiful and varied, relieves much of the monotony of the journey through the bleak bare mountains. Although the hand of taste and opulence is now discernible on its shores, and especially around the beautiful shooting lodge of the proprietor, Sir James J. R. Mackenzie of Scatwell, yet its native glory has departed, for it was once, about a generation ago, encircled within an oak forest, having some of the largest stems in the highlands, the felled stumps of which are still occasionally to be seen, and at a little distance are often taken for rocks instead of trees. At Grudie, where the river issuing from Loch Fannich comes roaring down from the right, the road enters a picturesque gorge, and immediately after ushers us on the great upland valley of Strath Bran, which stretches for eight to ten miles before us a broad sheet of meadow pastures, through which the silver thread of a small river, expanding here and there into pools and lakes, creeps lazily along. At its farther end, the abrupt descent and inclination of the hills to the west coast is perceptible; while the southern flank of the strath is bounded by the beautiful peaks and ridges of Scuirvullin, and the northern by the long green slopes of Foin Bhein, (Fingal's hill), [Sportsmen and tourists often rest awhile at the comfortable inn of Auchnanault, and the latter generally ascend Seuirvullin from it. We would recommend Foin Rhein as preferable, inasmuch as it is directly opposite the Scuirmore of Fannich, which with its associated alps is cut into stupendous conies and precipices, and as it is nearer to the western chains on Lochs Miaree and Torridon, and besides commands a view of both seas. The ascent is quite gentle; and the hack of Foin Bhein itself, overlooking the loch, is cut from the summit downwards into a series of grand cliffs. The botany is intermediate between that of the east and west coasts.] and the other rich pasture hills of Loch Fannich.

Beautiful terrace banks encircle Strath Bran; and as we approach Auchnasheen, they are deflected into the opening by Loch Roshk, towards Lochs Maree and Torridon. At Luip we pass the last fresh-water lake (Loch Scaven), whence the streams begin to bend towards the west coast; and presently the upper bays of the salt-water loch Carron come into view. Isere also are met the wrecks of another splendid oak and pine forest ; and the mountains opening wider their arms, and decreasing in height, give space to fields and large belts of cultivated ground, and to a broad expanse of sea, which is often enlivened by multitudes of boats and busses occupied in the herring-fishery.

Since leaving Strathpeffer, the principal properties through which the road passes belong to Sir Alexander Mackenzie of Coul, Sir James J. R. Mackenzie, Thomas 'Mackenzie, Esq. of Ord, and Sir Evan Mackenzie of Kilcoy. We now enter on the domains of Thomas Mackenzie, Esq. of Applecross, late M.P. for the county of Ross.

From Jeantown on Loch Carron, where there is a long and straggling, but prosperous fishing village, the Skye road leads to Strome Ferry, which was anciently guarded by a square keep or castle, and thence by Balmacara to Kyle Akin. Some noble views are obtained, on the way to the latter place, of the fine inlet of Loch Duich, and the steep and lofty alps of Kintail. Some, however, prefer taking a boat the length of Plockton, and thence crossing over by a new road (six miles) to Kyle Akin, or at once sailing direct to Broadford, in Skye, which is the preferable course, if it is meant to perambulate that island.

12. The districts to which the roads branching northwards from the Dingwall and Loch Carron road lead, are among the wildest and least known in the country; but they abound, in several places, with striking and varied scenery. They are three in number:-

1. From Strathgarve to Ullapool, on Loch Broom.
2. From Auchnasheen to Lochs Maree and Torridon, and the district of Gairloch, ending with Poolewe, the packet station for Stornoway.
3. From Jeantown, on Loch Carron, to Shieldaig and Apple-cross.

We shall describe each of these routes in their order.

