Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Guide to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland
Branch A. - Stirling, by Lochearn-head, to Tyndrum, and, by Callander, to Loch Catrine, Lochs Lomond, Chon, Ard, and Monteith

Stirling to Tyndrum ; Stirling Rock and Castle; Town, ]—Field of Bannockburn, 2. Kincardine Moss; Valley of the Forth and Teith, 3.—Boone Castle, 4.—Callander; Falls of Brackland; Plain of Bochastle; Ben Ledi; peculiar observances on Beltein Day, 5,—Pass of Leni; Loch Luhnaig ; Bob Roy's Grave, 6.—Loch Earn; Glen Dochart, 7.—Callender to Loch Catrine, tc.—Attractions of the scenes of the Lady of the Lake, 8.—Lochs Achray and Venac ar, 9.—Loch Catrine; The Trosachs, 10.—Strathgartney; Passes to Loch Voil and Strathire, 11.—Route to Loch Lomond, 12.—Loch Chou and Lochs Ard, 13.—Clachan and Pass of Aberfoil ; Loch Monteith; Ruins of Inchmahome Priory, 14.

1. FOR several miles before it joins the Firth, the river Forth rolls in many a tortuous maze through a rich and spacious plain ; its ample flood but slightly depressed below the level of the fattened soil. At a short distance from the northern bank of the river, the Ochils bound this teeming flat. Until it reaches this expanse, the course of the river lies through a wide and level valley. At the mouth of the valley, an isolated eminence rises on the south side of the river, with a somewhat steep slope on the south-east, and on the opposite side presenting an abrupt acclivity, surmounted by a ledge of trap rock. The stratum dips (to speak technically) to the south-west, and the rocky precipice gradually increases in height as it ascends from the plain, till towards the summit it becomes a cliff of considerable elevation, composed of basaltic columns, from the edge of which rise the walls of Stirling Castle. The town is built chiefly on the slope of the hill.

Stirling Castle figures in history as early as the twelfth century, having been one of the strongholds which formed the pledges of payment of the ransom of William the Lion ; and indeed mention is made of it as the rendezvous of the Scottish army some centuries earlier, when the victory over the Danes at Luncarty was achieved. And Stirling was a military station under the Romans. The castle has sustained numerous sieges, especially during our struggles with the haughty Edwards. Here James II. and IV. were born, and James V. and Queen Mary crowned, and James VI. passed his early years under the tuition of George Buchanan ; and it was a favourite residence of all the Stuarts, by whom the greater part of the present buildings were erected. They compose a small square, one side of which, the parliament hall, was built by James III., the palace by James V., the chapel (now the armoury) by James VI. The exterior of the palace, embellished as it is by grotesque busts, fanciful statues and columns, affords a curious specimen of the bizarre and fantastic taste of the period. The castle mounts twenty-nine guns ; and the armoury contains 15,000 stand of arms and a few reliques of Scottish story, the most interesting of which is a pulpit of rude workmanship shown as Knox's pulpit. On the Gallow Hill, a mound on the eastward of the castle, Duncan, Earl of Lennox, the Regent Duke of Albany, his son Walter, and his son-in-law and grandson, were beheaded in May 1425; while Douglas' room, looking into the governor's garden, was the scene of the Earl's murder by James II. Stirling rock and castle are very imposing in appearance from many points, but especially from the vicinity of the field of Bannockburn, on the Glasgow road ; and the view from the castle is perhaps unequalled in Scotland, combining with great extent and extreme fertility a magnificent range of mountains lining the upper portion of the valley, while the spacious and luxurant plain at the head of the Firth gradually ascends on the south in receding slopes of the same highly cultivated character. In this direction the eye roams over a spacious flat of the highest fertility ; ascending, on the south, in a far reaching inclination of the same character, and to the east, giving place to the waters of the Firth, with Edinburgh looming in the distance. Northwards, the moderately elevated sides of the valley conduct to the splendid mountain screen formed by Ben Ledi, Ben Vorlich, Ben Lomond, and other alps. The convoluted windings of the river ; the strange contortions of which may be judged of from the fact, that they lengthen the distance by water to Alloa to twenty in place of six miles, betoken the dead level of the surrounding plain. Altogether a richer prospect cannot be conceived, nor can there be a point of view more favourable, commanding an unobstructed range in every direction. A hollow below the castle parade, called "the Valley," was the scene of the joust and tournament, where beauty oft has dealt the prize to valorous achievement. At the lower end of the parade is an antique square edifice, with central court and extinguisher turrets, shooting up from the interior angles. It belonged originally to the Earls of Stirling, and afterwards to the Argyle family. Not far from it, at the head of Broad Street, is a ruinous structure called "Marr's Work," built, about 1570, with stones from Cumbus Kenneth Abbey. Beside it stands a handsome Gothic church, built by James IV., the chancel of which was added by Cardinal Beaton. King James VI. was crowned in the church, and the coronation sermon was preached by John Knox. All these buildings are near the brink of the rock, along the face of which a terraced walk is carried round the castle. On the plain below is a circular mound, the Knott, known as King Arthur's Round Table, once the centre of courtly pastime.