1st. The district road to Loch Broom, and the village of UIlapool, on the shores of that loch, strikes off near Garve Inn, proceeding over the high ascent of the Dirie More. Its old course may be seen for a mile or so, tending to the north-east of Loch Garve; but a gentler line has lately been taken to the north, along the Dirie Water by Achnaclerach and the deer forest of Kirkan. The distance to Ullapool is about thirty-seven miles. This road was first made about sixty years ago, at the expense of government, and cost £4500, and it was then one of the best roads in the Highlands ; but after being long neglected, it is now undergoing a thorough repair. It conducts across a dreary district, called Strath Dirie and the Dirie More (the long road or step), to the glen at the head of the larger Loch Broom. There are two very indifferent public-houses on the way, the first at Glascarnock, about twelve miles from Strathgarve, and the other at Braemore, a like distance from the former, at which also provisions are not always to be had ; and then the traveller has to trudge on for other seven miles, to a miserable little village called Ardcarnich, where he may possibly get some refreshment, should he previously resolve not to throw himself on the hospitality of some of the farm-houses; but the accommodation will doubtless soon also partake of improvement. The mountain torrents which cross the Ullapool road are exceedingly annoying to travellers; and the largest one, the Torrandu river, a little beyond Glascarnock, is not always fordable with safety; but we are glad to hear that the bridges are now being all restored, and this season the line is expected to be open throughout. The very existence, not to say prosperity of the Loch Broom and Dundonald people, who are in a state of abject pauperism, almost depends on this great line of communication with the lowland markets, and the proprietors are actively exerting themselves to complete the line of communication by Dundonald and Loch Greinord to Poolewe. The strong pedestrian can greatly diversify and shorten the way, if, instead of quitting the main road at Garve, he goes on to the public-house at Grudie, and then takes a guide over the hill past the end of Loch Fannich by Ault Derag, Ault Cunire (the Fox's Burn), and Ben Lia, and crossing high up the Torrandu to avoid the boggy ground which skirts it lower down, he should reach the Dirie More road a little westward of Loch Drome or Druim, not far from the top of Strath Broom, where the waters shear to the opposite coasts. By taking this route the tourist sees Loch Fannich, which is a mirror encased among most wild and picturesque mountains, of which its two great guardians at the cast end, Cairn-na-Beast and Ben Eigen (or the difficult pass), with their splendid deer corries and rifted precipices, are particularly striking; and where (especially in Garrow Corrie-More and Quilichan, and indeed all the way to Ullapool), if in any parts of Britain, there are the most undoubted evidences of ancient glacial action. A close view is also had of the Scuirmore of Fannich, and at the same time all the stupendous, wild, and terrific screens and ranges of mountains which rise along the western and northern sky burst on the sight ; as those of Loch Maree, Strath-na-Shalag, Ben More of Coigach, Ben Derag, and Ben Lair, at the top of Strath Dirie, and the more distant but exquisitely-formed peaks of Freevater. Each district in Ross-shire is thus distinguished by its own group or cluster of high bare rocky alps, and each is marked by its own peculiar form and outline, while great blanks occur between the lower heights, which are composed of long unbroken chains and ridges, separated by wide table-lands or pastoral valleys. Strath Dirie is one of these, nearly twenty miles long, and which, even from the road through it, is visible from end to end, the road itself appearing as a faint yellow line undulating along the heath. The most oppressive gloominess prevails throughout its solitudes ; no sounds to break upon the ear, save the bleatings of sheep or the lowings of cattle; no trees, no houses, or marks of man, save a few shepherd's huts at great distances from each other, or the grass-covered walls of hamlets lon° deserted, and the rude cairn, piled here and there to mark the graves of persons who perished in the storm. With GoIdsmith's Traveller one feels himself continually exclaiming that here " wilds immeasurably spread, seem lengthening as they go."

A sudden bend northward at the pretty Falls of Strome, where dwarf birch, alders, aspens, and rowan trees first again meet us, changes the scene, and the lower, softer, and grass-clad hills of Loch Broom or Broam (the Lake of Showers), greet the eye. Cultivation and dense fringes of copsewood occupy the strath, and in the background the bright waters of the ocean, dotted with sunny islets and rocky promontories, are spread out for many miles; the whole view to the northward being closed in by the long and singularly bold Ben .Afore of Coigach, which resembles a quantity of bright red drapery hung by invisible cords from the sky, its front being quite precipitous, and seared by innumerable water-courses.