The town, which consists chiefly of a narrow and irregular street, descending from Marr's Work in a slanting direction to the plain, is of an antiquity as remote as the castle, for it was known as a royal burgh in the reign of Alexander I. It is distinguished for the number of hospitals it contains for the support of decayed tradesmen and guild-brethren and their children. The population amounts to about 7000. The Episcopal Chapel is worthy of notice. Though not large, it is perhaps the most tasteful structure of the kind in Scotland. A handsome new Presbyterian Church has been erected near the chapel. Carpeting and tartans form the chief manufacture. Drummond's Agricultural Museum is worthy of a visit. About half-a-mile above the old bridge of Stirling, there was a wooden bridge, memorable as the scene of Wallace's victory, in 1297, over the English under Warenne and Cressingham. A little to the east of the bridge is the Abbey Craig, whence the Scottish host descended to the fray, so called from Cambuskenneth Abbey, of which the ruins stand on the adjoining plain.

2. Within less than three miles of Stirling, to the southwest, lies the field of Bannockburn—a spot peculiarly dear to every Scottish breast. The battlefield and position of the rival armies is easily understood ; and some venerable handicraftsman is generally at hand to narrate the traditionary account. The ground rises with a very gentle inclination on either side of the narrow haugh land, which skirts a small streamlet. On the northern slope, quite near to the 'village of Bannockburn, "the Bore Stone," where the Scottish standard spread its folds, indicates the centre of the Scottish array. The front extended to the village of St. Ninian's, and rested, on the right, on the Bannock burn. A little way behind, and to the right, is "the Gillie's Hill," the appearance on which of the camp sutlers, opportunely conveyed the impression of a reinforcement to the ranks of their countrymen. As the bottom of the low ground was a marsh, the encounter between the Bruce and Sir Henry de Boune is conjectured to have occurred on the elevation towards Milton of St. Ninian's. The desperate skirmish, at the same time, between a body of horse under Sir Robert Clifford—which had nigh outflanked the Scottish army, and effected their object of throwing themselves into Stirling Castle —and of infantry, under Randolph Earl of ,Moray, took place on the low ground to the north-east of St. Ninian's, the day before the main battle, Moray coming off victor. This great conflict, which gave freedom to our country, and inspired the most spirit-stirring of our national songs, was fought on Monday, 24th June 1314. The command of the centre of the Scottish host was committed to the Earl of Moray ; of the right wing to Edward Bruce ; and of the left to Sir James Douglas and Walter the Steward of Scotland ; Bruce himself, with Angus of Isla, taking immediate charge of the reserve, immediately behind the centre, and composed of the men of the Isles, Argyle, Cantyre, Carrick, and Bute, with a body of 500 well-appointed cavalry. The English van was led by the Earls of GIoucester and Hereford, and commenced the fight, by attacking the Scottish right wing. The main body of the English army was commanded by King Edward in person, attended by the Earl of Pembroke, Sir Ingram Umfraville, and Sir Giles de Argentine. The tourist should not omit, on quitting Bannockburn, to hie him to the south end of the adjoining village of Milton of St. Ninian's, where, near the mill, and close by a cottage on the site of that into which he was carried—and of which one of the identical gables still subsists—is the well where James III. was thrown from his horse on his flight from the battle of Sauchieburn. The king's horse, it will be recollected, was startled by a woman who was drawing water suddenly raising herself, and the monarch was thrown, and being carried into the mill, was stabbed by a person who came up, supposed to be Stirling of Kier.

The celebrated Roman camp at Ardoch, near Dunblane; the ruins of the Cathedral; Archbishop Leighton's Library, and some other objects about DunbIane; and the field of the battle of Sheriffmuir, invite description. But we have already lingered beyond the Highland boundary as long as our limits permit, and must hasten to reconduct the reader towards the hilly North.

One continuous but serpentine thread of successive valleys penetrates the mountain maze, from Stirling to the western confines of Inverness-shire. This natural line of communication was selected as one of the great military roads of the early part of the last century; and now it forms the drove road for the cattle of the west coast and islands, and a delightful route for the tourist,though still not the best in the world for four-in-hand.

3. Proceeding up the wide valley of the Forth, the road passes the house of Craigforth, opposite which is seen the house of Kier, (Stirling,) and, two miles from Stirling, crosses the river at the Bridge of Drip. It then runs for several miles through what is still called the Moss of Kincardine, though now rich cornfields occupy the greater part of this once marshy and bleak tract. About eighty years ago, the late Lord Kaimes became proprietor of 1500 acres of the moss, which, to his shrewd intellect, appeared readily reclaimable from its then unprofitable condition. At an average depth of seven feet below the surface of the moss, a substratum of rich carse clay, with a thin covering of vegetable mould, held forth the prospect of a most inviting return for the expense of disencumbering it; and as his Lordship's possessions extended from the Forth to the Teith, which flows along the north side of the valley, a large wheel was erected to lift water from the latter stream for the purpose of floating the moss, by means of drains cut in the clay, into the Forth. Portions of the moss were let to tenants, in lots of eight acres, on leases of three nineteen years; without rent the first nineteen ; twelve shillings for each acre brought into culture the second nineteen years; and so increasing, till, towards the close of the lease, they come to pay a guinea per acre. About 200 families are now settled on this portion of the. moss, who live in neat houses disposed in regular lanes, and equidistant from each other. On the expiry of the whole leases, a rental of between 4000 and 5000 a-year will be the fruit of this judicious improvement.

For about four miles above Stirling, the valley continues of considerable breadth. It then becomes still wider. The lower part, a dead level of the richest curse land, is lined on the north by a low and sloping rising ground, cultivated and wooded ; the verdant hills opposite are of moderate size, but a noble mountain screen rises behind the northern side, and stretches across the upper extremity of the valley. Ben Ledi, Ben More, and Ben Lomond, are the most prominent of these alps.

Five miles and a half from Stirling, the road passes the House of Blair-Drummond, the residence of Mr. Home Drummond, I.P., embosomed in fine woods and plantations ; and half a mile farther on, at the church of Kincardine—a neat specimen of the modern Gothic—the Callander road, ascending the low sloping side of the valley of the Forth, ushers us into a new district of country, watered by the Teith. The valley of the Teith, betwixt the Forth and Callander, is almost filled up with a spreading terrace descending from the summit of the smoothly outlined hills, in most gentle undulations, which are highly cultivated, and variegated with clumps, belts, and rows of hardwood, pine, and larch trees, presenting an extended surface, apparently not less than a couple of miles in width, of fertile fields and nodding woods, peculiarly beautiful. The Teith glides smoothly on between low and richly wooded banks.

4. On the further side of the river, eight miles from Stirling, stand the village and Castle of Doune. The castle, a massive and very imposing structure, said to have been built about the commencement of the fifteenth century, by Murdoch, Duke of Albany, overhangs the point of a steep and narrow green hank, washed on one side by the Teith, and on the other by a small mountain burn, and is conspicuously situated where a very gentle hollow on the east, communicating with Dunblane, still further enlarges the far-extended surface of corn-fields and woods presented to the eye. At one end of the front a spacious square tower rises to the height of about eighty feet: another, not quite so large, shoots up from behind the opposite extremity. A strong back wall, about forty feet high, forms the whole into an ample quadrangle. The princilie room in the building, between the towers, is seventy feet long; that in the great tower forty-five feet by thirty: the kitchen fire-place seems capacious enough to have admitted the whole household to ensconce themselves beneath the chimney. The exterior angle of the main tower, bulging out into a rounded projection of goodly proportions, considerably heightens the appearance of solidity and strength. A ponderous grated gate still exists within a heavy iron-studded folding-door ; and, though roofless, the walls are entire. Stately elm, plane, and ash trees surround this venerable stronghold. The tourist will view this interesting structure with additional regard, since it has been depicted in the classic pages of "Waverley," as the place of durance whither his Highland captors carried that English chevalier. The village of Doune, a little removed from the edge of the river, contains a considerable number of slated houses. It was of old celebrated for the manufacture of Highland pistols. A part of the inhabitants now derive their subsistence from cotton works, established where the road crosses the river. In the immediate vicinity is CambuswaIIace, a seat of the Earl of Moray, and, at the distance of three miles from Doune, Lanrick Castle (Jardine), on the opposite margin of the river.