The big strath and shores of Loch Broom resemble some of the finest and best wooded districts in Argyleshire, while the mountain-ranges rise very abruptly, and are of very peculiar outline from the frequent straight lines and their sudden deviations. Inverbroom, which lies on the west side of the river, is now the spacious shooting-Iodge of D. Davidson, Esq. of Tulloch, and immediately beyond are the beautifully lying church and manse of Loch Broom, the glebe extending for two miles down along the loch, and, besides small patches of corn ground, affording pasture for several hundred sheep. The rough foot-path to Dundonald and the beautiful valley of Little Loch Broom crosses it. On the east side of the bay, we pass the house and farm of Inverlair, indicated by its ruined chapel and burying-ground, and which is an old holding of the Coul family, now converted into a fine sheep-walk, but capable of extensive agricultural improvement. The house, we believe, was erected by the British Fishery Society, and intended for an inn, but the neglect of the Dirie More road, till of late, rendered such a luxury unnecessary. A very marked feature of the vegetation in this district is its constant greenness—a sort of perpetual spring. Even late in summer there is a continued shooting forth of leaf and flower, with little tendency to ripening—the hazels and alders are mere bushes, rarely attaining to the maturity of trees, and are interwoven into perfect thickets by long rank twigs of dogrose and woodbine; while, even in the end of July, the sward beneath is bedecked with the delicate petals of such spring flowers as the wood sorrel, harebell, dog violet, and primrose. So umbrageous and dark are the copses, that the thrush is tempted to sing the whole day long, and not in the morning and evening, as elsewhere, and the hat comes forth in broad daylight. A soft dasied zone of meadow-land encircles the whole of Loch Broom, the rocks of which are formed of gneiss, and this green carpeting instantly disappears as we reach the red sandstone deposits on the outer shores to the west or northward, which are all brown and heathery. Small irregular crofts of corn land have been gained from the pastures, on which, in general, clusters and rows of black huts arise, having walls and passages of loose stones leading up to them disposed in all the labyrinthic forms of the Chinese puzzle ; and to each such little holding is attached the privilege of an outlet for one or two cows to the hill-grazing above, which, however, is limited to the ridges next the sea. The rent of the crofts varies from one to five guineas a-year, the average on the adjoining estate of Coigach being £3 : 8 : 6 to each crofter—no part of which is ever looked to as to be produced by the land, but to be won from the sea, if the fishing should be prosperous. In short, the people seem to be penned in, not the sheep; and while squalid poverty is marked in every countenance, the average number of each family is 6 souls, which is equal to the most prolific and wretched Irish cabins. Thousands are willing and anxious to emigrate, but it is only the robust and active who are able to earn as much as to defray their passage; and hence the Highlands are yearly being drained of the young, while the old and feeble are of necessity, and most reluctantly, left as paupers at home. Trees would grow well in this district, (as may be seen at the manse, Inverlair, and Loch Melim); but the poor Highlanders would not now let them grow, the temptation to use them for firewood and spars being too great. The herring seems to be almost the only fish the native cares to look after, (perhaps from its giving them only occasional and exciting occupation); and hence their boats are not fitted for deep-sea fishing: and in consequence the produce of the coast in cod and ling is annually picked up by enterprising crews from.... and the Moray Firth, in the very teeth of the famished Highlanders.

13. Ullapool, like many more renowned cities, .... from a distance, and from the sea. It stands on a fine terraced, gravelly promontory, about half a mile square, between the Loch and the mouth of the river of Achall, and from the sea-beach to the summit it exhibits several parallel lines of houses, most of them whitewashed, and slated or tiled, the church, manse, and the principal inn, being the most conspicuous. A few handsome old ash trees about one of the residences and the burying-ground, with a neat harbour and breakwater, form the chief adornments of the place—the post-office and all the principal shops and houses being arranged along the beach, looking southwards, and extending along its whole length ; but behind these, three parallel and spacious streets, with ample gardens, were lined off for the poorer fishermen, though, in fact, they have only been. half finished. The village was founded by the British Fishery Society about sixty years ago, when the herring trade was at its height, and was intended to be a beautiful town on a spacious and regular plan ; but the herring shoals having for many years abandoned the adjoining loch, the prosperity of the place has been sealed up, and now "ruin greenly dwells "in many a half-built house of considerable outward show, the one end only being occupied as a dwelling, and the other left to the elements, or as a residence to the cow and pig. A more delightful bathing beach could not be desired than that of Ullapool—the air, in summer, is soft but bracing—the splendid mountain scenery is generally enlivened and set off by boats and vessels, which here find a safe anchorage ; and should the herring fishery revive, and the land communication by the Dirie More to Dingwall, and Achall to Bonar Bridge and Tain, be again properly opened up, Ullapool may yet revive, and become, more efficiently than at present, the emporium and market-town to the neighbouring extensive districts of Loch Broom, Coigach, and Assynt.