5. As we advance towards Callander, the sloping uplands assume more of a pastoral character. Near it, pass Cambusmore (Buchanan), where Sir Walter Scott passed the greater part of his boyhood, and Gart House (Stewart). This village is situated at the foot of the chain of mountains which, stretching to the westward, form the Highland boundary ; and on the north side of a flat plain, through which the Teith, meandering, assumes a change in the direction of its course, which, from its original easterly one, here deflects to the south, towards the Forth. Callander consists chiefly of a long row—on each side of the road—of neat white-washed and slated houses ; the greater number of one storey. It contains a suitable church and school-house, and excellent inn. An older portion of the village occupies the south side of the river, which is crossed by a substantial bridge. Behind Callander, to the north, the face of the bounding hills presents an ample, lofty, and perpendicular rocky front, with scattered trees. Beneath it is spread the spacious and highly cultivated plain of Bochastle. Several of the inhabitants employ themselves in weaving their neighbours' yarn and wool into towelling, table-cloths, tartan, and other coarse fabrics, for home consumption and for sale. The Falls of BrackIand, about two miles to the cast of the village, may serve to occupy a leisure hour. They consist of a series of short falls, shelving rapids, and dark linns, formed by the Keltie Burn, in its progress through a low rocky chasm, descending a succession of horizontal ledges of rock. A few trees thrown across used to afford scope for some little trial of resolution in adventuring the defenceless passage: now, a frail railing dispels all sense of danger. Rich corn-fields and woods, with several elegant villas, cover the flat surface of Bochastle, the plain through which, at Callander, the sinuous river holds its course. Some curious winding banks near the stream encompass considerable spaces of ground, which are laid out in terraced walks and tasteful shrubberies. On the Dun of Bochastle are the traces of a fortification, having the remains of three mounds and ditches. A straight artificial bank, on either side of the eminence, is conjectured to have been designed for the practice of archery. To the westward the Teith is joined, from the north, by the river Lubnaig. The lofty mountain rising between is Ben Ledi, "The Hill of God," upwards of 3000 feet in height. In early ages, tradition reports that it was customary for the people to assemble, for three successive days, on its summit, for the worship of their deity; most probably, of Baal, or the sun. A small lake on Ben Ledi is called Lochanan-Corp; a name commemorative of the incident of a whole funeral party from Glenfinlas, who were crossing it when frozen over, having been drowned by the ice giving way.

Within a recent period some practices were observed in the parish of Callander—not, however, confined to it—which seem to be vestiges of Druidical rites. On Bel or Baal-tein, the first day of May, it was customary for the boys to meet, and cut a circular trench in some verdant spot, in the centre of which a fire was lighted. A sort of custard of eggs and milk was dressed, and an oatmeal cake was prepared. When the former had been discussed, the cake was divided into pieces corresponding with the number present, and, one bit being blackened, the whole were put into a cap, and each individual drew one. He who had the misfortune to fall upon the black piece was the victim to be sacrificed to Baal, to propitiate his genial influence for a productive season. On All Saints' eve, numerous bonfires were lighted, and the ashes of each collected in a circular heap, in which a stone was put near the edge for every person of the hamlet, and the individual whose stone happened to be displaced by the following morning was regarded as fey; i.e. one whose days were numbered, and not to be expected to survive twelve months.

6. Continuing our course northward, about a mile beyond Callander, the road passes through a village, consisting of a few scattered, thatched, and tiled huts, called Kilmahog; and, shortly after, enters the Pass of Leni. The river—a tributary of the Teith, as already observed—is lined with eminences, at first low and bare, but gradually increasing in height, and soon becoming covered with a dense oak coppice; and the stream is found making a large, circular sweep along the foot of Ben Ledi's crescent sides, which, above a heathy slope, uprear two successive lofty and perpendicular rocky precipices, each surmounted by a high pale-green acclivity. This pass leads to the extremity of Loch Luhnaig, " The Crooked Lake ;" a narrow sheet of water, about five miles in length, of which the central part forms nearly a right angle with either extremity. The hills on both sides are steep and lofty, and press closely on the water. Those on the west and south are particularly bold, almost wholly bare rock, and all but perpendicular, and their broad shadows give an air of peculiar gloom to this lake. A portion of the eastern side, at the northern extremity, is wooded with oak, birch, ash, and beech ; the rest of the mountains are bleak and hare, with the exception of stunted alders, fringing the water-courses on the lower slopes, and some scattered trees around Ardhullary. This is a farm-house, about the middle of the east side ; classical as the retreat in which the celebrated traveller, Bruce, secluded himself when composing his work on Abyssinia. About a mile from the north end of Loch Lubnaig is a small village, called Immirrioch, and to the country people known by the byname of Nineveh, consisting of about thirty houses; most of them one-storeyed and slated.