The popolution of Ullapool is between 700 and 800 inhabitants. They held their tenements, till lately, of the Fishery Society, who feued the ground from the superiors, the Cromarty family, and sub-feued it again at one penny for every foot in front, and sixty feet back, the arable land behind which is .... subdivided as the area of the town, being let at ... per acre. James Matheson, Esq. of Achany and Lewis, Ross-shire, has recently purchased the village, and ... fostering care the inns, and every other accommodation in and about the place have already been immensely improved. [We understand that Mr. Matheson is about to have a mail gig .... shed between Dingwall and Ullapool, and a mail packet dispatched from Ullapool to Stornoway.]

The further bank of the river beyond Ullapool is occupied by a line of straggling ugly huts, forming the fishing hamlet of Kinachryne. We trust the example set of spirited improvements on Mr. Matheson's estate may soon reach it; and to quicken the land, the people have close at hand inexhaustible beds of limestone. Coigach, as the district to the northward as far as the boundary of Sutherland is called, is an exceedingly wild and uninteresting district; but it has several very valuable pasture straths, which are largely stocked with the very best description of Cheviot sheep. The shore side and the northern section of the district is flat, and, like the adjoining one of Assynt, is overspread with numerous fresh--

14. A walk of about twenty miles by Loch Achall (the Marquis of Stafford's shooting Iodge of Rhidoroch) and Loch Damph, through beautiful scenery, by a road which does not require a great deal to make it a good one, leads to the Oikel Bridge main road, between Bonar Bridge and Loch Inver in Sutherland (described Branch E. of this route); and we recommend the pedestrian by all means to take this round rather than to pass through the uninteresting wilds and steppes of Coigach. Mr. Matheson has lately re-formed two miles of this road; and we doubt not the communication will soon be completed into Sutherlandshire, a matter of the greatest local importance. Whether proceeding to Assynt on the north, or westward to the districts of Dundonald, on Little Loch Broom, Greinord, or Gairloch, it is preferable, if the weather is fine, to go by boat, as a view is thereby obtained of Isle Martin, Tanera, and the Horse and Summer Isles, as well as of the various bays and headlands of the coast ; but in doing so, we would caution the stranger to make a distinct bargain before he sails, and for a crew of men and not of boys. [The geologist will not fail to remark, in the hill behind Ullapool, tha oradual transition of the red arcnaceous sandstone of the outer coasts into light gray and pore white crystalline quartz rock, but still preserving its horizontal stratification, and resting on vertical strata of gneiss and mica schist; and he will also be struck with the innumerable indications of glaciel action on all the rocks of the district.]

Loch Broom is about two miles wide at Ullapool. The shores at the entrance are bold and rocky, crowned with heathy pasture. The opening of Little Loch Broom, between low level sandstone promontories, reveals a fine group of mountains with a peculiar outline, and like that of the hills around the larger loch, and distinguished by one huge, broad, dome-shaped summit. All the outlines of the extensive mountain ranges here are very varied and well defined, while a number of low islands stretch to seaward ; but the object to which the eye ever reverts is the magnificent Ben More of Coigach.

Loch Greinord is a spacious bay, encompassed by low rocky eminences, which, especially on the east side, form numerous separate rocky knolls, among which lie little inlets, lined with the purest sand, opening into fairy, rock-girt, verdant recesses, in which are found sheltered several snug sheep-farm houses, as Moungestle, Greinord, and Fisherfield. The opposite shore is more stony, and the coast more level and cultivated. The bay abounds with haddock, cod, whiting, and shell-fish; the Greinord river with salmon, and the mountains with deer. Bathing, the finest possible; everything to make a couple of months' summer retirement, even in this remote part of the world, quite enviable.

A good road leads for some miles from Little Greinord, on the south-west, over uninteresting rocky moorlands to the pretty bay and low promontory of Altbae, opposite Isle Ewe, a low islet on which are considerable arable tracts. From hence a rough tract crosses the hill to Tournay, an inlet of Loch Ewe, where, and also at the head of the loch, we find well-cultivated fields—the whole distance from Little Greinord to Poolewe, at the head of Loch Ewe, being eleven miles.