The district of country lying between the end of Loch Lubnaig and Lochearnhead is called Strathire, and is joined, about half-way, by another valley from the west, called Balquhidder. Balquhidder is chiefly occupied by the waters of Loch Voil and Loch Duine. It was at the upper end of Loch Yoil that the noted Rob Roy, for the most part, lived in the latter days of his life ; and he is buried in the Kirkton of Balquhidder, at the lower end of the lake, and about two miles distant from the public road. The arms on his tombstone—a fir tree, crossed by a sword, supporting a crown—denote the relationship claimed by the Gregarach with the royal line of Stuart. Our readers will recollect the circumstance, in the novel of "Rob Roy," of Rob's escape in crossing the river. Such an incident as is there narrated did occur in the braes of Balquhidder. A party, headed by the Duke of Montrose, having succeeded in laying hold of him, he was buckled behind Grahame of Gartnafuorach, who, unable to withstand the captive's remonstrances, slipped the belt when they had reached a spot where the fragments of rocks strewing the hill face precluded the possibility of pursuit with horses.

7. Lochearnhead, where there is a comfortable inn, is three miles from the opening of Balquhidder. The lake is about seven miles in length, and a mile across where broadest, and is environed by moderate sized hills, of a soft and flattish outline, which possess much sweetness of character, notwithstanding that their height is considerable.

Glenogle, next in succession on the course of the northern road, is for the first few miles very narrow, and the mountains strikingly grand ; rising, on one hand, in a steep acclivity, surmounted by perpendicular precipices ; on the other, in a succession of terraces in short perpendicular falls and abrupt slopes. The rest of the way to the valley of the Dochart is a dreary waste.

The bottom of Glen Dochart is chiefly flat meadow-ground as far as Luib Inn (ten and a-half miles from Lochearnhead), when it is found occupied by irregular eminences, springing up from either side. These are succeeded by two small lakes, Loch-an-Our and Loch Dochart ; beyond which Strathfillan presents a narrow tract of meadow-ground. The hills rise in various inclinations, but are continuous, and they shoot up into distinct summits. Ben More, whose conical summit is preeminent on the south side, rises in one continued acclivity from the side of Loch-an-Our. The glen is open, with a few trees at wide intervals scattered over its surface. The junction of the road from the head of Loch Lomond with the main line, is at Crinlarich, a public-house between three and four miles from Tyndrum.

Occasionally conveyances run from Stirling to Tyndrum, in connection with the Oban and Fort-William coaches.


8. The scenery of the chain of lakes immediately to the west of Callander, through which the main branch of the Teith successively holds its course, has acquired a degree of celebrity almost unparalleled, the genius of a Scott having invested it with all the charms of perhaps the most generally engaging and popular, as they are among the earliest and freshest, of his creations. And the treasures of his fancy could not be more fittingly enshrined, for the hand of Nature has here, too, lavished, some of its most exquisitely beautiful realities. Such combined influences have conspired to render the Trosachs and Loch Catrine of peculiarly favourite resort. And they do well sustain their high reputation. The picturesque solicits our admiration with heightened interest, associated as each spot is with romantic and poetic story. Foremost perhaps is the impulse to cast anxious and inquiring glance around, to determine a local habitation for each varying image and incident of the poem cherished in fond remembrance. The sight of Loch Latrine may suggest the stately galleys of Roderick Dhu-

"Steering full upon the lonely isle;"

the mountain echoes answering the loud strains of Clan Alpine's pibroch, or the rocks resounding to the praises of its chief, chanted by the voices of a hundred clansmen: fair Ellen and her skiff—the Douglas, "Stalwart remnant of the bleeding heart"—Fitz James and his gallant grey, flit across the mental vision.

In undertaking the duties of a guide, it shall be our endeavour at once to delineate the character of this much-famed district, and to direct the traveller to the position of the more prominent localities of "The Lady of the Lake."