15. This road 'strikes off at Auchnasheen, five miles from Auchnanault, and is now passable for carriages all the way to Poolewe and Gairloch. From the new inn at Kinloch Ewe on Loch Maree, a branch road turns westward to Loch Torridon, but it is only completed as far as Torridon House (ten or twelve mile-' where a boat should be taken to the inn and village of Shieldaig, in preference to scrambling on by the rough footpath. This branch conducts to most magnificent scenery, at the head of Loch Torridon, where the lower acclivities of the peaked mountains exhibit vast sheeted precipices ; and to one who has not time to proceed to the further end of Loch Maree, we particularly recommend it, as Shieldaig is only nine miles from Kishorn, and five more from Jeantown on Loch Carron, from either of which the communication with Kyle Akin, the point at which the Glasgow steamers touch, is direct and easy, or from Jeantown the post-gig can be had three times a-week (fare 12s.) to Dingwall; and we hope that in a year or two a road will he formed along the side of Loch Torridon, thereby, with the other roads in progress, forming a complete line of communication from the Great Glen along the west coasts of Inverness and Ross shires. Loch Torridon forms a noble arm of the sea, characterised by grandeur, from its extent, and by ruggedness, but not by beauty. It consists of three compartments, connected by narrow straits, the innermost basin being of considerable size. Long low headlands line the entrance of Loch Torridon, and afterwards rough, broken cliffs and rocks skirt the water. Those, towards the upper extremity, rise into precipitous acclivities of imposing height. As a whole, it is the most striking sea loch, as Loch Maree is the most imposing fresh-water lake, on this side of Ross-shire. The village of Shieldaig, where there is an indifferent inn, and which is situated on a bay of the middle division of Loch Torridon, and at the base of a stupendous cliff of ascending precipices, piled tier upon tier, and completely screening the inner portion of the loch, contains only about 200 souls. There is no sort of trade or manufacture carried on, further than that the generality of the people are more or less engaged in the herring fishery. The inhabitants are very poor, and all the villages on the coast, as Dornie, Plockton, and Ullapool, are similarly circumstanced. Shieldaig has the advantage of possessing one of the new parliamentary churches, which, with the society schools, have here, as elsewhere throughout the highlands, proved a source of great advantage to the people.

16. To resime now the route to Loch Maree, the road, after passing Auchnasheen, proceeds westward, through an opening of the great Fannich group of mountains, which is partly filled by the waters of Loch Roshk. Quitting it, the magnificent cluster of high-peaked mountains round the head of Loch Torridon shoot up in the western sky, and then, descending rapidly by a wild and narrow pass, called Glen Dochart, the whole length of Loch Maree (St. Mary's Lake), with its numerous islands, projecting headlands, and precipitous gray rocky mountains, bursts suddenly on the sight. This lake is eighteen miles long, and from one to two miles broad; and the scenery on either side of it is about the most utterly savage and terrific, in its barrenness and loneliness, of any part of this land of mountain and flood. A range of lofty mountains stretches along the northern shore, sinking sheer upon the water, and of a singularly bare hard aspect, with but a very few alluvial patches along the lake, as at Letterewe and Ardlair, which are pleasingly fringed with groups of trees. Of these mountains there are two particularly conspicuous, Sleugach and Ben Lair—the former, which lies towards the upper end (apparently not less than 4000 feet in height), rises majestically from the water, massive, lofty, and abrupt; and it uprears nobly and proudly above its shoulders an irregularly dome-shaped, storm-shattered head, from which it sends down long rocky ridges on either hand; and, as it presents a precipitous front to the lake, full effect is given to its towering proportions. The summit of Ben Lair has a long curving outline nowise decidedly marked, and recedes somewhat behind its conchoidal corries. On the south the lake is encompassed by a spacious circuit of mountains, rising range above range—their summits much independent of each other, and also gray and hard-looking—of most varied forms, comprising several peaks, each generally seeming to terminate a particular range, and exceeding 3000 feet; of graceful, easy outline, mostly, however, crenulated and serrated. They show to best advantage from the spacious sweep at Slatadale, where they are exhibited as one vast amphitheatre, and where the lower declivities are more clothed with heath and pasture than on the opposite shore. Towards the middle of the lake, the islands, twenty-four in number, are chiefly clustered. They are low, rocky, heathy, and uncultivated; untenanted, save by the sea-mews; and but partially wooded with a few old stunted pine trees. The outlet of the lake becomes narrow, and is bordered by copse-wooded eminences, and half-shrouded splintery craggy heights, backed by higher rocky hills; thus possessing much of the character of the Trosachs. In proceeding up the lake, the view of it, as we emerge from this sweet stripe, is truly magnificent; and the spectator is led at once to pronounce Loch Maree as decidedly superior to Loch Lomond and Loch Ness, in the rugged grandeur and extent of its mountain groups, as it falls short of the richness of the former, and the woods of both. Loch Maree takes its name, according to some, from St. Maree, a Culdee from Iona, or from Applecross, where some of St. Columba's disciples settled, who took up his abode in the most northerly (a circular) little isle, which, if in his time as romantic a little spot as now, evinced propriety of choice; for, with its pebbly beach, surmounted by a thicket of oak coppice, birch, and larch, tangled with holly shoots from the old stems, reputed to have been planted by the Saint, and carpet beneath of moss, oxalis, blueberry, and fern, it forms a most fitting retreat as anchorite could desire. In the centre of the thicket, fit locale for Druidical cemetery, there is a primitive little burying-ground, marked by narrow undressed flags and headstones, the resting-place of some families about Letterewe. Hard by is a little well, celebrated for its healing virtues, the boughs round which are hung with votive rags, and the waters of which, with the additional operation of being dragged through the loch to an adjoining isle, are deemed sovereign for the cure of insanity. On Eilan Rutich, on the south side, on which several of the Lairds of Gairloch are said to have resided, there are the remains of a circular subterannean structure, something like a Pict's house. The woods about Loch Maree were cut down about ninety Sears ago for the smelting of iron ore. The few remains of the forest are found on the islands, and towards the head of the lake. Before quitting its shores, we must not forget Ben Eye, at the south-eastern end, remarkable for its two high sharp peaks of pure white quartz-rock, and its beautiful and stately form. Its corries, and the solitudes of Glen Logan opposite to it, are favourite haunts of the red deer. As remarked by Dr. Macculloch, the rocks of SIeugach contain an unexampled number of varieties of quartz, and the view from its top is unusually grand and extensive.