9. The mountain range, which forms the outskirts of the Highlands, runs for several miles due west from Callander, and then deflects to the south, towards Ben Lomond. Lochs Achray and Venachar, into which the waters of Loch Catrine discharge themselves, lie on the outside of the highland boundary; while the latter is encompassed by mountains, through which a communication has been formed between Lochs Catrine and Achray by some great convulsion of nature, sweeping away the connecting link between Ben A'an and Ben Venue. These mountains, that,

like giant stand,
To sentinel enchanted land,"

present on each side lofty and inaccessible precipices: and the intermediate pass, known as the Trosachs, or, "bristled territory," in Gaelic etymology, is occupied by intricate groups of rocky and wooded eminences : on the south sides of Lochs Venachar and Achray rise sloping heathery hills, the bases of which are fringed with wood and oak coppice. Ben Ledi, the hill of God, towers on the north. The range which connects it with Ben A'an swells out unequally; at times sending down ragged heights clad with dense foliage, which overhang the edge of the water in steep acclivities, and enclose between them plots of open uneven ground. Loch Venachar is four miles long, and three quarters of a mile across at the broadest part; Loch Achray a mile and a-half long, and its greatest width one mile. Both of them narrow towards the east end. From Callander to Coilantogleford, at the lower point of Loch Venachar, where Roderick Dhu was overcome by Fitz James, is about two and a-half miles ; the space between that lake and Loch Achray, by the road, about two miles, and from the western extremity of the latter to Loch Catrine, one mile or more ; making the whole distance from nine to ten miles. Lanrick Mead, the mustering-place of clan Alpin, lies on the north side of Loch Venachar, where the road diverges from the lake: a little way on, on the face of the hill towards the left, is the farm of Duncraggan. The Brig of Turk crosses the water, which, descending from Glenfinlas, joins the Teith between Lochs Venachar and Achray; and advancing a mile and a-half beyond it, we reach the commodious new inn of Ardchinchrochdhan, beautifully situated on the side of Loch Achray, and itself an imposing semi-castellated structure, differing widely from its equally attractive predecessor, which, with its rustic work and creepers, transported the fancy to southern climes.

10. Loch Catrine is of a serpentine form, encircled by lofty mountains, and is ten miles in length, attaining in some places a breadth of two miles. From the varying surface of its girdling frame of hills, and its own inflections, it presents considerable diversity of aspect from different points of view. The narrow river which conducts its waters to Loch Achray keeps the southern side of the intermediate isthmus, sweeping by the foot of the precipices of Ben Venue. Between the river and Ben A'an, occur, as already observed, various short rocky ridges, rising into summits of different characters; some more or less spiry; others presenting elongated outlines. This labyrinth is tangled o'er with a forest of oak coppice, birch, and brushwood; which likewise climb high up the face of the long and almost vertical side of Ben A'an. Ben Venue not many years ago could also boast a myriad of noble trees, which the extreme irregularity of its shattered rocky sides threw into the most varied and effective groups. The lover of the picturesque has to lament the removal of those graceful appendages; still its noble form, its grey perpendicular cliffs and green acclivities, rising tier upon tier, high in air, and partially screened by a huge portion of itself, detached from the parent hill by a deep defile, and presenting to the lake a mass of shivered fragments of rock, the memorials of some great convulsion, in connection with this rugged foreground, 'which again is flanked by sheeted masses of brilliant emerald, possess altogether a singularly arresting majesty and grace; while at the base lie the terminal eminences of the Trosachs, shrouded in foliage, and deeply intersecting the confined and sheltered waters of the lake. But we must draw from a higher source to do justice to such a scene:

The rocks of the Trosachs, as already stated, extend in successive promontories into the lake, and occasion so many narrow inlets. A terminal portion of one of these headlands, detached from the adjacent shore, and covered with wood, will be recognised as " the Isle" of the poem. In the defile of Bealana-Duine, where Fitz-James' steed fell exhausted, we are in the heart of the great gorge. Then appears a narrow inlet, and

a moment after Loch CATRINE itself, in the full blaze of "living light," bursts upon our view, its sides descending in circling wooded slopes; the Alps of Arroquhar towering in the distance.

The variety of scene is great and striking, alike from spaciousness of expanse and intricacy of detail: impending wooded rocks, shaded bowers, secluded inlets, an ample lake, and extensive mountain ranges. The form of Ben Venue is certainly remarkably noble: faced with abrupt but verdant acclivities and grey rocky spaces, and sending down long ramifications to the lake, it enters into most of the fine landscapes to which the wooded eminences of the Trosachs, and shores of Loch Catrine form such splendid foregrounds. Ben A'an is not so prominent, but its lower acclivities shrouded with wood are exceedingly rich, while above them it uprears a naked pyramidal summit, which forms a remarkable object from various points.

Coir-nan-Uriskin, 11 the Den of the Ghost," will attract a share of the traveller's notice. It is marked by a deep vertical gash in the face of one of the extensive ramifications of Ben Venue, overhanging the lake: an abrupt rocky mass rising from the edge of the water, above alluded to, is flanked on either side by a ravine, which stretches up the hill, the intervening acclivity being strewn with immense fragments of stone. Here Douglas concealed his daughter, when he removed her from Roderick Dbu's island. Above the top of the eastern hollow is Bealachnambo; the pass by which, in days of black-mail and reivers, cattle were driven across the shoulder of the hill.

The island was always the resort of the women and children on occasion of hostile incursions. One of a party of Cromwell's soldiers is related to have swam out for the purpose of unmooring a boat, that his comrades might revenge on the defenceless occupants of the isle the death of one of their number who had been shot in the Trosachs. As he neared the island, his fellow soldiers looking on, one of the women severed his head from his body, a spectacle which induced the hostile party to make the best of their way out of the intricate defiles they had ventured into.

We would recommend the tourist not to content himself with what is to be seen of the Trosachs from the road, but to explore their untrodden mazes, and especially to follow the old track, which will be observed on the right, on quitting Loch Achray, and which will conduct him to the foot of the wooded precipices of Ben A'an. After being ferried over to Coir-nan-Uriskin, he should return by the south side of the river.

There is now a small steamer on Loch Catrine, and a keen competition in coaching is kept up to and from Stirling and the Bridge of Allan.

11. It may be well to remark, for the benefit of pedestrians who mean to extend their rambles farther north, that if, instead of retracing their steps to the Pass of Leni, they follow on the east bank the course of the stream which is crossed by the Brig of Turk, they will very soon find themselves among the secluded hamlets-of Strathgartney. From hence they may proceed to Lochearnhead, by either of three glens which will be found to descend into the strath. Glenfinlas, the most westerly, conducts to the side of Loch Yoil ; Glen Main, the central one, to the Kirkton of Balquhidder, at the lower end of that lake ; and Glen Cashaig, by the west end of Loch Lubnaig, into Strathire. This last is the shortest, but it will take about six hours' walking to reach Lochearnhead from Ardchinchrochdhan. The pass between Glen Cashaig and Strathire rises to a considerable elevation, and an alpine view is obtained from the top, of surpassing magnificence, comprehending some of the loftiest mountains in Scotland—Ben Voirlich, Ben More, and Ben Lawers, with their contiguous ranges. The descent into Strathire is very steep, and it is necessary at the commencement to keep well to the left hand, along the face of the hill.

12. If the traveller's route be towards Loch Lomond, a sail of eight miles will bring him near the west end of Loch Catrine. The little steamer plies in connexion with the Loch Lomond boat. There is a clean bothy at the west end of Loch Catrine, where refreshments can be had, and on reaching Loch Lomond a smart new inn will be found at the water side. It is rather odd, in the near vicinity of Glasgow and Edinburgh, and in a locality teeming with tourists, to find roads of so very inferior a description as connect Loch Catrine, Loch Lomond, and the contiguous Lochs Ard, Chon, and Monteith; and indeed parts of the road to the Trosachs, are very unsuitable to the locomotion to which it is now-a-days subservient. The district road trustees might beneficially bestir themselves, and make some little exertion to keep pace with the advance of the age. The intermediate distance of five miles thence to Inversnaid (where the Loch Lomond steam-boat touches), through an upland valley bounded by bare hills, must be traversed on foot or with the aid of a country pony. Ponies and cars are accordingly kept for that purpose at the boat-house. In one of the smoky huts on the way may be seen a long duck-gun, once the property of the renowned local hero Rob Roy. Towards the east end is a small tarn called Arclet, and within a mile of Loch Lomond, on an esplanade at the foot of the hills on the north side, stand the ruins of Inversnaid fort, a military post indicatire of the once turbulent habits of the MacGregors, and other natives.