In general, people prefer sailing down Loch Maree to walking along either of its banks, and a four-oared boat can always be hired for any distance at the rate of a shilling a mile, and a two-oared one at half that price, and a bottle of whisky for the whole voyage. The tract on the northern shore, by Letterewe, is scarcely passable at all, although it offered the best line for a road. The distance by land from Kinloch Ewe to Slatadale is twelve miles, whence the road is continued to Poolewe, at the head of Loch Ewe, an arm of the sea, into which Loch Maree discharges its waters six miles farther on. From Slatadale, also, a good carriage road deflects westward to the inn and village of Gairloch, distant eight miles ; but it was intended chiefly as the access to the proprietor's residence of Gairloch House, or, as some English visitors dubbed it, Flowerdale, and to the parish church, from which the road is continued, of the same good character (five miles more), to Poolewe.

This road from Slatadale passes through a succession of knolls and hills of mica slate, which possess all the irregularity and tortuous windings so characteristic of countries formed of that rock. It abounds, however, as at Kerrisdale, in beautiful and sheltered dales or valleys, which in general greet the eye with long smiling corn-fields and clumps of trees.

17. Flowerdale, or Gairloch House, the seat of Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, Bart., the proprietor of Gairloch, is a commodious old-fashioned chateau, built about a century ago, and is surrounded by extensive and thriving plantations, its lawn also presenting some ancient and large-sized oak, pine, ash, chesnut, and sycamore trees. Behind the house, which stands on an elevated bank, sloping gently to the south, from which a narrow cultivated valley proceeds on either side, a very steep frontlet of rock, mantled in young wood, rises up to a considerable height, forming a most imposing object, especially when seen from the sea ; and from it several higher ridges branch o$, screening most effectually the little valley from the northern and eastern winds. A lesser ridge protects it also from the great power of the western sea breeze, which, besides the ornament of a crown of pine trees, has been further enlivened by large belts of furze or whins, a shrub quite foreign to this district, but which has been successfully introduced. Altogether the woodland beauties of Gairloch are quite unique in this remote corner, an earnest of what may be done with the boundless waste around, which of late have been extensively brought into culture upon a new cottar system.

Passing the sheltered bowers and the small inn of Gairloch, the road immediately ushers us on a tract of bent-covered sandbanks thrown up by the sea, and on the inner margin of which stands the church of the parish, with the ruins of an older fane near it, now used as a burying-ground, and which is overspread with rank bushes of Atropa Belladonna, or deadly nightshade. In the offing the mountains of Skye close in the horizon. Loch Ewe is lined with gray, rocky ridges of elongated and ragged outline. A cultivated space skirts its upper extremity, which is about a mile wide.

Poolewe is a small collection of slated houses, and black straggling huts, along the southern bank of the short, rapid river, which here discharges the waters of Loch _Margie into the sea, each of them surrounded with a small patch of cultivated ground. The place also possesses two shops, a high, gaunt, passable inn, some storehouses for salmon and herring barrels, and a new and neat church, with manse, half a mile up the river. The adjoining river is traversed in several places by piles of stones, with cruive boxes fixed in them for catching salmon, of which it yields an excellent fishery. Grouse and ptarmigan abound in the mountains, and roe and red deer are also still numerous ; but the hunting of them in these uncovered wilds is attended with unusual fatigue, and requires much caution and dexterity. The inhabitants of this district are numerous, but widely scattered. Yet, notwithstanding all their disadvantages, their occasional visits to the south, and intercourse with passing seamen, have introduced an extensive knowledge of the English language among them, and no parish in the Highlands is better provided with schools than that of Gairloch.

From Poolewe the packet from Stornoway sails once a-week. If he keep to the mainland, the tourist will find a country road, which leads over uninteresting moors to Loch Greinord, and by some grand mountain scenery, and two ferries across Little and Big Loch Broom to Ullapool ; but as there is no scenery by the way particularly worthy of notice, and the walk is a very long one, it will be better for him to proceed by boat from Loch Ewe or Greinord.

There is a remarkable assemblage of mountains around Loch Fuin, three hours' walk north of Poolewe, formed by the termination of several converging ranges into a semicircle of stupendous precipices, which rise perpendicularly from the water. Should the tourist's course be to the south, a long tedious tramp across a swampy moorland will bring him from Gairloch to Shieldaig; or he may hire a boat for about 15s. Either route is quite uninteresting and tiresome; and we would recommend instead, that he return to Kinloch Ewe, and proceed thence by Torridon.


18. We particularly recommend at least part of this way to the notice of tourists. After ascending the hill behind the village of Jeantown (on the ridge of which are the ruins of an old dune or burgh), the road passes through a rocky and prettily-wooded defile, and five miles off reaches Courthill on Loch Kishorn, the approaches to which are vividly green, owing to the cropping out of a limestone bed ; and then dividing into two, at the head of the loch, one branch proceeds to Shieldaig (nine miles), and the other, turning westwards, passes up the steep ascent of a splendid deer corry, which it scales at a height of nearly 1500 feet, by the Beallach—na-ba, or the cattle's pass, so called in contradistinction to another pass farther north, the Beallach-na-hara, or pass of the ladder, up which the deer themselves can but barely scramble; and terminates (twelve miles on) at the Milntown and mansion-house of Applecross. Both these roads were formed by direction of the parliamentary commissioners; and the pedestrian can shorten that to Applecross nearly two miles, should he pass when the tide is out, by crossing Loch Kishorn on a set of large steppingstones immediately below the house of Courthill, which are entirely visible when it is safe to take that way. The route onwards to Shieldaig is low, moorish, and uninteresting, but skirted by several large lochs or tarns, over which the high mountain of the Bein Bhain of Applecross rises, with its nearest front scooped out into six or eight deer corries, flanked by stupendous precipices. [See previous part of this Branch for description of Shieldaig and Loch Torridon.] The other route should be explored, at least to the summit level of the road, by every traveller, however pressed for time, if he wishes not to miss one of the grandest scenes in the Highlands. At present it is almost unknown; but it will scarcely yield in sublime and savage characters to the celebrated gorge of Glencoe. The road steals along the impending precipices on the north side of the corry, which rise so steep that the water-courses have had to be paved for many yards above and below, to prevent the materials being swept bodily away ; and as it attains the upper rocky barriers which stretch across the summit of the pass, it winds and twists along their crevices like a cork-screw, and is upheld by enormous buttresses and breastworks of stone. The cliffs into which the mountain on the opposite side is cut, are fully six or eight hundred feet high, quite perpendicular, yet disposed in great horizontal ledges like the courses of gigantic masonry ; while from the whole being formed of bare, dark-red sandstone, unrelieved either by grass or heather, and almost constantly shrouded in mist and rain, the scene is to many quite appalling. The gusts of wind, accompanied often by sleet, which blow down this pass, frequently render it difficult even for horses to keep their footing, and occasionally the stoutest Highlanders are fain to cower down among the stones for shelter. Deer and ptarmigan are often seen at the road side, and when the summit of the corry is attained, the astonished traveller finds himself on one of the higher acclivities of the Bein Bhain; and if the top is clear, he imagines himself (though erroneously) at no great distance from it. In fine weather, the view from this point is of course extremely grand and extensive; and the descent thence to the secluded, pastoral, and beautiful glen of Applecross, though steep and tortuous, is ever welcomed by the tired, if not affrighted wayfarer.

Amidst the surrounding bleakness and desolation of the sandstone mountains of this district, which attain an elevation of upwards of 2000 feet, the bay and homesteads of Applecross have ever been as an oasis in the desert; and hence they were early fixed upon by the monks of Iona as a proper site for a supplementary monastery, whence to assail the darkness of "roving clans and savage barbarians" by the light of learning and religion. At its principal natural haven, Camus-Terrach, or the Boat Cove, the land was claimed for the "Prince of Peace," by the erection of a large stone cross, still standing; several other crosses lined the approach towards the sacred buildings, and one curiously carved, of a very antique pattern, occurs in the churchyard. "Fer-na-Comaraich," the "laird of the sanctuary, or of the land of safety," is the proprietor's patronymic; and the modern name, Applecross, is founded on a tradition, that every apple in the monk's garden was marked with the sign of the cross. The breviary of Aberdeen relates, in accordance with what Bede writes of Lindisfarne and the other churches in England, erected after the " Jfos &otorum," that the church of St. Maolbrubha, at Urquhart, on the western bank of Loch Ness, was built of " hewn oak;" and according to the learned writer on "the Scottish Abbeys and Cathedrals," in the Quarterly Review for June 1849, "of the same fashion, doubtless, was the more famous church which St. Maolbride founded at Apple-cross, in the western wilds of Ross, in the year 673, and which, a century later, gave an abbot to the great house of Banchor, in Ireland." But three churches have been erected here since the Reformation; the remains of the oldest are now used as the laird's cemetery, the next, which was the first Presbyterian church, is used as a hay barn; and the third, the subsisting one, is much too large for the congregation, especially since the erection of the government church at Shieldaig. The present incumbent is only the fifth Presbyterian minister of the parish; and so obstinately attached were the rude people to their ancient Episcopal faith, that, in March 1725, the presbytery of Gairloch (now Loch Carron) held a meeting at Kilmorack, near Beauly, because, in the language of their record, "they had been rabbled at Lochalsh on the 16th September, 1724," a day appointed for a parochial visitation; and in 1731, Mr. Sage, the first Presbyterian minister of Loch Carron, petitioned the presbytery to remove him, as his life was often in danger from the lawlessness of the inhabitants, and as he "despaired" of being of service in his cure, only one family having been regular attendants on his ministry.

The house of Applecross is a fine old and high chateau, and the plain about it not only bears good corn crops, and some magnificent trees and young plantations, but in the garden the finest dahlias, fuchsias, geraniums, and hyderangeas, flower, and are left in the open ground all the year over; while, at the same time, in the higher grounds, the vegetation is quite arctic, and the species few, and even the hardy juniper becomes a short prostrate plant, instead of an upright bush. In the low strath, the air feels always mild, though moist; the light, in some places, is so subdued that the bat flies about at noon-day; but nothing can surpass the beauty of the tints on the adjoining hill-slopes, or the grandeur and variety of the sea-coast views, especially of the mountains in the Isle of Skye.

A small inn will be found at Milntown of, Applecross, from which the tourist can either return by the Beallach, or northwards through the glen to Shieldaig, or by boat to Skye or Loch Kishorn.

Now that the roads along the west coast of Ross are being completed, we trust the local proprietors will arrange for an immediate improvement of the inns. Large houses are not at first required; a few small comfortable rooms, neatly papered, and with good ventilation, but free of cross draughts, are what travellers want. And every bedroom should have a Kinnaird stove grate, and every kitchen range should be so constructed as to have a boiler with hot water always ready—a cheap luxury for which the tourist is ever thankful.

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