Lochs Chon, Ard, and .Monteith

13. We shall suppose our tourist desirous of paying a visit to the beautiful but less known scenery of Loch Chon, Loch Ard, and Loch Monteith, on the course of the Forth. A branch of the rugged path to Inversnaid fort strikes off about a mile from Loch Catrine, and at the eastern extremity of Loch Arclet. At a distance of rather less than three miles we reach Loch Chon, and its little islet, a secluded sheet of water about one and a half mile in length, and half a mile in breadth; and of a character which impresses a sense of subdued repose upon the mind. It is bounded on the south by a lofty and green mountain, rising in a steep acclivity, and its opposite shore is fringed with coppice. Two miles further on, the intermediate space being occupied with corn-fields fringed with hazel and coppice, Upper Loch Ard comes into view; and a romantic waterfall is not far off. It is about two miles long, and perhaps one broad, surrounded by low rocky and wooded hills, their low shores patched with arable ground, and about midway is a comfortless-looking inn. The road courses along the margin of the lake under a ledge of perpendicular rock, at the west end of which is an echo of considerable power. Secluded, sweet, and peaceful in character, this lake is still deficient in interest till the lower end is reached. There the view westward is splendid. The lake, somewhat narrowed, is here lined by wooded ledges of rock, with short wooded promontories, and the whole sheet of water immediately surrounded by a series of wooded eminences, surmounted by higher heights behind; on a rocky islet, moulder the ruins of a stronghold of Murdoch, Duke of Albany. At the further end of the lake rises Ben Lomond in great majesty, its graceful peak towering high in air, and between it and the loch, in like manner, lies an inner and lower frame, giving at once breadth and height to the imposing mountain screen. The features of Highland landscape begin to be sensibly softened down, and this change of character is heightened as we progress onwards. Fertile fields and verdant meadows, crowned by sombre woods, form prominent features in the landscape intermediate between the Upper and Lower Loch, the space traversed by the road being about a mile, though the connecting stream is only about a couple of hundred yards in length. A footpath strikes off towards Ben Lomond, by which the tourist could cross the hill, and reach Rowerdennan, on the banks of Loch Lomond; or he has the choice of the road from Aberfoil Inn, by Gartmore and Dry-men, to Dumbarton, a distance of twenty-two miles. Lower Loch Ard, which is about a mile long, and correspondingly narrower than the upper one, has its southern bank formed by a range of low and bare but steep hills, that on the north by a wooded ledge of rock closely hemming in the water and the road. From the lower extremity is presented a most perfect picture. The small lake, with its steep banks lined with reeds and water-lilies, is displayed in front, divided by a projection of meadow ground, into two compartments. Beyond rise the wooded eminences separating Lower and Upper Loch Ard, forming an ample and rich middle distance, while behind all rises Ben Lomond pre-eminent, the distinguishing feature of the scene.

At the lower end of the loch are some pyroligneous works, for which the abundant coppices about furnish supplies.

14. At the Clachan of Aberfoil is the junction of the Douchray and Forth, here called Avondhu, or the black river. Impending and wooded mountains throw a shade over the vale, which is about a mile in width. Under the rocky precipice on the north, and the rocky ledges lining Loch Ard, lies the Pass of Aberfoil, noted in times gone by as the scene of the defeat of a party of Cromwell's troops by Graham of Douchray and his Highlanders, and still more so, in our day, by the writings of the author of "Rob Roy."

The tourist will find a comfortable inn at the Kirkton, a mile or more below the Clachan and Loch Ard, without any apprehension of meeting a similar repulse to Bailie Nicol Jarvie's. The path across the hill to the Trosachs is five miles and a-half long. But to reach Callander, the ordinary plan is to enter the "Port of Monteith." Below Aberfoil the valley widens very much, attaining a breadth of even eight or ten miles. The river is skirted by a broad tract of level land, succeeded on each side by a wide undulating terrace pretty generally brought into cultivation. Interrupted independent hills border the vale on the north, while on the south the long, almost horizontal line of the Fintray hills, surmounted by the lumpish Campsie hills, proclaim that the ,Highlands are now fairly left behind. Three miles below Aberfoil, on the right, lies extended, in all its smiling compass, the Lake of Monteith, of a circular form, six miles in circumference, and adorned with aged trees. On the largest of its two islands are the ruins of the priory of Inchmahome, founded by Edgar, King of Scotland, where the unfortunate Queen Mary passed her infancy. The smaller one contains the remains of the castle of the Grahams, earls of Monteith. The lake is encompassed on the north and west by level, cultivated, and meadow ground, dotted with aged oak and other trees, and rising into almost imperceptible slopes. On the south the rising slopes are clad with fir, and a long point of low land, bearing a row of pines, and projecting from the shore, with the wooded island of Iuchmahome, almost intersects the lake. Gartmore House (Graham) and Rednock House, the seat of General Graham Stirling, eastward of the lake, will attract attention; and about seven miles after turning our hacks on its waters, at the Port of Monteith, which is four miles from the inn of Aberfoil, we once more enter Callander; or proceeding by the valley of the Forth to Stirling, the distance is fifteen miles.

Return to our Online Books Page  |  Return to our Travel Section


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus