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

From John O'Groats to Land's End
By Robert Naylor and John Naylor

I got this file from the Project Guttenberg and you can download the text file here.





When Time, who steals our hours away.
Shall steal our pleasures too;
The memory of the past shall stay
And half our joys renew.

As I grow older my thoughts often revert to the past, and like the old Persian poet, Khosros, when he walked by the churchyard and thought how many of his friends were numbered with the dead, I am often tempted to exclaim: "The friends of my youth! where are they?" but there is only the mocking echo to answer, as if from a far-distant land, "Where are they?"

"One generation passeth away; and another generation cometh," and enormous changes have taken place in this country during the past seventy years, which one can only realise by looking back and comparing the past with the present.

The railways then were gradually replacing the stage-coaches, of which the people then living had many stories to tell, and the roads which formerly had mostly been paved with cobble or other stones were being macadamised; the brooks which ran across the surface of the roads were being covered with bridges; toll-gates still barred the highways, and stories of highway robbers were still largely in circulation, those about Dick Turpin, whose wonderful mare "Black Bess" could jump over the turnpike gates, being the most prominent, while Robin Hood and Little John still retained a place in the minds of the people as former heroes of the roads and forests.

Primitive methods were still being employed in agriculture. Crops were cut with scythe and sickle, while old scythe-blades fastened at one end of a wooden bench did duty to cut turnips in slices to feed the cattle, and farm work generally was largely done by hand.

At harvest time the farmers depended on the services of large numbers of men who came over from Ireland by boat, landing at Liverpool, whence they walked across the country in gangs of twenty or more, their first stage being Warrington, where they stayed a night at Friar's Green, at that time the Irish quarter of the town. Some of them walked as far as Lincolnshire, a great corn-growing county, many of them preferring to walk bare-footed, with their shoes slung across their shoulders. Good and steady walkers they were too, with a military step and a four-mile-per-hour record.

The village churches were mostly of the same form in structure and service as at the conclusion of the Civil War. The old oak pews were still in use, as were the galleries and the old "three-decker" pulpits, with sounding-boards overhead. The parish clerk occupied the lower deck and gave out the hymns therefrom, as well as other notices of a character not now announced in church. The minister read the lessons and prayers, in a white surplice, from the second deck, and then, while a hymn was being sung, he retired to the vestry, from which he again emerged, attired in a black gown, to preach the sermon from the upper deck.

The church choir was composed of both sexes, but not surpliced, and, if there was no organ, bassoons, violins, and other instruments of music supported the singers.

The churches generally were well filled with worshippers, for it was within a measurable distance from the time when all parishioners were compelled to attend church. The names of the farms or owners appeared on the pew doors, while inferior seats, called free seats, were reserved for the poor. Pews could be bought and sold, and often changed hands; but the squire had a large pew railed on from the rest, and raised a little higher than the others, which enabled him to see if all his tenants were in their appointed places.

The village inns were generally under the shadow of the church steeple, and, like the churches, were well attended, reminding one of Daniel Defoe, the clever author of that wonderful book Robinson Crusoe, for he wrote:

Wherever God erects a house of prayer,
The Devil always builds a chapel there;
And 'twill be found upon examination,
The Devil has the largest congregation.

The church services were held morning and afternoon, evening service being then almost unknown in country places; and between the services the churchwardens and other officials of the church often adjourned to the inn to hear the news and to smoke tobacco in long clay pipes named after them "churchwarden pipes"; many of the company who came from long distances remained eating and drinking until the time came for afternoon service, generally held at three o'clock.

The landlords of the inns were men of light and leading, and were specially selected by the magistrates for the difficult and responsible positions they had to fill; and as many of them had acted as stewards or butlers—at the great houses of the neighbourhood, and perhaps had married the cook or the housekeeper, and as each inn was required by law to provide at least one spare bedroom, travellers could rely upon being comfortably housed and well victualled, for each landlord brewed his own beer and tried to vie with his rival as to which should brew the best.

Education was becoming more appreciated by the poorer people, although few of them could even write their own names; but when their children could do so, they thought them wonderfully clever, and educated sufficiently to carry them through life. Many of them were taken away from school and sent to work when only ten or eleven years of age!

Books were both scarce and dear, the family Bible being, of course, the principal one. Scarcely a home throughout the land but possessed one of these family heirlooms, on whose fly-leaf were recorded the births and deaths of the family sometimes for several successive generations, as it was no uncommon occurrence for occupiers of houses to be the descendants of people of the same name who had lived in them for hundreds of years, and that fact accounted for traditions being handed down from one generation to another.

Where there was a village library, the books were chiefly of a religious character; but books of travel and adventure, both by land and sea, were also much in evidence, and Robinson Crusoe, Captain Cook's Three Voyages round the World, and the Adventures of Mungo Park in Africa were often read by young people. The story of Dick Whittington was another ideal, and one could well understand the village boys who lived near the great road routes, when they saw the well-appointed coaches passing on their way up to London, being filled with a desire to see that great city, whose streets the immortal Dick had pictured to himself as being paved with gold, and to wish to emulate his wanderings, and especially when there was a possibility of becoming the lord mayor.

The bulk of the travelling in the country was done on foot or horseback, as the light-wheeled vehicles so common in later times had not yet come into vogue. The roads were still far from safe, and many tragedies were enacted in lonely places, and in cases of murder the culprit, when caught, was often hanged or gibbeted near the spot where the crime was committed, and many gallows trees were still to be seen on the sides of the highways on which murderers had met with their well-deserved fate. No smart service of police existed; the parish constables were often farmers or men engaged in other occupations, and as telegraphy was practically unknown, the offenders often escaped.

The Duke of Wellington and many of his heroes were still living, and the tales of fathers and grandfathers were chiefly of a warlike nature; many of them related to the Peninsula War and Waterloo, as well as Trafalgar, and boys were thus inspired with a warlike and adventurous spirit and a desire to see the wonders beyond the seas.

It was in conditions such as these that the writer first lived and moved and had his being, and his early aspirations were to walk to London, and to go to sea; but it was many years before his boyish aspirations were realised. They came at length, however, but not exactly in the form he had anticipated, for in 1862 he sailed from Liverpool to London, and in 1870 he took the opportunity of walking back from London to Lancashire in company with his brother. We walked by a circuitous route, commencing in an easterly direction, and after being on the road for a fortnight, or twelve walking days, as we did not walk on Sundays, we covered the distance of 306 miles at an average of twenty-five miles per day.

We had many adventures, pleasant and otherwise, on that journey, but on the whole we were so delighted with our walk that, when, in the following year, the question arose. "Where shall we walk this year?" we unanimously decided to walk from John o' Groat's to Land's End, or, as my brother described it, "from the top of the map to the bottom."

It was a big undertaking, especially as we had resolved not to journey by the shortest route, but to walk from one great object of interest to another, and to see and learn as much as possible of the country we passed through on our way. We were to walk the whole of the distance between the north-eastern extremity of Scotland and the south-western extremity of England, and not to cross a ferry or accept or take a ride in any kind of conveyance whatever. We were also to abstain from all intoxicating drink, not to smoke cigars or tobacco, and to walk so that at the end of the journey we should have maintained an average of twenty-five miles per day, except Sunday, on which day we were to attend two religious services, as followers of and believers in Sir Matthew Hale's Golden Maxim:

A Sabbath well spent brings a week of content

And Health for the toils of to-morrow;

But a Sabbath profaned, WHATE'ER MAY BE GAINED.

Is a certain forerunner of Sorrow.

With the experience gained in our walk the previous year, we decided to reduce our equipment to the lowest possible limit, as every ounce had to be carried personally, and it became a question not of how much luggage we should take, but of how little; even maps were voted off as encumbrances, and in place of these we resolved to rely upon our own judgment, and the result of local inquiries, as we travelled from one great object of interest to another, but as these were often widely apart, as might be supposed, our route developed into one of a somewhat haphazard and zigzag character, and very far from the straight line.

We each purchased a strong, black leather handbag, which could either be carried by hand or suspended over the shoulder at the end of a stick, and in these we packed our personal and general luggage; in addition we carried a set of overalls, including leggings, and armed ourselves with stout oaken sticks, or cudgels, specially selected by our local fencing master. They were heavily ferruled by the village blacksmith, for, although we were men of peace, we thought it advisable to provide against what were known as single-stick encounters, which were then by no means uncommon, and as curved handles would have been unsuitable in the event of our having to use them either for defensive or offensive purposes, ours were selected with naturally formed knobs at the upper end.

Then there were our boots, which of course were a matter of the first importance, as they had to stand the strain and wear and tear of a long journey, and must be easy fitting and comfortable, with thick soles to protect our feet from the loose stones which were so plentiful on the roads, and made so that they could be laced tightly to keep out the water either when raining or when lying in pools on the roads, for there were no steam-rollers on the roads in those days.

In buying our boots we did not both adopt the same plan. I made a special journey to Manchester, and bought the strongest and most expensive I could find there; while my brother gave his order to an old cobbler, a particular friend of his, and a man of great experience, who knew when he had hold of a good piece of leather, and to whom he had explained his requirements. These boots were not nearly so smart looking as mine and did not cost as much money, but when I went with him for the boots, and heard the old gentleman say that he had fastened a piece of leather on his last so as to provide a corresponding hole inside the boot to receive the ball of the foot, I knew that my brother would have more room for his feet to expand in his boots than I had in mine. We were often asked afterwards, by people who did not walk much, how many pairs of boots we had worn out during our long journey, and when we replied only one each, they seemed rather incredulous until we explained that it was the soles that wore out first, but I had to confess that my boots were being soled the second time when my brother's were only being soled the first time, and that I wore three soles out against his two. Of course both pairs of boots were quite done at the conclusion of our walk.

Changes of clothing we were obliged to have sent on to us to some railway station, to be afterwards arranged, and soiled clothes were to be returned in the same box. This seemed a very simple arrangement, but it did not work satisfactorily, as railways were few and there was no parcel-post in those days, and then we were always so far from our base that we were obliged to fix ourselves to call at places we did not particularly want to see and to miss others that we would much rather have visited. Another objection was that we nearly always arrived at these stations at inconvenient times for changing suits of clothes, and as we were obliged to do this quickly, as we had no time to make a long stay, we had to resort to some amusing devices.

We ought to have begun our journey much earlier in the year. One thing after another, however, prevented us making a start, and it was not until the close of some festivities on the evening of September 6th, 1871, that we were able to bid farewell to "Home, sweet home" and to journey through what was to us an unknown country, and without any definite idea of the distance we were about to travel or the length of time we should be away.


Sept. 7. Warrington to Glasgow by train—Arrived too late to catch the boat on the Caledonian Canal for Iverness—Trained to Aberdeen.

Sept. 8. A day in the "Granite City"—Boarded the s.s. St. Magnus intending to land at Wick—Decided to remain on board.

Sept. 9. Landed for a short time at Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands—During the night encountered a storm in the North Sea.

Sept. 10. (Sunday). Arrived at Lerwick in the Shetland Islands at 2 a.m.

Sept. 11. Visited Bressay Island and the Holm of Noss—Returned to St. Magnus at night.

Sept. 12. Landed again at Kirkwall—Explored Cathedral—Walked across the Mainland of the Orkneys to Stromness, visiting the underground house at Maeshowe and the Standing Stones at Stenness on our way.

Sept. 13. Visited the Quarries where Hugh Miller made his wonderful geological researches—Explored coast scenery, including the Black Craig.

Sept. 14. Crossed the Pentland Firth in a sloop—Unfavourable wind prevented us sailing past the Old Man of Hoy, so went by way of Lang Hope and Scrabster Roads, passing Dunnet Head on our way to Thurso, where we landed and stopped for the night.

Sept. 15. Travelled six miles by the Wick coach and walked the remaining fifteen miles to John o' Groat's—Lodged at the "Huna Inn."

Sept. 16. Gathered some wonderful shells on the beach and explored coast scenery at Duncansbay.

Sept. 17. (Sunday). Visited a distant kirk with the landlord and his wife and listened to a wonderful sermon.


¶ Indicates the day's journey. ¶¶ Indicates where Sunday was spent.

FIRST WEEK'S JOURNEY — Sept. 18 to 24.

"Huna Inn" — Canisbay — Bucholie Castle — Keiss — Girnigoe — Sinclair — Noss Head — Wick — or ¶ Wick Harbour — Mid Clyth — Lybster — Dunbeath ¶ Berriedale — Braemore — Maidens Paps Mountain — Lord Galloway's Hunting-box — Ord of Caithness — Helmsdale ¶ Loth — Brora — Dunrobin Castle — Golspie ¶ The Mound — Loch Buidhee — Bonar Bridge — Dornoch Firth — Half-way House [Aultnamain Inn] ¶ Novar — Cromarty Firth — Dingwall — Muir of Ord — Beauly — Bogroy Inn — Inverness ¶¶

SECOND WEEK'S JOURNEY — Sept. 25 to Oct. 1.

Tomnahurich — Loch Ness — Caledonian Canal — Drumnadrochit ¶ Urquhart Castle — Invermoriston — Glenmoriston — Fort Augustus — Invergarry ¶ Glengarry — Well of the Heads — Loggan Bridge — Loch Lochy — Spean Bridge — Fort William ¶ Inverlochy Castle — Ben Nevis — Fort William ¶ Loch Linnhe — Loch Leven — Devil's Stair — Pass of Glencoe — Clachaig Inn ¶ Glencoe Village — Ballachulish — Kingshouse — Inveroran — Loch Tulla — Bridge of Orchy — Glen Orchy ¶ Dalmally ¶¶

THIRD WEEK'S JOURNEY — Oct. 2 to Oct. 8.

Loch Awe — Cruachan Mountain — Glen Aray — Inverary Castle — Inverary — Loch Fyne — Cairndow Inn ¶ Glen Kinglas — Loch Restil — Rest and be Thankful — Glen Croe — Ben Arthur — Loch Long — Arrochar — Tarbet — Loch Lomond — Luss — Helensburgh ¶ The Clyde — Dumbarton — Renton — Alexandria — Balloch — Kilmaronock — Drymen ¶ Buchlyvie — Kippen — Gargunnock — Windings of the Forth — Stirling ¶ Wallace Monument — Cambuskenneth — St. Ninians — Bannockburn — Carron — Falkirk ¶ Laurieston — Polmont — Linlithgow — Edinburgh ¶¶

FOURTH WEEK'S JOURNEY — Oct. 9 to Oct. 15.

Craigmillar — Rosslyn — Glencorse — Penicuik — Edleston — Cringletie — Peebles ¶ River Tweed — Horsburgh — Innerleithen — Traquair — Elibank Castle — Galashiels — Abbotsford — Melrose — Lilliesleaf ¶ Teviot Dale — Hassendean — Minto — Hawick — Goldielands Tower — Branxholm Tower — Teviothead — Caerlanrig — Mosspaul Inn — Langholm — Gilnockie Tower — Canonbie Colliery ¶ River Esk — "Cross Keys Inn" — Scotch Dyke — Longtown ¶ Solway Moss — River Sark — Springfield — Gretna Green — Todhills — Kingstown — Carlisle — Wigton — Aspatria ¶ Maryport — Cockermouth — Bassenthwaite Lake — Portinscale — Keswick ¶¶

FIFTH WEEK'S JOURNEY — Oct 16 to Oct. 22.

Falls of Lodore — Derwentwater — Bowder Stone — Borrowdale — Green Nip — Wythburn — Grasmere ¶ Rydal — Ambleside — Windermere — Hawkshead — Coniston — Ulverston ¶ Dalton-in-Furness — Furness Abbey — Barrow Monument — Haverthwaite ¶ Newby Bridge — Cartmel Fell — Kendal ¶ Kirkby Lonsdale — Devil's Bridge — Ingleton — Giggleswick — Settle — Malham ¶ Malham Cove — Gordale Scar — Kilnsey — River Wharfe — Grassington — Greenhow — Pateley Bridge ¶¶

SIXTH WEEK'S JOURNEY — Oct. 23 to Oct. 29.

Brimham Rocks — Fountains Abbey — Ripon — Boroughbridge — Devil's Arrows — Aldeborough ¶ Marston Moor — River Ouse — York ¶ Tadcaster — Towton Field — Sherburn-in-Elmet — River Aire — Ferrybridge — Pontefract ¶ Robin Hood's Well — Doncaster ¶ Conisborough — Rotherham ¶ Attercliffe Common — Sheffield — Norton — Hathersage — Little John's Grave — Castleton ¶¶

SEVENTH WEEK'S JOURNEY — Oct. 30 to Nov. 5.

Castleton — Tideswell — Miller's Dale — Flagg Moor — Newhaven — Tissington — Ashbourne ¶ River Dove — Mayfield — Ellastone — Alton Towers — Uttoxeter — Bagot's Wood — Needwood Forest — Abbots Bromley — Handsacre ¶ Lichfield — Tamworth — Atherstone — Watling Street — Nuneaton ¶ Watling Street — High Cross — Lutterworth — River Swift — Fosse Way — Brinklow — Coventry ¶ Kenilworth — Leamington — Stoneleigh Abbey — Warwick — Stratford-on-Avon — Charlecote Park — Kineton — Edge Hill ¶ Banbury — Woodstock — Oxford ¶¶

EIGHTH WEEK'S JOURNEY — Nov. 6 to Nov. 12.

Oxford — Sunningwell — Abingdon — Vale of White Horse — Wantage — Icknield Way — Segsbury Camp — West Shefford — Hungerford ¶ Marlborough Downs — Miston — Salisbury Plain — Stonehenge — Amesbury — Old Sarum — Salisbury ¶ Wilton — Compton Chamberlain — Shaftesbury — Blackmoor Vale — Sturminster ¶ Blackmoor Vale — Cerne Abbas — Charminster — Dorchester — Bridport ¶ The Chesil Bank — Chideoak — Charmouth — Lyme Regis — Axminster — Honiton — Exeter ¶ Exminster — Star Cross — Dawlish — Teignmouth — Torquay ¶¶

NINTH WEEK'S JOURNEY — Nov. 13 to Nov. 18.

Torbay — Cockington — Compton Castle — Marldon — Berry Pomeroy — River Dart — Totnes — Sharpham — Dittisham — Dartmouth — Totnes ¶ Dartmoor — River Erme — Ivybridge — Plymouth ¶ Devonport — St. Budeaux — Tamerton Foliot — Buckland Abbey — Walkhampton — Merridale — River Tavy — Tavistock — Hingston Downs — Callington — St. Ive — Liskeard ¶ St. Neot — Restormel Castle — Lostwithiel — River Fowey — St. Blazey — St. Austell — Truro ¶ Perranarworthal — Penryn — Helston — The Lizard — St. Breage — Perran Downs — Marazion — St. Michael's Mount — Penzance ¶ Newlyn — St. Paul — Mousehole — St. Buryan — Treryn — Logan Rock — St. Levan — Tol-Peden-Penwith — Sennen — Land's End — Penzance ¶¶

HOMEWARD BOUND — Nov. 20 and 21.


Thursday, September 7th.

It was one o'clock in the morning when we started on the three-mile walk to Warrington, where we were to join the 2.18 a.m. train for Glasgow, and it was nearly ten o'clock when we reached that town, the train being one hour and twenty minutes late. This delay caused us to be too late for the steamboat by which we intended to continue our journey further north, and we were greatly disappointed in having thus early in our journey to abandon the pleasant and interesting sail down the River Clyde and on through the Caledonian Canal. We were, therefore, compelled to alter our route, so we adjourned to the Victoria Temperance Hotel for breakfast, where we were advised to travel to Aberdeen by train, and thence by steamboat to Wick, the nearest available point to John o' Groat's.

We had just time to inspect Sir Walter Scott's monument that adorned the Square at Glasgow, and then we left by the 12.35 train for Aberdeen. It was a long journey, and it was half-past eight o'clock at night before we reached our destination, but the weariness of travelling had been whiled away by pleasant company and delightful scenery.

We had travelled continuously for about 360 miles, and we were both sleepy and tired as we entered Forsyth's Hotel to stay the night.

Friday, September 8th.

After a good night's rest, followed by a good breakfast, we went out to inquire the time our boat would leave, and, finding it was not due away until evening, we returned to the hotel and refreshed ourselves with a bath, and then went for a walk to see the town of Aberdeen, which is mostly built of the famous Aberdeen granite. The citizens were quite proud of their Union Street, the main thoroughfare, as well they might be, for though at first sight we thought it had rather a sombre appearance, yet when the sky cleared and the sun shone out on the golden letters that adorned the buildings we altered our opinion, for then we saw the "Granite City" at its best.

We spent the time rambling along the beach, and, as pleasure seekers generally do, passed the day comfortably, looking at anything and everything that came in our way. By no means sea-faring men, having mainly been accustomed to village life, we had some misgivings when we boarded the s.s. St. Magnus at eight o'clock in the evening, and our sensations during the night were such as are common to what the sailors call "land-lubbers." We were fortunate, however, in forming the acquaintance of a lively young Scot, who was also bound for Wick, and who cheered us during the night by giving us copious selections from Scotland's favourite bard, of whom he was greatly enamoured. We heard more of "Rabbie Burns" that night than we had ever heard before, for our friend seemed able to recite his poetry by the yard and to sing some of it also, and he kept us awake by occasionally asking us to join in the choruses. Some of the sentiments of Burns expressed ideals that seem a long time in being realised, and one of his favourite quotations, repeated several times by our friend, dwells in our memory after many years:

For a' that an' a' that
It's coming, yet, for a' that,
That man to man the war-ld o'er
Shall brithers be for a' that.

During the night, as the St. Magnus ploughed her way through the foaming billows, we noticed long, shining streaks on the surface of the water, varying in colour from a fiery red to a silvery white, the effect of which, was quite beautiful. Our friend informed us these were caused by the stampede of the shoals of herrings through which we were then passing.

The herring fishery season was now on, and, though we could not distinguish either the fishermen or their boats when we passed near one of their fishing-grounds, we could see the lights they carried dotted all over the sea, and we were apprehensive lest we should collide with some of them, but the course of the St. Magnus had evidently been known and provided for by the fishermen.

We had a long talk with our friend about our journey north, and, as he knew the country well, he was able to give us some useful information and advice. He told us that if we left the boat at Wick and walked to John o' Groat's from there, we should have to walk the same way back, as there was only the one road, and if we wished to avoid going over the same ground twice, he would advise us to remain on the St. Magnus until she reached her destination, Lerwick, in the Shetland Islands, and the cost by the boat would be very little more than to Wick. She would only stay a short time at Lerwick, and then we could return in her to Kirkwall, in the Orkney Islands. From that place we could walk across the Mainland to Stromness, where we should find a small steamboat which conveyed mails and passengers across the Pentland Firth to Thurso in the north of Scotland, from which point John o' Groat's could easily be reached, and, besides, we might never again have such a favourable opportunity of seeing the fine rock scenery of those northern islands.

From a photograph taken in 1867.

We were delighted with his suggestion, and wrote a hurried letter home advising our people there of this addition to our journey, and our friend volunteered to post the letter for us at Wick. It was about six o'clock in the morning when we neared that important fishery town and anchored in the harbour, where we had to stay an hour or two to load and unload cargo. Our friend the Scot had to leave us here, but we could not allow him to depart without some kind of ceremony or other, and as the small boat came in sight that was to carry him ashore, we decided to sing a verse or two of "Auld Lang Syne" from his favourite poet Burns; but my brother could not understand some of the words in one of the verses, so he altered and anglicised them slightly:

An' here's a haund, my trusty friend,

An' gie's a haund o' thine;

We'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet,

For the sake o' auld lang syne.

Some of the other passengers joined in the singing, but we never realised the full force of this verse until we heard it sung in its original form by a party of Scots, who, when they came to this particular verse, suited the action to the word by suddenly taking hold of each other's hands, thereby forming a cross, and meanwhile beating time to the music. Whether the cross so formed had any religious significance or not, we did not know.

Our friend was a finely built and intelligent young man, and it was with feelings of great regret that we bade him farewell and watched his departure over the great waves, with the rather mournful presentiment that we were being parted from him for ever!

Saturday, September 9th.

There were signs of a change in the weather as we left Wick, and the St. Magnus rolled considerably; but occasionally we had a good view of the precipitous rocks that lined the coast, many of them having been christened by the sailors after the objects they represented, as seen from the sea. The most prominent of these was a double-headed peak in Caithness, which formed a remarkably perfect resemblance to the breasts of a female giant with nipples complete, and this they had named the "Maiden's Paps." Then there was the "Old Man of Hoy," and other rocks that stood near the entrance to that terrible torrent of the sea, the Pentland Firth; but, owing to the rolling of our ship, we were not in a fit state either of mind or body to take much interest in them, and we were very glad when we reached the shelter of the Orkney Islands and entered the fine harbour of Kirkwall. Here we had to stay for a short time, so we went ashore and obtained a substantial lunch at the Temperance Hotel near the old cathedral, wrote a few letters, and at 3 p.m. rejoined the St. Magnus.

The sea had been quite rough enough previously, but it soon became evident that it had been smooth compared with what followed, and during the coming night we wished many times that our feet were once more on terra firma. The rain descended, the wind increased in violence, and the waves rolled high and broke over the ship, and we were no longer allowed to occupy our favourite position on the upper deck, but had to descend a stage lower. We were saturated with water from head to foot in spite of our overalls, and we were also very sick, and, to add to our misery, we could hear, above the noise of the wind and waves, the fearful groaning of some poor woman who, a sailor told us, had been suddenly taken ill, and it was doubtful if she could recover. He carried a fish in his hand which he had caught as it was washed on deck, and he invited us to come and see the place where he had to sleep. A dismal place it was too, flooded with water, and not a dry thing for him to put on. We could not help feeling sorry that these sailors had such hardships to undergo; but he seemed to take it as a matter of course, and appeared to be more interested in the fish he carried than in the storm that was then raging. We were obliged to keep on the move to prevent our taking cold, and we realised that we were in a dark, dismal, and dangerous position, and thought of the words of a well-known song and how appropriate they were to that occasion:

"O Pilot! 'tis a fearful night,

There's danger on the deep;

I'll come and pace the deck with thee,

I do not dare to sleep."

"Go down!" the Pilot cried, "go down!

This is no place for thee;

Fear not! but trust in Providence,

Wherever thou may'st be."

The storm continued for hours, and, as it gradually abated, our feelings became calmer, our fears subsided, and we again ventured on the upper deck. The night had been very dark hitherto, but we could now see the occasional glimmering of a light a long distance ahead, which proved to be that of a lighthouse, and presently we could distinguish the bold outlines of the Shetland Islands.

As we entered Bressay Sound, however, a beautiful transformation scene suddenly appeared, for the clouds vanished as if by magic, and the last quarter of the moon, surrounded by a host of stars, shone out brilliantly in the clear sky. It was a glorious sight, for we had never seen these heavenly bodies in such a clear atmosphere before, and it was hard to realise that they were so far away from us. We could appreciate the feelings of a little boy of our acquaintance, who, when carried outside the house one fine night by his father to see the moon, exclaimed in an ecstasy of delight: "Oh, reach it, daddy!—reach it!" and it certainly looked as if we could have reached it then, so very near did it appear to us.

It was two o'clock on Sunday morning, September 10th, when we reached Lerwick, the most northerly town in Her Majesty's British Dominions, and we appealed to a respectable-looking passenger who was being rowed ashore with us in the boat as to where we could obtain good lodgings. He kindly volunteered to accompany us to a house at which he had himself stayed before taking up his permanent residence as a tradesman in the town and which he could thoroughly recommend. Lerwick seemed a weird-looking place in the moonlight, and we turned many corners on our way to our lodgings, and were beginning to wonder how we should find our way out again, when our companion stopped suddenly before a private boarding-house, the door of which was at once opened by the mistress. We thanked the gentleman for his kind introduction, and as we entered the house the lady explained that it was her custom to wait up for the arrival of the St. Magnus. We found the fire burning and the kettle boiling, and the cup that cheers was soon on the table with the usual accompaniments, which were quickly disposed of. We were then ushered to our apartments —a bedroom and sitting or dining-room combined, clean and comfortable, but everything seemed to be moving like the ship we had just left. Once in bed, however, we were soon claimed by the God of Slumber, sleep, and dreams—our old friend Morpheus.

Sunday, September 10th.

In the morning we attended the English Episcopalian Church, and, after service, which was rather of a high church character, we walked into the country until we came in sight of the rough square tower of Scalloway Castle, and on our return we inspected the ruins of a Pictish castle, the first of the kind we had seen, although we were destined to see many others in the course of our journey.

Commercial Street as it was in 1871.

The Picts, we were informed, were a race of people who settled in the north of Scotland in pre-Roman times, and who constructed their dwellings either of earth or stone, but always in a circular form. This old castle was built of stone, and the walls were five or six yards thick; inside these walls rooms had been made for the protection of the owners, while the circular, open space enclosed by the walls had probably been for the safe housing of their cattle. An additional protection had also been formed by the water with which the castle was surrounded, and which gave it the appearance of a small island in the middle of a lake. It was connected with the land by means of a narrow road, across which we walked. The castle did not strike us as having been a very desirable place of residence; the ruins had such a very dismal and deserted appearance that we did not stay there long, but returned to our lodgings for lunch. After this we rested awhile, and then joined the townspeople, who were patrolling every available space outside. The great majority of these were women, healthy and good-looking, and mostly dressed in black, as were also those we afterwards saw in the Orkneys and the extreme north of Scotland, and we thought that some of our disconsolate bachelor friends might have been able to find very desirable partners for life in these northern dominions of Her Majesty the Queen.

The houses in Lerwick had been built in all sorts of positions without any attempt at uniformity, and the rough, flagged passage which did duty for the main street was, to our mind, the greatest curiosity of all, and almost worth going all the way to Shetland to see. It was curved and angled in such an abrupt and zigzag manner that it gave us the impression that the houses had been built first, and the street, where practicable, filled in afterwards. A gentleman from London was loud in his praise of this wonderful street; he said he felt so much safer there than in "beastly London," as he could stand for hours in that street before the shop windows without being run over by any cab, cart, or omnibus, and without feeling a solitary hand exploring his coat pockets. This was quite true, as we did not see any vehicles in Lerwick, nor could they have passed each other through the crooked streets had they been there, and thieves would have been equally difficult to find. Formerly, however, Lerwick had an evil reputation in that respect, as it was noted for being the abode of sheep-stealers and pirates, so much so, that, about the year 1700, it had become such a disreputable place that an earnest appeal was made to the "Higher Authorities" to have the place burnt, and for ever made desolate, on account of its great wickedness. Since that time, however, the softening influences of the Christian religion had permeated the hearts of the people, and, at the time of our visit, the town was well supplied with places of worship, and it would have been difficult to have found any thieves there then. We attended evening service in the Wesleyan Chapel, where we found a good congregation, a well-conducted service, and an acceptable preacher, and we reflected that Mr. Wesley himself would have rejoiced to know that even in such a remote place as Lerwick his principles were being promulgated.

Monday, September 11th.

We rose early with the object of seeing all we could in the short time at our disposal, which was limited to the space of a single day, or until the St. Magnus was due out in the evening on her return journey. We were anxious to see a large cavern known as the Orkneyman's Cave, but as it could only be reached from the sea, we should have had to engage a boat to take us there. We were told the cave was about fifty feet square at the entrance, but immediately beyond it increased to double the size; it was possible indeed to sail into it with a boat and to lose sight of daylight altogether.

The story goes that many years ago an Orkneyman was pursued by a press-gang, but escaped being captured by sailing into the cave with his boat. He took refuge on one of the rocky ledges inside, but in his haste he forgot to secure his boat, and the ground swell of the sea washed it out of the cave. To make matters worse, a storm came on, and there he remained a prisoner in the cave for two days; but as soon as the storm abated he plunged into the water, swam to a small rock outside, and thence climbed to the top of the cliff and so escaped. Since that event it had been known as the Orkneyman's Cave.

We went to the boat at the appointed time, but unfortunately the wind was too strong for us to get round to the cave, so we were disappointed. The boatman suggested as the next best thing that we should go to see the Island of Noss. He accordingly took us across the bay, which was about a mile wide, and landed us on the Island of Bressay. Here it was necessary for us to get a permit to enable us to proceed farther, so, securing his boat, the boatman accompanied us to the factor's house, where he procured a pass, authorising us to land on the Island of Noss, of which the following is a facsimile:

Allow Mr. Nailer and friends
to land on Noss.
To Walter.       A.M. Walker

Here he left us, as we had to walk across the Island of Bressay, and, after a tramp of two or three miles, during which we did not see a single human being, we came to another water where there was a boat. Here we found Walter, and, after we had exhibited our pass, he rowed us across the narrow arm of the sea and landed us on the Island of Noss. He gave us careful instructions how to proceed so that we could see the Holm of Noss, and warned us against approaching too near the edge of the precipice which we should find there. After a walk of about a mile, all up hill, we came to the precipitous cliffs which formed the opposite boundary of the island, and from a promontory there we had a magnificent view of the rocks, with the waves of the sea dashing against them, hundreds of feet below. A small portion of the island was here separated from the remainder by a narrow abyss about fifty feet wide, down which it was terrible to look, and this separated portion was known as the Holm of Noss. It rose precipitously on all sides from the sea, and its level surface on the top formed a favourite nesting-place for myriads of wild birds of different varieties, which not only covered the top of the Holm, but also the narrow ledges along its jagged sides. Previous to the seventeenth century, this was one of the places where the foot of man had never trod, and a prize of a cow was offered to any man who would climb the face of the cliff and establish a connection with the mainland by means of a rope, as it was thought that the Holm would provide pasturage for about twenty sheep. A daring fowler, from Foula Island, successfully performed the feat, and ropes were firmly secured to the rocks on each side, and along two parallel ropes a box or basket was fixed, capable of holding a man and a sheep. This apparatus was named the Cradle of Noss, and was so arranged that an Islander with or without a sheep placed in the cradle could drag himself across the chasm in either direction. Instead, however, of returning by the rope or cradle, on which he would have been comparatively safe, the hardy fowler decided to go back by the same way he had come, and, missing his foothold, fell on the rocks in the sea below and was dashed to pieces, so that the prize was never claimed by him.

"It made us shudder ... as we peered down on the abysmal depths below."

We felt almost spellbound as we approached this awful chasm, and as if we were being impelled by some invisible force towards the edge of the precipice. It fairly made us shudder as on hands and knees we peered down on the abysmal depths below. It was a horrible sensation, and one that sometimes haunted us in our dreams for years afterwards, and we felt greatly relieved when we found that we could safely crawl away and regain an upright posture. We could see thousands upon thousands of wild birds, amongst which the ordinary sea-gull was largely represented; but there were many other varieties of different colours, and the combination of their varied cries, mingled with the bleating of the sheep, the whistling of the wind, the roaring of the waves as they dashed against the rocks below, or entered the caverns with a sound like distant thunder, tended to make us feel quite bewildered. We retired to the highest elevation we could find, and there, 600 miles from home, and perhaps as many feet above sea-level, was solitude in earnest. We were the only human beings on the island, and the enchanting effect of the wild scenery, the vast expanse of sea, the distant moaning of the waters, the great rocks worn by the wind and the waves into all kinds of fantastic shapes and caverns, the blue sky above with the glorious sun shining upon us, all proclaimed to our minds the omnipotence of the great Creator of the Universe, the Almighty Maker and Giver of all.

We lingered as long as we could in these lonely and romantic solitudes, and, as we sped down the hill towards the boat, we suddenly became conscious that we had not thought either of what we should eat or what we should drink since we had breakfasted early in the morning, and we were very hungry. Walter was waiting for us on our side of the water, as he had been watching for our return, and had seen us coming when we were nearly a mile away. There was no vegetation to obstruct the view, for, as he said, we might walk fifty miles in Shetland without meeting with a bush or tree. We had an agreeable surprise when we reached the other side of the water in finding some light refreshments awaiting our arrival which he had thoughtfully provided in the event of their being required, and for which we were profoundly thankful. The cradle of Noss had disappeared some time before our visit, but, if it had been there, we should have been too terrified to make use of it. It had become dangerous, and as the pasturage of sheep on the Holm had proved a failure, the birds had again become masters of the situation, while the cradle had fallen to decay. Walter gave us an awful description of the danger of the fowler's occupation, especially in the Foula Island, where the rocks rose towering a thousand feet above the sea. The top of the cliffs there often projected over their base, so that the fowler had to be suspended on a rope fastened to the top of the cliff, swinging himself backwards and forwards like a pendulum until he could reach the ledge of rock where the birds laid their eggs. Immediately he landed on it, he had to secure his rope, and then gather the eggs in a hoop net, and put them in his wallet, and then swing off again, perhaps hundreds of feet above the sea, to find another similar ledge, so that his business was practically carried on in the air. On one of these occasions a fowler had just reached a landing-place on the precipice, when his rope slipped out of his hand, and swung away from the cliff into the empty air. If he had hesitated one moment, he would have been lost for ever, as in all probability he would either have been starved to death on the ledge of rock on which he was or fallen exhausted into the sea below. The first returning swing of the rope might bring him a chance of grasping it, but the second would be too far away. The rope came back, the desperate man measured the distance with his eye, sprang forward in the air, grasped the rope, and was saved.

Sometimes the rope became frayed or cut by fouling some sharp edge of rock above, and, if it broke, the fowler was landed in eternity. Occasionally two or three men were suspended on the same rope at the same time. Walter told us of a father and two sons who were on the rope in this way, the father being the lowest and his two sons being above him, when the son who was uppermost saw that the rope was being frayed above him, and was about to break. He called to his brother who was just below that the rope would no longer hold them all, and asked him to cut it off below him and let their father go. This he indignantly refused to do, whereupon his brother, without a moment's hesitation, cut the rope below himself, and both his father and brother perished.

It was terrible to hear such awful stories, as our nerves were unstrung already, so we asked our friend Walter not to pile on the agony further, and, after rewarding him for his services, we hurried over the remaining space of land and sea that separated us from our comfortable quarters at Lerwick, where a substantial tea was awaiting our arrival.

We were often asked what we thought of Shetland and its inhabitants.

Shetland was fine in its mountain and coast scenery, but it was wanting in good roads and forests, and it seemed strange that no effort had been made to plant some trees, as forests had formerly existed there, and, as a gentleman told us, there seemed no peculiarity in either the soil or climate to warrant an opinion unfavourable to the country's arboricultural capacity. Indeed, such was the dearth of trees and bushes, that a lady, who had explored the country thoroughly, declared that the tallest and grandest tree she saw during her visit to the Islands was a stalk of rhubarb which had run to seed and was waving its head majestically in a garden below the old fort of Lerwick!

Agriculture seemed also to be much neglected, but possibly the fishing industry was more profitable. The cottages also were very small and of primitive construction, many of them would have been condemned as being unfit for human habitation if they had existed elsewhere, and yet, in spite of this apparent drawback, these hardy islanders enjoyed the best of health and brought up large families of very healthy-looking children. Shetland will always have a pleasant place in our memories, and, as regards the people who live there, to speak the truth we scarcely ever met with folks we liked better. We received the greatest kindness and hospitality, and met with far greater courtesy and civility than in the more outwardly polished and professedly cultivated parts of the countries further south, especially when making inquiries from people to whom we had not been "introduced"! The Shetlanders spoke good English, and seemed a highly intelligent race of people. Many of the men went to the whale and other fisheries in the northern seas, and "Greenland's icy mountains" were well known to them.

On the island there were many wives and mothers who mourned the loss of husbands and sons who had perished in that dangerous occupation, and these remarks also applied to the Orkney Islands, to which we were returning, and might also account for so many of these women being dressed in black. Every one told us we were visiting the islands too late in the year, and that we ought to have made our appearance at an earlier period, when the sun never sets, and when we should have been able to read at midnight without the aid of an artificial light. Shetland was evidently in the range of the "Land of the Midnight Sun," but whether we should have been able to keep awake in order to read at midnight was rather doubtful, as we were usually very sleepy. At one time of the year, however, the sun did not shine at all, and the Islanders had to rely upon the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, which then made their appearance and shone out brilliantly, spreading a beautifully soft light over the islands. We wondered if it were this or the light of the midnight sun that inspired the poet to write:

Night walked in beauty o'er the peaceful sea.

Whose gentle waters spoke tranquillity,

or if it had been borrowed from some more peaceful clime, as we had not yet seen the "peaceful sea" amongst these northern islands. We had now once more to venture on its troubled waters, and we made our appearance at the harbour at the appointed time for the departure of theSt. Magnus. We were, however, informed that the weather was too misty for our boat to leave, so we returned to our lodgings, ordered a fire, and were just making ourselves comfortable and secretly hoping our departure might be delayed until morning, when Mrs. Sinclair, our landlady, came to tell us that the bell, which was the signal for the St. Magnus to leave, had just rung. We hurried to the quay, only to find that the boat which conveyed passengers and mails to our ship had disappeared. We were in a state of consternation, but a group of sailors, who were standing by, advised us to hire a special boat, and one was brought up immediately, by which, after a lot of shouting and whistling—for we could scarcely see anything in the fog—we were safely landed on the steamboat. We had only just got beyond the harbour, however, when the fog became so dense that we suddenly came to a standstill, and had to remain in the bay for a considerable time. When at last we moved slowly outwards, the hoarse whistle of the St. Magnus was sounded at short intervals, to avoid collision with any other craft. It had a strangely mournful sound, suggestive of a funeral or some great calamity, and we should almost have preferred being in a storm, when we could have seen the danger, rather than creeping along in the fog and darkness, with a constant dread of colliding with some other boat or with one of the dangerous rocks which we knew were in the vicinity. Sleep was out of the question until later, when the fog began to clear a little, and, in the meantime, we found ourselves in the company of a group of young men who told us they were going to Aberdeen.

One of them related a rather sorrowful story. He and his mates had come from one of the Shetland Islands from which the inhabitants were being expelled by the factor, so that he could convert the whole of the island into a sheep farm for his own personal advantage. Their ancestors had lived there from time immemorial, but their parents had all received notice to leave, and other islands were being depopulated in the same way. The young men were going to Aberdeen to try to find ships on which they could work their passage to some distant part of the world; they did not know or care where, but he said the time would come when this country would want soldiers and sailors, and would not be able to find them after the men had been driven abroad. He also told us about what he called the "Truck System," which was a great curse in their islands, as "merchants" encouraged young people to get deeply in their debt, so that when they grew up they could keep them in their clutches and subject them to a state of semi-slavery, as with increasing families and low wages it was then impossible to get out of debt. We were very sorry to see these fine young men leaving the country, and when we thought of the wild and almost deserted islands we had just visited, it seemed a pity they could not have been employed there. We had a longer and much smoother passage than on our outward voyage, and the fog had given place to a fine, clear atmosphere as we once more entered the fine harbour of Kirkwall, and we had a good view of the town, which some enthusiastic passenger described as the "Metropolis of the Orcadean Archipelago."

Tuesday, September 12th.

We narrowly escaped a bad accident as we were leaving the St. Magnus. She carried a large number of sheep and Shetland ponies on deck, and our way off the ship was along a rather narrow passage formed by the cattle on one side and a pile of merchandise on the other. The passengers were walking in single file, my brother immediately in front of myself, when one of the ponies suddenly struck out viciously with its hind legs just as we were passing. If we had received the full force of the kick, we should have been incapacitated from walking; but fortunately its strength was exhausted when it reached us, and it only just grazed our legs. The passengers behind thought at first we were seriously injured, and one of them rushed forward and held the animal's head to prevent further mischief; but the only damage done was to our overalls, on which the marks of the pony's hoofs remained as a record of the event. On reaching the landing-place the passengers all came forward to congratulate us on our lucky escape, and until they separated we were the heroes of the hour, and rather enjoyed the brief notoriety.


There was an old-world appearance about Kirkwall reminiscent of the time

When Norse and Danish galleys plied

Their oars within the Firth of Clyde,

When floated Haco's banner trim

Above Norwegian warriors grim,

Savage of heart and huge of limb.

for it was at the palace there that Haco, King of Norway, died in 1263. There was only one considerable street in the town, and this was winding and narrow and paved with flags in the centre, something like that in Lerwick, but the houses were much more foreign in appearance, and many of them had dates on their gables, some of them as far back as the beginning of the fifteenth century. We went to the same hotel as on our outward journey, and ordered a regular good "set out" to be ready by the time we had explored the ancient cathedral, which, like our ship, was dedicated to St. Magnus. We were directed to call at a cottage for the key, which was handed to us by the solitary occupant, and we had to find our way as best we could. After entering the ancient building, we took the precaution of locking the door behind us. The interior looked dark and dismal after the glorious sunshine we had left outside, and was suggestive more of a dungeon than a place of worship, and of the dark deeds done in the days of the past. The historian relates that St. Magnus met his death at the hands of his cousin Haco while in the church of Eigleshay. He had retired there with a presentiment of some evil about to happen him, and "while engaged in devotional exercises, prepared and resigned for whatever might occur, he was slain by one stroke of a hatchet. Being considered eminently pious, he was looked upon as a saint, and his nephew Ronald built the cathedral in accordance with a vow made before leaving Norway to lay claim to the Earldom of Orkney." The cathedral was considered to be the best-preserved relic of antiquity in Scotland, and we were much impressed by the dim religious light which pervaded the interior, and quite bewildered amongst the dark passages inside the walls. We had been recommended to ascend the cathedral tower for the sake of the fine view which was to be obtained from the top, but had some difficulty in finding the way to the steps. Once we landed at the top of the tower we considered ourselves well repaid for our exertions, as the view over land and sea was very beautiful. Immediately below were the remains of the bishop's and earl's palaces, relics of bygone ages, now gradually crumbling to decay, while in the distance we could see the greater portion of the sixty-seven islands which formed the Orkney Group. Only about one-half of these were inhabited, the remaining and smaller islands being known as holms, or pasturages for sheep, which, seen in the distance, resembled green specks in the great blue sea, which everywhere surrounded them.


I should have liked to stay a little longer surveying this fairy-like scene, but my brother declared he could smell our breakfast, which by this time must have been waiting for us below. Our exit was a little delayed, as we took a wrong turn in the rather bewildering labyrinth of arches and passages in the cathedral walls, and it was not without a feeling of relief that we reached the door we had so carefully locked behind us. We returned the key to the caretaker, and then went to our hotel, where we loaded ourselves with a prodigious breakfast, and afterwards proceeded to walk across the Mainland of the Orkneys, an estimated distance of fifteen miles.

On our rather lonely way to Stromness we noticed that agriculture was more advanced than in the Shetland Islands, and that the cattle were somewhat larger, but we must say that we had been charmed with the appearance of the little Shetland ponies, excepting perhaps the one that had done its best to give us a farewell kick when we were leaving the St. Magnus. Oats and barley were the crops chiefly grown, for we did not see any wheat, and the farmers, with their wives and children, were all busy harvesting their crops of oats, but there was still room for extension and improvement, as we passed over miles of uncultivated moorland later. On our inquiring what objects of interest were to be seen on our way, our curiosity was raised to its highest pitch when we were told we should come to an underground house and to a large number of standing stones a few miles farther on. We fully expected to descend under the surface of the ground, and to find some cave or cavern below; but when we got to the place, we found the house practically above ground, with a small mountain raised above it. It was covered with grass, and had only been discovered in 1861, about ten years before our visit. Some boys were playing on the mountain, when one of them found a small hole which he thought was a rabbit hole, but, pushing his arm down it, he could feel no bottom. He tried again with a small stick, but with the same result. The boys then went to a farm and brought a longer stick, but again failed to reach the bottom of the hole, so they resumed their play, and when they reached home they told their parents of their adventure, and the result was that this ancient house was discovered and an entrance to it found from the level of the land below.


We went in search of the caretaker, and found him busy with the harvest in a field some distance away, but he returned with us to the mound. He opened a small door, and we crept behind him along a low, narrow, and dark passage for a distance of about seventeen yards, when we entered a chamber about the size of an ordinary cottage dwelling, but of a vault-like appearance. It was quite dark, but our guide proceeded to light a number of small candles, placed in rustic candlesticks, at intervals, round this strange apartment. We could then see some small cells in the wall, which might once have been used as burial places for the dead, and on the walls themselves were hundreds of figures or letters cut in the rock, in very thin lines, as if engraved with a needle. We could not decipher any of them, as they appeared more like Egyptian hieroglyphics than letters of our alphabet, and the only figure we could distinguish was one which had the appearance of a winged dragon.

The history of the place was unknown, but we were afterwards told that it was looked upon as one of the most important antiquarian discoveries ever made in Britain. The name of the place was Maeshowe. The mound was about one hundred yards in circumference, and it was supposed that the house, or tumulus, was first cut out of the rock and the earth thrown over it afterwards from the large trench by which it was surrounded.


Our guide then directed us to the "Standing Stones of Stenness," which were some distance away; but he could not spare time to go with us, so we had to travel alone to one of the wildest and most desolate places imaginable, strongly suggestive of ghosts and the spirits of the departed. We crossed the Bridge of Brogar, or Bruargardr, and then walked along a narrow strip of land dividing two lochs, both of which at this point presented a very lonely and dismal appearance. Although they were so near together, Loch Harry contained fresh water only and Loch Stenness salt water, as it had a small tidal inlet from the sea passing under Waith Bridge, which we crossed later. There were two groups of the standing stones, one to the north and the other to the south, and each consisted of a double circle of considerable extent. The stones presented a strange appearance, as while many stood upright, some were leaning; others had fallen, and some had disappeared altogether. The storms of many centuries had swept over them, and "they stood like relics of the past, with lichens waving from their worn surfaces like grizzly beards, or when in flower mantling them with brilliant orange hues," while the areas enclosed by them were covered with mosses, the beautiful stag-head variety being the most prominent. One of the poets has described them:

The heavy rocks of giant size

That o'er the land in circles rise.

Of which tradition may not tell,

Fit circles for the Wizard spell;

Seen far amidst the scowling storm

Seem each a tall and phantom form,

As hurrying vapours o'er them flee

Frowning in grim security,

While like a dread voice from the past

Around them moans the autumnal blast!

These lichened "Standing Stones of Stenness," with the famous Stone of Odin about 150 yards to the north, are second only to Stonehenge, one measuring 18 feet in length, 5 feet 4 inches in breadth, and 18 inches in thickness. The Stone of Odin had a hole in it to which it was supposed that sacrificial victims were fastened in ancient times, but in later times lovers met and joined hands through the hole in the stone, and the pledge of love then given was almost as sacred as a marriage vow. An antiquarian description of this reads as follows: "When the parties agreed to marry, they repaired to the Temple of the Moon, where the woman in the presence of the man fell down on her knees and prayed to the God Wodin that he would enable her to perform, all the promises and obligations she had made, and was to make, to the young man present, after which they both went to the Temple of the Sun, where the man prayed in like manner before the woman. They then went to the Stone of Odin, and the man being on one side and the woman on the other, they took hold of each other's right hand through the hole and there swore to be constant and faithful to each other." The hole in the stone was about five feet from the ground, but some ignorant farmer had destroyed the stone, with others, some years before our visit.

There were many other stones in addition to the circles, probably the remains of Cromlechs, and there were numerous grass mounds, or barrows, both conoid and bowl-shaped, but these were of a later date than the circles. It was hard to realise that this deserted and boggarty-looking place was once the Holy Ground of the ancient Orcadeans, and we were glad to get away from it. We recrossed the Bridge of Brogar and proceeded rapidly towards Stromness, obtaining a fine prospective view of that town, with the huge mountain masses of the Island of Hoy as a background, on our way. These rise to a great height, and terminate abruptly near where that strange isolated rock called the "Old Man of Hoy" rises straight from the sea as if to guard the islands in the rear. The shades of evening were falling fast as we entered Stromness, but what a strange-looking town it seemed to us! It was built at the foot of the hill in the usual irregular manner and in one continuous crooked street, with many of the houses with their crow-stepped gables built as it were over the sea itself, and here in one of these, owing to a high recommendation received inland, we stayed the night. It was perched above the water's edge, and, had we been so minded, we might have caught the fish named sillocks for our own breakfast without leaving the house: many of the houses, indeed, had small piers or landing-stages attached to them, projecting towards the bay.

We found Mrs. Spence an ideal hostess and were very comfortable, the only drawback to our happiness being the information that the small steamboat that carried mails and passengers across to Thurso had gone round for repairs "and would not be back for a week, but a sloop would take her place" the day after to-morrow. But just fancy crossing the stormy waters of the Pentland Firth in a sloop! We didn't quite know what a sloop was, except that it was a sailing-boat with only one mast; but the very idea gave us the nightmare, and we looked upon ourselves as lost already. The mail boat, we had already been told, had been made enormously strong to enable her to withstand the strain of the stormy seas, besides having the additional advantage of being propelled by steam, and it was rather unfortunate that we should have arrived just at the time she was away. We asked the reason why, and were informed that during the summer months seaweeds had grown on the bottom of her hull four or five feet long, which with the barnacles so impeded her progress that it was necessary to have them scraped off, and that even the great warships had to undergo the same process.

Seaweeds of the largest size and most beautiful colours flourish, in the Orcadean seas, and out of 610 species of the flora in the islands we learned that 133 were seaweeds. Stevenson the great engineer wrote that the large Algæ, and especially that one he named the "Fucus esculentus," grew on the rocks from self-grown seed, six feet in six months, so we could quite understand how the speed of a ship would be affected when carrying this enormous growth on the lower parts of her hull.

Wednesday, September 13th.

We had the whole of the day at our disposal to explore Stromness and the neighbourhood, and we made the most of it by rambling about the town and then along the coast to the north, but we were seldom out of sight of the great mountains of Hoy.

Sir Walter Scott often visited this part of the Orkneys, and some of the characters he introduced in his novels were found here. In 1814 he made the acquaintance of a very old woman near Stromness, named Bessie Miller, whom he described as being nearly one hundred years old, withered and dried up like a mummy, with light blue eyes that gleamed with a lustre like that of insanity. She eked out her existence by selling favourable winds to mariners, for which her fee was sixpence, and hardly a mariner sailed out to sea from Stromness without visiting and paying his offering to Old Bessie Miller. Sir Walter drew the strange, weird character of "Norna of the Fitful Head" in his novel The Pirate from her.

The prototype of "Captain Cleveland" in the same novel was John Gow, the son of a Stromness merchant. This man went to sea, and by some means or other became possessed of a ship named the Revenge, which carried twenty-four guns. He had all the appearance of a brave young officer, and on the occasions when he came home to see his father he gave dancing-parties to his friends. Before his true character was known—for he was afterwards proved to be a pirate—he engaged the affections of a young lady of fortune, and when he was captured and convicted she hastened to London to see him before he was executed; but, arriving there too late, she begged for permission to see his corpse, and, taking hold of one hand, she vowed to remain true to him, for fear, it was said, of being haunted by his ghost if she bestowed her hand upon another.

It is impossible to visit Stromness without hearing something of that famous geologist Hugh Miller, who was born at Cromarty in the north of Scotland in the year 1802, and began life as a quarry worker, and wrote several learned books on geology. In one of these, entitledFootprints of the Creator in the Asterolepis of Stromness, he demolished the Darwinian theory that would make a man out to be only a highly developed monkey, and the monkey a highly developed mollusc. My brother had a very poor opinion of geologists, but his only reason for this seemed to have been formed from the opinion of some workmen in one of our brickfields. A gentleman who took an interest in geology used to visit them at intervals for about half a year, and persuaded the men when excavating the clay to put the stones they found on one side so that he could inspect them, and after paying many visits he left without either thanking them or giving them the price of a drink! But my brother was pleased with Hugh Miller's book, for he had always contended that Darwin was mistaken, and that instead of man having descended from the monkey, it was the monkey that had descended from the man. I persuaded him to visit the museum, where we saw quite a number of petrified fossils. As there was no one about to give us any information, we failed to find Hugh Miller's famous asterolepis, which we heard afterwards had the appearance of a petrified nail, and had formed part of a huge fish whose species were known to have measured from eight to twenty-three feet in length. It was only about six inches long, and was described as one of the oldest, if not the oldest, vertebrate fossils hitherto discovered. Stromness ought to be the Mecca, the happy hunting-ground, or the Paradise to geologists, for Hugh Miller has said it could furnish more fossil fish than any other geological system in England, Scotland, and Wales, and could supply ichthyolites by the ton, or a ship load of fossilised fish sufficient to supply the museums of the world. How came this vast number of fish to be congregated here? and what was the force that overwhelmed them? It was quite evident from the distorted portions of their skeletons, as seen in the quarried flags, that they had suffered a violent death. But as we were unable to study geology, and could neither pronounce nor understand the names applied to the fossils, we gave it up in despair, as a deep where all our thoughts were drowned.

We then walked along the coast, until we came to the highest point of the cliffs opposite some dangerous rocks called the Black Craigs, about which a sorrowful story was told. It happened on Wednesday, March 5th, 1834, during a terrific storm, when the Star of Dundee, a schooner of about eighty tons, was seen to be drifting helplessly towards these rocks. The natives knew there was no chance of escape for the boat, and ran with ropes to the top of the precipice near the rocks in the hope of being of some assistance; but such was the fury of the waves that the boat was broken into pieces before their eyes, and they were utterly helpless to save even one of their shipwrecked fellow-creatures. The storm continued for some time, and during the remainder of the week nothing of any consequence was found, nor was any of the crew heard of again, either dead or alive, till on the Sunday morning a man was suddenly observed on the top of the precipice waving his hands, and the people who saw him first were so astonished that they thought it was a spectre. It was afterwards discovered that it was one of the crew of the ill-fated ship who had been miraculously saved. He had been washed into a cave from a large piece of the wreck, which had partially blocked its entrance and so checked the violence of the waves inside, and there were also washed in from the ship some red herrings, a tin can which had been used for oil, and two pillows. The herrings served him for food and the tin can to collect drops of fresh water as they trickled down the rocks from above, while one of the pillows served for his bed and he used the other for warmth by pulling out the feathers and placing them into his boots. Occasionally when the waves filled the mouth of the cave he was afraid of being suffocated. Luckily for him at last the storm subsided sufficiently to admit of his swimming out of the cave; how he managed to scale the cliffs seemed little short of a miracle. He was kindly treated by the Islanders, and when he recovered they fitted him out with clothing so that he could join another ship. By what we may call the irony of fate he was again shipwrecked some years afterwards. This time the fates were less kind, for he was drowned!


We had a splendid view of the mountains and sea, and stayed as usual on the cliffs until the pangs of hunger compelled us to return to Stromness, where we knew that a good tea was waiting for us. At one point on our way back the Heads of Hoy strangely resembled the profile of the great Sir Walter Scott, and this he would no doubt have seen when collecting materials for The Pirate.

We had heard both in Shetland and Orkney that when we reached John o' Groat's we should find an enormous number of shells on the beach, and as we had some extensive rockeries at home already adorned with thousands of oyster shells, in fact so many as to cause our home to be nicknamed "Oyster Shell Hall," we decided to gather some of the shells when we got to John o'Groat's and send them home to our friends. The question of packages, however, seemed to be rather a serious one, as we were assured over and over again we should find no packages when we reached that out-of-the-way corner of Scotland, and that in the whole of the Orkney Islands there were not sufficient willows grown to make a single basket, skip, or hamper. So after tea we decided to explore the town in search of a suitable hamper, and we had some amusing experiences, as the people did not know what a hamper was. At length we succeeded in finding one rather ancient and capacious basket, but without a cover, whose appearance suggested that it had been washed ashore from some ship that had been wrecked many years ago, and, having purchased it at about three times its value, we carried it in triumph to our lodgings, to the intense amusement of our landlady and the excited curiosity of the Stromnessians.

We spent the remainder of the evening in looking through Mrs. Spence's small library of books, but failed to find anything very consoling to us, as they related chiefly to storms and shipwrecks, and the dangerous nature of the Pentland Firth, whose turbulent waters we had to cross on the morrow.

The Pentland Firth lies between the north of Scotland and the Orkney Islands, varies from five and a half to eight miles in breadth, and is by repute the most dangerous passage in the British Isles. We were told in one of the books that if we wanted to witness a regular "passage of arms" between two mighty seas, the Atlantic at Dunnet Head on the west, and the North Sea at Duncansbay Head on the east, we must cross Pentland Firth and be tossed upon its tides before we should be able to imagine what might be termed their ferocity. "The rush of two mighty oceans, struggling to sweep this world of waters through a narrow sound, and dashing their waves in bootless fury against the rocky barriers which headland and islet present; the endless contest of conflicting tides hurried forward and repelled, meeting, and mingling—their troubled surface boiling and spouting—and, even in a summer calm, in an eternal state of agitation"; and then fancy the calm changing to a storm: "the wind at west; the whole volume of the Atlantic rolling its wild mass of waters on, in one sweeping flood, to dash and burst upon the black and riven promontory of the Dunnet Head, until the mountain wave, shattered into spray, flies over the summit of a precipice, 400 feet above the base it broke upon." But this was precisely what we did not want to see, so we turned to the famous Statistical Account, which also described the difficulty of navigating the Firth for sailing vessels. This informed us that "the current in the Pentland Firth is exceedingly strong during the spring tides, so that no vessel can stem it. The flood-tide runs from west to east at the rate of ten miles an hour, with new and full moon. It is then high water at Scarfskerry (about three miles away from Dunnet Head) at nine o'clock. Immediately, as the water begins to fall on the shore, the current turns to the west; but the strength of the flood is so great in the middle of the Firth that it continues to run east till about twelve. With a gentle breeze of westerly wind, about eight o'clock in the morning the whole Firth, from Dunnet Head to Hoy Head in Orkney, seems as smooth as a sheet of glass. About nine the sea begins to rage for about one hundred yards off the Head, while all without continues smooth as before. This appearance gradually advances towards the Firth, and along the shore to the east, though the effects are not much felt along the shore till it reaches Scarfskerry Head, as the land between these points forms a considerable bay. By two o'clock the whole of the Firth seems to rage. About three in the afternoon it is low water on the shore, when all the former phenomena are reversed, the smooth water beginning to appear next the land and advancing gradually till it reaches the middle of the Firth. To strangers the navigation is very dangerous, especially if they approach near to land. But the natives along the coast are so well acquainted with the direction of the tides, that they can take advantage of every one of these currents to carry them safe from one harbour to another. Hence very few accidents happen, except from want of skill or knowledge of the tides."


There were some rather amusing stories about the detention of ships in the Firth. A Newcastle shipowner had despatched two ships from that port by the same tide, one to Bombay by the open sea, and the other, via the Pentland Firth, to Liverpool, and the Bombay vessel arrived at her destination first. Many vessels trying to force a passage through the Firth have been known to drift idly about hither and thither for months before they could get out again, and some ships that once entered Stromness Bay on New Year's Day were found there, resting from their labours on the fifteenth day of April following, "after wandering about like the Flying Dutchman." Sir Walter Scott said this was formerly a ship laden with precious metals, but a horrible murder was committed on board. A plague broke out amongst the crew, and no port would allow the vessel to enter for fear of contagion, and so she still wanders about the sea with her phantom crew, never to rest, but doomed to be tossed about for ever. She is now a spectral ship, and hovers about the Cape of Good Hope as an omen of bad luck to mariners who are so unfortunate as to see her.

The dangerous places at each end of the Firth were likened to the Scylla and Charybdis between Italy and Sicily, where, in avoiding one mariners were often wrecked by the other; but the dangers in the Firth were from the "Merry Men of Mey," a dangerous expanse of sea, where the water was always boiling like a witch's cauldron at one end, and the dreaded "Swalchie Whirlpool" at the other. This was very dangerous for small boats, as they could sail over it safely in one state of the tide, but when it began to move it carried the boat round so slowly that the occupants did not realise their danger until too late, when they found themselves going round quicker and quicker as they descended into the awful vortex below, where the ancient Vikings firmly believed the submarine mill existed which ground the salt that supplied the ocean.

We ought not to have read these dismal stories just before retiring to rest, as the consequence was that we were dreaming of dangerous rocks, storms, and shipwrecks all through the night, and my brother had toiled up the hill at the back of the town and found Bessie Miller there, just as Sir Walter Scott described her, with "a clay-coloured kerchief folded round her head to match the colour of her corpse-like complexion." He was just handing her a sixpence to pay for a favourable wind, when everything was suddenly scattered by a loud knock at the door, followed by the voice of our hostess informing us that it was five o'clock and that the boat was "awa' oot" at six.

We were delighted to find that in place of the great storm pictured in our excited imagination there was every prospect of a fine day, and that a good "fish breakfast" served in Mrs. Spence's best style was waiting for us below stairs.

Thursday, September 14th.

After bidding Mrs. Spence farewell, and thanking her for her kind attention to us during our visit to Stromness, we made our way to the sloop, which seemed a frail-looking craft to cross the stormy waters of the Pentland Firth. We did not, of course, forget our large basket which we had had so much difficulty in finding, and which excited so much attention and attracted so much curiosity towards ourselves all the way to John o' Groat's. It even caused the skipper to take a friendly interest in us, for after our explanation he stored that ancient basket amongst his more valuable cargo.

There was only a small number of passengers, but in spite of the early hour quite a little crowd of people had assembled to witness our departure, and a considerable amount of banter was going on between those on board the sloop and the company ashore, which continued as we moved away, each party trying to get the better of the other. As a finale, one of our passengers shouted to his friend who had come to see him off: "Do you want to buy a cow?" "Yes," yelled his friend, "but I see nothing but a calf." A general roar of laughter followed this repartee, as we all thought the Orkneyman on shore had scored. We should have liked to have fired another shot, but by the time the laughter had subsided we were out of range. We did not expect to be on the way more than three or four hours, as the distance was only about twenty-four miles; but we did not reach Thurso until late in the afternoon, and we should have been later if we had had a less skilful skipper. In the first place we had an unfavourable wind, which prevented our sailing by the Hoy Sound, the shortest and orthodox route, and this caused us to miss the proper sea view of the "Old Man of Hoy," which the steamboat from Stromness to Thurso always passed in close proximity, but we could perceive it in the distance as an insular Pillar of Rock, standing 450 feet high with rocks in vicinity rising 1,000 feet, although we could not see the arch beneath, which gives it the appearance of standing on two legs, and hence the name given to the rock by the sailors. The Orcadean poet writes:

See Hoy's Old Man whose summit bare

Pierces the dark blue fields of air;

Based in the sea, his fearful form

Glooms like the spirit of the storm.


When pointing out the Old Man to us, the captain said that he stood in the roughest bit of sea round the British coast, and the words "wind and weather permitting" were very applicable when stoppages wore contemplated at the Old Man or other places in these stormy seas.

We had therefore to sail by way of Lang Hope, which we supposed was a longer route, and we were astonished at the way our captain handled his boat; but when we reached what we thought was Lang Hope, he informed the passengers that he intended to anchor here for some time, and those who wished could be ferried ashore. We had decided to remain on the boat, but when the captain said there was an inn there where refreshments could be obtained, my brother declared that he felt quite hungry, and insisted upon our having a second breakfast. We were therefore rowed ashore, and were ushered into the parlour of the inn as if we were the lords of the manor and sole owners, and were very hospitably received and entertained. The inn was appropriately named the "Ship," and the treatment we received was such as made us wish we were making a longer stay, but time and tide wait for no man.

For the next inn he spurs amain,

In haste alights, and scuds away—

But time and tide for no man stay.

The sign has now been removed to a new hotel, visible in the photograph, on the opposite side of the ferry.

Whether it was for time or tide or for one of those mysterious movements in the Pentland Firth that our one-masted boat was waiting we never knew. We had only just finished our breakfast when a messenger appeared to summon us to rejoin the sloop, which had to tack considerably before we reached what the skipper described as the Scrabster Roads. A stiff breeze had now sprung up, and there was a strong current in the sea; at each turn or tack our boat appeared to be sailing on her side, and we were apprehensive that she might be blown over into the sea. We watched the operations carefully and anxiously, and it soon became evident that what our skipper did not know about the navigation of these stormy seas was not worth knowing. We stood quite near him (and the mast) the whole of the time, and he pointed out every interesting landmark as it came in sight. He seemed to be taking advantage of the shelter afforded by the islands, as occasionally we came quite near their rocky shores, and at one point he showed us a small hole in the rock which was only a few feet above the sea; he told us it formed the entrance to a cave in which he had often played when, as a boy, he lived on that island.


The time had now arrived to cross the Pentland Firth and to sail round Dunnet Head to reach Thurso. Fortunately the day was fine, and the strong breeze was nothing in the shape of a storm; but in spite of these favourable conditions we got a tossing, and no mistake! Our little ship was knocked about like a cork on the waters, which were absolutely boiling and foaming and furiously raging without any perceptible cause, and as if a gale were blowing on them two ways at once. The appearance of the foaming mass of waters was terrible to behold; we could hear them roaring and see them struggling together just below us; the deck of the sloop was only a few feet above them, and it appeared as if we might be swallowed up at any moment. The captain told us that this turmoil was caused by the meeting of the waters of two seas, and that at times it was very dangerous to small boats.

Many years ago he was passing through the Firth with his boat on a rather stormy day, when he noticed he was being followed by another boat belonging to a neighbour of his. He could see it distinctly from time to time, and he was sure that it could not be more than 200 yards away, when he suddenly missed it. He watched anxiously for some time, but it failed to reappear, nor was the boat or its crew ever seen or heard of again, and it was supposed to have been carried down by a whirlpool!

We were never more thankful than when we got safely across those awful waters and the great waves we encountered off Dunnet Head, and when we were safely landed near Thurso we did not forget the skipper, but bade him a friendly and, to him, lucrative farewell.

We had some distance to walk before reaching the town where, loaded with our luggage and carrying the large basket between us, each taking hold of one of the well-worn handles, we attracted considerable attention, and almost every one we saw showed a disposition to see what we were carrying in our hamper; but when they discovered it was empty, their curiosity was turned into another channel, and they must see where we were taking it; so by the time we reached the house recommended by our skipper for good lodgings we had a considerable following of "lookers on." Fortunately, however, no one attempted to add to our burden by placing anything in the empty basket or we should have been tempted to carry it bottom upwards like an inmate of one of the asylums in Lancashire. A new addition was being built in the grounds, and some of the lunatics were assisting in the building operations, when the foreman discovered one of them pushing his wheelbarrow with the bottom upwards and called out to him, "Why don't you wheel it the right way up?"

"I did," said the lunatic solemnly, "but they put bricks in it!"

We felt that some explanation was due to our landlady, who smiled when she saw the comical nature of that part of our luggage and the motley group who had followed us, and as we unfolded its history and described the dearth of willows in the Orkneys, the price we had paid, the difficulties in finding the hamper, and the care we had taken of it when crossing the stormy seas, we could see her smile gradually expanding into a laugh that she could retain no longer when she told us we could have got a better and a cheaper basket than that in the "toon," meaning Thurso, of course. It was some time before we recovered ourselves, laughter being contagious, and we could hear roars of it at the rear of the house as our antiquated basket was being stored there.

After tea we crossed the river which, like the town, is named Thurso, the word, we were informed, meaning Thor's House. Thor, the god of thunder, was the second greatest of the Scandinavian deities, while his father, Odin, the god of war, was the first. We had some difficulty in crossing the river, as we had to pass over it by no less than eighty-five stepping-stones, several of which were slightly submerged. Here we came in sight of Thurso Castle, the residence of the Sinclair family, one of whom, Sir John Sinclair, was the talented author of the famousStatistical Account of Scotland, and a little farther on stood Harold's Tower. This tower was erected by John Sinclair over the tomb of Earl Harold, the possessor at one time of one half of Orkney, Shetland, and Caithness, who fell in battle against his own namesake, Earl Harold the Wicked, in 1190. In the opposite direction was Scrabster and its castle, the scene of the horrible murder of John, Earl of Caithness, in the twelfth century, "whose tongue was cut from his throat and whose eyes were put out." We did not go there, but went into the town, and there witnessed the departure of the stage, or mail coach, which was just setting out on its journey of eighty miles, for railways had not yet made their appearance in Caithness, the most northerly county in Scotland. We then went to buy another hamper, and got a much better one for less money than we paid at Stromness, for we had agreed that we would send home two hampers filled with shells instead of one. We also inquired the best way of getting to John o' Groat's, and were informed that the Wick coach would take us the first six miles, and then we should have to walk the remaining fifteen. We were now only one day's journey to the end and also from the beginning of our journey, and, as may easily be imagined, we were anxiously looking forward to the morrow.

Friday, September 15th.

At eight o'clock in the morning we were comfortably seated in the coach which was bound for Wick, with our luggage and the two hampers safely secured on the roof above, and after a ride of about six miles we were left, with our belongings, at the side of the highway where the by-road leading in the direction of John o' Groat's branched off to the left across the open country. The object of our walk had become known to our fellow-passengers, and they all wished us a pleasant journey as the coach moved slowly away. Two other men who had friends in the coach also alighted at the same place, and we joined them in waving adieux, which were acknowledged from the coach, as long as it remained in sight. They also very kindly assisted us to carry our luggage as far as they were going on our way, and then they helped us to scheme how best to carry it ourselves. We had brought some strong cord with us from Thurso, and with the aid of this they contrived to sling the hampers over our shoulders, leaving us free to carry the remainder of our luggage in the usual way, and then, bidding us a friendly farewell, left us to continue on our lonely way towards John o' Groat's. We must have presented an extraordinary appearance with these large baskets extending behind our backs, and we created great curiosity and some amusement amongst the men, women, and children who were hard at work harvesting in the country through which we passed.

My brother said it reminded him of Christian in John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, who carried the burden on his back and wanted to get rid of it; while I thought of Sinbad the Sailor, who, when wrecked on a desert island, was compelled to carry the Old Man of the Sea on his shoulders, and he also wanted to get rid of his burden; but we agreed that, like both of these worthy characters, we should be obliged to carry our burdens to the end of the journey.

We had a fine view of Dunnet Head, which is said to be the Cape Orcas mentioned by Diodorus Siculus, the geographer who lived in the time of Julius Cæsar, and of the lighthouse which had been built on the top of it in 1832, standing quite near the edge of the cliff.

The light from the lantern, which was 346 feet above the highest spring tide, could be seen at a distance of 23 miles; but even this was sometimes obscured by the heavy storms from the west when the enormous billows from the Atlantic dashed against the rugged face of the cliff and threw up the spray as high as the lights of the building itself, so that the stones they contained have been known to break the glass in the building; such, indeed, was the prodigious combined force of the wind and sea upon the headland, that the very rock seemed to tremble as if it were affected by an earthquake.

While on the coach we had passed the hamlets of Murkle and Castlehill. Between these two places was a sandy pool on the seashore to which a curious legend was attached. The story goes that—

a young lad on one occasion discovered a mermaid bathing and by some means or other got into conversation with her and rendered himself so agreeable that a regular meeting at the same spot took place between them. This continued for some time. The young man grew exceedingly wealthy, and no one could tell how he became possessed of such riches. He began to cut a dash amongst the lasses, making them presents of strings of diamonds of vast value, the gifts of the fair sea nymph. By and by he began to forget the day of his appointment; and when he did come to see her, money and jewels were his constant request. The mermaid lectured him pretty sharply on his love of gold, and, exasperated at his perfidy in bestowing her presents on his earthly fair ones, enticed him one evening rather farther than usual, and at length showed him a beautiful boat, in which she said she would convey him to a cave in Darwick Head, where she had all the wealth of all the ships that ever were lost in the Pentland Firth and on the sands of Dunnet. He hesitated at first, but the love of gold prevailed, and off they set to the cave in question. And here, says the legend, he is confined with a chain of gold, sufficiently long to admit of his walking at times on a small piece of sand under the western side of the Head; and here, too, the fair siren laves herself in the tiny waves on fine summer evenings, but no consideration will induce her to loose his fetters of gold, or trust him one hour out of her sight.

We walked on at a good pace and in high spirits, but, after having knocked about for nine days and four nights and having travelled seven or eight hundred miles by land and sea, the weight of our extra burden began to tell upon us, and we felt rather tired and longed for a rest both for mind and body in some quiet spot over the week's end, especially as we had decided to begin our long walk on the Monday morning.

Visions of a good hotel which we felt sure we should find at John o' Groat's began to haunt us, and the more hungry we became the brighter were our anticipations of the good fare that awaited us. But judge of our surprise and disappointment when a man whom we met on the road told us there was no hotel there at all! We asked if he thought we could get lodgings at John o' Groat's House itself, but the sardonic grin that spread over his features when he told us that that house had vanished long ago was cruel. The information gave us quite a shock, and our spirits seemed to fall below zero as we turned our backs on the man without even thanking him for answering our questions. We felt not too full, but too empty for words, as we were awfully hungry, and I heard my brother murmur something that sounded very like "Liar"; but the man's information turned out to be perfectly correct. Our luggage also began to feel heavier, and the country gradually became more wild and desolate. Our spirits revived a little when a fisherman told us of a small inn that we should reach a mile or two before coming to John o' Groat's. We thought we had surely come to the end of everywhere when we reached the "Huna Inn," for it stood some distance from any other house and at the extreme end of an old lane that terminated at the sea. It was a small, primitive structure, but it was now our only hope, as far as we knew, for obtaining lodgings, and we could scarcely restrain our delight when we were told we could be accommodated there until Monday morning. It was an intense relief to us to be separated from our cumbersome luggage, and we must say that Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie did all in their power to make us comfortable and happy and to make us feel at home. We contented ourselves with some light refreshments which to some non-pedestrians might have appeared decidedly heavy, and then decided to see all that remained of John o' Groat's House.

Walking along the beach for about a mile and a half, the distance we were told that separated the ruins from the inn, we failed to find them, and were about to return when we met a shepherd who said we had already passed them. We therefore returned with him, as he told us he was going to the inn, and he showed us a few mounds of earth covered with grass which marked the site of the foundations of John o' Groat's House, but the stones had been removed to build a storehouse, or granary, at a place he pointed out in the distance. We were rather disappointed, as we expected to find some extensive remains, and, seeing they were so very scanty, we wondered why, in a land where stones were so plentiful, some monument or inscribed stone had not been erected to mark the site where this remarkable house once stood, as, in the absence of some one to direct them, strangers, like ourselves, might pass and repass these remains without noticing them. We were not long in reaching the inn, for the shepherd was a big man and took very long strides, and here we wrote a few short letters to our friends to advise them of our safe arrival at John o' Groat's, afterwards walking to the post office about a mile away to post them, and ordering a high tea to be ready for us on our return. It was half-past eight when we finished our tea, after which we were conducted to a little room close to the sea, with two tiny windows in it, one of them without a blind, and with a peat or turf fire burning brightly on the hearth. Mrs. Mackenzie then brought us a small candle, which she lighted, and handed us a book which she said was the "Album," and we amused ourselves with looking over this for the remainder of the evening. It was quite a large volume, dating from the year 1839, and the following official account of the Groat family, headed with a facsimile of the "Groat Arms," was pasted inside the cover:



It is stated in Sinclair's Statistical Accounts of Scotland, vol. 8, page 167 and following:—"In the account of Cannisby by the Rev. John Marison, D.D., that in the reign of James the Fourth, King of Scotland, Malcom, Cairn and John de Groat, supposed to have been brothers and originally from Holland, arrived in Caithness from the south of Scotland, bringing with them a letter in Latin by that King recommending him to the countenance and protection of his loving subjects in the County of Caithness."

It is stated in Chambers's Pictures of Scotland, vol. 2, page 306, "that the foundations or ruins of John o' Groat's House, which is perhaps the most celebrated in the whole world, are still to be seen."

Then followed the names and addresses of visitors extending over a period of thirty-three years, many of them having also written remarks in prose, poetry, or doggerel rhyme, so we found plenty of food for thought and some amusement before we got even half way through the volume. Some of these effusions might be described as of more than ordinary merit, and the remainder as good, bad, and indifferent. Those written in foreign languages—and there were many of them—we could neither read nor understand, but they gave us the impression that the fame of John o' Groat's had spread throughout the civilised world. There were many references to Stroma, or the Island of the Current, which we could see in the Pentland Firth about four miles distant, and to the difficulties and danger the visitors had experienced in crossing that "stormy bit of sea" between it and John o' Groat's. But their chief complaint was that, after travelling so far, there was no house for them to see. They had evidently, like ourselves, expected to find a substantial structure, and the farther they had travelled the greater their disappointment would naturally be. One visitor had expressed his disappointment in a verse more forcible than elegant, but true as regarded the stone.

I went in a boat

To see John o' Groat,

The place where his home doth lie;

But when I got there,

The hill was all bare,

And the devil a stone saw I.

The following entry also appeared in the Album:—

Elihu Burrit of New Britain, Connecticut, U.S. America, on a walk from Land's End to John o' Groat's, arrived at Huna Inn, upon Monday Sep. 28th, 1863. He visited the site of that famous domicile so celebrated in the world-wide legend for its ingenious construction to promote domestic happiness, and fully realised all he had anticipated in standing on a spot so rich with historical associations and surrounded with such grand and beautiful scenery. He desires also to record his testimony to the hospitality and comfort of the cosy little sea-side Inn, where he was pleasantly housed for the night, and of which he will ever cherish an interesting remembrance.

Saturday, September 16th.

"Now for the shells!" exclaimed my brother, as we awoke early in the morning, for we expected to have a hard day's work before we gathered shells enough to fill our large baskets. So we hurried on with our breakfast, and then, shouldering our hampers, walked quickly along the beach to the place where we had been informed we should find them. When we got there we saw a sight which surely could not have had its parallel in the British Isles, for the beach was white with them for the greater part of two miles. We were greatly astonished, for in some places the beach was so thickly covered that, had we possessed a shovel, we could have filled both our baskets with shells in a very few minutes. We decided therefore to select those best suited to our purpose, and we worked away until we had filled both our hampers. We then carried them one at a time to the "Huna Inn," and arranged with Mr. Mackenzie to have them carefully packed and delivered to the local carrier to be conveyed by road to the steamboat office at Wick, and thence forwarded by water to our home, where we knew their contents would be appreciated for rockery purposes. The whole of our operations were completed by noon, instead of occupying the whole of the day as anticipated, for we had a great advantage in having such an enormous number of shells to select from. Our host told us that farmers occasionally moved them by cart-loads to serve as lime manure on their land. Their accumulation at that particular spot was a mystery which he could not explain beyond the fact that the shells were washed up from the Pentland Firth during the great storms; so we concluded that there must be a land of shell fish in or near that stormy deep, perhaps corresponding with that of the larger fish whose destruction we had seen represented in the Strata of Pomona in the Orkneys.


We must not forget to record, however, that amongst the vast number of shells we had turned over we found some of those lovely little shells known as "John o' Groat's buckies," so highly prized by visitors. They were difficult to find, as they were so very small, but we found quite a number, and considered them to be perfect little gems, and so very pretty that we reserved them for special presents to our friends. We afterwards learned that they were known to science as Cyproe Artoca, or European Cowry.

An interesting account of John o' Groat's House and the shells was written in the year 1698 by the Rev. John Brand, Commissioner of the General Assembly:—

The landing-place was called John o' Groat's House, the northernmost house in Scotland; the man who now liveth in it and keepeth an inn there is called John Grot, who saith his house hath been in the possession of his predecessors of that name for some hundreds of years; which name of Grot is frequent in Caithness.

Upon the sand by John Grot's house are found many small pleasant buckies and shells, beautified by diverse colours, which some use to put upon a string as beads, and account much of their rarity. It is also observed of these shells that not one of them can be found altogether like another, and upon the review of the parcel I had I discovered some difference among them which variety renders them the more beautiful.


After our midday dinner had partially digested, for we had eaten rather too much, we started for Duncansbay Head, following the coast line on an up-gradient until we reached the top, which formed the north-eastern extremity of Scotland, and from where we had to start on Monday morning. It was a lonely spot, and we were the only visitors; but we had a lively time there, as the thousands of wild birds whose homes were in the rocks, judging from the loud noises they made as they new about us in endless processions, resented our intrusion into their sacred domain—hovering around us in every direction. Perhaps they were only anxious to ascertain whether we were friends or foes, but we were very much interested in their strange movements. They appeared to be most numerous on and about two or three perpendicular rocks which rose from the sea like pinnacles to a great height. These rocks were named the "Stacks," or the "Boars of Duncansbay," their sides and summits being only accessible to birds, and forming safe resting and nesting-places for them, and on the top of the highest stack the golden-coloured eagles had for ages reared their young. The "Stacks" might once have formed part of the headland or of some adjacent island which had been wasted away by the winds and waves of ages until only these isolated portions remained, and these were worn into all kinds of crevices and fantastic shapes which impressed us with a sense of their great antiquity. We walked along the top of the cliffs, which here presented the appearance of one vast amphitheatre lined with precipices, with small promontories here and there jutting out into the sea resembling fortresses, some of them having the ruins of ancient castles crowning their highest points. We could scarcely bring our minds to realise that these were the very rocks we had seen from the deck of the s.s. St. Magnus only a few days since. We had passed through so many scenes, and had had so many adventures both by night and day since then, that the lapse of time seemed to us to be more like years than days. We retraced our steps to the head, and stood there for some time watching the ships far out at sea, trying to distinguish the St. Magnus, as it was just about the time she was again due on her outward journey; but the demands of our hungry insides were again claiming urgent attention, and so we hastened our return to the "Huna Inn." On our way we again encountered the shepherd who had shown us the site of John o' Groat's House, and we invited him to look us up in the evening, as we were anxious to get further information about John and his famous house. "Huna Inn," in spite of its disadvantages, was quite a romantic place to stay at, as it was situated almost on the edge of the boiling torrent of the Pentland Firth, which at times was so stormy that the island of Stroma could not be reached for weeks.

The "Swalchie," or whirlpool of Stroma, has been mentioned by many ancient writers, but the most interesting story is that of its origin as given in the old Norse legend headed, "Fenja and Menja," and containing a famous ballad known as the "Grotta Songr," or the "Mill Song," grotta being the Norse for mill, or quern.

Odin had a son by name Skjold from whom the Skjoldungs. He had his throne and ruled in the lands that are now called Denmark but were then called Gotland. Skjold had a son by name Fridleif, who ruled the lands after him. Fridleif's son was Frode. He took the kingdom after his father, at the time when the Emperor Augustus established peace in all the earth, and Christ was born. But Frode being the mightiest King in the Northlands, this peace was attributed to him by all who spake the Danish tongue and the Norsemen called it the Peace of Frode. No man injured the other, even though he might meet, loose or in chains, his father's or brother's bane (murderer). There was no thief or robber so that a gold ring would lie a long time on Jalanger's heath. King Frode sent messengers to Sirthjod, to the King whose name was Fjolner, and bought there two maidservants, whose names were Fenja and Menja. They were large and strong. About this time were found in Denmark two millstones so large that no one had the strength to turn them. But the nature belonged to these millstones that they ground whatever was demanded of them by the miller. The name of the mill was Grotte. But the man to whom King Frode gave the mill was called Hengekjapt. King Frode had the maidservants led to the mill and requested them to grind for him gold and peace and Frode's happiness. Then he gave them no longer time to rest or sleep than while the cuckoo was silent or while they sang a song. It is said they sang the song called the "Grotte Song," and before they ended it they ground out a host against Frode, so that on the same night there came the Sea-King whose name was Mysing and slew Frode and took a large amount of booty. Mysing took with him Grotte and also Fenja and Menja and bade them grind salt, and in the middle of the night they asked Mysing whether he did not have salt enough. He bade them grind more. They ground only a short time longer before the ship sank. But in the ocean arose a whirlpool (maelstrom, mill-stream) in the place where the sea runs into the mill-eye: the Swalchie of Stroma.

The story "Why is the sea salt?" or "How the sea became salt," has appeared in one form or another among many nations of the world, and naturally appealed strongly to the imagination of the youth of a maritime nation like England. The story as told formerly amongst schoolboys was as follows:

Jack had decided to go to sea, but before doing so he went to see his fairy godmother, who had a strange looking old coffee-mill on the mantelshelf in her kitchen. She set the table for tea without anything on it to eat or drink, and then, taking down the old mill, placed it on the table and asked it to grind each article she required. After the tea-pot had been filled, Jack was anxious for something to eat, and said he would like some teacakes, so his fairy godmother said to the mill:

"Mill! Mill! grind away.

Buttered tea-cakes now I pray!"

for she knew Jack liked plenty of butter on his cakes, and out they came from the mill until the plate was well filled, and then she said:

"Mill! Mill! rest thee now,

Thou hast ground enough I trow,"

and immediately the mill stopped grinding. When Jack told her he was going away on a ship to sea, his fairy godmother made him a present of the old mill, which he would find useful, as it would grind anything he asked it to; but he must be careful to use the same words that he had heard her speak both in starting and stopping the mill. When he got to the ship, he stored the old mill carefully in his box, and had almost forgotten it when as they neared the country they were bound for the ship ran short of potatoes, so Jack told the Captain he would soon find him some, and ran for his mill, which he placed on the deck of the ship, and said to it:

"Mill! Mill! grind away,

Let us have some potatoes I pray!"

and immediately the potatoes began to roll out of the mill and over the deck, to the great astonishment and delight of the sailors, who had fine fun gathering them up. Then Jack said to the mill:

"Mill! Mill! rest thee now,

Thou hast ground enough I trow,"

and immediately the mill ceased grinding.

The Captain determined to get the mill from Jack, who would not part with it, and tried to steal it, but did not succeed, and when they reached the port, Jack took the mill ashore with him, and rented a shop that happened to be empty, and had a sign-board placed over it with the words painted in large letters, "All sorts of things supplied here on the shortest notice," and he soon got a pile of money, the last order being one from the King, who wanted clothing for his soldiers in a hurry, as war had broken out unexpectedly. Jack's good fortune was soon heard of by the Captain, and when his ship was ready to sail he contrived to get one of his friends to invite Jack to a party that evening, and then with the help of some of his crew he broke into the shop and stole the old mill.

When Jack returned in the morning his mill was gone, and he could just see the sails of the ship far out at sea. But he did not care much, as he had now money enough to keep himself for many years. Meantime the Captain in his hurry to get away had forgotten to bring some things that were wanted, and when he found they had no salt on board, he brought the old mill on deck, and said:

"Mill! Mill! grind away

Let us have some salt I pray,"

and immediately the mill began to grind salt at a great speed and presently covered the deck all round where it was working, but the Captain had forgotten the words spoken by Jack when he stopped the mill, and though he used all the words he could think of, the mill kept on grinding, and was rapidly filling every available space on the deck. The Captain then ran to his cabin and brought out his sword, and with a terrific blow he cut the mill in halves; but each piece formed itself into a mill, and both mills continued grinding until the ship sank to the bottom of the sea, where the mills are still grinding in the terrible Swalchie of Stroma, and that is why the water in the sea is salt!

There had been a ferry at John o' Groat's years before our visit, and mails and passengers had been carried across the Firth to and from the Orkney Islands, the distance across being shorter from this point than from any other in Scotland; but for some unexplained reason the service had been discontinued, and the presence of the ferry would probably account for so many names being written in the album. The day was already drawing to a close as we sat down to tea and the good things provided by Mrs. Mackenzie, and we were waited upon by a Scotch lassie, who wore neither shoes nor stockings; but this we found was nothing unusual in the north of Scotland in those days. After tea we adjourned to our room, and sat down in front of our peat fire; but our conversational powers soon exhausted themselves, for we felt uncommonly drowsy after having been exposed so long to the open air. We sat there silently watching the curling smoke as it went up the chimney and dreamily gazing into the caverns which had been formed in the fire below, imagining that we could see all kinds of weird objects therein, and then we thought of the times when we should not have been able to rest so securely and comfortably in the "Huna Inn," when one Scottish clan was trying to exterminate another not so far away from where we were then sitting, for no more apparent reason than that the Scots were born soldiers, and if they had no foreigners to fight they must fight among themselves. We must have been nearly asleep when our reveries were interrupted by the entrance of the shepherd, whom for the moment we had entirely forgotten. He had come in response to our invitation to talk with us about things in general, but particularly about John o' Groat, and we were glad to see him, and we now give—


John o' Groat was a fisherman belonging to Holland who was caught when at sea in a great storm which damaged his sails so that his boat drifted almost helplessly across the sea. When he came in sight of the Scottish coast he was carried with the current into the Pentland Firth, and as he could not repair the sails in the boat and could not get back to Holland with them in their damaged condition, he decided to land on one of the islands and repair them on shore. His wife was very much opposed to his landing on Stroma, as she thought it was a desert island, so he got his boat across from there to the Scottish coast; but when he attempted to land at Huna, the natives opposed his landing, for they thought he was a pirate. Fortunately for him he had a few kegs of gin in his boat, and when the canny Scots saw these they became more friendly, especially as they had a great respect for Holland's gin, and so they allowed him to land, and even helped him to mend his sails. They afterwards allowed him to settle amongst them on condition that he did not attempt to go into the interior of the country, and that he built his house on the seashore. He got on well amongst his new friends, and in time became their chief and had eight sons, and on one festive occasion, when they all came to see him, they quarrelled as to which should have precedence at his table, so John told them that the next time they came he would have matters so arranged as to avoid that kind of thing in the future. He therefore built an entirely new house with eight sides to it and a door in each, and made a table inside of the same octagonal shape, so that when they came to see him again each of them could enter by his own door and sit at his own head of the table.

In reply to our questions the shepherd said he thought this event happened about 350 years ago, but the house had long since disappeared, and only the site of the foundations which he had shown us previously now remained. He also said that heaps of ladies and gentlemen came there to picnic on the site, and he had seen them take even small stones away; but though he had lived there for fifty years, he had never seen John o' Groat's any different from what it was now. We asked him why John did not return to Holland, and he said it was because he had a letter from the king. We thanked the shepherd for his story, and, having suitably rewarded him, bade him farewell and hurried off to bed in the fading light of our rapidly diminishing candle.

Sunday, September 17th.

The strict observance of the Sabbath Day in Scotland was to us a most pleasing feature in Scottish life, and one to which we had been accustomed from early childhood, so we had no desire to depart from it now. We were, therefore, very pleased when Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie invited us to accompany them to the Free Kirk service, and, as half-past ten o'clock was the time fixed for our departure from the inn, we concluded that the kirk could not be far away, as that was the hour that service began in our village church in Cheshire, but we could not remember seeing any kirk in the neighbourhood of the "Huna Inn." We continued walking one mile after another for more than an hour, and must have walked quite four miles before we came in sight of the kirk, and we were then informed that the service did not commence until twelve o'clock! The country through which we passed was very bare, there being a total absence of hedges and trees, so we could see people coming towards the kirk from every direction. Everybody seemed to know everybody else, and, as they came nearer the sacred enclosure, they formed themselves into small groups and stood conversing with each other, chiefly on religious matters, until the minister arrived to take charge of his flock. He was a quaintly dressed and rather elderly man, evidently well known, as he had a nod or a smile of recognition and a friendly word for all. We followed him into the kirk, where we found ourselves in the presence of quite a large congregation, and sat with Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie in their own pew in the rear of the kirk. The form of the service was quite different from that to which we had been accustomed. The congregation stood up while they prayed and sat down while they sang the Psalms, with the exception of one man, who remained standing in what we thought was the clerk's desk immediately below the pulpit. This man acted as leader of the singing, but he failed to get much assistance from the people, and had great difficulty in keeping the singing going. Possibly the failure of the congregational singing might be accounted for by the absence of an organ or other instrument of music to assist and encourage the people to sing, the nearest approach to anything of the kind being the tuning-fork which the conductor held in his hand. There was also the fact that the sitting posture was not the best position for bringing out the powers of the human voice; but we came to the conclusion that music was not looked upon favourably in that remote part of Scotland.

In front of the pulpit there was an enclosure, fenced in by the communion rail, and inside this were seated the elders, or deacons of the church. These were very old men with bent heads and white hair, and had the appearance of centenarians; they were indeed the queerest-looking group of old men we had ever seen assembled together. But it was their noses that chiefly attracted our attention, as they were so very long and crooked, and the strange feature about them was that they were all of the same pattern. Their only rival, as far as we could see, in length of nose was the minister, but we thought he had enlarged his by artificial means, as we found to our surprise that he was addicted to snuff-taking, a habit very prevalent in Scotland in those days.

Then came the sermon. On the pulpit was the Bible, and beside it a substantial box of snuff, to which the minister resorted occasionally in the course of his long discourse. His pinches must have been considerable, for every sniff lasted from two to three seconds, and could be heard distinctly all over the kirk. This had a tendency to distract our attention from his sermon, which, by the way, was a very good one; but, owing to his rather slow delivery, we experienced a feeling of relief when he reached the end, for it had lasted quite an hour.

There was now a slight movement amongst the congregation, which we interpreted as a sign that the service was at an end, and we rose to leave; but, imagine our consternation when our friends told us that what we had listened to was only the first part of the service, and that we must on no account leave, as the second part was to follow immediately. We therefore remained not altogether unwillingly, for we were curious to know what the next service was like. It proved to be almost exactly the same as the first, and we could not distinguish much difference between the two sermons; but we listened attentively, and were convinced that the preacher was a thoroughly conscientious man in spite of his occasional long sniffs of snuff, which were continued as before, but what astonished us was that the old gentleman never once sneezed! It was the most remarkable service we had ever attended, and it concluded exactly at three o'clock, having lasted three hours.

We had then to retrace our four-mile walk to "Huna Inn," but the miles seemed rather longer, as Mrs. Mackenzie could only walk in a leisurely manner and we were feeling very hungry. We whiled away the time by talking about the sermons and the snuff, but chiefly about the deacons and their wonderful noses, and why they were all alike and so strangely crooked. Mr. Mackenzie suggested that they were crooked because if they had grown straight they would have projected over their mouths and prevented them from eating, the crook in them being a provision of nature to avoid this; or, they might have descended from the Romans or some other ancient race who had formerly inhabited the coast of that part of Scotland. Books had been written and sermons preached about noses, and the longer the nose the greater the intellect of the owner was supposed to be. We told our host that there was only one-sixteenth part of an inch between the length of Napoleon's nose and that of Wellington's. We had forgotten which was the longer, but as Wellington's was so conspicuous that he was nicknamed "Nosey" by his troops, and as he had won the great battle of Waterloo, we concluded that it was his, and gave him the benefit of the doubt. We quoted the following lines:

Knows he, that never took a pinch,

Nosey, the pleasure thence that flows?

Knows he the titillating joy

Which my nose knows?

O Nose, I am as proud of thee

As any mountain of its snows;

I gaze on thee, and feel that pride

A Roman knows.

Our host confided to us the reason why he was so anxious that we should not leave in the middle of the service. The second service was originally intended for those who had to come long distances to reach the kirk, some of whom came from a place seven miles away, but in late years the two services had become continuous. A few Sundays before our visit some persons had left the kirk at the end of the first part, and in his second sermon the minister had plainly described them as followers of the Devil! so we supposed our host was anxious that we should not be denounced in the same way.

We found our tea-dinner waiting our arrival at the inn. We sat down to it at half-past four, and, as we rose from what was left of it at five o'clock, having worked hard meanwhile, we may safely be credited with having done our duty.

We had a walk with our host along the shore, and had not proceeded far before we saw a dark-looking object some distance away in the sea. We thought it looked like a man in a boat, rising and falling with the waves, but Mr. Mackenzie told us that it was two whales following the herrings that were travelling in shoals round the coasts. We were very much interested in their strange movements, as they were the only whales we ever saw alive, but we could not help feeling sorry for the fish. Evening was coming on as we re-entered "Huna Inn," and when we were again seated before our turf fire, joined by our host and hostess, our conversation was chiefly on the adventures we had already had, the great walk we were to begin on the morrow, and the pleasure it had given us to see the manifest and steadfast determination of the people at the kirk to observe the Commandment of the God of the Sabbath, "REMEMBER THAT THOU KEEP HOLY THE SABBATH DAY." We wondered how much the prosperity of the Scottish nation and its representatives in every part of the "wide, wide world" was attributable to their strict observance of the Sabbath. Who knows?


Monday, September 18th.

We rose early and walked along the beach to Duncansbay Head, or Rongisby as the old maps have it, gathering a few of those charming little shells called John o'Groat Buckies by the way. After walking round the site of John o'Groat's house, we returned to our comfortable quarters at the Huna Inn for breakfast. John o'Groat seems to have acted with more wisdom than many entrusted with the affairs of a nation. When his sons quarrelled for precedence at his table, he consoled them with the promise that when the next family gathering took place the matter should be settled to the satisfaction of all. During the interval he built a house having eight sides, each with a door and window, with an octagonal table in the centre so that each of his eight sons could enter at his own door and sit at his own side or "head" of the table. By this arrangement—which reminded us of King Arthur's use of his round table—he dispelled the animosity which previously prevailed. After breakfast, and in the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie, we made an entry in the famous Album with name and address, object of journey, and exact time of departure, and they promised to reserve a space beneath the entry to record the result, which was to be posted to them immediately we reached our journey's end.


It was about half-past ten o'clock when we started on our long walk along a circuitous and unknown route from John o'Groat's to Land's End. Our host and hostess stood watching our departure and waving adieux until we disappeared in the distance. We were in high spirits, and soon reached the junction of roads where we turned to the left towards Wick. The first part of our walk was through the Parish of Canisbay, in the ancient records of which some reference is made to the more recent representatives of the Groat family, but as these were made two hundred years ago, they were now almost illegible. Our road lay through a wild moorland district with a few farms and cottages here and there, mainly occupied by fishermen. There were no fences to the fields or roads, and no bushes or trees, and the cattle were either herded or tied to stakes.

After passing through Canisbay, we arrived at the most northerly house in the Parish of Wick, formerly a public-house, and recognised as the half-way house between Wick and John o'Groat's. We found it occupied as a farm by Mr. John Nicolson, and here we saw the skeleton of a whale doing duty as a garden fence. The dead whale, seventy feet in length, had been found drifting in the sea, and had been hauled ashore by the fishermen. Mr. Nicolson had an ingenious son, who showed us a working sun-dial in the garden in front of the house which he had constructed out of a portion of the backbone, and in the same bone he had also formed a curious contrivance by which he could tell the day of the month. He told us he was the only man that studied painting in the North, and invited us into the house, wherein several rooms he showed us some of his paintings, which were really excellent considering they were executed in ordinary wall paint. His mother informed us that he began to study drawing when he was ill with a slow fever, but not bed-fast. Two of the pictures, that of an old bachelor and a Scotch lassie, a servant, were very good indeed. We also saw a picture of an old woman, a local celebrity, about a hundred years old, which was considered to be an excellent likeness, and showed the old lady's eyes so sunk in her head as to be scarcely visible. We considered that we had here found one of Nature's artists, who would probably have made a name for himself if given the advantages so many have who lack the ability, for he certainly possessed both the imaginative faculty and no small degree of dexterity in execution. He pointed out to us the house of a farmer over the way who slept in the Parish of Wick and took his meals in that of Canisbay, the boundary being marked by a chimney in the centre of the roof. He also informed us that his brother accompanied Elihu Burritt, the American blacksmith, for some distance when he walked from London to John o'Groat's.

We were now about eleven miles from Wick, and as Mr. Nicolson told us of an old castle we had missed, we turned back across the moors for about a mile and a half to view it. He warned us that we might see a man belonging to the neighbourhood who was partly insane, and who, roaming amongst the castle ruins, usually ran straight towards any strangers as if to do them injury; but if we met him we must not be afraid, as he was perfectly harmless. We had no desire to meet a madman, and luckily, although we kept a sharp look-out, we did not see him. We found the ruined castle resting on a rock overlooking the sea with the rolling waves dashing on its base below; it was connected with the mainland by a very narrow strip broken through in one place, and formerly crossed by a drawbridge. As this was no longer available, it was somewhat difficult to scale the embankment opposite; still we scrambled up and passed triumphantly through the archway into the ruins, not meeting with that resistance we fancied we should have done in the days of its daring owner. A portion only of the tower remained, as the other part had fallen about two years before our visit. The castle, so tradition stated, had been built about the year 1100 by one Buchollie, a famous pirate, who owned also another castle somewhere in the Orkneys. How men could carry on such an unholy occupation amidst such dangerous surroundings was a mystery to us.


On our return we again saw our friend Mr. Nicolson, who told us there were quite a number of castles in Caithness, as well as Pictish forts and Druidical circles, a large proportion of the castles lying along the coast we were traversing. He gave us the names of some of them, and told us that they materially enhanced the beauty of this rock-bound coast. He also described to us a point of the coast near Ackergill, which we should pass, where the rocks formed a remarkably perfect profile of the Great Duke of Wellington, though others spoke of it as a black giant. It could only be seen from the sea, but was marvellously correct and life-like, and of gigantic proportions.

Acting on Mr. Nicolson's instructions, we proceeded along the beach to Keiss Castle, and ascended to its second storey by means of a rustic ladder. It was apparently of a more recent date than Buchollie, and a greater portion of it remained standing. A little to the west of it we saw another and more modern castle, one of the seats of the Duke of Portland, who, we were told, had never yet visited it. Before reaching the village of Keiss, we came to a small quay, where we stayed a short time watching the fishermen getting their smacks ready before sailing out to sea, and then we adjourned to the village inn, where we were provided with a first-class tea, for which we were quite ready. The people at the inn evidently did not think their business inconsistent with religion, for on the walls of the apartment where we had our tea were hanging two pictures of a religious character, and a motto "Offer unto God thanksgiving," and between them a framed advertisement of "Edinburgh Ales"!

After tea we continued our journey until we came to the last house in the village of Keiss, a small cottage on the left-hand side of the road, and here we called to inspect a model of John o'Groat's house, which had been built by a local stonemason, and exhibited at the great Exhibition in London in 1862. Its skilful builder became insane soon after he had finished it, and shortly afterwards died. It was quite a palatial model and much more handsome than its supposed original was ever likely to have been. It had eight doors with eight flights of steps leading up to them, and above were eight towers with watchmen on them, and inside the house was a table with eight sides made from wood said to have been from the original table in the house of Groat, and procured from one of his descendants. The model was accompanied by a ground plan and a print of the elevation taken from a photo by a local artist. There was no charge for admission or for looking at the model, but a donation left with the fatherless family was thankfully received.

We now walked for miles along the seashore over huge sand-hills with fine views of the herring-boats putting out to sea. We counted fifty-six in one fleet, and the number would have been far greater had not Noss Head intervened to obstruct our view, as many more went out that night from Wick, although the herring season was now nearly over. We passed Ackergill Tower, the residence of Sir George Dunbar, and about two miles farther on we came to two old castles quite near to each other, which were formerly the strongholds of the Earls of Caithness. They were named Girnigoe and Sinclair. Girnigoe was the oldest, and under the ruins of the keep was a dismal dungeon.

It was now getting dark, and not the pleasantest time to view old castles surrounded by black rocks with the moan of the sea as it invaded the chasms of the rocks on which they stood. Amongst these lonely ruins we spoke of the past, for had our visit been three centuries earlier, the dismal sounds from the sea below would have mingled with those from the unfortunate young man chained up in that loathsome dungeon, whose only light came from a small hole high up in the wall. Such was John, Master of Caithness, the eldest son of the fifth Sinclair, Earl of Caithness, who is said to have been imprisoned here because he had wooed and won the affections of the daughter of a neighbouring laird, marked out by his father, at that time a widower, for himself. He was confined in that old dungeon for more than six long years before death released him from his inhuman parent.

During his imprisonment John had three keepers appointed over him—Murdoch Roy and two brothers named Ingram and David Sinclair. Roy attended him regularly, and did all the menial work, as the other two keepers were kinsmen of the earl, his father, who had imprisoned him. Roy was sorry for the unfortunate nobleman, and arranged a plot to set him at liberty, which was unfortunately discovered by John's brother William, who bore him no good will. William told his father, the earl, who immediately ordered Roy to be executed. The poor wretch was accordingly brought out and hanged on the common gibbet of the castle without a moment being allowed him to prepare for his final account.

Soon afterwards, in order to avenge the death of Roy, John, who was a man of great bodily strength and whose bad usage and long imprisonment had affected his mind, managed to seize his brother William on the occasion of his visit to the dungeon and strangle him. This only deepened the earl's antipathy towards his unhappy son, and his keepers were encouraged to put him to death. The plan adopted was such as could only have entered the imagination of fiends, for they withheld food from their prisoner for the space of five days, and then set before him a piece of salt beef of which he ate voraciously. Soon after, when he called for water, they refused to give him any, and he died of raging thirst. Another account said they gave him brandy, of which he drank so copiously that he died raving mad. In any case, there is no doubt whatever that he was barbarously done to death.


Every castle along the seacoast had some story of cruelty connected with it, but the story of Girnigoe was perhaps the worst of all, and we were glad to get away from a place with such dismal associations.

About a hundred years after this sad event the Clan of the Campbells of Glenorchy declared war on the Sinclairs of Keiss, and marched into Caithness to meet them; but the Sinclairs instead of going out to meet them at the Ord of Caithness, a naturally fortified position, stayed at home, and the Campbells took up a strong position at Altimarloch, about two miles from Wick. The Sinclairs spent the night before the battle drinking and carousing, and then attacked the Campbells in the strong position they had taken up, with the result that the Sinclairs were routed and many of them perished.

They meet, they close in deadly strife,

But brief the bloody fray;

Before the Campbells' furious charge

The Caithness ranks give way.

The shrieking mother wrung her hands,

The maiden tore her hair,

And all was lamentation loud,

And terror, and despair.

It was commonly said that the well-known quicksteps, "The Campbells are coming" and the "Braes of Glenorchy" obtained their names from this raid.

The Sinclairs of Keiss were a powerful and warlike family, and they soon regained their position. It was a pleasing contrast to note that in 1765 Sir William Sinclair of Keiss had laid aside his sword, embracing the views held by the Baptists, and after being baptized in London became the founder of that denomination in Caithness and a well-known preacher and writer of hymns.

In his younger days he was in the army, where he earned fame as an expert swordsman, his fame in that respect spreading throughout the countryside. Years after he had retired from the service, while sitting in his study one forenoon intently perusing a religious work, his valet announced the arrival of a stranger who wished to see him. The servant was ordered to show him into the apartment, and in stalked a strong muscular-looking man with a formidable Andrea Ferrara sword hanging by his side, and, making a low obeisance, he thus addressed the knight:

"Sir William, I hope you will pardon my intrusion. I am a native of England and a professional swordsman. In the course of my travels through Scotland, I have not yet met with a gentleman able to cope with me in the noble science of swordsmanship. Since I came to Caithness I have heard that you are an adept with my favourite weapon, and I have called to see if you would do me the honour to exchange a few passes with me just in the way of testing our respective abilities."

Sir William was both amused and astonished at this extraordinary request, and replied that he had long ago thrown aside the sword, and, except in case of necessity, never intended to use it any more. But the stranger would take no denial, and earnestly insisted that he would favour him with a proof of his skill.

"Very well," said Sir William, "to please you I shall do so," and, rising and fetching his sword, he desired the stranger, who was an ugly-looking fellow, to draw and defend himself. After a pass or two Sir William, with a dexterous stroke, cut off a button from the vest of his opponent.

"Will that satisfy you," inquired Sir William; "or shall I go a little deeper and draw blood?"

"Oh, I am perfectly satisfied," said the other. "I find I have for once met a gentleman who knows how to handle his sword."

In about half a mile after leaving the ruins of these old castles we saw the Noss Head Lighthouse, with its powerful light already flashing over the darkening seas, and we decided to visit it. We had to scale several fences, and when we got there we found we had arrived long after the authorised hours for the admission of visitors. We had therefore some difficulty in gaining an entrance, as the man whose attention we had attracted did not at first understand why we could not come again the next day. When we explained the nature of our journey, he kindly admitted us through the gate. The lighthouse and its surroundings were scrupulously clean, and if we had been Her Majesty's Inspectors of Lighthouses, if such there be, we could not have done otherwise than report favourably of our visit. The attendants were very kind to us, one of them accompanying us to the top, and as the lighthouse was 175 feet high, we had a great number of steps to climb. We had never seen the interior of a lighthouse before, and were greatly interested in the wonderful mechanism by which the flashlight was worked. We were much impressed by the incalculable value of these national institutions, especially in such dangerous positions as we knew from experience prevailed on those stormy coasts. We were highly delighted with our novel adventure, and, after regaining the entrance, we walked briskly away; but it was quite dark before we had covered the three miles that separated the lighthouse from the fishery town of Wick. Here we procured suitable lodgings, and then hurried to the post office for the letters that waited us, which we were delighted to read, for it seemed ages since we left home.


(Distance walked twenty-five miles.)

Tuesday, September 19th.

We had our first experience of a herring breakfast, and were surprised to find how delicious they tasted when absolutely fresh. There was an old proverb in Wick: "When the herrings come in, the doctors go out!" which may indicate that these fish had some medicinal value; but more likely the saying referred to the period of plenty following that of want and starvation. We went down to the quay and had a talk with some of the fishermen whom we met returning from their midnight labours. They told us they had not caught many herrings that night, but that the season generally had been a good one, and they would have money enough to support themselves through the coming winter. There were about nine hundred boats in the district, and sometimes over a thousand, all employed in the fishing industry; each boat was worked by four men and one boy, using nets 850 yards long. The herrings appeared about the second week in August and remained until the end of September, but the whales swallowed barrels of them at one "jow."

We called at the steamboat depot and found that our hampers of shells had already arrived, and would be sent forward on the St. Magnus; next we went to get our hair and beards trimmed by the Wick barber. He was a curious old gentleman and quite an orator, and even at that early hour had one customer in hand while another was waiting to be shaved, so we had of course to wait our turn. The man who was waiting began to express his impatience in rather strong language, but the barber was quite equal to the occasion, and in the course of a long and eloquent oration, while he was engaged with the customer he had in hand, he told him that when he came into a barber's shop he should have the calmness of mind to look quietly around and note the sublimity of the place, which ought to be sufficient to enable him to overcome such signs of impatience as he had exhibited. We were quite sure that the barber's customer did not understand one-half the big words addressed to him, but they had the desired effect, and he waited patiently until his turn came to be shaved. He was a dark-complexioned seafaring man, and had evidently just returned from a long sea voyage, as the beard on his chin was more like the bristles on a blacking-brush, and the operation of removing them more like mowing than shaving. When completed, the barber held out his hand for payment. The usual charge must have been a penny, for that was the coin he placed in the barber's hand. But it was now the barber's turn. Drawing himself up to his full height, with a dignified but scornful expression on his face, he pointed with his razor to the penny he held in his other hand, which remained open, and exclaimed fiercely, "This! for a month's shave!" Another penny was immediately added, and his impatient customer quickly and quietly departed.

It was now our turn for beard and hair trimming, but we had been so much amused at some of the words used by the barber that, had it not been for his awe-inspiring look, the scissors he now held in his hand, and the razors that were so near to us, we should have failed to suppress our laughter. The fact was that the shop was the smallest barber's establishment we had ever patronised, and the dingiest-looking little place imaginable, the only light being from a very small window at the back of the shop. To apply the words sublime and sublimity to a place like this was ludicrous in the extreme. It was before this window that we sat while our hair was being cut; but as only one side of the head could be operated upon at once, owing to the scanty light, we had to sit before it sideways, and then to reverse our position.

We have heard it said that every man's hair has a stronger growth on one side of his head than the other, but whether this barber left more hair on the strong side or not we did not know. In any case, the difference between the two sides, both of hair and beard, after the barber's operation was very noticeable. The only sublime thing about the shop was the barber himself, and possibly he thought of himself when speaking of its sublimity. He was a well-known character in Wick, and if his lot had been cast in a more expansive neighbourhood he might have filled a much higher position. He impressed us very much, and had we visited Wick again we should certainly have paid him a complimentary visit. We then purchased a few prints of the neighbourhood at Mr. Johnston's shop, and were given some information concerning the herring industry. It appeared that this industry was formerly in the hands of the Dutch, who exploited the British coasts as well as their own, for the log of the Dutillet, the ship which brought Prince Charles Edward to Scotland in 1745, records that on August 25th it joined two Dutch men-of-war and a fleet of herring craft off Rongisby.


In the early part of the fourteenth century there arose a large demand for this kind of fish by Roman Catholics both in the British Isles and on the Continent. The fish deserted the Baltic and new herring fields were sought, while it became necessary to find some method of preserving them. The art of curing herrings was discovered by a Dutchman named Baukel. Such was the importance attached to this discovery that the Emperor Charles V caused a costly memorial to be erected over his grave at Biervlet. The trade remained in the hands of the Dutch for a long time, and the cured herrings were chiefly shipped to Stettin, and thence to Spain and other Roman Catholic countries, large profits being made. In 1749, however, a British Fishery Society was established, and a bounty of £50 offered on every ton of herrings caught. In 1803 an expert Dutchman was employed to superintend the growing industry, and from 1830 Wick took the lead in the herring industry, which in a few years' time extended all round the coasts, the piles of herring-barrels along the quay at Wick making a sight worth seeing.

We had not gone far when we turned aside to visit the ruins of Wick Castle, which had been named by the sailors "The Auld Man o'Wick." It was built like most of the others we had seen, on a small promontory protected by the sea on three sides, but there were two crevices in the rock up which the sea was rushing with terrific force. The rock on which its foundations rested we estimated to be about 150 feet high, and there was only a narrow strip of land connecting it with the mainland. The solitary tower that remained standing was about fifty feet high, and apparently broader at the top than at the bottom, being about ten or twelve yards in length and breadth, with the walls six or seven feet thick. The roar of the water was like the sound of distant thunder, lending a melancholy charm to the scene. It was from here that we obtained our first land view of those strange-looking hills in Caithness called by the sailors, from their resemblance to the breasts of a maiden, the Maiden's Paps. An old man directed us the way to Lybster by what he called the King's Highway, and looking back from this point we had a fine view of the town of Wick and its surroundings.

Taught by past experience, we had provided ourselves with a specially constructed apparatus for tea-making, with a flask to fit inside to carry milk, and this we used many times during our journey through the Highlands of Scotland. We also carried a reserve stock of provisions, since we were often likely to be far away from any human habitation. To-day was the first time we had occasion to make use of it, and we had our lunch not in the room of an inn, but sitting amongst the heather under the broad blue canopy of heaven. It was a gloriously fine day, but not a forerunner of a fine day on the morrow, as after events showed. We had purchased six eggs at a farmhouse, for which we were only charged fourpence, and with a half-pound of honey and an enormous oatmeal cake—real Scotch—we had a jovial little picnic and did not fare badly. We had many a laugh at the self-satisfied sublimity of our friend the barber, but the sublimity here was real, surrounded as we were by magnificent views of the distant hills, and through the clear air we could see the mountains on the other side of the Moray Firth probably fifty miles distant. Our road was very hilly, and devoid of fences or trees or other objects to obstruct our view, so much so that at one point we could see two milestones, the second before we reached the first.

We passed Loch Hempriggs on the right of our road, with Iresgoe and its Needle on the seacoast to the left, also an old ruin which we were informed was a "tulloch," but we did not know the meaning of the word. After passing the tenth milestone from Wick, we went to look at an ancient burial-ground which stood by the seaside about a field's breadth from our road. The majority of the gravestones were very old, and whatever inscriptions they ever had were now worn away by age and weather; some were overgrown with grass and nettles, while in contrast to these stood some modern stones of polished granite. The inscriptions on these stones were worded differently from those places farther south. The familiar words "Sacred to the memory of" did not appear, and the phrasing appeared rather in the nature of a testimonial to the benevolence of the bereft. We copied two of the inscriptions:

1845 AGED 30 YEARS.
Lovely in Life.

At Death still lovely.

In the yard we noticed a large number of loose stones and the remains of a wall which we supposed had been part of the kirk. The name of the village near here was Mid Clyth, and the ruins those of an old Roman Catholic chapel last used about four hundred years ago. Several attempts had been made to obtain power to remove the surplus stones, but our informant stated that although they had only about a dozen Romanists in the county, they were strong enough to prevent this being done, and it was the only burial-ground between there and Wick. He also told us that there were a thousand volunteers in Caithness.


The people in the North of Caithness in directing us on our way did not tell us to turn to right or left, but towards the points of the compass—say to the east or the west as the case might be, and then turn south for a given number of chains. This kind of information rather puzzled us, as we had no compass, nor did we know the length of a chain. It seemed to point back to a time when there were no roads at all in that county. We afterwards read that Pennant, the celebrated tourist, when visiting Caithness in 1769, wrote that at that time there was not a single cart, nor mile of road properly so called in the county. He described the whole district as little better than an "immense morass, with here and there some fruitful spots of oats and bere (barley), and much coarse grass, almost all wild, there being as yet very little cultivated." And he goes on to add:

Here are neither barns nor granaries; the corn is thrashed out and preserved in the chaff in bykes, which are stacks in the shape of beehives thatched quite round. The tender sex (I blush for the Caithnessians) are the only animals of burden; they turn their patient backs to the dunghills and receive in their cassties or straw baskets as much as their lords and masters think fit to fling in with their pitchforks, and then trudge to the fields in droves.

A more modern writer, however, thought that Pennant must have been observant but not reflective, and wrote:

It is not on the sea coast that woman looks on man as lord and master. The fishing industry more than any other leads to great equality between the sexes. The man is away and the woman conducts all the family affairs on land. Home means all the comfort man can enjoy! His life is one persistent calling for self-reliance and independence and equally of obedience to command.

The relations Pennant quoted were not of servility, but of man assisting woman to do what she regarded as her natural work.

To inland folk like ourselves it was a strange sight to see so many women engaged in agricultural pursuits, but we realised that the men had been out fishing in the sea during the night and were now in bed. We saw one woman mowing oats with a scythe and another following her, gathering them up and binding them into sheaves, while several others were cutting down the oats with sickles; we saw others driving horses attached to carts. The children, or "bairns," as they were called here, wore neither shoes nor stockings, except a few of the very young ones, and all the arable land was devoted to the culture of oats and turnips.

We passed through Lybster, which in Lancashire would only be regarded as a small village, but here was considered to be a town, as it could boast of a population of about eight hundred people. We made due note of our reaching what was acknowledged to be the second plantation of trees in the county; there were six only in the entire county of Caithness, and even a sight like this was cheery in these almost treeless regions.

An elderly and portly-looking gentleman who was on the road in front of us awaited our arrival, and as an introduction politely offered us a pinch of snuff out of his well-filled snuff-box, which we accepted. We tried to take it, but the application of a small portion to our noses caused us to sneeze so violently that the gentleman roared with laughter at our expense, and was evidently both surprised and amused at our distress. We were soon good friends, however, and he was as pleased with our company as we were with his, but we accepted no more pinches of snuff in Scotland. He had many inquiries to make about the method of farming in Cheshire and regarding the rotation of crops. We informed him that potatoes were the first crop following grass grown in our neighbourhood, followed by wheat in the next year, and oats and clover afterwards—the clover being cut for two years. "And how many years before wheat again?" he asked; but this question we could not answer, as we were not sufficiently advanced in agricultural knowledge to undergo a very serious examination from one who was evidently inclined to dive deeply into the subject. As we walked along, we noticed a stone on the slope of a mountain like those we had seen at Stenness in the Orkneys, but no halo of interest could be thrown around it by our friend, who simply said it had been there "since the world began." Near Lybster we had a good view of the Ord of Caithness, a black-looking ridge of mountains terminating in the Maiden's Paps, which were later to be associated with one of the most difficult and dangerous traverses we ever experienced.

The night was now coming on, and we hurried onwards, passing two old castles, one to the left and the other to the right of our road, and we noticed a gate, the posts of which had been formed from the rib-bones of a monster whale, forming an arch ornamented in the centre by a portion of the backbone of the same creature. In the dark the only objects we could distinguish were the rocks on the right and the lights of two lighthouses, one across Dornoch Firth and the other across Moray Firth. In another mile and a half after leaving the farmer, who had accompanied us for some miles and who, we afterwards learned, was an old bachelor, we were seated in the comfortable hotel at Dunbeath. The landlord was civil and communicative, and we sat talking to him about the great difference between Caithness and Cheshire, and the relative values of turf and coal. He informed us that there was very little coal consumed in the county of Caithness, as the English coal was dear and the Scotch coal bad, while the peat was of good quality, the darkest-looking being the richest and the best.

Our tea was now ready, and so were we, as we had walked fifteen miles since our lunch in the heather. We were ushered into the parlour, where we were delighted to find a Cheshire gentleman, who told us he had been out shooting, and intended to leave by the coach at two a.m. Hearing that two pedestrians had arrived, he had given up his bed, which he had engaged early in the day, and offered to rest on the sofa until the arrival of the mail-coach. We thanked him for his kind consideration, for we were tired and footsore. Who the gentleman was we did not discover; he knew Warrington and the neighbourhood, had visited Mr. Lyon of Appleton Hall near that town, and knew Mr. Patten of Bank Hall, who he said was fast getting "smoked out" of that neighbourhood. We retired early, and left him in full possession of the coffee-room and its sofa.

At two o'clock in the morning we were wakened by the loud blowing of a horn, which heralded the approach of the mail-coach, and in another minute the trampling of horses' feet beneath our window announced its arrival. We rose hurriedly and rushed to the window, but in the hurry my brother dashed against a table, and down went something with a smash; on getting a light we found it was nothing more valuable than a water-bottle and glass, the broken pieces of which we carefully collected together, sopping up the water as best we could. We were in time to see our friend off on the coach, with three horses and an enormous light in front, which travelled from Thurso to Helmsdale, a distance of fifty-eight miles, at the rate of eight miles per hour.

(Distance walked twenty-one and a half miles.)

Wednesday, September 20th.

We rose early, and while waiting for our breakfast talked with an old habitué of the hotel, who, after drawing our attention to the weather, which had now changed for the worse, told us that the building of the new pier, as he called it, at Wick had been in progress for seven or eight years, but the sea there was the stormiest in Britain, and when the wind came one way the waves washed the pier down again, so that it was now no bigger than it was two years ago. He also told us he could remember the time when there was no mail-coach in that part of the country, the letters for that neighbourhood being sent to a man, a tailor by trade, who being often very busy, sent his wife to deliver them, so that Her Majesty's mails were carried by a female!


Almost the last piece of advice given us before leaving home was, "Mind that you always get a good breakfast before starting out in a morning," and fortunately we did not neglect it on this occasion, for it proved one of the worst day's walks that we ever experienced. Helmsdale was our next stage, and a direct road led to it along the coast, a distance of sixteen miles. But my brother was a man of original ideas, and he had made up his mind that we should walk there by an inland route, and climb over the Maiden's Paps mountain on our way.

The wind had increased considerably during the night, and the rain began to fall in torrents as we left the Dunbeath Inn, our mackintoshes and leggings again coming in useful. The question now arose whether we should adhere to our original proposal, or proceed to Helmsdale by the shortest route. Our host strongly advised us to keep to the main road, but we decided, in spite of our sore feet and the raging elements, to cross over the Maiden's Paps. We therefore left the main road and followed a track which led towards the mountains and the wild moors. We had not gone very far when we met a disconsolate sportsman, accompanied by his gillies and dogs, who was retreating to the inn which he had left early in the morning. He explained to us how the rain would spoil his sport amongst the grouse, though he consoled himself by claiming that it had been one of the finest sporting seasons ever known in Caithness. As an illustration, he said that on the eighteenth day of September he had been out with a party who had shot forty-one and a half brace of grouse to each gun, besides other game. The average weight of grouse on the Scotch moors was twenty-five ounces, but those on the Caithness moors were heavier, and averaged twenty-five and a half ounces.

He was curious to know where we were going, and when we told him, he said we were attempting an impossible feat in such awful weather, and strongly advised us to return to the hotel, and try the journey on a finer day. We reflected that the fine weather had now apparently broken, and it would involve a loss of valuable time if we accepted his advice to wait for a finer day, so we pressed forwards for quite two hours across a dreary country, without a tree or a house or a human being to enliven us on our way. Fortunately the wind and rain were behind us, and we did not feel their pressure like our friend the sportsman, who was going in the opposite direction. At last we came to what might be called a village, where there were a few scattered houses and a burial-ground, but no kirk that we could see. Near here we crossed a stream known as Berriedale Water, and reached the last house, a farm, where our track practically ended. We knocked at the door, which was opened by the farmer himself, and his wife soon provided us with tea and oatmeal cake, which we enjoyed after our seven or eight-mile walk. The wind howled in the chimney and the rain rattled on the window-panes as we partook of our frugal meal, and we were inclined to exclaim with the poet whose name we knew not:

The day is cold and dark and dreary,

It rains, and the wind is never weary.

The people at the farm had come there from South Wales and did not know much about the country. All the information they could give us was that the place we had arrived at was named Braemore, and that on the other side of the hills, which they had never crossed themselves, there was a forest with no roads through it, and if we got there, we should have to make our way as best we could across the moors to Helmsdale. They showed us the best way to reach the foot of the mountain, but we found the going much worse than we anticipated, since the storm had now developed into one of great magnitude. Fortunately the wind was behind us, but the higher we ascended the stronger it became, and it fairly took our breath away even when we turned our heads towards it sideways, which made us realise how impossible it was for us to turn back, however much we might wish to do so; consequently we struggled onwards, occasionally taking advantage of the shelter of some projecting rock to recover our breathing—a very necessary proceeding, for as we approached the summit the rain became more like sleet, the wind was very cold, and the rocks were in a frozen and slippery condition. We were in great danger of being blown over and losing our lives, and as we could no longer walk upright in safety, we knelt down, not without a prayer to heaven as we continued on our way. Thus we crawled along upon our hands and knees over the smooth wind-swept summit of the Maiden's Paps, now one immense surface of ice. The last bit was the worst of all, for here the raging elements struck us with full and uninterrupted force. We crossed this inches at a time, lying flat on the smooth rock with our faces downwards. Our feelings of thankfulness to the Almighty may be imagined when we finally reached the other side in safety.

Given a fine day we should have had a glorious view from this point, and, as it was, in spite of the rain we could see a long distance, but the prospect was far from encouraging. A great black rock, higher than that we had climbed, stood before us, with its summit hidden in the clouds, and a wide expanse of hills and moors, but not a house or tree so far as the eye could reach. This rather surprised us, as we expected the forest region to be covered with trees which would afford us some shelter on our farther way. We learned afterwards that the "forest" was but a name, the trees having disappeared ages ago from most of these forests in the northern regions of Scotland.

We were wet through to the skin and shivering with cold as we began to descend the other side of the Maiden's Paps—a descent we found both difficult and dangerous. It looked an awful place below us—a wild amphitheatre of dreary hills and moors!

We had no compass to guide us, and in the absence of light from the sun we could not tell in what direction we were travelling, so with our backs towards the hills we had crossed, we made our way across the bog, now saturated with water. We could hear it gurgling under our feet at every stride, even when we could not see it, and occasionally we slipped into holes nearly knee-deep in water. After floundering in the bog for some time, and not knowing which way to turn, as we appeared to be surrounded with hills, we decided to try to walk against the wind which was blowing from the sea, for we knew that if we could reach the coast we should also reach the highway, which ran alongside it. But we soon had to give in, for we came to great rocks impossible for us to scale, so we had to abandon this direction and try another. The rain still continued, and our hands had now been bleached quite white with the rain beating on them, just like those of a washerwoman after a heavy day's washing. We knew that the night would shortly be coming on, and the terrible thought of a dark night on the moors began to haunt us. If we could only have found a track we should not have cared, but we were now really LOST.

We were giving way to despair and beginning to think it might be a question of life or death when a bright thought suddenly struck us, and we wondered why we had not thought of it before. Why not follow the water, which would be sure to be running towards the sea? This idea inspired us with hope, and seemed to give us new life; but it was astonishing what a time elapsed before we found a running stream, for the water appeared to remain where it fell. At length we came to a small stream, the sight of which gave us renewed energy, and we followed it joyfully on its downward course. Presently we saw a few small bushes; then we came to a larger stream, and afterwards to a patch of grassland which clearly at one time had been under cultivation. At last we came to trees under which we could see some deer sheltering from the storm: by this time the stream had become a raging torrent. We stood watching the deer for a moment, when suddenly three fine stags rushed past us and dashed into the surging waters of the stream, which carried them down a considerable distance before they could land on its rocky bank on the other side. It was an exciting adventure, as the stags were so near us, and with their fine antlers presented an imposing appearance.

We now crossed over some heather in order to reach a small path which we could see alongside the swollen river. How pleased we were when we knew we were out of danger! It seemed to us like an escape from a terrible fate. We remembered how Mungo Park, when alone in the very heart of Africa, and in the midst of a great wilderness, derived consolation from very much smaller sources than the few trees which now cheered us on our way. The path became broader as we passed through the grounds of Lord Galloway's hunting-box, and we soon reached the highway, where we crossed the boiling torrent rushing along with frightful rapidity on its way to the sea. The shades of night were coming on as we knocked at the door of the keeper's cottage, and judge of our surprise when we were informed that, after walking from ten o'clock in the morning to six o'clock at night, we were only about six miles from Dunbeath, whence we had started that morning, and had still about ten miles to walk before we could reach Helmsdale.

We were almost famished with hunger, but we were lucky enough to secure a splendid tea at the keeper's cottage. Fortunately for us the good lady of the house had provided a sumptuous repast for some sporting gentlemen she was expecting, but who had been prevented from coming owing to the storm. We kept no record of our gastronomical performances on this occasion, but we can safely state that of a whole rabbit very little remained, and the same remark would apply to a whole series of other delicacies which the keeper's wife had so kindly and thoughtfully provided for her more distinguished but absent guests. We took the opportunity of drying some of our wet clothing, and before we finished our tea the keeper himself came in, to whom we related our adventures. Though accustomed to the broken regions and wild solitudes we had passed through, he was simply astounded that we had come over them safely, especially on such a day.

It was pitch dark when we left the keeper's cottage, and he very kindly accompanied us until we reached the highroad in safety. The noise caused by the rushing waters of the rivers as they passed us on their way in frantic haste to the sea, now quite near us, and the roar of the sea itself as it dashed itself violently against the rocky coast, rendered conversation very difficult, but our companion gave us to understand that the road to Helmsdale was very hilly and lonely, and at one time was considered dangerous for strangers. Fortunately the surface was very good, and we found it much easier to walk upon than the wet heather we had passed over for so many miles. The black rocks which lined the road, the darkness of the night, and the noise from the sea as the great waves dashed and thundered on the rocks hundreds of feet below, might have terrified timid travellers, but they seemed nothing to us compared with our experience earlier in the day. The wind had moderated, but the rain continued to fall, and occasionally we were startled as we rounded one of the many bends in the road by coming suddenly on a burn swollen with the heavy rains, hurling itself like a cataract down the rocky sides of the hill, and rushing under the road beneath our feet in its noisy descent helter-skelter towards the sea.

We walked on as rapidly as the hilly nature of our road would permit, without seeing a house or human being, until we approached Helmsdale, when we were surprised by the sudden appearance of the stage-coach drawn by three horses and displaying its enormous red lamp in front. The driver suddenly pulled up his horses, for, as he said, he did not know "what the de'il it was coming in front": he scarcely ever met any one on that road, and particularly on such an "awful" stormy night. We asked him how far we were from the town, and were delighted to hear it was only about two miles away. It was after ten o'clock when we arrived at Helmsdale, tired and footsore, but just in time to secure lodgings for the night at the Commercial Inn.

(Distance walked thirty miles.)

Thursday, September 21st.

Helmsdale was a pleasant little town inhabited chiefly by fishermen, but a place of some importance, for it had recently become the northern terminus of the railway. A book in the hotel, which we read while waiting for breakfast, gave us some interesting information about the road we had travelled along the night before, and from it we learned that the distance between Berriedale and Helmsdale was nine and a half miles, and that about half-way between these two places it passed the Ord of Caithness at an elevation of 1,200 feet above the sea-level, an "aclivity of granite past which no railway can be carried," and the commencement of a long chain of mountains separating Caithness from Sutherland.

Formerly the road was carried along the edge of a tremendous range of precipices which overhung the sea in a fashion enough to frighten both man and beast, and was considered the most dangerous road in Scotland, so much so that when the Earl of Caithness or any other great landed proprietor travelled that way a troop of their tenants from the borders of Sutherland-shire assembled, and drew the carriage themselves across the hill, a distance of two miles, quadrupeds not being considered safe enough, as the least deviation would have resulted in a fall over the rocks into the sea below. This old road, which was too near the sea for modern traffic, was replaced by the present road in the year 1812. The old path, looked at from the neighbourhood of Helmsdale, had more the appearance of a sheep track than a road as it wound up the steep brow of the hill 300 or 400 feet above the rolling surge of the sea below, and was quite awe-inspiring even to look at, set among scenery of the most wild and savage character.

We had now cleared the county of Caithness, which, like Orkney and Shetland, was almost entirely devoid of trees. To our way of thinking a sprinkling of woods and copses would have much enhanced the wild beauty of the surroundings, but there was a difference of opinion or taste on this point as on everything else. A gentleman who had settled in America, and had had to clear away the trees from his holding, when he passed through Caithness on his way to John o' Groat's was continually ejaculating, "What a beautiful country!" "What a very beautiful country!" Some one who heard him remarked, "You can hardly call it a very beautiful country when there are no trees." "Trees," cried the Yankee; "that's all stuff Caithness, I calculate, is the finest clearing I ever saw in my life!"

We had often wondered, by the way, how the Harbour Works at Wick would be affected by the great storms, and we were afterwards greatly interested when we read in a Scotch provincial newspaper the following telegrams:



From our Wick Correspondent

Wick, Wednesday, 12:50—A terrific storm is raging here to-day. It is a gale from the south-east, with an extraordinary surf which is making a complete break of the new Harbour Works, where a number of large stones have been dislodged and serious damage is threatened.

1:30 p.m.—The storm still continues. A large concrete block, weighing 300 tons, has been dislodged, and the whole building seems doomed unless the storm abates very soon.

These hours corresponded with the time we were crossing the Maiden's Paps mountains, and we are not likely ever to forget the great danger we were in on that occasion.

We were rather backward in making a start on our journey to-day, for our feet were very sore; but we were advised to apply common soap to our stocking feet, from which we experienced great relief. As we left the town we saw some ruins, which we assumed were those of Helmsdale Castle, and we had now the company of the railway, which, like our road, hugged the seacoast for some miles. About two miles after leaving Helmsdale we sighted the first railway train we had seen since we left Aberdeen a fortnight before. Under ordinary conditions this might have passed unnoticed, but as we had been travelling through such wild country we looked upon it as a sign that we were approaching a part of the country which had communication with civilisation, other than that afforded by sea or mail-coach.


We now walked through the Parish of Loth, where in Glen Loth we were informed the last wolf in Scotland was killed, and about half a mile before reaching Brora we climbed over a stone fence to inspect the ruins of a Pictish castle standing between our road and the railway. The ruins were circular, but some of the walls had been built in a zig-zag form, and had originally contained passages and rooms, some of which still existed, but they looked so dark that we did not care to go inside them, though we were informed that about two years before our visit excavations had been made and several human skulls were discovered. The weather continued wet, and we passed through several showers on our way from Helmsdale to Brora, where, after a walk of twelve miles, we stayed for lunch, and it was again raining as we left there for Golspie.


At Brora we heard stories of wonderful fossils which were to be found in the rocks on the shore—shells and fish-scales and remains of bigger creatures—and of a bed of real coal. Certainly the rocks seemed to change their character hereabouts, which may account for the softening of the scenery and the contrast in agricultural pursuits in this region with those farther north. Here the appearance of the country gradually improved as we approached the woods and grounds and more cultivated regions surrounding the residence of the Duke of Sutherland.

"It was the finest building we had seen, not at all like the gloomy-looking castles, being more like a palace, with a fine display of oriel windows, battlements, steeples, and turrets."

We came in sight of another Pictish castle, which we turned aside to visit; but by this time we had become quite familiar with the formation of these strange old structures, which were nearly all built after the same pattern, although some belonged to an earlier period than others, and the chambers in them were invariably dark and dismal. If these were used for the same purpose as similar ones we had seen in Shetland, where maidens of property and beauty were placed for protection from the "gallants" who roamed about the land in those days, the fair prisoners must have had a dismal time while incarcerated in these dungeon-like apartments. In these ruins, however, we saw some ancient utensils, or querns, supposed to have been used for crushing corn. They had been hollowed out in stone, and one of them had a well-worn stone inside it, but whether or no it was the remains of an ancient pestle used in crushing the corn we could not determine; it looked strangely like one.

The country hereabouts was of the most charming description, hilly and undulating rather than rugged, and we left the highway to walk along the seashore, where we passed the rifle and artillery ranges of the volunteers. We also saw the duke's private pier extending towards the open sea, and from this point we had a fine view of Dunrobin Castle, the duke's residence, which was the finest building we had seen, and not at all like the other gloomy-looking castles, being more like a palace. It is a happy blending of the German Schloss, the French château, and Scottish baronial architecture, with a fine display of oriel windows, battlements, turrets, and steeples, the great tower rising to a height of 135 feet above the garden terrace below. A vista of mountains and forests lay before any one privileged to ascend the tower. The view from the seashore was simply splendid, as from this point we could see, showing to great advantage, the lovely gardens, filled with beautiful shrubs and flowers of luxuriant growth, sloping upwards towards the castle, and the hills behind them, with their lower slopes covered with thousands of healthy-looking firs, pines, and some deciduous trees, while the bare moorland above formed a fine background. On the hill "Beinn-a-Bhragidh," at a point 1,300 feet above sea-level, standing as if looking down on all, was a colossal monument erected to the memory of the duke's grandfather, which could be seen many miles away. The duke must have been one of the largest landowners in Britain, as, in addition to other possessions, he owned the entire county of Sutherland, measuring about sixty miles long and fifty-six miles broad, so that when at home he could safely exclaim with Robinson Crusoe, "I am monarch of all I survey."

The castle had an ancient foundation, for it was in 1097 the dun, or stronghold, of the second Robert of Sutherland, and the gardens have been famous from time immemorial. An extract from an old book written in 1630 reads, "The Erle of Sutherland made Dunrobin his speciall residence it being a house well-seated upon a mole hard by the sea, with fair orchards wher ther be pleasant gardens, planted with all kinds of froots, hearbs and flours used in this kingdom, and abundance of good saphorn, tobacco and rosemarie, the froot being excellent and cheeflie the pears and cherries."

A most pleasing feature to our minds was the fact that the gardens were open to all comers, but as we heard that the duke was entertaining a distinguished company, including Lord Delamere of Vale Royal from our own county of Cheshire, we did not apply for permission to enter the grounds, and thus missed seeing the great Scotch thistle, the finest in all Scotland. This thistle was of the ordinary variety, but of colossal proportions, full seven feet high, or, as we afterwards saw it described, "a beautiful emblem of a war-like nation with his radious crown of rubies full seven feet high." We had always looked upon the thistle as an inferior plant, and in Cheshire destroyed it in thousands, regarding it as only fit for food for donkeys, of which very few were kept in that county; but any one seeing this fine plant must have been greatly impressed by its appearance. The thistle has been the emblem of Scotland from very early times, and is supposed to have been adopted by the Scots after a victorious battle with the Danes, who on a dark night tried to attack them unawares. The Danes were creeping towards them silently, when one of them placed his bare foot on a thistle, which caused him to yell out with pain. This served as an alarm to the Scots, who at once fell upon the Danes and defeated them with great slaughter, and ever afterwards the thistle appeared as their national emblem, with the motto, Nemo me impune lacessit, or, "No one hurts me with impunity."

Golspie was only a short distance away from the castle, and we were anxious to get there, as we expected letters from home, so we called at the post office first and got what letters had arrived, but another mail was expected. We asked where we could get a cup of coffee, and were directed to a fine reading-room opposite, where we adjourned to read our letters and reply to them with the accompaniment of coffee and light refreshments. The building had been erected by the Sutherland family, and was well patronised, and we wished that we might meet with similar places in other towns where we happened to call. Such as we found farther south did not appear to be appreciated by the class of people for whom they were chiefly intended. This may be accounted for by the fact that the working-class Scots were decidedly more highly educated than the English. We were not short of company, and we heard a lot of gossip, chiefly about what was going on at the castle.

On inquiring about our next stage, we were told that it involved a twenty-five-mile walk through an uninhabited country, without a village and with scarcely a house on the road. The distance we found afterwards had been exaggerated, but as it was still raining and the shades of evening were coming on, with our recent adventures still fresh in our minds and the letter my brother expected not having yet arrived, we agreed to spend the night at Golspie, resolving to make an early start on the following morning. We therefore went into the town to select suitable lodgings, again calling at the post office and leaving our address in the event of any letters coming by the expected mail, which the officials kindly consented to send to us, and after making a few purchases we retired to rest. We were just dozing off to sleep, when we were aroused by a knock at our chamber door, and a voice from without informed us that our further letters and a newspaper had arrived. We jumped out of bed, glad to receive additional news from the "old folks at home," and our sleep was no less peaceful on that account.

(Distance walked eighteen miles.)

Friday, September 22nd.

We rose at seven o'clock, and left Golspie at eight en route for Bonar Bridge. As we passed the railway station we saw a huge traction engine, which we were informed belonged to the Duke of Sutherland, and was employed by him to draw wood and stone to the railway. About a mile after leaving the town we observed the first field of wheat since we had left John o' Groat's. The morning had turned out wet, so there was no one at work among the corn, but several machines there showed that agriculture received much attention. We met some children carrying milk, who in reply to our inquiry told us that the cows were milked three times each day—at six o'clock in the morning, one o'clock at noon, and eight o'clock at night—with the exception of the small Highland cows, which were only milked twice. As we were looking over the fields in the direction of the railway, we observed an engine with only one carriage attached proceeding along the line, which we thought must be the mail van, but we were told that it was the duke's private train, and that he was driving the engine himself, the engine being named after his castle, "Dunrobin." We learned that the whole railway belonged to him for many miles, and that he was quite an expert at engine driving.

About five miles after leaving Golspie we crossed what was known as "The Mound," a bank thrown across what looked like an arm of the sea. It was upwards of half a mile long, and under the road were six arches to admit the passage of the tide as it ebbed and flowed. Here we turned off to the right along the hill road to Bonar Bridge, and visited what had been once a mansion, but was now nearly all fallen to the ground, very little remaining to tell of its former glory. What attracted us most was the site of the garden behind the house, where stood four great yew trees which must have been growing hundreds of years. They were growing in pairs, and in a position which suggested that the road had formerly passed between them.

Presently our way passed through a beautiful and romantic glen, with a fine stream swollen by the recent rains running alongside it. Had the weather been more favourable, we should have had a charming walk. The hills did not rise to any great elevation, but were nicely wooded down to the very edge of the stream, and the torrent, with its innumerable rapids and little falls, that met us as we travelled on our upward way, showed to the best advantage. In a few miles we came to a beautiful waterfall facing our road, and we climbed up the rocks to get a near view of it from a rustic bridge placed there for the purpose. A large projecting rock split the fall into the shape of a two-pronged fork, so that it appeared like a double waterfall, and looked very pretty. Another stream entered the river near the foot of the waterfall, but the fall of this appeared to have been artificially broken thirty or forty times on its downward course, forming the same number of small lochs, or ponds. We had a grand sight of these miniature lakes as they overflowed one into another until their waters joined the stream below.

We now left the trees behind us and, emerging into the open country, travelled many miles across the moors alongside Loch Buidhee, our only company being the sheep and the grouse. As we approached Bonar Bridge we observed a party of sportsmen on the moors. From the frequency of their fire we supposed they were having good sport; a horse with panniers on its back, which were fast being ladened with the fallen game, was following them at a respectful distance. Then we came to a few small houses, near which were large stacks of peat or turf, which was being carted away in three carts. We asked the driver of the first cart we overtook how far it was to Bonar Bridge, and he replied two miles. We made the same inquiry from the second, who said three miles, and the reply of the third was two and a half miles. As the distance between the first and the third drivers was only one hundred yards, their replies rather amused us. Still we found it quite far enough, for we passed through shower after shower.

Our eighteen-mile walk had given us a good idea of "Caledonia stern and wild," and at the same time had developed in us an enormous appetite when by two o'clock we entered the hotel facing Bonar Bridge for our dinner. The bridge was a fine substantial iron structure of about 150 feet span, having a stone arching at either end, and was of great importance, as it connected main roads and did away with the ferry which once existed there. As we crossed the bridge we noticed two vessels from Sunderland discharging coals, and some fallen fir-trees lying on the side of the water apparently waiting shipment for colliery purposes, apt illustrations of the interchange of productions. There were many fine plantations of fir-trees near Bonar Bridge, and as we passed the railway station we saw a rather substantial building across the water which we were informed was the "Puirshoose," or "Poor House."

Observing a village school to the left of our road, we looked through the open door; but the room was empty, so we called at the residence of the schoolmaster adjoining to get some reliable information about our further way, We found him playing on a piano and very civil and obliging, and he advised us to stay for the night at what was known as the Half-way House, which we should find on the hill road to Dingwall, and so named because it was halfway between Bonar and Alness, and nine miles from Bonar. Our road for the first two miles was close along Dornoch Firth, and the fine plantations of trees afforded us some protection against the wind and rain; then we left the highway and turned to the right, along the hill road. After a steep ascent for more than a mile, we passed under a lofty elevation, and found ourselves once more amongst the heather-bells so dear to the heart of every true Scot.

At this point we could not help lingering awhile to view the magnificent scene below. What a gorgeous panorama! The wide expanse of water, the bridge we had lately crossed and the adjoining small village, the fine plantations of trees, the duke's monument rising above the woods at Golspie, were all visible, but obscured in places by the drifting showers. If the "Clerk of the Weather" had granted us sunshine instead of rain, we should have had a glorious prospect not soon to be forgotten. But we had still three miles to walk, or, as the people in the north style it, to travel, before we could reach the Half-Way House, when we met a solitary pedestrian, who as soon as he saw us coming sat down on a stone and awaited us until we got within speaking distance, when he began to talk to us. He was the Inspector of Roads, and had been walking first in one direction and then in the other during the whole of the day. He said he liked to speak to everybody he saw, as the roads were so very lonely in his district. He informed us that the Half-Way House was a comfortable place, and we could not do better than stay there for the night.

We were glad when we reached the end of our nine-mile walk, as the day had been very rough and stormy. As it was the third in succession of the same character, we did not care how soon the weather took a turn for the better. The Half-Way House stood in a deserted and lonely position on the moor some little distance from the road, without another house being visible for miles, and quite isolated from the outer world. We entered the farmyard, where we saw the mistress busy amongst the pigs, two dogs barking at us in a very threatening manner. We walked into the kitchen, the sole occupant of which was a "bairn," who was quite naked, and whom we could just see behind a maiden of clothes drying before the fire. The mistress soon followed us into the house, and in reply to our query as to whether we could be accommodated for the night said, "I will see," and invited us into the parlour, a room containing two beds and sundry chairs and tables. The floor in the kitchen was formed of clay, the parlour had a boarded floor, and the mantelpiece and roof were of very old wood, but there was neither firegrate nor fire.

After we had waited there a short time, the mistress again made her appearance, with a shovel full of red-hot peat, so, although she had not given us a decided answer as to whether we could stay the night or not, we considered that silence gave consent, especially when seconded by the arrival of the welcome fire.

"You surely must have missed your train!" she said; but when we told her that we were pedestrian tourists, or, as my brother described it, "on a walking expedition," she looked surprised.

When she entered the room again we were sorting out our letters and papers, and she said, "You surely must be sappers!" We had some difficulty in making her understand the object of our journey, as she could not see how we could be walking for pleasure in such bad weather.

We found the peat made a very hot fire and did good service in helping to dry our wet clothing. We wanted some hot milk and bread for supper, which she was very reluctant to supply, as milk was extremely scarce on the moors, but as a special favour she robbed the remainder of the family to comply with our wishes. The wind howled outside, but we heeded it not, for we were comfortably housed before a blazing peat fire which gave out a considerable amount of heat. We lit one of our ozokerite candles, of which we carried a supply to be prepared for emergencies, and read our home newspaper, The Warrington Guardian, which was sent to us weekly, until supper-time arrived, and then we were surprised by our hostess bringing in an enormous bowl, apparently an ancient punch bowl, large enough to wash ourselves in, filled with hot milk and bread, along with two large wooden spoons. Armed with these, we both sat down with the punch-bowl between us, hungry enough and greedy enough to compete with one another as to which should devour the most. Which won would be difficult to say, but nothing remained except the bowl and the spoons and our extended selves.

We had walked twenty-seven miles, and it must have been weather such as we had experienced that inspired the poet to exclaim:

The west wind blows and brings rough weather,

The east brings cold and wet together,

The south wind blows and brings much rain,

The north wind blows it back again!

The beds were placed end to end, so that our feet came together, with a wooden fixture between the two beds to act as the dividing line. Needless to say we slept soundly, giving orders to be wakened early in the morning.

(Distance walked twenty-seven miles.)

Saturday, September 23rd.

We were awakened at six o'clock in the morning, and after a good breakfast we left the Half-Way House (later the "Aultnamain Inn"), and well pleased we were with the way the landlady had catered for our hungry requirements. We could see the sea in the distance, and as we resumed our march across the moors we were often alarmed suddenly by the harsh and disagreeable cries of the startled grouse as they rose hurriedly from the sides of our path, sounding almost exactly like "Go back! —go back!" We were, however, obliged to "Go forward," and that fairly quickly, as we were already a few miles behind our contemplated average of twenty-five miles per day. We determined to make the loss good, and if possible to secure a slight margin to our credit, so we set out intending to reach Inverness that night if possible. In spite, therefore, of the orders given in such loud and unpleasant tones by the grouse, we advanced quickly onwards and left those birds to rejoice the heart of any sportsman who might follow.

Cromarty Firth was clearly visible as we left the moors, and we could distinguish what we thought was Cromarty itself, with its whitewashed houses, celebrated as the birthplace of the great geologist, Hugh Miller, of whom we had heard so much in the Orkneys. The original cause of the whitewashing of the houses in Cromarty was said to have been the result of an offer made by a former candidate for Parliamentary honours, who offered to whitewash any of the houses. As nearly all the free and independent electors accepted his offer, it was said that Cromarty came out of the Election of 1826 cleaner than any other place in Scotland, notwithstanding the fact that it happened in an age when parliamentarian representation generally went to the highest bidder.

We crossed the Strathrory River, and leaving the hills to our right found ourselves in quite a different kind of country, a veritable land of woods, where immense plantations of fir-trees covered the hills as far as the eye could reach, sufficient, apparently, to make up for the deficiency in Caithness and Sutherland in that respect, for we were now in the county of Ross and Cromarty.

Shortly afterwards we crossed over the River Alness. The country we now passed through was highly cultivated and very productive, containing some large farms, where every appearance of prosperity prevailed, and the tall chimneys in the rear of each spoke of the common use of coal. The breeding of cattle seemed to be carried on extensively; we saw one large herd assembled in a field adjoining our road, and were amused at a conversational passage of arms between the farmer and two cattle-dealers who were trying to do business, each side endeavouring to get the better of the other. It was not quite a war to the knife, but the fight between those Scots was like razor trying to cut razor, and we wished we had time to stay and hear how it ended.

Arriving at Novar, where there was a nice little railway station, we passed on to the village inn, and called for a second breakfast, which we thoroughly enjoyed after our twelve-mile walk. Here we heard that snow had fallen on one of the adjacent hills during the early hours of the morning, but it was now fine, and fortunately continued to be so during the whole of the day.

Our next stage was Dingwall, the chief town in the county of Ross, and at the extreme end of the Cromarty Firth, which was only six miles distant. We had a lovely walk to that town, very different from the lonely moors we had traversed earlier in the day, as our road now lay along the very edge of the Cromarty Firth, while the luxuriant foliage of the trees on the other side of our road almost formed an arch over our way. The water of the Firth was about two miles broad all the way to Dingwall, and the background formed by the wooded hills beyond the Firth made up a very fine picture. We had been fully prepared to find Dingwall a very pretty place, and in that we were not disappointed.

The great object of interest as we entered this miniature county town was a lofty monument fifty or sixty feet high,[Footnote: This monument has since been swept away.] which stood in a separate enclosure near a graveyard attached to a church. It was evidently very old, and leaning several points from the perpendicular, and was bound together almost to the top with bands of iron crossed in all directions to keep it from failing. A very curious legend was attached to it. It was erected to some steward named Roderick Mackenzie, who had been connected with the Cromarty estate many years ago, and who appeared to have resided at Kintail, being known as the Tutor of Kintail. He acted as administrator of the Mackenzie estates during the minority of his nephew, the grandfather of the first Earl of Cromarty, and was said to have been a man of much ability and considerable culture for the times in which he lived. At the same time he was a man of strong personality though of evil repute in the Gaelic-speaking districts, as the following couplet still current among the common people showed:

The three worst things in Scotland--

Mists in the dog-days, frost in May, and the Tutor of Kintail.

The story went that the tutor had a quarrel with a woman who appeared to have been quite as strong-minded as himself. She was a dairymaid in Strathconon with whom he had an agreement to supply him with a stone of cheese for every horn of milk given by each cow per day. For some reason the weight of cheese on one occasion happened to be light, and this so enraged the tutor that he drove her from the Strath. Unfortunately for him the dairymaid was a poetess, and she gave vent to her sorrow in verse, in which it may be assumed the tutor came in for much abuse. When she obtained another situation at the foot of Ben Wyvis, the far-reaching and powerful hand of the tutor drove her from there also; so at length she settled in the Clan Ranald Country in Barrisdale, on the shores of Loch Hourn on the west coast of Inverness-shire, a place at that time famous for shell-fish, where she might have dwelt in peace had she mastered the weakness of her sex for demanding the last word; but she burst forth once more in song, and the tutor came in for another scathing:

Though from Strathconon with its cream you've driven me,

And from Wyvis with its curds and cheese;

While billow beats on shore you cannot drive me

From the shell-fish of fair Barrisdale.

These stanzas came to the ear of the tutor, who wrote to Macdonald of Barrisdale demanding that he should plough up the beach, and when this had been done there were no longer any shell-fish to be found there.

The dairymaid vowed to be even with the tutor, and threatened to desecrate his grave. When he heard of the threat, in order to prevent its execution he built this strange monument, and instead of being buried beneath it he was said to have been buried near the summit; but the woman was not to be out-done, for after the tutor's funeral she climbed to the top of the pinnacle and kept her vow to micturate there!

As our time was limited, we were obliged to hurry away from this pleasantly situated town, and in about four miles, after crossing the River Conon, we entered Conon village, where we called for refreshments, of which we hastily disposed. Conon was quite an agricultural village, where the smithy seemed to rival the inn in importance, as the smiths were busy at work. We saw quite a dozen ploughs waiting to be repaired in order to fit them to stir up the soil during the ploughing season, which would commence as soon as the corn was cleared off the land. Here we observed the first fingerpost we had seen since leaving John o' Groat's, now more than a hundred miles distant, although it was only an apology for one, and very different from those we were accustomed to see farther south in more important but not more beautiful places. It was simply an upright post with rough pieces of wood nailed across the top, but we looked upon it as a sign that we were approaching more civilised regions. The gentry had shown their appreciation of this delightful part of the country by erecting fine residences in the neighbourhood, some of which we passed in close proximity. Just before crossing over the railway bridge we came to a frightful figure of a human head carved on a stone and built in the battlement in a position where it could be seen by all. It was coloured white, and we heard it was the work of some local sculptor. It was an awful-looking thing, and no doubt did duty for the "boggard" of the neighbourhood. The view of the hills to the right of our road as we passed along was very fine, lit up as they were by the rays of the evening sun, and the snow on Ben Wyvis in the distance contrasted strangely with the luxuriant foliage of the trees near us, as they scarcely yet showed the first shade of the autumn tints.

About four miles farther on we arrived at a place called the Muir of Ord, a rather strange name of which we did not know the meaning, reaching the railway station there just after the arrival of a train which we were told had come from the "sooth." The passengers consisted of a gentleman and his family, who were placing themselves in a large four-wheeled travelling-coach to which were attached four rather impatient horses. A man-servant in livery was on the top of the coach arranging a large number of parcels and boxes, those intolerable appendages of travel. We waited, and watched their departure, as we had no desire to try conclusions with the restless feet of the horses, our adventures with the Shetland pony in the north having acted as a warning to us. Shortly afterwards we crossed a large open space of land studded with wooden buildings and many cattle-pens which a man told us was now the great cattlemarket for the North, where sales for cattle were held each month—the next would be due in about a week's time, when from 30,000 to 35,000 sheep would be sold. It seemed strange to us that a place of such importance should have been erected where there were scarcely any houses, but perhaps there were more in the neighbourhood than we had seen, and in any case it lay conveniently as a meeting-place for the various passes in the mountain country.

We soon arrived at Beauly, which, as its name implied, was rather a pretty place, with its houses almost confined to the one street, the Grammar School giving it an air of distinction. Our attention was attracted by some venerable ruins at the left of our road, which we determined to visit, but the gate was locked. Seeing a small girl standing near, we asked her about the key, and she volunteered to go and tell the man who kept it to come at once. We were pressed for time, and the minutes seemed very long as we stood awaiting the arrival of the key, until at last we decided to move on; but just as we were walking away we saw an old man coming up a side street with the aid of a crutch and a stick.


He pointed with his stick towards the cathedral, so we retraced our steps and awaited his arrival with the key. A key it certainly was, and a large one too, for it weighed 2 lbs. 4 ozs. and the bore that fitted the lock was three-quarters of an inch in diameter. It was the biggest key we saw in all our long journey. We listened to all the old man had to tell us about the cathedral, the building of which begun in the year 1230. It measured 152 feet in length and about 24 feet in breadth, but was ruined in the time of Cromwell. He showed us what he described as the Holy Water Pot, which was quite near the door and had some water in it, but why the water happened to be there the old man could not explain. The front gable of the nave was nearly all standing, but that at the back, which at one time had contained a large window, was nearly all down. The old font was in the wall about half-way down the cathedral; the vestry and chapter house were roofless. The grave-stones dated from the year 1602, but that which covered the remains of the founder was of course very much older. Beauly was formerly a burial-place of the ancient Scottish chieftains, and was still used as the burial-ground of the Mackenzies, the name reminding us of our friends at the "Huna Inn." Rewarding our guide and the bairn who had returned with him for their services, we walked quickly away, as we had still twelve miles to walk before reaching Inverness.


After crossing the bridge over the River Beauly we had the company for about a mile of a huge servant-girl, a fine-looking Scotch lassie, with whom we ventured to enter into conversation although we felt like dwarfs in her presence. She told us she had never been in England, but her sister had been there in service, and had formed a bad opinion of the way the English spent their Sundays. Some of them never went to church at all, while one young man her sister knew there actually whistled as he was going to church! It was very different in Scotland, where, she said, all went to church and kept holy the Sabbath day. She evidently thought it a dreadful offence to whistle on Sundays, and we were careful not to offend the susceptibilities of the Scots, and, we may safely say, our own, by whistling on the Lord's day. Whistling was, however, an accomplishment of which we were rather proud, as we considered ourselves experts, and beguiled many a weary mile's march with quicksteps—English, Scotch, Welsh, and Irish—which we flattered ourselves sounded better amongst the hills of the Highlands of Scotland even than the sacred bagpipes of the most famous Scotch regiments.

We thanked our formidable-looking friend for her company and, presenting her with a John o' Groat's buckie, bade her farewell. When she must have been a distance away we accelerated our pace by whistling "Cheer, Boys, Cheer!" one of Charles Russell's songs. We could not keep it up for long, as we were not only footsore, but sore in every joint, through friction, and we were both beginning to limp a little when we came to a junction in the roads. Here it was necessary to inquire about our way, and seeing a farm quite near we went to it and asked a gentleman who was standing in the yard which way we should turn for Inverness and how far it was. He kindly directed us, and told us that town was nine miles distant, but added, "I am just going there in my 'machine,' which will be ready directly, and will be glad to give you a lift." This kind offer formed one of the greatest temptations we had during our long journey, as we had already walked thirty miles that day, and were in a pitiable condition, and it was hard to say "No." We thanked the gentleman heartily, and explained why we could not accept it, as we had determined to walk all the way to Land's End, and with an effort both painful and slow we mournfully took our way. We had only travelled a short distance when he overtook us with a spirited horse and a well-appointed conveyance, bidding us "Good night" as he passed.

We had a painful walk for the next three miles, and it was just at the edge of dark when we called for tea at the "Bogroy Inn." We were shown into the parlour by the mistress herself, a pleasant elderly lady, very straight, but very stout, and when my brother complimented her on her personal appearance, she told him that when she first came into that neighbourhood thirty-five years ago she only weighed eleven stone, but six years since she weighed twenty-two stone; now, she rather sorrowfully added, "I only weigh seventeen stone!" She evidently thought she had come down in the world, but she was an ideal landlady of the good old sort, for she sent us some venison in for our tea, the first we had ever tasted, and with eggs and other good things we had a grand feast. Moreover, she sent her daughter, a prepossessing young lady, to wait upon us, so we felt ourselves highly honoured.

As we were devouring the good things provided we heard some mysterious tappings, which we were unable to locate. My brother suggested the house might be haunted, but when the young lady entered the room again we discovered that the tappings were outside the house, on the shutters which covered the windows, for every one in the Highlands in those days protected their lower windows with wooden shutters. The tappings were accompanied by a low whistle, by which we could see the young lady was visibly affected, until finally she left the room rather hurriedly, never to appear again; nor did we hear the tappings any more, and the requiem we sung was:

If she be not fair for me,

What care I how fair she be?

We were sorry to leave the "Bogroy Inn," as the mistress said she would have been glad of our further patronage, but we had determined to reach Inverness as a better place to stay over the week end. With great difficulty we walked the remaining six miles under the trees, through which the moon was shining, and we could see the stars twinkling above our heads as we marched, or rather crawled, along the Great North Road. On arriving at Inverness we crossed the bridge, to reach a house that had been recommended to us, but as it was not up to our requirements we turned back and found one more suitable across the water. Our week's walk totalled 160 miles, of which thirty-nine had been covered that day.

(Distance walked thirty-nine miles.)

Sunday, September 24th.

After a good night's rest and the application of common soap to the soles of our feet, and fuller's earth to other parts of our anatomy—remedies we continued to employ, whenever necessary, on our long journey—we were served with a good breakfast, and then went out to see what Inverness looked like in the daylight. We were agreeably surprised to find it much nicer than it appeared as we entered it, tired out, the night before, and we had a pleasant walk before going to the eleven-o'clock service at the kirk.

Inverness, the "Capital of the Highlands," has a long and eventful history. St. Columba is said to have visited it as early as the year 565, and on a site fortified certainly in the eighth century stands the castle, which was, in 1039, according to Shakespeare, the scene of the murder of King Duncan by Macbeth. The town was made a Royal Burgh by David I, King of Scotland. The Lords of the Isles also appear to have been crowned here, for their coronation stone is still in existence, and has been given a name which in Gaelic signifies the "Stone of the Tubs." In former times the water supply of the town had to be obtained from the loch or the river, and the young men and maidens carrying it in tubs passed this stone on their way—or rather did not pass, for they lingered a while to rest, the stone no doubt being a convenient trysting-place. We wandered as far as the castle, from which the view of the River Ness and the Moray Firth was particularly fine.

We attended service in one of the Free Churches, and were much interested in the proceedings, which were so different from those we had been accustomed to in England, the people standing while they prayed and sitting down while they sang. The service began with the one hundredth Psalm to the good old tune known as the "Old Hundredth" and associated in our minds with that Psalm from our earliest days:

All people that on earth do dwell,

Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.

Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell,

Come ye before Him, and rejoice.


During the singing of this, all the people remained seated except the precentor, who stood near the pulpit. Then followed a prayer, the people all standing; and then the minister read a portion of Scripture from the thirty-fourth chapter of the prophet Ezekiel beginning at the eleventh verse: "For thus saith the Lord God; Behold I, even I, will both search My sheep, and seek them out."

Another hymn was followed by the Lord's Prayer; after which came the sermon, preached by the Rev. Donald Fraser, M.A., of Marylebone, London, a former minister of the church. He read the last three verses of the ninth chapter of St. John's gospel, continued reading down to the sixteenth verse of the tenth chapter, and then selected for his text the fourth, ninth, and tenth verses of that chapter, the first verse of these reading: "And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice."

The sermon had evidently been well thought out and was ably delivered, the subject being very appropriate to a district where sheep abound and where their habits are so well known. Everybody listened with the greatest attention. At the close there was a public baptism of a child, whose father and mother stood up before the pulpit with their backs to the congregation. The minister recited the Apostles' Creed, which was slightly different in phraseology from that used in the Church of England, and then, descending from the pulpit, proceeded to baptize the child in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The closing hymn followed, and the people stood while the minister pronounced the benediction, after which the congregation slowly separated.


During the afternoon we visited an isolated hill about a mile from the town named Tomnahurich, or the "Hill of the Fairies." Nicely wooded, it rose to an elevation of about 200 feet above the sea, and, the summit being comparatively level and clear from trees, we had a good view of Inverness and its surroundings. This hill was used as the Cemetery, and many people had been buried, both on the top and along the sides of the serpentine walk leading up to it, their remains resting there peacefully until the resurrection, "when the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible." We considered it an ideal place for the burial of the dead, and quite a number of people were walking up and down the paths leading under the trees, many of them stopping on their way to view the graves where their friends had been buried.

In the evening we attended service in the cathedral, a large modern structure, with two towers, each of which required a spire forty feet high to complete the original design. Massive columns of Aberdeen granite had been erected in the interior to support the roof of polished oak, adorned with carved devices, some of which had not yet been completed. The Communion-table, or altar, made in Italy and presented to the cathedral by a wealthy layman, stood beneath a suspended crucifix, and was further adorned with a cross, two candlesticks, and two vases containing flowers. The service, of a High-Church character, was fully choral, assisted by a robed choir and a good organ. The sermon was preached by the Rev. Provost Powell, who took for his text Romans xiv. 7: "For none liveth to himself and no man dieth to himself." He gave us a clever oration, but whether extempore or otherwise we could not tell, as from where we sat we could not see the preacher. There was not a large congregation, probably owing to the fact that the people in the North are opposed to innovations, and look upon crosses and candlesticks on the Communion-table as imitations of the Roman Catholic ritual, to which the Presbyterians could never be reconciled. The people generally seemed much prejudiced against this form of service, for in the town early in the morning, before we knew this building was the cathedral, we asked a man what kind of a place of worship it was, and he replied, in a tone that implied it was a place to be avoided, that he did not know, but it was "next to th' Catholics." Our landlady spoke of it in exactly the same way.


Monday, September 25th.


We rose early, but were not in very good trim for walking, for a mild attack of diarrhoea yesterday had become intensified during the night, and still continued. After breakfast we went to the post office for our "poste restante" letters, and after replying to them resumed our march. Culloden Muir, the site of the great battle in 1746, in which the Scottish Clans under Prince Charlie suffered so severely at the hands of the Duke of Cumberland, is only six miles away from Inverness, and we had originally planned to visit it, but as that journey would have taken us farther from the Caledonian Canal, the line of which we were now anxious to follow, we gave up the idea of going to Culloden. We were, moreover, in no humour for digressions since we had not yet recovered from the effects of our long walk on Saturday, and our bodily ailments were still heavy upon us. As we crossed the suspension-bridge, in close proximity to the castle, we purchased a few prints of the town and the neighbourhood through which we were about to pass.

Inverness is built in a delightful situation, skirting the Ness, which here takes the form of a beautiful, shallow river moving peacefully forward to its great receptacle, Loch Ness, a few miles away; but, although the country near the town is comparatively level, it is surrounded by mountain scenery of the most charming description. Our route lay along the north-western side of the Caledonian Canal in the direction of Fort Augustus, and we again passed the Tomnahurich Hill. Near this we saw a large building which we were surprised to learn was a lunatic asylum—an institution we did not expect to find here, for we had only heard of one madman in the three counties of Scotland through which we had passed. We concluded it must have been built for persons from farther south.


The diarrhoea still continued to trouble us, so we asked the advice of a gentleman we met on the road, and he recommended us to call at the next farmhouse, which, fortunately, happened to be only a short distance away, and to "take a quart of milk each, as hot as you can drink it." So away we walked to the farm, which we found standing a short distance from our road, and, after explaining our troubles and wishes to the farmer, were invited into the house, where the mistress quickly provided us with the hot milk, which luckily proved to be a safe and simple remedy. The farmer and his wife were as pleased with our company as we were with theirs, and were just the sort of people that tourists like to meet. We had a long talk with them about the crops, the markets, our long walk, and, last but not least, the weather. Speaking of diarrhoea, the farmer informed us that the water of Inverness often affected strangers in that way, and that it had even been known to produce dysentery.

After regaining our road, we had a lovely walk that day; the scenery and the weather were both very fine, and, about a mile farther on, we had a glorious view over Loch Ness, beside which our walk led us, through a delightful country studded with mansions amidst some of nature's most beautiful scenery. Presently we met a party of men, consisting of two soldiers and three civilians, engaged in cutting branches from the trees that were likely to interfere with the working of the telegraph, which passed along the side of the road. It consisted of a single wire, and had only just been erected, for we noticed each post bore the Government mark and the date 1871. We asked the men if they knew of a good remedy for our complaint, and one of the soldiers, who had seen service abroad, recommended "a spoonful of sweet oil and cinnamon mixed with it." Our former remedy had proved to be efficacious, so we had no need to try this, but we give the information here for the benefit of all whom it may concern.


We were certainly in for the best day's march we had yet experienced, if not for distance, certainly for beauty of route; and if we had had the gift of poetry—which only affected us occasionally—we should have had here food for poems sufficient to fill the side of a newspaper. Mountain rills, gushing rivulets, and murmuring waters! Here they were in abundance, rolling down the rocky mountains from unknown heights, and lending an additional charm to the landscape! Is it necessary to dilate on such beauties?—for if words were conjured in the most delicate and exquisite language imaginable, the glories of Loch Ness and its surroundings are, after all, things to be seen before they can be fully appreciated. The loch is over twenty miles long, and averages about a mile broad; while a strange fact is that its water never freezes. Scientific men, we were told, attributed this to the action of earthquakes in distant parts of the world, their vibrations affecting the surface of the water here; while others, apparently of the more commonsense type, attribute it to the extreme depth of the water in the loch itself, for in the centre it is said to exceed 260 yards.

As we loitered along—for we were very lazy—we decided to have a picnic amongst the large stones on the shore of the loch, so we selected a suitable position, and broke into the provisions we carried in our bags as a reserve for emergencies. We were filling our water-boiling apparatus from the loch, when we saw a steamboat approaching from the direction of Glasgow. It presented quite a picture as it passed us, in the sunshine, with its flags flying and its passengers crowded on the deck, enjoying the fine scenery, and looking for Inverness, where their trip on the boat, like the Caledonian Canal itself, would doubtless end. There was music on board, of which we got the full benefit, as the sound was wafted towards us across the water, to echo and re-echo amongst the hills and adjoining woods; and we could hear the strains of the music long after the boat was cut off from our vision by the branches of the trees which partially surrounded us.

The stone marks the spot where MacGillivray of Dunmaglass died while stretching out his hand toward the little spring of water.

We were, in reality, having a holiday compared with our exertions on Saturday, and, as we were practically on the sick-list, considered ourselves fully entitled to it. We thought we had travelled quite far enough for invalids when, at fourteen miles from Inverness, and in the light of a lovely sunset, we reached Drumnadrochit, a village on the side of the loch.

Is it to be wondered at that we succumbed to the seductions of the famous inn there, as distinguished men had done before us, as the records of the inn both in prose and poetry plainly showed? One poetical Irishman had written a rhyme of four verses each ending with the word Drumnadrochit, one of which we thought formed a sufficient invitation and excuse for our calling there; it read:

Stop, traveller! with well-pack'd bag,

And hasten to unlock it;

You'll ne'er regret it, though you lag

A day at Drumnadrochit.

One of the best advertisements of this hotel and Drumnadrochit generally appeared in a letter written by Shirley Brooks to Punch in 1860, in which he wrote:

The inn whence these lines are dated faces a scene which, happily, is not too often to be observed in this planet. I say happily, sir, because we are all properly well aware that this world is a vale of tears, in which it is our duty to mortify ourselves and make everybody else as uncomfortable as possible. If there were many places like Drumnadrochit, persons would be in fearful danger of forgetting that they ought to be miserable.

But who would have thought that a quiet and sedate-looking Quaker like John Bright, the famous M.P. for Birmingham, could have been moved by the spirit to write a verse of poetry—such an unusual thing for a member of the Society of Friends! Here it is:

In the Highland glens 'tis far too oft observed,

That man is chased away and game preserved;

Glen Urquhart is to me a lovelier glen—

Here deer and grouse have not supplanted men.

But was the position reversed when Mr. Bright visited it? and did the men supplant the deer and grouse then?


Glen Urquhart was one of the places we had to pass on the following day, but as we had no designs on the deer and grouse, since our sporting proclivities did not lie in that direction, we thought that we might be safely trusted to leave the game undisturbed.

(Distance walked fourteen miles.)

Tuesday, September 26th.

We set out from Drumnadrochit early in the morning, and, leaving Glen Urquhart to the right, after walking about two miles turned aside to view Urquhart Castle, a ruin occupying a commanding position on the side of Loch Ness and immediately opposite the entrance to the glen. The castle was besieged by Edward I when he was trying to subdue Scotland, and a melancholy story was told of that period. The Scots, who were defending the castle, were "in extremis," as their provisions were exhausted and they knew that when they surrendered they would all be slain. The Governor, however, was anxious to save his wife, who was shortly to become a mother, so he bade her clothe herself in rags and drove her from the gate as though she were a beggar who had been shut up in the castle and whom they had driven away because their provisions were running short. The ruse succeeded, for the English, believing her story, let her go; after the garrison saw that she was safe they sallied forth to meet their fate, and were all killed.


The approach to the ruins from the road is by upwards of a hundred rough hardwood steps, and the castle must have been a well-nigh impregnable stronghold in former times, protected as it was on three sides by the water of the loch and by a moat on the fourth, the position of the drawbridge being still clearly denned.

Beneath the solitary tower is a dismal dungeon, and we wondered what horrors had been enacted within its time-worn and gloomy walls! Once a grim fortress, its ruins had now been mellowed by the hand of time, and looked quite inviting amidst their picturesque surroundings. To them might fitly be applied the words: "Time has made beautiful that which at first was only terrible."

Whilst we were amongst the ruins, a steamboat which had called at Drumnadrochit passed close alongside the castle, and we waved our handkerchiefs to those on board, our silent salutations being returned by some of the passengers. We afterwards learned we had been recognised by a gentleman who had met us on the previous day.

About ten miles from Drumnadrochit we reached Invermoriston, and visited a church which was almost filled with monuments to the memory of the Grant family, the lairds of Glenmoriston. Among them was the tombstone of the son of a former innkeeper, with the following inscription, which reminded us of our own mortality:

Remember, Friend, when this you see,

As I am now so you must be;

As you are now so once was I.

Remember, Friend, that you must die.

There was also another tombstone, apparently that of his mother, inscribed:



and on this appeared the following epitaph:

Weep not for me, O friends,

But weep and mourn

For your own sins.


We then went to visit the remarkable waterfall of Glenmoriston, where the water after rushing down the rocks for some distance entered a crevice in a projecting rock below, evidently worn in the course of ages by the falls themselves. Here the water suddenly disappeared, to reappear as suddenly some distance below, where, as if furious at its short imprisonment, it came out splashing, dashing, and boiling in fantastic beauty amongst the rocks over which it pursued its downward course. We descended a few paces along a footpath leading to a small but ancient building, probably at one time a summer house, in the centre of which a very old millstone had done duty as a table. Here we were fairly in the whirl of waters, and had a splendid view of the falls and of the spray which rose to a considerable height. There was no doubt that we saw this lovely waterfall under the best possible conditions, and it was some recompense to us when we thought that the heavy rainfall through which we had passed had contributed to this result. The thistle may overshadow many more beautiful falls than the falls of Glenmoriston, but we claim a share of praise for this lively little waterfall as viewed by us in full force from this shady retreat.



"Here in the whirl of waters ... the spray rose to a considerable height.

After refreshing ourselves at the inn, we started on our next stage of ten miles to Fort Augustus, the loneliness of our journey through its beauties of scenery being enlivened by occasionally watching the pranks of the squirrels and gazing at the many burns that flowed down the mountain slopes. Before reaching Fort Augustus we had a splendid view as we looked backward over Loch Ness, dotted here and there with several ships tacking and retacking, their white sails gleaming in the sunshine. It had been a calm and lovely day; the sun was sinking in the west as we entered Fort Augustus, but we had only time enough for a superficial survey, for we had to proceed farther, and, however important the Fort might have been in 1729 when General Wade constructed his famous military road, or when the Duke of Cumberland made it his headquarters while he dealt severely with the adherents of Prince Charlie, shooting ruthlessly, laying waste on every side, and driving women and children into the moors only to die, it looked very insignificant that night. The Highland Clans never looked favourably on the construction of these military roads, and would doubtless have preferred the mountain tracks to remain as they were, for by using the Fort as a base these roads became a weapon to be used against them; their only eulogy was said to have been written by an Irish officer:

Had you but seen these roads before they were made,

You would lift up your eyes, and bless General Wade.

My brother said he must have been a real Irishman, with the eye of faith, to see roads before they were made!


Fort Augustus stands at the extremity of Loch Ness, at the point where its surplus waters are lowered by means of locks to swell those of Loch Oich, so as to make both lochs navigable for the purposes of the Caledonian Canal. We noticed some corn-stacks here that were thatched with broom, and some small houses that were roofed with what looked like clods of earth, so we concluded that the district must be a very poor one.


As darkness was now coming on, we were anxious to find lodgings for the night, and, hearing that there was an inn at a place called Invergarry, seven and a half miles from Fort Augustus, we were obliged to go there. The moon was just beginning to relieve the darkness when we reached Invergarry, and, seeing a servant removing some linen from a clothes-line in a small garden, we asked the way to the inn; she pointed to a building opposite, and said we had "better go in at that door." We entered as directed at the side door, and found ourselves in a rather large inn with a passage through it from end to end. We saw what we supposed to be the master and the mistress snugly ensconced in a room, and asked the master if we could obtain lodgings for the night. He said "yes," but we heard the mistress, who had not seen us, mutter something we could not hear distinctly. My brother said he was sure he heard the words "Shepherd's room." The landlord then conducted us into a room at the end of the long dark passage, in which, we found several shepherds drinking and conversing with each other in Gaelic. One of them said to us "Good night," and as we returned his salutation they all retired from the room. We were now able to look about us, and found the room contained two tables, four forms, and at least two beds ranged lengthways along one side. Presently a servant came in and began to make one of the beds, and then another servant came who, we thought, eyed us rather closely, as we were holding our faces down to conceal the laughter which we could scarcely restrain. When she had made the other bed my brother asked if both the beds were for us. The servant said she couldn't tell, but "Missis says they are both to be made." We had evidently been taken for shepherds, and at first we were inclined to feel angry, for no one came to ask us if we required anything to eat or drink. We could have done with a good supper, but fortunately we had replenished our bags at Fort Augustus, so we were in no danger of being starved. We scribbled in our diaries by the feeble light of the candle which the servants had left on one of the tables, and as no one turned up to claim the second bed we occupied both. There was no lock or fastening on the door, but we barricaded it securely with two of the forms—and it was perhaps as well that we did so, for some one tried to open it after we were in bed—and we slept that night not on feathers, but on chaff with which the beds or mattresses were stuffed.

(Distance walked twenty-seven miles.)

Wednesday, September 27th.

"The sleep of a labouring man is sweet," and so was ours on the primitive beds of the shepherds. But the sounds in the rear of the hotel awoke us very early in the morning, and, as there was every appearance of the weather continuing fine, we decided to walk some distance before breakfast. We asked one of the servants how much we had to pay, and she returned with an account amounting to the astounding sum of sixpence! Just fancy, ye Highland tourists! ye who have felt the keen grip of many an hotel-keeper there—just fancy, if ye can, two of us staying a night at a large hotel in the Highlands of Scotland for sixpence!

We followed the servant to a small room at the front of the hotel, where a lady was seated, to whom the money had to be paid; the surprised and disappointed look on her face as we handed her a sovereign in payment of our account was rich in the extreme, amply repaying us for any annoyance we might have experienced the night before. What made the matter more aggravating to the lady was that she had not sufficient change, and had to go upstairs and waken some unwilling money-changer there! Then the change had to be counted as she reluctantly handed it to us and made a forlorn effort to recover some of the coins. "Won't you stay for breakfast?" she asked; but we were not to be persuaded, for although we were hungry enough, we were of an unforgiving spirit that morning, and, relying upon getting breakfast elsewhere, we thanked her and went on our way rejoicing!

About a mile farther on we reached the ruins of Glengarry Castle, which stand in the private grounds of the owner, but locks and bolts prevented us from seeing the interior. This castle remains more complete than many others and still retains its quadrangular appearance, much as it was when Prince Charlie slept there during his flight after Culloden, and, although not built on any great elevation, it looks well in its wooded environs and well-kept grounds. A story was told of the last Lord Glengarry who, in 1820, travelled 600 miles to be present at the Coronation of King George IV. He was dressed on that magnificent and solemn occasion in the full costume of a Highland chief, including, as a matter of course, a brace of pistols. A lady who was at the reception happened to see one of the pistols in his clothing, and, being greatly alarmed, set up a loud shriek, crying, "Oh Lord! Oh Lord! there's a man with a pistol," and alarming the whole assembly. As she insisted on Glengarry being arrested, he was immediately surrounded, and the Garter King of Arms came forward and begged him to give up the much-dreaded pistols; but he refused, as they were not loaded, and pleaded that they formed an essential part of his national garb. At length, however, after much persuasion, he gave them up.

Glengarry wrote a letter to the editor of The Times, in which he said: "I have worn my dress continually at Court, and was never so insulted before. Pistols, sir, are as essential to the Highland courtier's dress as a sword is to English, French, or German; and those used by me on such occasions as unstained with powder as any courtier's sword, with blood. It is only grossest ignorance of Highland character and costume which imagined that the assassin lurked under their bold and manly form."

Glengarry, who, it was said, never properly recovered from the effects of this insult, died in 1828.

After about another mile we came to a monument near the side of the road, on the top of which were sculptured the figures of seven human heads held up by a hand clasping a dagger. On each of the four sides of the base there was an inscription in one of four different languages—English, French, Latin, and Gaelic—as follows:

As a memorial to the ample and summary vengeance which in the swift course of Feudal justice inflicted by the orders of the Lord MacDonnell and Aross overtook the perpetrators of the foul murder of the Keppoch family, a branch of the powerful and illustrious Clan of which his Lordship was the Chief, this Monument is erected by Colonel MacDonnell of Glengarry XVII Mac-Minc-Alaister his successor and Representative in the year of our Lord 1812. The heads of the seven murderers were presented at the feet of the noble chief in Glengarry Castle after having been washed in this spring and ever since that event which took place early in the sixteenth century it has been known by the name "Tobar-nan-Ceann" or the Well of the Heads.

The monument was practically built over the well, an arched passage leading down to the water, where we found a drinking-utensil placed for any one who desired a drink. We were glad to have one ourselves, but perhaps some visitors might be of such refined and delicate taste that they would not care to drink the water after reading the horrible history recorded above.

It appeared that Macdonald of Keppoch, the owner of the estate, had two sons whom he sent to France to be educated, and while they were there he died, leaving the management of his estate to seven kinsmen until the return of his sons from France; when they came back, they were murdered by the seven executors of their father's will. The Bard of Keppoch urged Glengarry to take vengeance on the murderers, and this monument was erected to commemorate the ample and summary vengeance inflicted about 1661.


Leaving this memorial of "ample and summary vengeance," we crossed the Loggan Bridge and gained the opposite bank of the Caledonian Canal. The country we now passed through was very lonely and mountainous, and in one place we came to a large plantation of hazel loaded with nuts. We reflected that there were scarcely any inhabitants to eat them, as the persons we met did not average more than a dozen in twenty miles, and on one occasion only six all told; so we turned into nut-gatherers ourselves, spurred on by the fact that we had had no breakfast and our appetites were becoming sharpened, with small prospect of being appeased in that lonely neighbourhood.

A little farther on, however, we met a man with two dogs, who told us he was the shepherd, and, in reply to our anxious inquiry, informed us that we could get plenty to eat at his house, which we should find a little farther on the road. This was good news, for we had walked eight miles since leaving Invergarry. When we reached the shepherd's house, which had formerly been an inn, we found the mistress both civil and obliging, and she did her best to provide for our hungry requirements. The house was evidently a very old one, and we wondered what queer people had sat in that ingle-nook and what strange stories they had told there. The fireplace was of huge dimensions; hanging above it was a single-and a double-barrelled gun, while some old crockery and ancient glass bottles adorned various parts of the kitchen—evidently family heirlooms, which no doubt had been handed down from one generation to another—and a very old bed reposed in the chimney corner.

The mistress provided us with a splendid breakfast, upon which we inflicted "ample and summary vengeance," for those words were still ringing in our minds and ears and had already become by-words as we travelled along. The "best tea-pot," which looked as if it had not been used for ages, was brought from its hiding-place; and, amongst other good things, we were treated by way of dessert to some ripe blackberries, which the mistress called brambleberries and which she told us she had gathered herself. It was half-past ten o'clock when we left the shepherd's house, and shortly afterwards we had a view of the snow-covered summit of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Great Britain. We had a lonely walk alongside Loch Lochy, which is ten miles in length; but in about six miles General Wade's road, which we followed, branched off to the left. About four miles from the junction we reached Spean Bridge, over which we crossed the river of that name, which brings along the waters of sundry lochs as well as others from the valley of Glen Roy. This Glen forms an almost hidden paradise beloved of geologists, as along the sides of the valley are the famous "Parallel Roads" belonging to the Glacial Period. We replenished our stock of provisions, which we had rather neglected, at Spean Bridge, and treated ourselves to another little picnic in the lonely country beyond. It was dark before we reached Fort William, where we found comfortable lodgings at the house of Mrs. MacPherson opposite the Ben Nevis Hotel, and retired with the intention of ascending Ben Nevis the following day.

(Distance walked twenty-five and a half miles.)

Thursday, September 28th.

After breakfast we commissioned Mrs. MacPherson to engage the services of the guide to conduct us to the top of Ben Nevis, which is 4,406 feet high, offering to pay him the sum of one sovereign for his services. We had passed the old castle of Inverlochy in the dark of the previous night, and, as we wished to visit it in the daylight that morning, we arranged that the guide should meet us on a bridge outside the town, which we must cross on our way to and from what we were told was once a royal castle, where King Achius signed a treaty with Charlemagne. The castle was some distance from the town, and quite near the famous distillery where the whisky known as "Long John" or the "Dew of Ben Nevis" was produced. We found ready access to the ruins, as the key had been left in the gate of the walled fence which surrounded them. "Prince Charlie," we learned, had "knocked" the castle to its present shape from an adjoining hill, and what he had left of it now looked very solitary. It was a square structure, with four towers one at each corner, that at the north-west angle being the most formidable. The space enclosed was covered with grass. What interested us most were four very old guns, or cannons, which stood in front of the castle, mounted on wheels supported on wood planks, and as they were of a very old pattern, these relics of the past added materially to the effect of the ancient and warlike surroundings.

We did not stay long in the ruins, as we were anxious to begin our big climb, so we returned to the bridge to await the arrival of the guide engaged for us by our hostess, and whom we had not yet seen. We waited there for more than half an hour, and were just on the point of returning to the town when we noticed the approach of a military-looking man carrying a long staff spiked at one end, who turned out to be the gentleman we were waiting for, and under whose guidance we soon began the ascent of the big mountain. After climbing for some time, we came to a huge stone on which the Government engineers had marked the altitude as 1,000 feet above sea-level, and as we climbed higher still we had a grand view of the hills and waters in the distance. We went bravely onward and upward until we arrived at a lake, where on a rock we saw the Government mark known as the "broad arrow," an emblem which we also saw in many other places as we walked through the country, often wondering what the sign could mean. We surmised that it stood for England, Scotland, and Ireland united in one kingdom, but we afterwards learned that it was introduced at the end of the seventeenth century to mark Government stores, and that at one time it had a religious significance connected with the Holy Trinity. The altitude was also marked on the rock as 2,200 feet, so that we had now ascended half-way to the top of Ben Nevis.

On our way up the mountain we had to stop several times, for our guide complained of diarrhoea, but here he came to a dead stop and said he could not proceed any farther. We were suspicious at first that he was only feigning illness to escape the bad weather which we could see approaching. We did our best to persuade him to proceed, but without effect, and then we threatened to reduce his fee by one-half if he did not conduct us to the summit of Ben Nevis as agreed. Finally we asked him to remain where he was until we returned after completing the ascent alone; but he pleaded so earnestly with us not to make the attempt to reach the summit, and described the difficulties and dangers so vividly, that we reluctantly decided to forgo our long-cherished ambition to ascend the highest mountain in Great Britain. We were very much disappointed, but there was no help for it, for the guide was now really ill, so we took his advice and gave up the attempt.

Ben Nevis, we knew, was already covered with snow at the top, and a further fall was expected, and without a guide we could not possibly find the right path. We had noticed the clouds collecting upon the upper peaks of the great mountain and the sleet was already beginning to fall, while the wind, apparently blowing from an easterly direction, was icy cold. My brother, who had had more experience in mountain-climbing than myself, remarked that if it was so bitterly cold at our present altitude of 2,200 feet, what might we expect it to be at 4,400, and reminded me of a mountain adventure he had some years before in North Wales.

On his first visit to the neighbourhood he had been to see a relative who was the manager of the slate quarries at Llanberis and resided near Port Dinorwic. The manager gave him an order to ride on the slate train to the quarries, a distance of seven miles, and to inspect them when he arrived there. Afterwards he went to the Padaro Villa Hotel for dinner, and then decided to go on to Portmadoc. There was no railway in those days, and as the coach had gone he decided to walk. The most direct way, he calculated, was to cross Snowdon mountain, and without asking any advice or mentioning the matter to any one he began his walk over a mountain which is nearly 3,600 feet high. It was two o'clock in the afternoon when he left the hotel at Llanberis, and from the time he passed a stone inscribed "3-3/4 miles to the top of Snowdon" he did not see a single human being. It was the 23rd of November, and the top of the mountain, which was clearly visible, was covered with snow.

All went well with him until he passed a black-looking lake and had reached the top of its rocky and precipitous boundary, when with scarcely any warning he suddenly became enveloped in the clouds and could only see a yard or two before him. He dared not turn back for fear he should fall down the precipice into the lake below, so he continued his walk and presently reached the snow. This, fortunately, was frozen, and he went on until he came to a small cabin probably used by the guide in summertime, but the door was locked, the padlock resting upon the snow; soon afterwards he arrived at the cairn which marked the summit of Snowdon. It was very cold, and he was soon covered with the frozen particles from the clouds as they drifted against him in the wind, which gave out a mournful sound like a funeral dirge as it drove against the rocks.

He walked round the tower several times before he could find a way down on the other side, but at length his attention was attracted by a black peak of rock rising above the snow, and to his astonishment, in a sheltered corner behind it, he could distinctly see the footprints of a man and a small animal, probably a dog, that had gone down behind the rock just before the snow had frozen. The prints were not visible anywhere else, but, fortunately, it happened to be the right way, and he crossed the dreaded "Saddleback" with a precipice on each side of him without knowing they were there. It was a providential escape, and when he got clear of the clouds and saw miles of desolate rocky country before him bounded by the dark sea in the background and strode down the remainder of the seven miles from the top of Snowdon, his feelings of thankfulness to the Almighty may be better imagined than described. He himself—a first-class walker—always considered they were the longest and quickest he ever accomplished. He occupied two hours in the ascent, but not much more than an hour in the descent, reaching, just at the edge of dark, the high-road where the words "Pitt's Head" were painted in large letters on some rocks, which he afterwards learned represented an almost exact profile of the head of William Pitt the famous Prime Minister. He stayed for tea at Beddgelert and then walked down the Pass of Aberglaslyn on a tree-covered road in almost total darkness, with the company of roaring waters, which terrified him even more than the dangers he had already encountered, as far as Tremadoc, where he stayed the night.

We had a dismal descent from Ben Nevis, and much more troublesome and laborious than the ascent, for our guide's illness had become more acute and he looked dreadfully ill. It was a pitiable sight to see him when, with scarcely strength enough to stand, he leaned heavily upon his staff on one side and on ourselves alternately on the other. We could not help feeling sorry for him for we had so recently suffered from the same complaint ourselves, though in a much milder form. We were compelled to walk very slowly and to rest at frequent intervals, and to add to our misery the rain was falling heavily. We were completely saturated long before reaching Fort William, and were profoundly thankful when we landed our afflicted friend at his own door. We handed him his full fee, and he thanked us and said that although he had ascended Ben Nevis on nearly 1,200 occasions, this was the only time he had failed.


We had not been quite satisfied that the cause assigned to our attack at Inverness was the real one, as we had drunk so little water there. We thought now that there might be some infectious epidemic passing through that part of Scotland, perhaps a modified form of the cholera that decimated our part of England thirty or forty years before, and that our guide as well as ourselves had contracted the sickness in that way.

We must not forget to record that on our way up the "Ben" we saw a most beautiful rainbow, which appeared to great advantage, as it spread itself between us and the opposite hills, exhibiting to perfection all its seven colours.

We were as hungry as hunters when we returned to our lodgings, and, after changing some of our clothes and drying the others, we sat down to the good things provided for our noon dinner, which we washed down with copious libations of tea.

As the rain continued, we decided to stop another night at Mrs. MacPherson's, so we went out to make some purchases at the chemist's shop, which also served as an emporium—in fact as a general stores. We had a chat with the proprietor, who explained that Fort William was a very healthy place, where his profession would not pay if carried on alone, so he had to add to it by selling other articles. The Fort, he told us, was originally built in the time of Cromwell by General Monk to overawe the Highlanders, but was afterwards re-erected on a smaller scale by William III; hence its name of Fort William.


We asked the chemist if he could recommend to us a good shoemaker, who could undertake to sole and heel two pairs of boots before morning, as ours were showing signs of wear-and-tear owing to the long distances we had walked both before and after reaching John o' Groat's. This he promised to do, and he sent one across to Mrs. MacPherson's immediately. After we had parted with our boots, we were prisoners for the remainder of the day, though we were partially reconciled to our novel position when we heard the wind driving the rain against the windows instead of against ourselves. But it seemed strange to us to be sitting down hour after hour reading the books our hostess kindly lent to us instead of walking on the roads. The books were chiefly historical, and interested us, as they related to the country through which we were passing. Terrible histories they contained too! describing fierce battles and murders, and giving us the impression that the Scots of the olden times were like savages, fighting each other continually, and that for the mere pleasure of fighting. Especially interesting to us was the record of the cruel massacre of Glencoe, for we intended visiting there, if possible, on the morrow. It was not the extent of the carnage on that occasion, but the horrible way in which it was carried out, that excited the indignation of the whole country, and my brother spent some time in copying in his note-book the following history of—


After King William had defeated the Highland Clans, he gave the Highland Chiefs a year and a half to make their submission to his officers, and all had done this except MacDonald of Glencoe, whose Chief—MacIan—had delayed his submission to the last possible day. He then went to Fort William to tender his Oath of Allegiance to the King's Officer there, who unfortunately had no power to receive it, but he gave him a letter to Sir Colin Campbell, who was at Inverary, asking him to administer the Oath to MacIan. The aged Chief hastened to Inverary, but the roads were bad and almost impassable owing to a heavy fall of snow, so that the first day of January, 1692, had passed before he could get there; Campbell administered the Oath and MacIan returned to Glencoe thinking that all was now right. But a plot was made against him by the Campbells, whose flocks and herds, it was said, the MacDonalds had often raided, and it was decided to punish MacIan and to exterminate his clan; and a company of the Earl of Argyle's regiment, commanded by Captain Campbell of Glenlyon, was sent to Glen Coe to await orders. MacIan's sons heard that the soldiers were coming, and thought that they were coming to disarm them, so they removed their arms to a place of safety, and, with a body of men, they went to meet the soldiers to ask if they were coming as friends or foes. They assured them that they were coming as friends and wished to stay with them for a short time, as there was no room for them, for the garrison buildings at Fort William were already full of soldiers. Alaster MacDonald, one of MacIan's sons, had married a niece of Glenlyon's, so that the soldiers were cordially received and treated with every possible hospitality by MacIan and his Clan, with whom they remained for about a fortnight.

Then Glenlyon received a letter from Duncanson, his commanding officer, informing him that all the MacDonalds under seventy years of age must be killed, and that the Government was not to be troubled with prisoners. Glenlyon lost no time in carrying out his orders. He took his morning's draught as usual at the house of MacIan's son, who had married his niece, and he and two of his officers accepted an invitation to dinner from MacIan, whom, as well as the whole clan, he was about to slaughter. At four o'clock the next morning, February 13, 1692, the massacre was begun by a party of soldiers, who knocked at MacIan's door and were at once admitted. Lindsay, who was one of the officers who had accepted his invitation to dinner, commanded the party, and shot MacIan dead at his own bedside while he was dressing himself and giving orders for refreshments to be provided for his visitors. His aged wife was stripped by the savage soldiers, who pulled off the gold rings from her fingers with their teeth, and she died next day from grief and the brutal treatment she had received. The two sons had had their suspicions aroused, but these had been allayed by Glenlyon. However, an old servant woke them and told them to flee for their lives as their father had been murdered, and as they escaped they heard the shouts of the murderers, the firing of muskets, the screams of the wounded, and the groans of the dying rising from the village, and it was only their intimate knowledge of the almost inaccessible cliffs that enabled them to escape. At the house where Glenlyon lodged, he had nine men bound and shot like felons. A fine youth of twenty years of age was spared for a time, but one, Captain Drummond, ordered him to be put to death; and a boy of five or six, who had clung to Glenlyon's knees entreating for mercy and offering to become his servant for life if he would spare him, and who had moved Glenlyon to pity, was stabbed by Drummond with a dirk while he was in the agony of supplication. Barber, a sergeant, with some soldiers, fired on a group of nine MacDonalds who were round their morning fire, and killed four of them, and one of them, who escaped into a house, expressed a wish to die in the open air rather than inside the house, "For your bread, which I have eaten," said Barber, "I will grant the request." Macdonald was accordingly dragged to the door, but he was an active man and, when the soldiers presented their firelocks to shoot him, he cast his plaid over their eyes and, taking advantage of their confusion and the darkness, he escaped up the glen. Some old persons were also killed, one of them eighty years of age; and others, with women and children who had escaped from the carnage half clad, were starved and frozen to death on the snow-clad hills whither they had fled.

The winter wind that whistled shrill,

The snows that night that cloaked the hill,

Though wild and pitiless, had still

Far more than Southern clemency.

It was thrilling to read the account of the fight between the two Clans, Mackenzie and MacDonnell, which the Mackenzies won. When the MacDonnells were retreating they had to cross a river, and those who missed the ford were either drowned or killed. A young and powerful chief of the MacDonnells in his flight made towards a spot where the burn rushed through a yawning chasm, very wide and deep, and was closely followed by one of the victorious Mackenzies; but MacDonnell, forgetting the danger of the attempt in the hurry of his flight and the agitation of the moment, and being of an athletic frame and half naked, made a desperate leap, and succeeded in clearing the rushing waters below.

Mackenzie inconsiderately followed him, but, not having the impulse of the powerful feelings that had animated MacDonnell, he did not reach the top of the opposite bank, succeeding only in grasping the branch of a birch tree, where he hung suspended over the abyss. Macdonnell, finding he was not being followed, returned to the edge of the chasm, and, seeing Mackenzie's situation, took out his dirk, and as he cut off the branch from the tree he said, "I have left much behind me with you to-day; take that also," and so Mackenzie perished.

There was another incident of Highland ferocity that attracted us powerfully, and read as follows: "Sir Ewen encountered a very powerful English officer, an over-match for him in strength, who, losing his sword, grappled with the chief, and got him under; but Lochiel's presence of mind did not forsake him, for grasping the Englishman by the collar and darting at his extended throat with his teeth, he tore away the bloody morsel, which he used to say was the sweetest morsel he had ever tasted."

We felt that the people hereabouts were still of another nation. The descendants of Prince Charlie's faithful adherents still clung to their ancient religion, and they preserved many of their old customs and traditions in spite of the changes in outlook which trade and the great canal had brought about.

It was therefore not to be wondered at that, after impressing our memories with these and other fearful stories and eating the heavy supper provided for us by our landlady, our dreams that night rather disturbed our slumbers.

"Especially interesting to us was the account of the cruel massacre of Glencoe. Here was enacted one of the blackest crimes in the annals of Scottish history."

Personally I was in the middle of a long journey, engaged in disagreeable adventures in which I was placed at a considerable disadvantage, as I was walking without my boots, when I was relieved from an unpleasant position by the announcement that it was six o'clock and that our boots had arrived according to promise.

(Distance walked nine miles.)

Friday, September 29th.

There was a delightful uncertainty about our journey, for everything we saw was new to us, and we were able to enjoy to the fullest extent the magnificent mountain and loch scenery in the Highlands of Scotland, with which we were greatly impressed. It was seven o'clock in the morning, of what, fortunately for us, proved to be a fine day, as we left Fort William, and after coming to the end of the one street which formed the town we reached a junction of roads, where it was necessary to inquire the way to Glencoe. We asked a youth who was standing at the door of a house, but he did not know, so went into the house to inquire, and came out with the information that we could get there either way. We had already walked along the full length of Loch Ness, Loch Oich, and Loch Lochy, so we decided to walk alongside Loch Linnhe, especially as that road had the best surface. So on we went at a quick pace, for the half-day's holiday yesterday had resulted in renewed energy. We could see the great mountains in front which we knew we must cross, and after walking three and a half miles we met a pedestrian, who informed us that we were on the right way, and must go on until we reached Ballachulish, where we could cross the ferry to Glencoe.

This information rather troubled us, as we had determined to walk all the way, so he advised us to go round the "Head of the Loch"—an expression we often heard used in Scotland—and to make our way there across the open country; in this case the loch was Loch Leven, so we left the highway and Loch Linnhe and walked to a small farm we could see in the distance. The mistress was the only person about, but she could only speak Gaelic, and we were all greatly amused at our efforts to make ourselves understood. Seeing some cows grazing quite near, my brother took hold of a quart jug standing on a bench and, pointing to the cows, made her understand that we wanted a quart of milk, which she handed to us with a smile. We could not ask her the price, so we handed her fourpence, the highest price we had known to have been paid for a quart of the best milk at home, and with which she seemed greatly pleased.

We were just leaving the premises when the farmer came up, and he fortunately could speak English. He told us he had seen us from a distance, and had returned home, mistaking us for two men who occasionally called upon him on business. He said we had gone "three miles wrong," and took great pains to show us the right way. Taking us through a fence, he pointed out in the distance a place where we should have to cross the mountains. He also took us to a track leading off in that direction, which we were to follow, and, leaving him, we went on our way rejoicing. But this mountain track was a very curious one, as it broke away in two or three directions and shortly disappeared. It was unfenced on the moorland, and there were not enough people travelling that way to make a well-defined path, each appearing to have travelled as he pleased. We tried the same method, but only to find we had gone out of the nearest way. We crossed several small burns filled with delightfully clear water, and presently saw another house in the distance, to which we now went, finding it to be the shepherd's house.

Here the loud and savage barking of a dog brought out the shepherd's wife, who called the dog away from us, and the shepherd, who was having his breakfast, also made his appearance. He directed us to a small river, which he named in Gaelic, and pointed to a place where it could easily be forded, warning us at the same time that the road over the hills was not only dangerous, but difficult to find and extremely lonely, and that the road to Glencoe was only a drovers' road, used for driving cattle across the hills. We made the best of our way to the place, but the stream had been swollen by the recent rains, and we experienced considerable difficulty in crossing it. At length, after sundry walkings backwards and forwards, stepping from one large stone to another in the burn, we reached the opposite bank safely. The only mishap, beyond getting over shoe-tops in the water, was the dropping of one of our bags in the burn; but this we were fortunate enough to recover before its contents were seriously damaged or the bag carried away by the current.


We soon reached the road named by the shepherd, which was made of large loose stones. But was it a road? Scotland can boast of many good roads, and has material always at hand both for construction and repair; but of all the roads we ever travelled on, this was the worst! Presently we came to a lonely cottage, the last we were to see that day, and we called to inquire the way, but no English was spoken there. This was unfortunate, as we were in doubt as to which was our road, so we had to find our way as best we could. Huge rocks and great mountains reared their heads on all sides of us, including Ben Nevis, which we could recognise owing to the snowy coverlet still covering his head. The country became very desolate, with nothing to be seen but huge rocks, inaccessible to all except the pedestrian. Hour after hour we toiled up mountains—sometimes we thought we reached an elevation of two thousand feet—and then we descended into a deep ravine near a small loch. Who could forget a day's march like this, now soaring to an immense height and presently appearing to descend into the very bowels of the earth! We must have diverged somewhat from the road known as the "Devil's Staircase," by repute the worst road in Britain, for the track we were on was in one section like the bed of a mountain torrent and could not have been used even by cattle. Late in the afternoon we reached the proper track, and came up with several herds of bullocks, about three hundred in number, all told, that were being driven over the mountains to find a better home in England, which we ourselves hoped to do later.


We were fortunate in meeting the owner, with whom we were delighted to enter into conversation. When we told him of our adventures, he said we must have missed our way, and congratulated us on having a fine day, as many persons had lost their lives on those hills owing to the sudden appearance of clouds. He said a heap of stones we passed marked the spot where two young men had been found dead. They were attempting to descend the "Devil's Stair," when the mist came on, and they wandered about in the frost until, overcome by sleep, they lay down never to rise again in this world.

He had never been in England, but had done business with many of the nobility and gentlemen there, of whom several he named belonged to our own county of Chester. He had heard that the bullocks he sold to them, after feeding on the rich, pastures of England for a short time, grew to a considerable size, which we thought was not to be wondered at, considering the hardships these shaggy-looking creatures had to battle with in the North. We got some information about our farther way, not the least important being the fact that there was a good inn in the Pass of Glencoe; and he advised us to push on, as the night would soon be coming down.


At the close of day we could just see the outline of a deep, dark valley which we knew was the Pass of Glencoe, with a good road, hundreds of feet below. Acting on the advice of the drover, we left the road and descended cautiously until we could go no farther in safety; then we collected an enormous number of old roots, the remains of a forest of birch trees which originally covered the mountain-side, and with some dry heather lighted an enormous tire, taking care to keep it within bounds. A small rill trickling down the mountain-side supplied us with water, and, getting our apparatus to work and some provisions from our bags, we sat down as happy as kings to partake of our frugal meal, to the accompaniment of the "cup that cheers but not inebriates," waiting for the rising of the full moon to light us on our farther way to the road below. We were reclining amongst the heather, feeling thankful to the Almighty that we had not shared the fate of the two young men whose cairn we had seen on the hills above—an end we might easily have met, given the weather of yesterday and similar conditions—when suddenly we heard voices below us. Our fire now cast a glare around it, and everything looked quite dark beyond its margin. Our feelings of surprise increased as from the gloom emerged the gigantic figures of two stalwart Highlanders. We thought of the massacre of Glencoe, for these men were nearly double our size; and, like the Macdonalds, we wondered whether they came as friends or foes, since we should have fared badly had it been the latter. But they had been attracted by the light of our fire, and only asked us if we had seen "the droves." We gave them all the information we could, and then bidding us "good night" they quietly departed.

"Here was wild solitude in earnest.... The scene we looked upon was wild and rugged, as if convulsed by some frightful cataclysm."

The darkness of the night soon became modified by the reflected light from the rising moon behind the great hills on the opposite side of the glen. We extinguished the dying embers of our fire and watched the full moon gradually appearing above the rocks, flooding with her glorious light the surrounding scene, which was of the sublimest grandeur and solitude.


Many descriptions of this famous glen have been written, and no one who could see it under such favourable and extraordinary conditions as we enjoyed that night would be disposed to dispute the general opinion of its picturesque and majestic beauty. Surely Nature is here portrayed in her mightiest form! How grand, and yet how solemn! See the huge masses of rock rising precipitously on both sides of the glen and rearing their rugged heads towards the very heavens! Here was wild solitude in earnest, and not even the cry of the eagle which once, and even now, had its abode in these vast mountain recesses broke the awful silence which that night prevailed in the Pass, disturbed only by the slumberous rippling of water. The scene we looked upon was wild and rugged, as if convulsed by some frightful cataclysm, and we saw it under conditions in which Nature conspired to enhance its awfulness—a sight which few painters could imitate, few writers could graphically describe. The infidel may deny the existence of the Creator of the universe, but there was here sufficient to fill the soul with awe and wonder, and to influence even the sceptic to render acknowledgment to the great God who framed these majestic hills. The reflection of the moon on the hills was marvellous, lighting up the white road at the upper end of the pass and the hills opposite, and casting great black shadows elsewhere which made the road appear as if to descend and vanish into Hades. We fancied as we entered the pass that we were descending into an abyss from which it would be impossible to extricate ourselves; but we were brought up sharp in our thoughts, for when we reached the road it suddenly occurred to us that we had forgotten to ask in which direction we had to turn for the "Clachaig Inn" named by the drover.

We sat down by the roadside in the hope that some one would come from whom we might obtain the information, and were just beginning to think it was a forlorn hope when we heard the sound of horse's feet approaching from the distance. Presently the rider appeared, who proved to be a cattle-dealer, he told us he had some cattle out at the foot of the glen, and said the inn was seven miles away in the direction in which he was going. We asked him if he would kindly call there and tell them that two travellers were coming who required lodgings for the night. This he promised to do, and added that we should find the inn on the left-hand side of the road. We then started on our seven-mile walk down the Pass of Glencoe in the light of the full moon shining from a clear sky, and in about an hour's time in the greatest solitude we were almost startled by the sudden appearance of a house set back from the left-hand side of the road with forms and tables spread out on the grass in front. Could this be the inn? It was on the left-hand side, but we could not yet have walked the distance named by the cattle-dealer; so we knocked at the door, which was opened by a queer-looking old man, who told us it was not the inn, but the shepherd's house, and that the forms and tables in front were for the use of passengers by the coach, who called there for milk and light refreshments. Then the mistress, who was more weird-looking still, came forward, and down the passage we could see other strange-looking people. The old lady insisted upon our coming in, saying she would make us some porridge; but my brother, whose nerves seemed slightly unstrung, thought that we might never come out of the house again alive! We found, however, that the company improved on closer acquaintance.

The meal was served in two deep bowls, and was so thick that when our spoons were placed in it on end they stood upright without any further support, so it was, as the Lancashire people describe it, proper "thick porridge." We were unable to make much impression on it, as we had not yet digested the repast we had enjoyed on the hills above, and the good old lady added to our difficulties by bringing a plentiful supply of milk. It was the first time we had tasted meal porridge in Scotland. Needless to say, after paying our hostess for her hospitality, we were allowed to depart in peace, nor were we molested during the remainder of our romantic evening walk. After proceeding about two miles farther amidst some of the most lonely and impressive scenery in the Highlands, we arrived at the "Clachaig Inn." It was after closing-time, but as the gentleman on horseback had delivered our message according to promise, the people of the inn were awaiting our arrival. We received a friendly welcome, and proceeded to satisfy what remained of a formerly voracious appetite by a weak attack on the good things provided for supper, after which, retiring to rest in the two beds reserved for us, we slept so soundly that in the morning when roused by a six-o'clock call we could not recall that our dreams had been disturbed even by the awful massacre enacted at Glencoe, which place was now so near.

(Distance walked thirty miles.)

Saturday, September 30th.

By seven o'clock a.m. we were again on the road bound for Inverary, which place we were anxious to visit, as it had recently been the scene of a royal wedding, that of the Princess Louise with the Marquis of Lorne. The morning was beautifully fine, but there had been a frost during the night and the grass on the sides of the road was quite white. The sky was clear, not a cloud being visible as we resumed our walk down the glen, and in about three miles we reached the village of Glencoe. Here we heard blasting operations being carried on quite near our road, and presently we reached the edge of the loch, where there was a pier and a ferry. We now found that in directing us to Inverary our friends at the inn had taken it for granted that we wished to go the nearest way, which was across this ferry, and we were told there were others to cross before reaching Inverary. We therefore replenished our stock of provisions at the village shop and turned back up the glen, so that after seeing it in the light of the full moon the night before we had now the privilege of seeing it in the glorious sunshine. We walked on until we got to the shepherd's house where we had been treated to such a heavy repast of meal porridge the previous evening, and there we had a substantial meal to fortify us for our farther journey. On our way up the glen we had passed a small lake at the side of our road, and as there was not sufficient wind to raise the least ripple on its surface it formed a magnificent mirror to the mountains on both sides. Several carts laden with wool had halted by the side of the lake and these also were reflected on its surface. We considered the view pictured in this lake to be one of the prettiest sights we had ever seen in the sunshine, and the small streams flowing down the mountain sides looked very beautiful, resembling streaks of silver. We compared the scene in imagination with the changes two months hence, when the streams would be lines of ice and the mountain roads covered with a surface of frozen snow, making them difficult to find and to walk upon, and rendering travelling far less pleasant than on this beautiful morning. We often thought that we should not have completed our walk if we had undertaken it at the same period of the year but in the reverse direction, since we were walking far too late in the season for a journey of this description. We considered ourselves very fortunate in walking from John o' Groat's to Land's End, instead of from Land's End to John o' Groat's, for by the time we finished deep snow might have covered these Northern altitudes. How those poor women and children must have suffered at the time of the massacre of Glencoe, when, as Sir Walter Scott writes—

flying from their burning huts, and from their murderous visitors, the half-naked fugitives committed themselves to a winter morning of darkness, snow, and storm, amidst a wilderness the most savage in the Western Highlands, having a bloody death behind them, and before them tempest, famine, and desolation when some of them, bewildered by the snow-wreaths, sank in them to rise no more!


They were doubtless ignorant of the danger they were in, even as they escaped up the glen, practically the only way of escape from Glencoe, for Duncanson had arranged for four hundred soldiers to be at the top end of the pass at four o'clock that morning, the hour at which the massacre was to begin at the other end. Owing to the heavy fall of snow, however, the soldiers did not arrive until eleven o'clock in the forenoon—long after the fugitives had reached places of safety.

Like many other travellers before us, we could not resist passing a bitter malediction on the perpetrators of this cruel wrong, although they had long since gone to their reward. And yet we are told that it hastened that amalgamation of the two kingdoms which has been productive of so much good.

We had our breakfast or lunch served on one of the tables ranged outside the front of the shepherd's house, and in quite a romantic spot, whence we walked on to a place which had figured on mileposts for a long distance named "Kingshouse." Here we expected to find a village, but as far as we could see there was only one fairly large house there, and that an inn. What king it was named after did not appear, but there was no other house in sight. Soon after passing it we again came in contact with the master cattle-drover we had interviewed the day before, who told us that he had brought his bullocks from the Isle of Skye, from which place they had to travel seventy-one miles. We also passed several other droves, some of which we might have seen previously, and by nightfall came to Inveroran. Here we saw a comfortable inn which would have just suited us, but as there was no church there and the next day was Sunday, we decided to walk to the next village, about three miles farther on, where we were informed there was a church, and a drover's house quite near it where we could get lodgings. By this time it was quite dark, and we passed Loch Tulla without either seeing it or knowing it was there, and arriving at the Bridge of Orchy we found the drover's house near the church. To our great disappointment the accommodation had all been taken up, and the only place that the lady of the house knew of in the direction we were going was a farmhouse about four miles away, where she said, with a tone of doubt in her voice, "we might get in!" We crossed the bridge and passed over the River Orchy, which connected Loch Tulla with Loch Awe, some sixteen miles distant.

Fortunately for us the moon now rose, though obscured by great black clouds, which we could see meant mischief, probably to make us pay dearly for the lovely weather during the day. But luckily there was sufficient light to enable us to see the many burns that crossed the surface of the road, otherwise it would have been impossible for us to have found our way. The streams were very numerous, and ran into the river which flowed alongside our road, from among some great hills the outlines of which we could see dimly to the left. We were tired, and the miles seemed very long, but the excitement of crossing the rushing waters of the burns and the noise of the river close by kept us awake. We began to think we should never reach that farmhouse, and that we had either missed our way or had been misinformed, when at length we reached the desired haven at a point where a gate guarded the entrance to the moor. All was in darkness, but we went to the house and knocked at the front door. There was no response, so we tried the shutters that barricaded the lower windows, our knocks disturbing the dogs at the back of the house, which began to bark and assisted us to waken the occupants. Presently we heard a sleepy voice behind the shutters, and my brother explained the object of our visit in a fine flow of language (for he was quite an orator), including references, as usual, to our "walking expedition," a favourite phrase of his. As the vehement words from within sounded more like Gaelic than English, I gathered that his application for lodgings had not been successful. Tired as I was, I could not help laughing at the storm we had created, in which the "walking expedition" man heartily joined. But what were we to do? Here we were on a stormy night, ten miles from the inn at Dalmally, which for aught we knew might be the next house, hungry and tired, cold and wet; and having covered thirty miles that day and thirty miles the day before, how could we walk a further ten miles? Our track was unfenced and bounded by the river on one side and the moors on the other, but presently we came to a place where the surface of the moor rose sharply and for some distance overhung the road, forming a kind of a cove. Here we gathered, some of the dry heather that extended under that which ornamented the sides of the cove, made quite a respectable fire, and ate our last morsel of food, with which unluckily we were poorly provided. To add to our misfortune, the wind grew into a hurricane and whirled the smoke in every direction, forcing us at last to beat a hasty retreat.

We now faced the prospect of a night on the moors, and resolved to crawl along at a sufficient speed to keep up our circulation, stopping at the first house we came to. Here again the subdued light from the moon proved useful, for we had not gone very far before we saw what appeared to be a small house on the moor about a hundred yards away. We approached it very cautiously, and found it was a small hut. How glad we were to see that hut! We struck a light, and at once began an exploration of the interior, which we found contained a form, a rustic table reared against the wall, and, better than all, a fireplace with a chimney above it about a yard high; the door was lying loose outside the hovel. It may have been a retreat for keepers, though more likely a shelter for men who had once been employed on the land, for attached to it was a small patch of land fenced in which looked as though it had been cultivated. With a few sticks which we found in one corner and a handful of hay gathered from the floor we lighted a fire, for we were now becoming experts in such matters; but the smoke seemed undecided which way it should go, for at one minute it went up the chimney, at another it came down. We went outside and altered the chimney a little, for it was only formed of loose stones, and thus effected an improvement for a time. The door gave us the most trouble, since being loose we had the greatest difficulty in keeping it in its proper position, for the wind was now blowing hard—so much so that we thought at times that the hut itself would be blown over. At last a tremendous gust came, and down went the chimney altogether. The fire and smoke now made towards the doorway, so that we had frequently to step outside in order to get a breath of fresh air. We tried to build the chimney up again, but this was impossible owing to the velocity of the wind and rain and the exposed situation. Our slender supply of fuel was nearly exhausted, which was the worst feature, as it was imperative that we should keep ourselves warm; so we decided to go back towards the river, where we had seen a few small trees or bushes lining the bank between our track and the water. Luckily, however, we discovered a dead tree inside the enclosed land, and as I was somewhat of an expert at climbing, I "swarmed" up it and broke off all the dead branches I could reach with safety, it being as much as I could do to retain my hold on the slippery trunk of the tree.

With the dead wood and some heather and pieces of turf we returned laden and wet through to our dug-out, where we managed to get our fire burning again and to clear away some of the stones that had fallen upon it. Still there was no sleep for us that night, which was the most miserable one almost that we ever experienced.

But just fancy the contrast! In the dead of night, in a desolate Highland glen, scaling a stone fence in a pitiless storm of wind and rain, and climbing up a dead tree to break off a few branches to serve as fuel for a most obstinate fire—such was the reality; and then picture, instead of this, sitting before a good fire in a comfortable inn, with a good supper, and snug apartments with every accommodation—these had been our fond anticipations for the week-end! We certainly had a good supply of wet fuel, and perhaps burned something else we ought not to have done: but we were really prisoners for the night. The merciless wind and rain raged throughout, and we had to stick to our novel apartment and breathe until daylight the awful smoke from the fire we were compelled to keep alight. Yet our spirits were not entirely damped, for we found ourselves in the morning, and often during the night, singing the refrain of an old song:

We'll stand the storm, it won't be long;

We'll anchor by and by.

Just occasionally the gloom thickened when we ventured to think of details, among which came uppermost the great question, "Where and when shall we get our breakfast?"

(Distance walked, including that to Dalmally, forty miles.)

Sunday, October 1st.

Soon after daylight appeared the rain moderated, and so did the wind, which now seemed to have exhausted itself. Our sleep, as may easily be imagined, had been of a very precarious and fitful character; still the hut had rendered substantial service in sheltering us from the fury of the storm. Soon after leaving our sorry shelter we saw a white house standing near the foot of a hill beyond the moor, and to this we resolved to go, even though it was a long distance away, as it was now imperative that we should obtain food. A knock at the door, more than once repeated—for it was still very early—at last roused the mistress of the house, who opened the door and with kindly sympathy listened to our tale of woe. She at once lit the fire, while the other members of the family were still asleep in the room, and found us some soap and water, our hands and faces being as black as smoke and burnt sticks could make them. After a good wash we felt much better and refreshed, although still very sleepy. She then provided us with some hot milk and oatcake, and something we had never tasted before, which she called "seath." It proved to be a compound of flour and potatoes, and after our long fast it tasted uncommonly good. Altogether we had an enormous breakfast, the good wife waiting upon us meanwhile in what we supposed was the costume common to the Highlands—in other words, minus her gown, shoes, and stockings. We rewarded her handsomely and thanked her profusely as she directed us the nearest way to Dalmally.

On arrival at the well-appointed inn there, we received every attention, and retired to our bedrooms, giving strict orders to the waiter to see that we were called in time for lunch, and for the English service at the kirk, which he told us would be held that day between one and two o'clock. In accordance with our instructions we were called, but it was not surprising, after walking quite forty miles since Saturday at daybreak, that we should be found soundly sleeping when the call came.

Lunch was waiting for us, and, after disposing of it as hungry folk should, we went to Glenorchy Church, only to find that, unfortunately, there was no service that day. The minister, who had charge of two parishes, was holding a service at his other church, seven miles distant up the glen! We therefore hurried to the Free Kirk, which stood in another part of the village; but as the Gaelic service had been taken at one o'clock and the English service followed it immediately afterwards, the minister had already begun his sermon when we arrived. The door was shut, so entering quietly and closing it behind us, we were astonished to find a table in the vestibule with a plate exposing to our view a large number of coins evidently the result of the collection from the worshippers within. We were surprised at the large proportion of silver coins, an evidence that the people had given liberally. We added our mites to the collection, while we wondered what would have become of the money if left in a similar position in some districts we could think of farther south. We were well pleased with the sermon, and as the congregation dispersed we held a conversation and exchanged views with one of the elders of the church chiefly on the subject of collections. He explained that the prevailing practice in the Scottish Churches was for the collection to be taken—or rather given—on entering the House of God, and that one or two of the deacons generally stood in the vestibule beside the plate. We told him it was the best way of taking a collection that we had ever seen, since it did not interrupt or interfere with the service of the church, and explained the system adopted in the churches in England.

In our youthful days collections were only made in church on special occasions, and for such purposes as the support of Sunday schools and Missionary Societies. The churchwardens collected the money in large and deep wooden boxes, and the rattle of the coins as they were dropped into the boxes was the only sound we could hear, for the congregation remained seated in a deep and solemn silence, which we in our youthful innocence thought was because their money was being taken away from them.

In later years brass plates were substituted for boxes in some churches, and each member of the congregation then seemed to vie with his neighbours for the honour of placing the most valuable coin on the plate. The rivalry, however, did not last long, and we knew one church where this custom was ended by mutual arrangement. The hatchet was buried by substituting bags, attached, in this case, to the end of long sticks, to enable the wardens to reach the farthest end of the pews when necessary.

This system continued for some time, but when collections were instituted at each service and the total result had to be placarded on the outside of the church door, with the numbers and total value of each class of coin recorded separately, the wardens sometimes found a few items in the bags which were of no monetary value, and could not be classified in the list without bringing scandal to the church and punishment to the, perhaps youthful, offenders; so the bags were withdrawn and plates reinstated, resulting in an initial increase of 10 per cent, in the amount collected.

The church was a large one, and a great number of ladies attended it on Sundays, their number being considerably augmented by the lady students from the Collegiate Institutions in the town, who sat in a portion of the church specially reserved for them.

The Rector of the parish was an elderly man and an eloquent preacher, who years before had earned his reputation in London, where in a minor capacity he had been described by Charles Dickens as the model East End curate.

Eight gentlemen were associated with him as wardens and sidesmen, all well-known men in the town, one of whom being specially known for the faultless way in which he was dressed and by his beautiful pink complexion—the presence of the light hair on his face being scarcely discernible, and giving him the appearance of being endowed with perpetual youth. His surname also was that of the gentleman for whom all young ladies are supposed to be waiting, so it was not to be wondered at that he was a general favourite with them, and that some slight feeling of jealousy existed among his colleagues. It was part of their duties to collect the offerings from the congregation, and afterwards assemble at the west end of the church, marching two and two in military step to the east end to hand their collections to the clergyman who stood there waiting to receive them.

One Sunday morning, when the favourite collector reached that end of the church where most of the young ladies were located, he was surprised to notice that all of them received him with a smile as he handed them the plate. Several of them actually went so far as to incline their heads slightly, as if adding a nod to their smiles. He thought at first that they were amused at something connected with his new suit of clothes—of which, by the way, he was quite proud—but a hasty examination of his person from collar downwards showed everything to be in perfect order. He felt annoyed and very uncomfortable when the ladies continued to smile as he visited each pew, without his being able to ascertain the reason why, and he was greatly relieved when he got away from them to rejoin his colleagues. As he was advancing with them up the centre of the church his eye chanced to rest for a moment on the contents of his plate, and there, to his horror, he saw a large white mint-drop about the size of a half-crown, which had been placed face upwards bearing the words printed in clear red letters, "WILL YOU MARRY ME?" Then he understood why the young ladies smiled and nodded acceptance so pleasantly that morning, for, unconsciously, he had been "popping the question" all round; although inquired into at the time, the mystery of the mint-drop was never satisfactorily solved.

A gentleman to whom we told this story said it reminded him of another of what he called a "swell"—a fine young fellow, with apparently more money than sense—who dropped into a country church for service and was shown into the squire's pew. The squire was old and of fixed habits. After settling in his seat he drew out his half-crown as usual and placed it on the ledge in front. His companion pulled out a sovereign and ostentatiously put it on the ledge too. The squire stared hard at him and soon reckoned him up. He then placed a second half-crown on the first, and the stranger produced a second sovereign. Five times was this repeated during the service. At last the churchwarden brought his brass plate, which the squire gravely took and held out to his neighbour, who swept the five sovereigns on to it in a very grand manner. The squire picked up one half-crown for the plate and, with a twinkle in his eye, returned the rest to his pocket!

Since the days of King David singing has always been considered a most valuable aid in the offering up of prayers and praises to the Almighty, and nothing sounded better in our ears than the hearty singing of a good old hymn by the entire congregation. But why this period in the Church Service should have been chosen in later years as a suitable time for the wardens to disturb the harmony and thoughts of the parishioners by handing round their collection plates was beyond our comprehension. The interruption caused by that abominable practice often raised unchristian-like feelings in our minds, and we wished at times that the author of it, whoever he might be, could be brought to the gallows and publicly hanged for his services; for why should our devotions be disturbed by the thought that at any moment during the singing of a hymn the collector might suddenly appear on the scene, possibly sneaking up from the rear like a thief in the night, to the annoyance of every one within reach? If the saving of time is the object, why not reduce the length of the sermon, which might often be done to advantage? or, failing that, why not adopt the system which prevailed in the Scottish Churches?


The elder of the Free Kirk at Dalmally was much interested in what we told him about our English Services, where the congregations both prayed and sang in positions differing from those adopted in Scotland, and to continue the conversation he walked with us as far as Dalmally Bridge, where we parted company. We then continued on our way to visit a monument erected on a hill we could see in the distance "to the memory of Duncan-Bann-Macintyre, the Glenorchy poet, who was born in the year 1724 and departed this life in 1812"; and, judging from the size of the monument, which was in the style of a Grecian temple in grey granite and inscribed to the memory of the "Sweetest and Purest of Gaelic Bards," he must have been a man of considerable importance. From that point we had a fine view of Loch Awe, perhaps the finest obtainable, for although it is above twenty miles long, the lake here, in spite of being at its greatest breadth, appeared almost dwarfed into a pool within the mighty mass of mountains with lofty Ben Cruachan soaring steeply to the clouds, and forming a majestic framework to a picture of surpassing beauty. The waters of the lake reflected the beauties of its islands and of its mountainous banks. These islands all had their own history or clan legend and were full of mysteries. Inishail, once a nunnery, and for ages the burying-place of the clan chieftains; Innischonell, from the eleventh century the stronghold of the Argyll, whence they often sent forth their famous slogan or defiant war-cry, "It's a far cry to Lochawe"; Fraoch Eilean, where the hero Fraoch slew and was himself slain by the serpent that guarded the apples for which the fair Mego longed.

We then retraced our steps slowly to the Dalmally inn, where we were served with tea in the sumptuous manner common to all first-class inns in the Highlands of Scotland, after which we retired to rest, bent on making good the sleep we had lost and on proceeding on our journey early the following morning.


Monday, October 2nd.


We left our comfortable quarters at Dalmally at seven o'clock in the morning, and presently reached Loch Awe, with the poet's monument still in sight and some islands quite near to us in the loch. We soon left Loch Awe, turning off when we reached Cladich and striking over the hills to the left. After walking about two miles all uphill, we reached the summit, whence we had a fine backward view of Loch Awe, which from this point appeared in a deep valley with its sides nicely wooded. Here we were in the neighbourhood of the Cruachan mountains, to which, with Loch Awe, a curious tradition was attached that a supernatural being named "Calliach Bhere," or "The Old Woman," a kind of female genie, lived on these high mountains. It was said that she could step in a moment with ease from one mountain to another, and, when offended, she could cause the floods to descend from the mountains and lay the whole of the low ground perpetually under water. Her ancestors were said to have lived from time immemorial near the summit of the vast mountain of Cruachan, and to have possessed a great number of herds in the vale below. She was the last of her line, and, like that of her ancestors, her existence was bound up with a fatal fountain which lay in the side of her native hill and was committed to the charge of her family since it first came into existence. It was their duty at evening to cover the well with a large flat stone, and in the morning to remove it again. This ceremony was to be performed before the setting and the rising of the sun, that its last beam might not die upon nor its first ray shine upon the water in the well. If this care were neglected, a fearful and mysterious doom would be the punishment. When the father of the Calliach Bhere died, he committed the charge to her, warning her of its importance and solemnity and the fatality attending its neglect. For many years this mysterious woman attended carefully to her duties, but one unlucky evening, tired with her exertions in hunting and ascending the hills, she sat down by the fountain to await the setting of the sun, and falling asleep, did not awake until morning. When she arose she looked around, but the vale had vanished and a great sheet of water taken its place. The neglected well had overflowed while she slept, the glen was changed into a lake, the hills into islets, and her people and cattle had perished in the deluge. The Calliach took but one look over the ruin she had caused, and all that remained of her large possessions in the glen was Loch Awe and its islands! Then she herself vanished into oblivion.

It is strange how these old stories are told with but little variation in so many places. This very story appears in Wales and Ireland and other regions where Celts predominate, and except in one instance, that of the destruction of the Lowland Hundreds, now under the water of Cardigan Bay, always in connection with a woman. We first heard it in Shropshire, but there it was an old woman who lived in a small cottage and possessed the only well in the place, charging the townspeople one farthing per bucket for the water. In those remote times this formed a great tax on the poor people, and many were the prayers offered up that the imposition might be removed. These prayers were answered, for one night a great storm arose, the well continued to overflow, and in the morning the old woman and her cottage had disappeared, and in place of the well appeared the beautiful Lake of Ellesmere.


We had a fine walk down Glen Aray, with the River Aray on the left for some distance to keep us company, and after about four miles' walking we came to a ladder inserted in a high stone wall to the left of our road, which was here covered with trees. My brother climbed up to see what was on the other side, and reported that there was a similar ladder in the wall for descent, that he could see the river rushing down the rocks, and that a pretty little pathway ran under the trees alongside the stream. We had not met a single person since leaving the neighbourhood of Cladich, and as there was no one about from whom to make inquiries, we took "French leave" and climbed over the fence, to see at once a pretty waterfall and to follow a lovely path for a mile or two until it landed us in one of the main drives from Inverary Castle. Here we stopped to consider whether we should proceed or retreat, for we were sure we had been trespassing. My brother reminded me of an experience that occurred to us in the previous year in London. Before we began our walk home from that great city we visited as many of the sights of London as we could, and amongst these was the famous Tower. We had passed through the Gateway, but were then uncertain how to proceed, when, peeping round a corner, we saw a man dressed in a very strange-looking uniform, whom we afterwards learned was called a "Beef-eater." We approached him rather timidly to make inquiries, to which he kindly replied, but told us afterwards that he knew we were Englishmen the minute he saw us coming round the corner. Foreigners in coming through the gateway always walked firmly and quickly, while the English came creeping along and looking round the corners as if they were afraid. "My advice to you, young men," he said, "when visiting strange places, is to go on until you are stopped!" So on this occasion we decided to follow that advice and to go on towards the castle we could see in the distance. We had not proceeded very far, however, before we met a couple of two-horse open carriages followed by quite a number of persons on horseback. Feeling rather guilty, we stepped upon the grass by the roadside, and tried to look as if we were not there, but we could see that we had been observed by the occupants of the carriages and by their retinue. We knew from their appearance that they belonged to the aristocracy, and were not surprised to learn that the second carriage contained the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, while the people on horseback were the younger members of their family. We had almost reached the castle when we were stopped by a servant in livery, to whom we explained the cause of our presence, asking him the nearest way to Inverary, which he pointed out. He told us, among other things, that the Duke could drive many miles in his own domain, and that his family consisted of thirteen children, all of whom were living. We thanked him, and as we retired along the road he had directed us, we considered we had added one more adventure to enliven us on our journey. We had only walked a little way from the castle when a lady came across the park to speak to us, and told us that the cannon and the large wooden structure we could see in the park had been used for the "spree" at the royal wedding, when the Marquis of Lome, the eldest son of the Duke, had been married to the Princess Louise of England. She also told us that the Princess and the Marquis had been staying at the castle a short time before, but were not there then. Who the lady was we did not know, but she was of fine appearance and well educated, and from her conversation had evidently travelled extensively both at home and abroad. We thanked her for her courage and courtesy in coming to speak to us, at which she smiled and, bowing gracefully, retired towards the castle. How her conduct compared with that of some people in England may be judged from the following extract which we clipped from a Scottish newspaper shortly afterwards:

A War Office clerk was riding outside the Oban coach from Inverary. A fellow-passenger at his side remarked, "What a glorious view! what a lovely scene!" to which the young gentleman of the War Office, with a strong glance at the speaker, replied, "Sir, I don't know you; we have not been introduced."

It was a fine afternoon, and Inverary town looked at its best and quite pleasant in the sunshine, for most of the houses were coloured white. We halted awhile at the picturesque sculptured cross, where many a weary pilgrim had rested before us, with a glorious view over Loch Fyne and the mountains beyond. The church stood at the end of the street, and the "Argyll Arms Hotel" would have been a fine place to stay at for the night. There was also quite a large temperance hotel where carriages could be hired; but we had only walked about sixteen miles, so we had to resist these attractions and walk on to Cairndow, a further distance of ten miles.


Loch Fyne, along the edge of which our road ran all the way to Cairndow, is tidal and about two miles wide at Inverary. We were now on the opposite side of the castle grounds, and could see another entrance gate, which had been decorated for the royal wedding. Fine woods bounded our road on the left until we reached the round hill of Duniquaich, where it turned rather abruptly until at Strone Point it was nearly opposite Inverary. From this place we had a magnificent view of the district we had just passed through; the splendid castle with its grey walls and the lofty tower on the wooded hill adjoining it contrasted finely with the whitened houses of the town of Inverary, as it stood in the light of the setting sun. We journeyed on alongside the loch, when as the shades of evening were coming on we met a young man and a young woman apparently in great distress. They told us they had crossed the loch in a small boat to look for ferns, and as the tide was going out had thought they might safely leave their boat on the side of the loch, but when they returned they could not find it anywhere. They seemed to have been equally unsuccessful with regard to the ferns, as we could not see any in their possession, but we guessed they had other interests, so we went to their assistance and soon found the boat, which doubtless was in the place where they had left it. The tide must have receded farther than they had anticipated, and they had looked for it too near the water. We assisted them to launch the boat, and when they were safely seated the young woman, who had looked far more alarmed than her companion, smiled upon us sweetly. In response to their looks and words of thanks we wished them a pleasant and safe journey; but we never saw any ferns! Our conversation as we resumed our walk was largely upon this adventure, and we wondered if the ferns could not have been found as easily on the other side of the loch as on this—but then we knew that Love is proverbially blind, and we consigned this fern story to the region of our mythological remembrances, and were still in good humour and not too tired when we reached the Cairndow inn, where we were hospitably, sumptuously, and we could safely add, when we paid the bill next morning, expensively entertained. But was this partly accounted for by the finely flavoured herrings known as Loch Fyne kippers we had for breakfast, which were said to fetch a higher price than any others in Scotland?

(Distance walked twenty-five miles.)

Tuesday, October 3rd.

We left Cairndow early in the morning, and soon afterwards turned away from Loch Fyne to ascend a rough and lonely road leading towards Loch Long, about eight miles distant. It was a cold, bleak, and showery morning as we travelled along Glen Kinglas against a strong head wind, which greatly impeded our progress. On reaching the top of the glen, we came to the small Loch Restil, reposing at the foot of a mountain the summit of which was 2,955 feet above sea-level. The only persons we had seen on our way up the glen were two shepherds on the slope of one of the hills some distance from our road; but now we came to two men mending the road, in which great holes had been caused by the heavy rainfall. We chatted with them, and they told us that a little farther on we should come to "The Rest." Though it may seem a trifling matter to record, we were very glad to see those two men, as our way had been excessively lonely and depressing, for the pass only reached about 900 feet at its crown, while the great hills which immediately adjoined the road on either side rose to an altitude of from 2,500 to 3,300 feet! When we arrived at "The Rest" we found a rock on which were inscribed the words "Rest and be Thankful," while another inscription informed us that "This is a Military Road repaired by the 93rd Regiment in 1768." We thought that at one time there must have been a stone placed there, to do duty as a travellers' rest, where weary travellers might "Rest and be Thankful," but nothing of the kind existed now except the surface of the road on which we were walking. On reaching a short stiff rise, followed by a sharp double bend in the road, we passed the entrance of a track leading down to "Hell's Glen"; but if this glen was any worse than Glen Kinglas which we had just ascended, or Glen Croe which we now descended, it must have been a very dreadful place indeed. Fortunately for us, the weather began to improve, and before we reached Loch Long with its lofty ramparts the sun shone out in all its matchless glory and lighted up not only the loch but the whole of the amphitheatre formed by the lofty hills that surrounded it. A passenger steamboat plying on the bosom of the loch lent additional interest to the scene, and the combined view quite cheered our drooping spirits. The change, both as regarded scenery and atmosphere, between this side of the pass and the other was really marvellous, reminding us of the contrast between winter and summer. The sight of the numerous little waterfalls flowing over the rocks above to contribute their quota to the waters of the loch below was quite refreshing. One of the great hills we had passed without being able to see its summit—for it was quite near our road—was the well-known Ben Arthur, 2,891 feet high, commonly spoken of either as "The Cobbler" or "The Cobbler and his Wife." It was not until we had got some distance away that our attention was called to it. We walked round the head of Loch Long and crossed a bridge, some words on the iron fixtures informing us that we were now passing from Argyllshire into Dumbartonshire. The coping on the bridge was of fresh, neatly clipped grass instead of the usual stonework we expected to find, and looked very remarkable; we saw nothing like it on our further travels.


We asked a gentleman who was standing in the road about the various objects of interest in the neighbourhood. Pointing to Ben Arthur in the distance, he very kindly tried to explain the curious formation of the rocks at the summit and to show us the Cobbler and his Wife which they were said to represent. We had a long argument with him, and although he explained that the Cobbler was sitting down, for the life of us we could not distinguish the form either of him or of his Wife. We could see that he considered we were very stupid for not being able to see objects so plain to himself; and when my brother asked him jocularly for the third time which was the Cobbler and which was his Wife, he became very angry and was inclined to quarrel with us. We smoothed him down as well as we could by saying that we now thought we could see some faint resemblance to the objects referred to, and he looked as if he had, as the poet says, "cleared from thick films of vice the visual ray."


We thanked him kindly for all the trouble he had taken, and concluded, at first, that perhaps we were not of a sufficiently imaginative temperament or else not in the most favourable position for viewing the outlines. But we became conscious of a rather strong smell of whisky which emanated from our loquacious friend, from which fact we persuaded ourselves that he had been trying to show us features visible only under more elevated conditions. When we last saw him he was still standing in the road gazing at the distant hills, and probably still looking at the Cobbler and his Wife.

I asked my brother, as we walked along, why he put his question in that particular form: "Which is the Cobbler and which is his Wife?" He told me he was thinking of a question so expressed many years ago, long before revolving pictures were thought of, and when pictures of any kind were very scarce. A fair was being held in the country, and a showman was exhibiting pictures which were arranged in a row alongside his booth or van in such a way that his customers could pass from one picture to another and which they could see by looking through slightly magnifying glasses placed in pairs, one to fit each eye after the fashion of a pair of spectacles. Before the show stood a number of small boys who would have been pleased to have a peep at the pictures if they could have raised the money. Just at that moment a mother with her two little girls appeared, and when the children came near the show, one of them called out, "Oh, Ma! may we see the peep-shows? It's only a penny!" whereupon the mother took out her purse and handed each of the little girls a penny. When the showman saw them approaching, he shouted angrily to the small boys who were blocking the entrance; "Get away, you little ragged rascals that have no money," and then he added in a much milder tone, "and let the little dears come up what's a-going to pay." When the children reached the first peep-show, he said: "Now, my little dears, look straight forwards, blow your noses, and don't breathe upon the glass! Here you see the combat between the Scotch Lion, Wallace, and the English Bulldogs, for eight hundred guineas a side, while the spectators are a-looking on in the most facetious manner. Here you see the lion has got his paws on one of the dogs whilst he is whisking out the eyes of another with his tail!"

The little girls could see a picture but could not quite make out what it was, so one of them called out: "Please, Mr. Showman, which is the lion and which is the dogs?" and he said: "Oh! whichever you please, my little dears, and the likes was never seen, and all for the small sum of one penny!"

My brother said that when he asked the gentleman which was the Cobbler and which was his Wife he would not have been surprised if he had said angrily, "Whichever you please," and had walked away, since he seemed in a very irritable frame of mind.

Since those "good old times" the character of these country fairs has changed entirely, and we no longer sing the old ballad:

Oh yes, I own 'tis my delight

To see the laughter and the fright

In such a motley, merry sight

As at a country fair.

Boys on mamma's treacle fed,

On spicy cakes and gingerbread.

On everybody's toes they tread

All at a country fair.

The village of Arrochar stood in a very pleasant position, at the head of Loch Long amid scenery of the loftiest and most varied description. Illuminated as it was by the magic rays of the sun, we thought it would compare favourably with any other watering-place in the Highlands, and was just the spot to offer irresistible temptations to those who required a short respite from the more busy scenes of life.


We were in high spirits and inclined to speak to every one we saw, so, when we met a boy, we asked him if he had seen a cow on the road, to which he replied, rather seriously, that he had not. We thought afterwards that we had laid ourselves open to a reply like that given by the Orkneyman at Stromness, for the loss of a cow in Scotland was looked upon as a very serious matter, but we escaped for a time. Shortly afterwards, however, we saw a vehicle approaching in the distance labelled "Royal Mail," and then another vehicle, similarly marked, passed us from the opposite direction, in which we noticed the boy we had just seen. When the two conveyances met, they stopped and a number of bags were transferred from the one conveyance to the other, so that it was obvious that they were exchanging their sacks of letters. When we came up to them, the driver of the one that had overtaken us asked if we had lost a cow, and when we answered "No," he said, "But didn't you ask the boy there if he had seen one on the road?" When we answered "Yes," and it was found to be all a joke, there was a general laugh all round, which was joined in heartily by the boy himself, for he had evidently got a ride on the strength of the story of the lost cow. We observed that the cart that overtook us had two horses, whilst that we met had only one, so we conjectured that our further way would be comparatively level, and this we afterwards found to be correct. The boy did not altogether miss his opportunity, for when we had reached, as he thought, a safe distance, we heard him shout: "Ask your mother when you get home if she has seen a cow!"—but perhaps "two calves" would have been nearer the mark.

We had a lovely two-mile walk between Arrochar and Tarbet, with a magnificent view of Loch Lomond on our way; while before us, across the loch, stood Ben Lomond, a mountain which rises to the height of 3,192 feet above sea-level.

The scene was one that cannot properly be described—the blue waters, of the loch, with the trees beyond, and behind them this magnificent mountain, its top covered with pure white snow, and the sun shining on all, formed a picture beautiful beyond description, which seemed to lift our hearts and minds from the earth to the blue heavens above, and our thoughts to the great Almighty Who is in all and over all in that "land of pure delight where saints immortal reign."


Our road now skirted the banks of Loch Lomond, the largest fresh-water lake in Scotland or England, being twenty-four miles long and five miles in width at its broadest point, and containing over twenty islands, some of which we saw. At the hotel where we called for tea it was thus described:

Loch Lomond is the paragon of Scottish lakes. In island beauty unrivalled, for all that forms romance is here—scenery varying and increasing in loveliness, matchless combinations of grandeur and softness united, forming a magic land from which poesy and painting have caught their happiest inspirations. Islands of different forms and magnitude. Some are covered with the most luxuriant wood of every different tint; but others show a beautiful intermixture of rock and coppices—some, like plains of emerald, scarcely above the level of the water, are covered with grass; and others, again, are bare rocks, rising into precipices and destitute of vegetation.

Scotland has produced many men mighty in mind as well as in body, and their ideas have doubtless been enlarged not only by their advanced system of education, but by the great things which have surrounded them—the great rocks and the great waters. So long as these qualities are turned in a good direction, all goes well, but when in a bad one like the "facilis descensus" described in George Cruikshank's great picture "The Worship of Bacchus," then all goes badly. An illustration of these large ideas turned to a bad account appeared in a story we read of a degenerate son of the North to whom the gods had granted the fulfilment of three wishes: First, he would have a Loch Lomond of whisky; secondly, a Ben Lomond of snuff; thirdly, (with some hesitation) another Loch Lomond of whisky.

We did not attempt the ascent of Ben Lomond, as our experiences of mountain climbing hitherto had not been very encouraging. Nor did we require the aid of those doubtful articles so ardently desired by the degenerate Scot as we walked along the good road, sheltered with trees, that lay alongside Loch Lomond, with the slopes of the high hills to the right and to the left, the great loch with its lovely islands backed by the mountains beyond.

Tarbet, which we soon left behind us, was notorious as the port of Magnus the Norseman, whose followers dragged their boats there from the sea to harry the islands whither so many of the natives had fled for safety.

Ninnius, writing in the eighth century, tells of the great King Arthur, who defeated the Scots and drove them for refuge to Loch Lomond, "in which there were sixty islands and sixty rocks, and on each an eagle's nest. Every first of May they came together, and from the sound of their voices the men of that country knew what should befall during the coming year. And sixty rivers fell into this remarkable lake, but only one river ran from the lake to the sea." The exactness of every point rather amused us, for of course the invincible Arthur, like all other mythological heroes, must ever succeed, and he soon cleared the Scots from their stronghold.

Sir Walter Scott has made this district famous, and we could have lingered long in the region of the Trossachs, and should have been delighted to see Loch Katrine, close by, which the "Lady of the Lake" had rendered so familiar, but time is a hard taskmaster and we had to be content with what Loch Lomond provided for us.

We therefore hurried on, and eventually reached the lovely little village of Luss, where, as we entered, we were welcomed by the warbling of a robin singing out right merrily, as if to announce our arrival. Our first impression soon told us that Luss was well patronised by visitors and by artists ever on the alert for scenery such as here abounded. It was quite an English-looking village, with a small quarry, not as extensively worked as formerly, we were informed, for only about twenty men were now employed.

Before proceeding farther we called for refreshments, and learned that a steamboat called periodically at Luss. We left this favourite resort by the Dumbarton road, walking alongside Loch Lomond—one of the finest walks we ever took and quite baffling description. It was rather provoking, therefore, when darkness came on just as we reached the widest part of the Loch where quite a number of islands could be seen. The road still continued beautiful, being arched over with trees in some places, with the stars shining brightly above.

Luss, we learned, had its place in history as the home of the Colquhouns, whose feud with the MacGregors led to such murderous results. But perhaps its associations with Robert Bruce in his days of adversity form its greater claim to fame, and the yews on Inch Lonaig, just above, are said to have been planted by him to supply his bowmen.

Before we reached the end of the loch we turned on the Dumbarton road, following the road for Helensburgh, as we wanted to see the River Clyde. This road was fairly level, but about two miles from Helensburgh it rose to an elevation of about 300 feet. On reaching the top, we saw a sight which fairly startled us, for a great stretch of water suddenly and unexpectedly came in view, and across its surface we could see hundreds of gas lights, twinkling like stars in the darkness. We found afterwards that they were those of the town of Greenock, on the other side of the Clyde Estuary, which was some five or six miles across this, its widest part. We considered this was one of the greatest sights of our journey, and one well worth while climbing the hill to see. It must, however, be noted that these were the first gas lights we had seen for what seemed to us to be ages. We went straight to the Temperance Hotel, which had been closed for the night, but we gained admission and found comfortable quarters there.

(Distance walked thirty-one miles.)

Wednesday, October 4th.

We had pictured Helensburgh, from its name, as a very old town, and were rather surprised when we discovered that it was only founded at the close of the eighteenth century, by Sir James Colquhoun, who named the place after his wife, the Lady Helen Sutherland. At the time of our visit it was a favourite resort of visitors from across the Clyde and elsewhere. We were unable to explore the town and its environs, owing to a dense mist or fog which had accumulated during the night; and this probably accounted for our sleeping longer than usual, for it was quite nine o'clock before we left Helensburgh on our way to Dumbarton. If the atmosphere had been clear, we should have had fine views of Greenock, Port Glasgow, Roseneath Castle, the residence of the Marquis of Lorne, and other places of interest across the Clyde, and of the ships passing up and down the river. As it was, we had to be content with listening to the busy sounds of labour and the thuds of the steam hammers in the extensive shipbuilding yards across the water, and the ominous sounds of the steam-whistles from the ships, as they ploughed their way along the watery tracks on the Clyde. We were naturally very much disappointed that we had to pass along this road under such unfavourable conditions, but, as the mist cleared a little, we could just discern the outlines of one or two of the steamboats as we neared Dumbarton. The fields alongside our road were chiefly devoted to the growth of potatoes, and the fine agricultural land reminded us of England. We stayed to speak with one of the farmers, standing at his gate, and he told us that he sent potatoes to the Manchester market, which struck us with surprise because of the great distance. We also stayed awhile, just before entering Dumbarton, as there had been a slight railway accident, probably owing to the fog, and the officials, with a gang of men, were making strenuous efforts to remove the remains of a truck which had come to grief. We were walking into the town quite unconscious of the presence of the castle, and were startled at its sudden appearance, as it stood on an isolated rock, rising almost perpendicularly to the height of about 300 feet, and we could only just see its dim outline appearing, as it were, in the clouds. We left it for future inspection and, as it was now twelve o'clock, hurried into the town for a noon dinner, for which we were quite ready.

As a sample of the brief way in which the history of an important town can be summarised, we give the following extract:—

Dumbarton, immortalised by Osian, possessed in turns by first Edward and John Balliol, the prison of William Wallace, and the scene of that unavailing remorse which agonised the bosom of his betrayer (a rude sculpture within the castle represents Sir John Monteith in an attitude of despair, lamenting his former treachery), captured by Bruce, unsuccessfully besieged by the fourth Edward, reduced by the Earl of Argyll, surprised, while in false security, by the daring of a bold soldier, Captain Crawford, resided in by James V, visited by that fair and erring Queen, the "peerless Mary," and one of the four castles kept up by the Act of Union.

And we have been told that it was the birthplace of Taliesin, the early poet of the Celts, and Gildas their historian.

In former times the castle of Dumbarton was looked upon as one of the strongest places in the world, and, rising precipitously from the level plain, it appeared to us to be quite impregnable. Captain Crawford's feat in capturing this castle equals anything else of the kind recorded in history. In the time of Queen Elizabeth of England, when a quarrel was raging in Scotland between the partisans of King James and his mother Queen Mary, and when even the children of the towns and villages formed themselves into bands and fought with sticks, stones, and even knives for King James or Queen Mary, the castle of Dumbarton was held for the Queen; but a distinguished adherent of the King, one Captain Crawford of Jordanhill, resolved to make an attempt to take it. There was only one access to the castle, approached by 365 steps, but these were strongly guarded and fortified. The captain took advantage of a misty and moonless night to bring his scaling-ladders to the foot of the rock at the opposite side, where it was the most precipitous, and consequently the least guarded by the soldiers at the top. The choice of this side of the rock was fortunate, as the first ladder broke with the weight of the men who attempted to climb it, and the noise of the fall must have betrayed them if they had been on the other and more guarded side. Crawford, who was assisted by a soldier who had deserted from the castle, renewed the attempt in person, and, having scrambled up a projecting ledge of rock, fastened the ladder by tying it to the roots of a tree which grew midway up the rock. Here they found a footing for the whole party, which was, of course, small in number. In scaling the second precipice, however, one of the party was seized with an epileptic fit, to which he was subject, brought on, perhaps, by terror in the act of climbing the ladder. He could neither ascend nor descend; moreover, if they had thrown him down, apart from the cruelty of the thing, the fall of his body might have alarmed the garrison. Crawford, therefore, ordered him to be tied fast to one side of the ladder, and, turning it round, they mounted with ease. When the party gained the summit, they slew the sentinel before he had time to give the alarm, and easily surprised the slumbering garrison, who had trusted too much to the security of their position. Some of the climbing irons used are shown within the castle.


We now set out from Dumbarton, with its old castle, and the old sword worn by the brave Wallace reposing in the armoury, at the same time leaving the River Clyde and its fine scenery, which, owing to the fog, we had almost totally missed. We proceeded towards Stirling, where we hoped to arrive on the following day; but we now found ourselves passing through a semi-manufacturing district, and gradually it dawned upon us that we had now left the Highlands and were approaching the Lowlands of Scotland. We thought then and many times afterwards of that verse of Robbie Burns's:—

My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here,

My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;

A-chasing the wild deer and following the roe—

My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go.

We passed through Renton, where there were bleaching and calico printing works. A public library graced the centre of the village, as well as a fine Tuscan column nearly 60 feet high, erected to Tobias Smollett, the poet, historian and novelist, who was born in 1721 not half a mile from the spot. The houses were small and not very clean. The next village we came to was Alexandria, a busy manufacturing place where the chief ornament was a very handsome drinking-fountain erected to a member of the same family, a former M.P., "by his tenants and friends," forming a striking contrast to its mean and insignificant surroundings of one-storied houses and dismal factories. We were soon in the country again, and passed some fine residences, including the modern-looking Castle of Tullichewan situated in a fine park, and reached Balloch at the extreme end of Loch Lomond, from which point we had a momentary view of the part of the lake we had missed seeing on the preceding evening. Here we paid the sum of one halfpenny each for the privilege of passing over the Suspension Bridge, which gave us access to a very pleasant part of the country, and crossed one spur of a hill, from the top of which, under favourable conditions, we might have seen nearly the whole of Loch Lomond, including the islands and the ranges of hills on either side—

Mountains that like giants stand

To sentinel enchanted land.


But though it was only about a mile and a half from our path to the summit, and the total elevation only 576 feet, 297 of which we had already ascended, we did not visit it, as the mist would have prevented an extended view. It stood in a beautiful position, surrounded by woods and the grounds of Boturich Castle; why such a pretty place should be called "Mount Misery" was not clear, unless it had some connection with one of the Earls of Argyll who came to grief in that neighbourhood in 1685 near Gartocharn, which we passed shortly afterwards. He had collected his clan to overthrow the Government of James VII (James II of England) and had crossed the Leven at Balloch when he found Gartocharn occupied by the royal troops. Instead of attacking them, he turned aside, to seek refuge among the hills, and in the darkness and amid the bogs and moors most of his men deserted, only about five hundred answering to their names the following morning. The Earl, giving up the attempt, was captured an hour or two later as he was attempting to cross the River Clyde, and the words applied to him, "Unhappy Argyll," indicated his fate. We passed Kilmaronock church in the dark and, after crossing the bridge over Endrick Water, entered Drymen and put up at the "Buchanan Arms" Inn, where we had been recommended to stay the night.

(Distance walked twenty miles.)

Thursday, October 5th.

We were up early this morning and went to have a look round the village of Drymen and its surroundings before breakfast. We were quite near Buchanan Castle, and took the liberty of trespassing for a short time in the walks and woods surrounding it. The Duke of Montrose here reigned supreme, his family the Grahams having been in possession for twenty generations; among his ancestors were Sir Patrick de Graham, who was killed at the Battle of Dunbar in 1296, and Sir John de Graham, the beloved friend of the immortal Wallace, who was slain at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298. The village had been built in the form of a square which enclosed a large field of grass called the Cross Green, with nothing remarkable about it beyond an enormous ash tree supposed to be over 300 years old which stood in the churchyard. It measured about 17 feet in circumference at 5 feet from the ground, and was called the Bell Tree, because the church bell which summoned the villagers to worship was suspended from one of its branches. The tree began to show signs of decay, so eventually the bell had to be taken down and a belfry built to receive it.


We finished our breakfast at 8.30, and then, with the roads in a fearfully muddy condition owing to heavy downfalls of rain, started on our walk towards Stirling. The region here was pleasing agricultural country, and we passed many large and well-stocked farms on our way, some of them having as many as a hundred stacks of corn and beans in their stack-yards. After walking about seven miles we arrived at the dismal-looking village of Buchlyvie, where we saw many houses in ruins, standing in all their gloominess as evidences of the devastating effects of war. Some of the inhabitants were trying to eke out their livelihood by hand-loom weaving, but there was a poverty-stricken appearance about the place which had, we found, altered but little since Sir Walter Scott wrote of it in the following rhyme which he had copied from an old ballad:

Baron of Buchlivie,

May the foul fiend drive ye

And a' to pieces rive ye

For building sic a town,

Where there's neither horse meat

Nor man's meat, nor a chair to sit down.

We did not find the place quite so bad as that, for there were two or three small inns where travellers could get refreshments and a chair to sit down upon; but we did not halt for these luxuries until we reached Kippen, about five miles farther on. Before arriving there we overtook two drovers who were well acquainted with Glencoe and the Devil's Stairs, and when we told them of our adventures there they said we were very lucky to have had a fine day when we crossed those hills. They told us the story of the two young men who perished there, but thought their death was partially caused through lack of food. Kippen, they informed us, was on the borders of Perthshire and Stirlingshire, and when we told them we intended calling for refreshments they advised us to patronise the "Cross Keys Inn." We found Kippen, or, as it was sometimes named, the Kingdom of Kippen, a pleasant place, and we had no difficulty in finding the "Cross Keys." Here we learned about the King of Kippen, the Scottish Robin Hood, and were told that it was only two miles away to the Ford of Frew, where Prince Charlie crossed the River Forth on his way from Perth to Stirling, and that about three minutes' walk from the Cross there was a place from which the most extensive and beautiful views of the country could be obtained. Rising like towers from the valley of the Forth could be seen three craigs—Dumyate Craig, Forth Abbey Craig, and the craig on which Stirling Castle had been built; spreading out below was the Carse of Stirling, which merged into and included the Vale of Monteith, about six miles from Kippen; while the distant view comprised the summits of many mountains, including that of Ben Lomond.


As usual in Scotland, the village contained two churches—the Parish Church and the United Free Church. In the old churchyard was an ancient ivy-covered belfry, but the church to which it belonged had long since disappeared. Here was the burial-place of the family of Edinbellie, and here lived in olden times an attractive and wealthy young lady named Jean Kay, whom Rob Roy, the youngest son of Rob Roy Macgregor, desired to marry. She would not accept him, so leaving Balquidder, the home of the Macgregors, accompanied by his three brothers and five other men, he went to Edinbellie and carried her off to Rowardennan, where a sham form of marriage was gone through. But the romantic lover paid dearly for his exploit, as it was for robbing this family of their daughter that Rob forfeited his life on the scaffold at Edinburgh on February 16th, 1754, Jean Kay having died at Glasgow on October 4th, 1751.


We were well provided for at the "Cross Keys," and heard a lot about Mary Queen of Scots, as we were now approaching a district where much of the history of Scotland was made. Her name seemed to be on everybody's lips and her portrait in everybody's house, including the smallest dwellings. She seemed to be the most romantic character in the minds of the Scots, by whom she was almost idolised—not perhaps so much for her beauty and character as for her sufferings and the circumstances connected with her death. The following concise account of the career of this beautiful but unfortunate Queen and her son King James greatly interested us. She was born at Linlithgow Palace in the year 1542, and her father died when she was only eight days old. In the next year she was crowned Queen of Scotland at Stirling, and remained at the Castle there for about four years. She was then removed to Inchmahome, an island of about six acres in extent situated in the small Lake of Monteith, about six miles north of Kippen. In 1547, when six years old, she was sent to France in a Flemish ship from Dumbarton, and in the following year she was married to the Dauphin of France, afterwards King Francis II, who died in the year 1560. Afterwards she returned to Scotland and went to Stirling Castle, where she met her cousin Lord Darnley and was married to him at Holyrood in 1565, her son being born in 1566. Troubles, however, soon arose, and for a short time she was made a prisoner and placed in the Castle of Loch Leven, from which she escaped with the intention of going to Dumbarton Castle for safety. Her army under the Earl of Argyll accompanied her, but on the way they met an opposing army commanded by the Regent Murray, who defeated her army, and Queen Mary fled to England. Here she again became a prisoner and was placed in various castles for the long period of nineteen years, first in one and then in another, with a view probably to preventing her being rescued by her friends; and finally she was beheaded in 1587 in the forty-eighth year of her age at Fotheringay Castle in Northamptonshire, by command of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth.

Her son James VI of Scotland, who subsequently became James I of England, was baptised in the Royal Chapel at Stirling Castle in 1566, and in 1567, when he was only about thirteen months old, was crowned in the parish church at Stirling, his mother Queen Mary having been forced to abdicate in favour of her son. The great Puritan divine John Knox preached the Coronation sermon on that occasion, and the young king was educated until he was thirteen years of age by George Buchanan, the celebrated scholar and historian, in the castle, where his class-room is still to be seen. He succeeded to the English throne on the death of Queen Elizabeth, and was crowned as King James I of England in the year 1603.

Leaving Kippen, we passed through Gargunnock, with the extraordinary windings of the River Forth to our left, and arrived at Stirling at 5.15 p.m., where at the post-office we found a host of letters waiting our arrival and at the railway-station a welcome change of clothing from home.

(Distance walked twenty-two miles.)

Friday, October 6th.

Stirling is one of the most attractive towns in Scotland, and we could not resist staying there awhile to explore it. It is the "key to the Highlands," and one of the oldest of the Royal burghs. It was a place of some importance in the time of the Romans, as it stood between the two great Firths of the Clyde and the Forth, where the Island of Britain is at its narrowest. The first Roman wall was built between the Forth and the Clyde, and the Second Roman Legion was stationed at Stirling. According to an old inscription on a stone near the Ballengeich road, they kept a watch there day and night, and in A.D. 81 a great battle was fought near by against 30,000 Caledonians, who were defeated. Stirling has a commanding geographical position, and all the roads converge there to cross the River Forth. It was at Stirling Bridge that Wallace defeated the army of 50,000 soldiers sent against him in the year 1297 by Edward I, King of England. The town had also a lively time in the days of Charles Edward Stuart, "Bonnie Prince Charlie," whose father, during his exile in France, had been encouraged by the French to return and lay claim to the English Crown. Landing in Inverness-shire in 1745, Prince Charlie was immediately joined by many of the Highland clans, and passed with his army through Stirling on his way towards London. Not finding the support they expected from the south, they were compelled to return, followed closely along their line of retreat by the English Army, and they were soon back again at Stirling, where they made a desperate but unsuccessful effort to obtain possession of the castle, which was held for the English. The Duke of Cumberland's Army by this time was close upon their heels, and gave them no rest until they caught them and defeated them with great slaughter up at Culloden, near Inverness.


There was much in Stirling and its environs that we wished to see, so we were astir early in the morning, although the weather was inclined to be showery. First of all, we went to see the cemetery, which occupies a beautiful position on a hill overlooking the wonderful windings of the River Forth, and here we found the tomb of the Protestant martyrs "Margaret and Agnes," the latter only eighteen years of age, who were tied to stakes at low water in the Bay of Wigtown on May 11th, 1685, and, refusing an opportunity to recant and return to the Roman Catholic faith, were left to be drowned in the rising tide. Over the spot where they were buried their figures appeared beautifully sculptured in white marble, accompanied by that of an angel standing beside them; the epitaph read:

M. O  A.




Love, many waters cannot quench! GOD saves

His chaste impearled One! in Covenant true.

"O Scotia's Daughters! earnest scan the Page."

And prize this Flower of Grace, blood-bought for you.



We stayed there for a few solemn moments, for it was a sight that impressed us deeply, and then we went to inspect an old stone with the following curious inscription cut on its surface:

Some . only . breakfast . and . away:

Others . to . dinner . stay .

And . are . full . fed .

the . oldest . man . but . sups:

And . goes . to . bed:

large . is . his . debt:

that . lingers . out . the . day:

he . that . goes . soonest:

has . the . least . to . pay:

We saw another remarkable structure called "The Rock of Ages," a large monument built of stone, on each of the four sides of which was a Bible sculptured in marble with texts from the Scriptures, and near the top a device like that of a crown. It was a fine-looking and substantial building, but we could not ascertain the reason for its erection.

There were two churches quite near to each other standing at one end of the cemetery, and these, we were informed, were known as the East and West Churches, and had been formed out of the old Church of Stirling, formerly noted for its bells, which were still in existence. One of them, a Dutch bell, was marked "Rotterdam, 1657," and inscribed "Soli Deo Gloria"; the only pre-Reformation bell was one that was said to have come from Cambuskenneth Abbey, measuring 8 ft. 6-1/2 in. round the mouth, 4 ft. 6 in. over the neck, and 2 ft. 1-1/2 in. in depth, and bearing a Latin inscription, in Old English characters, which was said to be the angelic salutation from St. Luke i. 28: "Hail, Mary, full of grace, God is with thee; blessed art thou among women and to be blessed." This bell, dating from the fourteenth century, was perfect in sound, and had been the tone bell in the old abbey. The remainder of the bells of Cambuskenneth had been lost owing to the swamping of the boat that was bringing them across the river.


We now went to view the castle, and as we approached the entrance we were accosted by a sergeant, whom we engaged to act as our guide.

The ramparts of the castle command the noblest prospect imaginable—Grampian, Ochil and Pentland Hills, the River Forth, through all its windings, and "Auld Reekie" in the distance—twelve foughten fields are visible—the bridge where Archbishop Hamilton was hanged, the mound on which the Regent, Earl of Levenax, was beheaded on May 25th, 1425, along with the Duke of Albany, his son-in-law, and his grandson—the chamber where the Scottish King James II was assassinated—a noble valley, where tournaments were held, and the hill, whence Beauty viewed "gentle passages of arms" and rewarded knights' valour with her smiles, lie just below the ramparts. Here James I lived, and James II was born, and it was a favourite residence of James III. From these walls the "Good Man of Ballangeich" made many an excursion, and here James V and James VI were indoctrinated at the feet of that stern preceptor, George Buchanan, and the seventh James and the second of England visited here in company with the future Queen Anne and the last of the Stuarts.


At Stirling Bridge Wallace defeated the army of fifty thousand soldiers sent against him by Edward I; ... it was a battle won by strategy."

"The ramparts of the castle command the noblest prospect imaginable—from the top of the walls the sites of seven battlefields were pointed out to us."

Such was the official description of the place we were now visiting. As our guide conducted us through the archway into the castle, he showed us the old chains that worked the portcullis. We noted how cautious the old occupants of these strongholds were, for while one of the massive doors was being drawn up the other went down, so that the inner entrance was always protected. From the top of the walls the sites of seven battlefields were pointed out to us, including those of Bannockburn and Stirling Bridge. The Battle of Stirling Bridge was won by Wallace by strategy; he had a much smaller army than the English, but he watched them until they had got one-half their army over the narrow bridge, and then attacked each half in turn, since the one could not assist the other, the river being between them. In the following year he was defeated himself, but as he retreated he reduced Stirling and its castle to ruins. The Bridge of Allan, which could be seen in the distance, was described as a miniature Torquay without the sea, and the view from the castle on a clear day extended a distance of nearly fifty miles. We were shown the aperture through which Mary Queen of Scots watched the games in the royal garden below, and of course we had to be shown the exact spot where "our most gracious Majesty Queen Victoria with the Prince of Wales" sat on a much more recent date. The castle stood on a rock, rising precipitously on two of its sides, and was now being used as a barracks. It was a fine sight to see the soldiers as they were being drilled. The old Chapel Royal was used as the armoury, and our guide told us of many objects of interest which were stored there; but we had no time to see them, so, rewarding him suitably for his services, we hastened back to the town to refresh the "inner man."

It appeared that in former times none of the members of the Town Council accepted any gift or emolument while in office; and, before writing was as common as it is now, the old treasurer kept his accounts in a pair of boots which he hung one on each side of the chimney. Into one of them he put all the money he received and into the other the vouchers for the money he paid away, and balanced his accounts at the end of the year by emptying his boots, and counting the money left in one and that paid away by the receipts in the other. What a delightfully simple system of "double entry," and just fancy the "borough treasurer" with a balance always in hand! Whether the non-payment for services rendered by the Council accounted for this did not appear; but there must have been some select convivials even in those days, as the famous Stirling Jug remained as evidence of something of the kind. It was a fine old vessel made of brass and taken great care of by the Stirling people, who became possessed of it four or five hundred years before our visit.

We then walked some distance to see Wallace's Monument, the most conspicuous object for many miles round, and which had only just been erected to perpetuate the memory of that great warrior, having been opened by the Duke of Atholl in 1869. We paid twopence each for admission, and in addition to climbing the hill to reach the entrance to the monument we had to ascend a further 220 feet by means of a flight of 246 steps before we could reach the top. There were several rooms in the basement, in one of which we found an enthusiastic party of young Scots who were vociferously singing:

Scots, wha hae wie Wallace bled,

Scots, wham Bruce has often led,

Welcome to your gory bed,

Or to victorie.

Lay the proud usurpers low!

Tyrants fall in every foe!

Liberty's in divy blow!

Let us do or die!

These were the first and last verses of the poem written by the immortal Burns to represent Robert Bruce's address to his army before the Battle of Bannockburn. We did not reveal our nationality to the uproarious Scots, but, after listening to the song, which we had never heard sung before, and the cheers which followed it, in which we ourselves joined, we went quietly past them, for fear they might treat us as the "usurpers" named in the last verse and "lay us low."


On reaching the top of the monument we had a magnificent view, which well repaid us for our exertions in climbing up the craig and ascending the tower, and we lingered awhile to view the almost fairy-like scene that lay below us, with the distant mountains in the background. On descending, we entered our names in the visitors' book and took our departure.

Just as we were leaving, our attention was attracted by a notice which informed us that Cambuskenneth Abbey was only one mile away, so we walked along the banks of the Forth to that ancient ruin. The abbey was supposed to have taken its name from one Kenneth, who fought a successful battle with the Picts on the site where it was built. A Parliament was held within its walls in 1314 by King Robert Bruce, but the abbey was destroyed, with the exception of the tower, in 1559. The chief object of interest was the tomb of James III, King of Scots, and his Queen, the Princess Margaret of Denmark, who were buried near the High Altar. The tomb, which appeared quite modern, recorded that King James died June 11th, 1488, and that "This Restoration of the Tomb of her Ancestors was executed by command of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, A.D. 1865."

We now walked back to Stirling, and were again among the windings of the River Forth, which are a striking feature whether viewed from Wallace's Monument, the Castle walls, or the cemetery. To follow them in some places, the traveller, it was said, would have to go four times farther than by the straighter road.


Recovering possession of our bags from the hotel, we resumed our march along the road to Falkirk, eleven miles distant, and, on the way, came to the village of St. Ninians, with its long, narrow street of dismal-looking houses, many of them empty and in ruins, and some marked "To Let"; and, from their dingy appearance, we imagined they were likely to remain so. The people who lived in these houses were formerly of evil reputation, as, before railways were constructed so far north, all the cattle from the Western Isles and the North were driven along the roads to Falkirk to be sold, and had to pass through St. Ninians, which was so dreaded by the drovers that they called this long, narrow street "The Pass of St. Ninians." For, if a sheep happened to go through a doorway or stray along one of the passages, ever open to receive them, it was never seen again and nobody knew of its whereabouts except the thieves themselves. We walked along this miry pass and observed what we thought might be an old church, which we went to examine, but found it to be only a tower and a few ruins. The yard was very full of gravestones. A large building at the bottom of the yard was, we were told, what now did duty for the original church, which in the time of Prince Charlie was used as a powder magazine, and was blown up in 1745 by a party of his Highlanders to prevent its falling into the hands of the advancing English Army, before which they were retreating.

Shortly afterwards we overtook a gentleman whom we at first thought was a farmer, but found afterwards to be a surgeon who resided at Bannockburn, the next village. He was a cheerful and intelligent companion, and told us that the large flagstaff we could see in the fields to the left was where Robert Bruce planted his standard at the famous Battle of Bannockburn, which, he said, was fought at midsummer in the year 1314. Bruce had been preparing the ground for some time so as to make it difficult for the English to advance even though they were much more numerous and better armed than the Scots. As soon as the armies came in sight of each other on the evening of June 24th, King Robert Bruce, dressed in armour and with a golden crown on his helmet, to distinguish him from the rest of his army, mounted on a small pony, and, with a battle-axe in his hand, went up and down the ranks of his army to put them in order. Seeing the English horsemen draw near, he advanced a little in front of his own men to have a nearer view of the enemy. An English knight, Sir Henry de Bohun, seeing the Scottish king so poorly mounted, thought he would rise to fame by killing Bruce and so putting an end to the war at once. So he challenged him to fight by galloping at him suddenly and furiously, thinking with his long spear and tall, powerful horse to extinguish Bruce immediately. Waiting until Bohun came up, and then suddenly turning his pony aside to avoid the point of his lance, Bruce rose in his stirrups and struck Sir Henry, as he passed at full speed, such a terrific blow on the head with his battle-axe that it cut through his helmet and his head at the same time, so that he died before reaching the ground. The only remark that Bruce is said to have made was, "I have broken my good battle-axe."

This fearful encounter and the death of their champion was looked upon as a bad omen by the English, and Sir Walter Scott thus describes it:

The heart had hardly time to think,

The eyelid scarce had time to wink,

High in his stirrups stood the King,

And gave his battle-axe the swing;

Right on De Boune, the whiles he pass'd,

Fell that stern dint—the first—the last!—

Such strength upon the blow was put,

The helmet crash'd like hazel-nut;

The axe shaft, with its brazen clasp,

Was shiver'd to the gauntlet grasp.

Springs from the blow the startled horse,

Drops to the plain the lifeless corse.

The battle began on the following morning, Midsummer Day, and the mighty host of heavily armed men on large horses moved forward along what they thought was hard road, only to fall into the concealed pits carefully prepared beforehand by Bruce and to sink in the bogs over which they had to pass. It can easily be imagined that those behind pressing forward would ride over those who had sunk already, only to sink themselves in turn. Thousands perished in that way, and many a thrown rider, heavily laden with armour, fell an easy prey to the hardy Scots. The result was disastrous to the English, and it was said that 30,000 of them were killed, while the Scots were able afterwards to raid the borders of England almost to the gates of York.

The surgeon said that in the Royal College of Surgeons in London a rib of Bruce, the great Scottish king, was included in the curios of the college, together with a bit of the cancerous growth which killed Napoleon. It was said that Bruce's rib was injured in a jousting match in England many years before he died, and that the fracture was made good by a first-class surgeon of the time. In 1329 Bruce died of leprosy in his fifty fifth year and the twenty-third of his reign, and was buried in the Abbey Church of Dunfermline. In clearing the foundation for the third church on the same site, in 1818, the bones of the hero were discovered, Sir Walter Scott being present. The breastbone of the skeleton had been sawn through some 500 years before, as was customary, in order to allow of the removal of the heart, which was then embalmed, and given to Bruce's friend, Sir James Douglas, to be carried to Palestine and buried in Jerusalem.

The surgeon also told us—in order, we supposed, to cheer our drooping spirits—of another battle fought in the neighbourhood of Bannockburn in 1488, but this time it was the Scottish King James III who came to grief. He had a fine grey courser given him "that could war all the horse of Scotland if the king could sit up well." But he was a coward and could not ride, and when some men came up shouting and throwing arrows, they frightened the king. Feeling the spurs, the horse went at "flight speed" through Bannockburn, and a woman carrying water, when she saw the horse coming, dropped her bucket down on the road and ran for safety. The horse, frightened by the bucket, jumped over the brook that turned the mill, and threw the king off at the mill door. The miller and his wife, who saw the accident, not knowing that the rider was the king, put him in a nook in the mill and covered him with a cloth. When he came round, he asked for a priest and told them he was the king. But he had fallen into the hands of his enemies. The miller's wife clapped her hands, and ran out crying for a priest for the king. A man called out, "I am a priest; where is the king?" When he saw the king he told him he might recover if he had a good leeching, but the king desired him to give him the Sacrament. The supposed priest said, "That I shall do quickly," and suiting the action to the word, he stabbed him several times in the heart. The corpse he took away on his back, no one knew whither, and the king's soldiers, now leaderless, fled to Stirling and Linlithgow.

We thanked our friend for his company and bade him farewell, as we reached Bannockburn village. We observed there, as in most villages near Stirling, many houses in ruins or built with the ruins of others. We thought what a blessing it was that the two nations were now united, and that the days of these cruel wars were gone for ever! At a junction of roads a finger-post pointed "To the Bannockburn Collieries," and we saw several coal-pits in the distance with the ruins of an old building near them, but we did not take the trouble to inspect them.

The shades of night were coming on when, after walking a few miles, we saw an old man standing at the garden gate of a very small cottage by the wayside, who told us he was an old sailor and that Liverpool had been his port, from which he had taken his first voyage in 1814. He could remember Birkenhead and that side of the River Mersey when there was only one house, and that a farm from which he used to fetch buttermilk, and when there was only one dock in Liverpool—the Prince's. We thought what a contrast the old man would find if he were to visit that neighbourhood now! He told us of a place near by named Norwood, where were the remains of an old castle of Prince Charlie's time, with some arches and underground passages, but it was now too dark to see them. We proceeded towards Camelon, with the great ironworks of Carron illuminating the sky to our left, and finally arrived at Falkirk. Here, in reply to our question, a sergeant of police recommended us to stay the night at the "Swan Inn," kept by a widow, a native of Inverness, where we were made very comfortable. After our supper of bread and milk, we began to take off our boots to prepare for bed, but we were requested to keep them on as our bedroom was outside! We followed our leader along the yard at the back of the inn and up a flight of stone steps, at the top of which we were ushered into a comfortable bedroom containing three beds, any or all of which, we were informed, were at our service. Having made our selection and fastened the door, we were soon asleep, notwithstanding the dreadful stories we had heard that day, and the great battlefields we had visited—haunted, no doubt, by the ghosts of legions of our English ancestors who had fallen therein!

(Distance walked seventeen miles.)

Saturday, October 7th.

Falkirk, which stands on a gentle slope on the great Carse of Forth, is surrounded by the Grampian Hills, the Ochills, and the Campsie Range. Here King Edward I entirely routed the Scottish Army in the year 1298. Wallace's great friend was slain in the battle and buried in the churchyard, where an inscription recorded that "Sir John de Grahame, equally remarkable for wisdom and courage, and the faithful friend of Wallace, being slain in the battle by the English, lies buried in this place."

We left the inn at six o'clock in the morning, the only people visible being workmen turning out for their day's work. The last great fair of the season was to be held that day, and we had the previous day seen the roads filled with cattle making for Falkirk Fair, perhaps one of the largest fairs in the kingdom. We had been told by the drovers that the position was well adapted for the purpose, as the ground was very sandy and therefore not so liable to be trampled into mud by the animals' feet.

We passed through the village of Laurieston, where Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite and blasting gelatine, lived, and saw a plough at work turning up potatoes, a crowd of women and boys following it and gathering up the potatoes in aprons and then emptying them into a long row of baskets which extended from one end of the field to the other. A horse and cart followed, and the man in charge emptied the contents of the baskets into the cart. We questioned the driver of the plough, who assured us that no potatoes were left in the land, but that all were turned up and gathered, and that it was a much better way than turning them out by hand with a fork, as was usual in England.



About two miles farther on we passed the romantic village of Polmont, and on through a fine stretch of country until we reached another fair-sized village called Linlithgow Bridge. We were then about a mile and a half from the old town of Linlithgow; here the River Avon separates the counties of Stirlingshire and Linlithgowshire. The old bridge from which the place takes its name is said to have been built by Edward I of England. In 1526 the Battle of Linlithgow Bridge was fought at this spot; it was one of those faction fights between two contending armies for predominance which were so prevalent in Scotland at the time, the real object, however, being to rescue King James V from the domination of the Earl of Angus. The opposing fronts under Angus and Lennox extended on both sides of the Avon. The Earl of Lennox was slain by Sir James Hamilton after quarter had been granted to the former. His sword was afterwards found, and may still be seen in the small museum at Linlithgow. In this village Stephen Mitchell, tobacco and snuff manufacturer, carried on business and had an old snuff mill here; he was the first founder in Great Britain of a Free Library. Burns the Scottish poet stayed a night here on August 25th, 1787.

We arrived at the royal and ancient burgh of Linlithgow at about nine o'clock. The town, as Burns says, "carries the appearance of rude, decayed, idle grandeur"; it is, however, very pleasantly situated, with rich, fertile surroundings. There is a fine old royal palace here within which, on December 7th, 1542, the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots was born, whose beauty and magnificence have imbued her history with so deep and melancholy an interest. Sir Walter Scott in "Marmion" sings the praises of this palace as follows:—

Of all the palaces so fair,

Built for the royal dwelling.

In Scotland, far beyond compare

Linlithgow is excelling.

We fully endorsed the great Sir Walter's opinion, for it certainly was a magnificent structure and occupied a grand situation, with a large lake in front covering perhaps a hundred acres. We were now, however, getting ravenously hungry, so we adjourned to the hotel for breakfast, which was quickly served and almost as quickly eaten. The palace was not open until ten o'clock, so we had to be content with a view of the exterior, nor could we visit the fine old church, for we wanted to reach Edinburgh, where we had decided to stay the week-end in order to see some of the sights of the historic capital.


A halo of deepest interest surrounded the history of Linlithgow, whose every stone spoke volumes of the storied past. The traditions of the place go far back into the dim shadowy regions where historic fact merges into myth and legend. Solid ground is only reached about the twelfth century. The English had possession of the palace in 1313, and the way it was taken from them was probably unique in the history of such places. The garrison was supplied with hay for the horses by a local farmer named Binnock, who determined to strike a blow for the freedom of his country. A new supply of hay had been ordered, and he contrived to conceal eight men, well armed, under it. The team was driven by a sturdy waggoner, who had a sharp axe concealed in his clothing, while Binnock himself walked alongside. The porter, on seeing their approach, lowered the drawbridge and raised the portcullis to admit of the passage of the hay within the castle walls. Just as they reached the centre of the gateway the driver drew his axe and cut off the tackle that attached the oxen to the waggon, at the same time striking the warder dead and shouting a preconcerted signal—"Call all! Call all!" "The armed men jumped from amongst the hay, and a strong party of Scots, who by arrangement were in ambush outside, rushed in and attacked the astonished garrison, who were unprepared for the onslaught—the load of hay being so placed that the gate could not be closed nor the bridge raised—and so the Scots made themselves masters of the palace."


The last event of any historical interest or importance connected with this palace was the visit paid to it by Prince Charles Stewart in 1745; it was destroyed in the following year.

The beautiful old Gothic church of St. Michael is situated close to the palace. Perhaps no tradition connected with this church is more interesting than the vision which is said to have appeared to James IV while praying within St. Catherine's Aisle immediately before the Battle of Flodden. According to Lindsay of Pitscottie, on whose authority the tale rests, the King, being "in a very sad and dolorous mood, was making his devotions to God to send him good chance and fortune in his voyage" when a man "clad in ane blue gown" appeared to him, and with little ceremony declared to the King that he had been sent to desire him "nocht to pass whither he purposed," for if he did, things "would not fare well with him or any who went with him." How little this warning was heeded by the King is known to all readers of Scottish history. The "ghost," if it may be called so, was in all likelihood an attempt to frighten the King, and it is certain that the tale would never have gained the weird interest it possesses if Flodden Field had not proved so disastrous. It has been helped to immortality by Sir Walter Scott, who in "Marmion" has invested Pitscottie's antique prose with the charm of imperishable poetry.


One characteristic of the towns or villages in Scotland through which we passed was their fine drinking-fountains, and we had admired a very fine one at Falkirk that morning; but Linlithgow's fountain surpassed it—it was indeed the finest we had seen, and a common saying occurred to us:

Glasgow for bells,

Linlithgow for wells.

Linlithgow has long been celebrated for its wells, some of them of ancient date and closely associated with the history of the town. We came to an old pump-well with the date 1720, and the words "Saint Michael is kinde to straingers." As we considered ourselves to be included in that category, we had a drink of the water.

(A survival of the past)

At the end of the village or town we passed the union workhouse, where the paupers were busy digging up potatoes in the garden, and a short distance farther on we passed a number of boys with an elderly man in charge of them, who informed us they came from the "institute," meaning the workhouse we had just seen, and that he took them out for a walk once every week. Presently we met a shepherd who was employed by an English farmer in the neighbourhood, and he told us that the man we had met in charge of the boys was an old pensioner who had served fifty-two years in the army, but as soon as he got his pension money he spent it, as he couldn't keep it, the colour of his nose showing the direction in which it went. It struck us the shepherd seemed inclined that way himself, as he said if he had met us nearer a public-house he would have "treated us to a good glass." We thought what a pity it was that men had not a better eye to their own future interests than to spend all their money "for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which satisfieth not," and how many there were who would ultimately become burdens to society who might have secured a comfortable competency for old age by wisely investing their surplus earnings instead of allowing them to flow down that awful channel of waste!


We walked through a fine agricultural district—for we were now in Midlothian—adorned with great family mansions surrounded by well-kept grounds, and arrived in sight of Edinburgh at 1.30, and by two o'clock we were opposite a large building which we were told was Donaldson's Hospital, founded in 1842, and on which about £100,000 had been spent.

Our first business on reaching Edinburgh was to find suitable lodgings until Monday morning, and we decided to stay at Fogg's Temperance Hotel in the city. We had then to decide whether we should visit Edinburgh Castle or Holyrood Palace that day—both being open to visitors at the same hour in the afternoon, but as they were some distance apart we could not explore both; we decided in favour of the palace, where we were conducted through the picture gallery and the many apartments connected with Mary Queen of Scots and her husband Lord Darnley.

The picture-gallery contained the reputed portraits of all the Kings of Scotland from Fergus I, 330 B.C., down to the end of the Stuart dynasty; and my brother, who claimed to have a "painter's eye," as he had learned something of that art when at school, discovered a great similarity between the portraits of the early kings and those that followed them centuries later. Although I explained that it was only an illustration of history repeating itself, and reminded him of the adage, "Like father, like son," he was not altogether satisfied. We found afterwards, indeed, that the majority of the portraits had been painted by a Flemish artist, one John de Witt, who in the year 1684 made a contract, which was still in existence, whereby he bound himself to paint no portraits within two years, he supplying the canvas and colours, and the Government paying him £120 per year and supplying him with the "originalls" from which he was to copy. We wondered what had become of these "originalls," especially that of Fergus, 330 B.C., but as no information was forthcoming we agreed to consider them as lost in the mists of antiquity.


There was much old tapestry on the walls of the various rooms we inspected in the palace, and although it was now faded we could see that it must have looked very beautiful in its original state. The tapestry in one room was almost wholly devoted to scenes in which heavenly-looking little boys figured as playing in lovely gardens amidst beautiful scenery. One of these scenes showed a lake in the background with a castle standing at one end of it. In the lake were two small islands covered with trees which were reflected in the still waters, while in the front was a large orange tree, growing in a lovely garden, up which some of the little boys had climbed, one of whom was throwing oranges to a companion on the ground below; while two others were enjoying a game of leapfrog, one jumping over the other's back. Three other boys were engaged in the fascinating game of blowing bubbles—one making the lather, another blowing the bubbles, while a third was trying to catch them. There were also three more boys—one of them apparently pretending to be a witch, as he was riding on a broomstick, while another was giving a companion a donkey-ride upon his back. All had the appearance of little cupids or angels and looked so lifelike and happy that we almost wished we were young again and could join them in their play!

The rooms more closely connected with the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots were of course the most interesting to visitors; and in her audience-room, where she had such distressing interviews with John Knox, the famous Presbyterian divine and reformer, we saw the bed that was used by King Charles I when he resided at Holyrood, and afterwards occupied on one occasion, in September 1745, by his descendant Prince Charlie, and again after the battle of Culloden by the Duke of Cumberland.


We passed on to Queen Mary's bedroom, in which we were greatly interested, and in spite of its decayed appearance we could see it had been a magnificent apartment. Its walls were adorned with emblems and initials of former Scottish royalties, and an old tapestry representing the mythological story of the fall of Photon, who, according to the Greeks, lost his life in rashly attempting to drive the chariot of his father the God of the Sun. Here we saw Queen Mary's bed, which must have looked superb in its hangings of crimson damask, trimmed with green silk fringes and tassels, when these were new, but now in their decay they seemed to remind us of their former magnificence and of their unfortunate owner, to whom the oft-quoted words

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown

so aptly applied. We wondered how many times her weary head had passed its restless nights there, and in the many castles in which she had been placed during her long imprisonment of nineteen years. Half hidden by the tapestry there was a small door opening upon a secret stair, and it was by this that Darnley and his infamous associates ascended when they went to murder the Queen's unfortunate Italian secretary, Rizzio, in the Queen's supping-room, which we now visited. There we had to listen to the recital of this horrible crime: how the Queen had been forcibly restrained by Darnley, her table overthrown and the viands scattered, while the blood-thirsty conspirators crowded into the room; how Rizzio rushed behind the Queen for protection, until one of the assassins snatched Darnley's dagger from its sheath, and stabbed Rizzio, leaving the dagger sticking in his body, while the others dragged him furiously from the room, stabbing him as he went, shrieking for mercy, until he fell dead at the head of the staircase, pierced by fifty-six wounds; and how one of the assassins threatened to cut the Queen "into collops" if she dared to speak to the populace through the window. The bloodstain on the floor was of course shown us, which the mockers assert is duly "restored" every winter before the visiting season commences.

Leaving the Palace, we saw Queen Mary's Bath, a quaintly shaped little building built for her by King James IV, in which she was said to have bathed herself in white wine—an operation said to have been the secret of her beauty. During some alterations which were made to it in 1798, a richly inlaid but wasted dagger was found stuck in the sarking of the roof, supposedly by the murderers of Rizzio on their escape from the palace.


We then visited the now roofless ruins of the Abbey or Chapel Royal adjoining the Palace. A fine doorway on which some good carving still remained recalled something of its former beauty and grandeur. There were quite a number of tombs, and what surprised us most was the large size of the gravestones, which stood 6 to 7 feet high, and were about 3 feet wide. Those we had been accustomed to in England were much smaller, but everything in Scotland seemed big, including the people themselves, and this was no less true of the buildings in Edinburgh. There was a monument in one corner of the Chapel Royal on which was an inscription in Latin, of which we read the English translation to be:—


ALEXANDER MILNE, 20 Feb. A.D. 1643

Stay Passenger, here famous Milne doth rest,

Worthy to be in Ægypt's Marble drest;

What Myron or Apelles could have done

In brass or paintry, he could do in stone;

But thretty yeares hee [blameless] lived; old age

He did betray, and in's Prime left this stage.

Restored by Robert Mylne

Architect. MDCCLXXVI.

The builder of the Palace was Robert Milne, the descendant of a family of distinguished masons. He was the "master mason," and a record of him in large letters on a pillar ran—

FVN . BE . RO . MILNE . M.M. . I . JYL . 1671.

After leaving Holyrood we walked up Calton Hill, where we had a splendid view of the fine old city of Edinburgh seated on rocks that are older than history, and surrounded by hills with the gleaming Firth of Forth in the distance. The panorama as seen from this point was magnificent, and one of the finest in Great Britain. On the hill there were good roads and walks and some monuments. One of these, erected to the memory of Nelson, was very ugly, and another—beautiful in its incompleteness—consisted of a number of immense fluted columns in imitation of the Parthenon of Athens, which we were told was a memorial to the Scottish heroes who fell in the Wars of Napoleon, but which was not completed, as sufficient funds had not been forthcoming to finish what had evidently been intended to be an extensive and costly erection. We supposed that these lofty pillars remained as a warning to those who begin to build without first sitting down and counting the cost. They were beautifully proportioned, resembling a fragment of some great ruin, and probably had as fine an effect as they stood, as the finished structure would have had.


Edinburgh Castle stood out in the distance on an imposing rock. As we did not arrive during visiting hours we missed many objects of interest, including the Scottish crown and regalia, which are stored therein. On the ramparts of the castle we saw an ancient gun named "Mons Meg," whose history was both long and interesting. It had been made by hand with long bars of hammered iron held together by coils of iron hoops, and had a bore of 20 in.; the cannon-balls resting alongside it were made of wood. It was constructed in 1455 by native artisans at the instance of James II, and was used in the siege of Dumbarton in 1489 and in the Civil Wars. In Cromwell's list of captured guns in 1650 it was described as "the great iron murderer Meg." When fired on the occasion of the Duke of York's visit to Edinburgh in 1682 the gun burst. After this bad behaviour "Meg" was sent to the Tower of London, not, however, to be executed, but to remain there until the year 1829, when, owing to the intercession of Sir Walter Scott with King George IV, the great gun was returned to Edinburgh, and was received with great rejoicings and drawn up with great ceremony to the castle, where it still remains as a relic of the past.

On our way we had observed a placard announcing a soirée in connection with the I.O.G.T. (the Independent Order of Good Templars), and this being somewhat of a novelty to us we decided to patronise it. Accordingly at 7 p.m. we found ourselves paying the sum of ninepence each at the entrance to the Calton Rooms. As we filed through along with others, a cup and saucer and a paper bag containing a variety of cakes were handed to us, and the positions assigned to us were on either side of an elderly gentleman whom we afterwards found to be a schoolmaster.

When the tea came round there were no nice young ladies to ask us if we took sugar and milk, and how many pieces of sugar; to our great amusement the tea was poured into our cups from large tin kettles carried by men who from their solemn countenances appeared fitting representatives of "Caledonia stern and wild." We thought this method a good one from the labour-saving point of view, and it was certainly one we had never seen adopted before. The weak point about it was that it left no opportunity for individual taste in the matter of milk and sugar, which had already been added, but as we did not hear any complaints and all appeared satisfied, we concluded that the happy medium had been reached, and that all had enjoyed themselves as we did ourselves.

Our friend the schoolmaster was very communicative, and added to our pleasure considerably by his intelligent conversation, in the course of which he told us that the I.O.G.T. was a temperance organisation introduced from America, and he thought it was engaged in a good work. The members wore a very smart regalia, much finer than would have suited us under the climatic conditions we had to pass through. After tea they gave us an entertainment consisting of recitations and songs, the whole of which were very creditably rendered. But the great event of the evening was the very able address delivered by the Rev. Professor Kirk, who explained the objects of the Good Templar movement and the good work it was doing in Edinburgh and elsewhere. Every one listened attentively, for the Professor was a good speaker and he was frequently applauded by his audience.

We had spent a very pleasant evening, and the schoolmaster accompanied us nearly all the way to our lodgings, which we reached at 11 p.m.

(Distance walked up to 2 p.m. twenty-four miles.)

Sunday, October 8th.

To judge by what we heard and saw, there were connected with Edinburgh three great characters who stand out above all others in historic importance—Mary Queen of Scots, John Knox, and Sir Walter Scott; but we thought and read more about John Knox this day than either of the others, possibly because it was Sunday. We attended service in three different churches, and give the following particulars for the information of our clerical and other friends who "search the Scriptures," in the hope that they may find in the reading of the texts food for thought.


In the morning we went to the High Church. Preacher, the Rev. C. Giffin, M.A. Text. 2 Corinthians viii. 13 and to the end.

In the afternoon to the Tron Church. Preacher, the Rev. James McGregor, D.D. Text: Isaiah lvii., the last three verses, and Ephesians ii. and the first clause of verse 14.

In the evening to the Wesleyan Chapel, Nicolson Square. Preacher, the Rev. Dr. James, President of the Wesleyan Conference. Text: I Corinthians ii. 1, 2.

The excellence of the sermons, and the able way in which they had been prepared and were delivered, gave us the impression that rivalry existed between the ministers of the different churches as to which of them could preach the best sermon. They were all fine orations, carefully thought out and elaborated, especially that by Dr. James.

During the intervals between the services we walked about the city, and again passed the splendid monument to Sir Walter Scott with the following remarkable inscription, written by Lord Jeffery, beneath its foundation stone:

This Graven Plate, deposited in the base of a votive building on the fifteenth day of August in the year of Christ 1840, and never likely to see the light again till all the surrounding structures are crumbled to dust by the decay of time, or by human or elemental violence, may then testify to a distant posterity that his countrymen began on that day to raise an effigy and architectural monument to the memory of Sir Walter Scott, Bart., whose admirable writings were then allowed to have given more delight and suggested better feelings to a large class of readers in every rank of society than those of any other author, with the exception of Shakespeare alone, and which were, therefore, thought likely to be remembered long after this act of gratitude on the part of the first generation of his admirers should be forgotten. He was born at Edinburgh 15th August 1771: and died at Abbotsford, 21st September 1832.

We also passed that ancient and picturesque mansion in the High Street known as the "House of John Knox," in which the distinguished reformer died in 1572. Born in the year 1505, it was he who, in the reign of Mary Queen of Scots, stirred Scotland to mighty religious impulses, boldly denouncing Mary as a Papist and a Jezebel. How he escaped being beheaded or burned or assassinated was, considering the nature of the times in which he lived, a mystery almost amounting to a miracle.


Queen Mary sailed from France and landed at Leith, near Edinburgh, on August 19th, 1561, where she was welcomed by the Scots as Dowager of France, Queen of Scotland, and heiress of England, and was "gorgeouslie and magnificentlie" received,according to Scottish ideas, by the lords and ladies who came to meet and accompany her to Edinburgh; but, according to the diary of one of the Queen's ladies, "when they saw them mounted on such wretched little hackneys so wretchedly caparisoned they were greatly disappointed, and thought of the gorgeous pomp and superb palfreys they had been accustomed to in France, and the Queen began to weep." On their arrival at Edinburgh they retired to rest in the Abbey, "a fine building and not at all partaking of that country, but here came under her window a crew of five or six hundred scoundrels from the city, who gave her a serenade with wretched violins and little rebecks of which there are enough in that country, and began to sing Psalms so miserably mis-tuned and mis-timed that nothing could be worse. Alas! what music, and what a night's rest!" What the lady would have written if bagpipes had been included in the serenade we could not imagine, but as these instruments of torture were not named, we concluded they must have been invented at a later period.

"We also passed the ancient and picturesque mansion in the High Street ... in which that distinguished reformer died."

Mary had been away in France for about thirteen years, and during that time she had for her companions four young ladies of the same name as her own and of about the same age, Mary Fleming, Mary Bethune, Mary Livingstone, and Mary Seaton, all of whom formed part of her retinue on her return to Scotland, where they were known as the "Queen's Marys."


She was a staunch adherent of the Romish Church, a fact which accounted for many of her trials and mortifications. Mainly owing to the powerful preaching of John Knox, many of the people of Scotland, both of high and low degree, had become fierce opponents of that form of religion, which they considered idolatrous. The first Sunday after her arrival was St. Bartholomew's Day, August 24th, and preparations had been made to celebrate mass in the Chapel Royal, at which the Queen was to be present. But no sooner was this known, than a mob rushed towards the edifice, exclaiming: "Shall the idol be again erected in the land?" and shouting, "The idolatrous priests shall die the death!" On September 2nd the Queen made her public entry into Edinburgh, and on the same day John Knox had an audience with Mary, who, hearing of a furious sermon he had preached against the Mass on the previous Sunday in St. Giles's Church, thought that a personal interview would mitigate his sternness. The Queen took him to task for his book entitled The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regimen of Women, and his intolerance towards every one who differed from him in opinion, and further requested him to obey the precepts of the Scriptures, a copy of which she perceived in his possession, and urged him to use more meekness in his sermons. Knox in reply, it was said, "knocked so hastily upon her heart," that he made her weep with tears of anguish and indignation, and she said, "My subjects, it would appear, must obey you, and not me; I must be subject to them, and not they to me!" Knox left Holyrood that day convinced that Mary's soul was lost for ever, and that she despised and mocked all exhortation against the Mass.

When Mary attended her first Parliament, accompanied by her ladies, the Duke of Chatelherault carrying the Crown, the Earl of Argyll the Sceptre, and the Earl of Moray the Sword, she appeared so graceful and beautiful that the people who saw her were quite captivated, and many exclaimed, "God save that sweet face!"

During this short Parliament Knox preached in St. Giles's Church, and argued that they ought to demand from the Queen "that which by God's Word they may justly require, and if she would not agree with them in God, they were not bound to agree with her in the devil!" and concluded with some observations respecting the Queen's rumoured marriage with Don Carlos of Spain, declaring, "Whenever ye consent that an infidel, and all Papists are infidels, shall be our head to our soverane, ye do so far as in ye lieth to banisch Christ Jesus from his realme; ye bring God's vengeance upon this country, a plague upon yourselves, and perchance ye shall do no small discomfirt to your soverane."


Mary heard of this furious attack upon her, which Knox admitted had offended both Papists and Protestants, and he was again summoned to Holyrood. As soon as Mary saw Knox she was greatly excited, and exclaimed: "Never was prince handled as I am." "I have borne with you," she said to Knox, "in all your vigorous manner of speaking, both against myself and my uncles; yea, I have sought your favour by all possible means—I offered unto you presence and audience whenever it pleased you to admonish me, and yet I cannot be quit of you. I vow to God I shall be once avenged."

Knox answered, "True it is, Madam, your Grace and I have been at divers controversies into the which I never perceived your Grace to be offended at me; but when it shall please God to deliver you from that bondage of darkness and error in the which ye have been nourished for the lack of true doctrine, your majesty will find the liberty of my tongue nothing offensive. Without the preaching-place, Madam, I am not master of myself, for I must obey Him who commands me to speak plain, and flatter no flesh upon the face of the earth."

The Queen asked him again, "What have ye to do with my marriage, or what are ye in this commonwealth?" "A subject born within the same, Madam," was the stern reply; "and albeit I be neither Earl, Lord, nor Baron within it, yet has God made me, how abject soever I may be in your eyes, a profitable member within the same."

He was entering into some personal explanations, when the Queen ordered him to leave the Cabinet, and remain in the ante-chamber till her pleasure should be intimated. Here Knox found himself in the company of the Queen's Marys and other ladies, to whom he gave a religious admonition. "Oh, fair ladies," he said, "how pleasing is this life of yours if it would ever abide, and then in the end that you pass to Heaven with all this gay gear! But fie upon the knave Death, that will come whether we will or not, and when he has laid on his arrest, the foul worms will be busy with this flesh, be it never so fair and tender; and the silly soul, I fear, shall be so feeble, that it can neither carry with it gold, garnishing, targetting, pearl nor precious stones."

Several noblemen had accompanied Knox when he went to see the Queen, but only Erskine of Dun was admitted to the Cabinet, and Lord Ochiltree attended Knox in the ante-room while Queen Mary held a consultation with Lord John Stuart and Erskine lasting nearly an hour, at the end of which Erskine appeared and accompanied Knox home. Knox must have been in great danger of losing his life owing to his fearless and determined daring in rebuking those in high places, and indeed his life was afterwards repeatedly aimed at; but Providence foiled all attempts to assassinate him, and in the end he died a peaceful death. On November 9th, 1572, a fortnight before he died, he preached his farewell sermon, the entire congregation following his tottering footsteps to his home. When the time came for him to die he asked for I Corinthians xv., and after that had been read he remarked: "Is not that a comfortable chapter?" There was also read to him Isaiah liii. Asked if he could hear, he replied: "I hear, I thank God, and understand far better." He afterwards said to his wife, "Read, where I cast my first anchor." Mrs. Knox knew what he meant, and read to him his favourite seventeenth chapter of St. John's Gospel. His friend Bannatyne, seeing that he was just about to depart, and was becoming speechless, drew near to him saying, "Hast thou hope?" and asked him if he heard to give them a sign that he died in peace. Knox pointed upwards with two of his fingers, and thus he died without a struggle. Truly one of the most remarkable men that ever lived in Scotland, and whose end was peace.


A vast concourse of people attended his funeral, the nobility walking in front of the procession, headed by Morton, who had been appointed Regent of Scotland on the very day on which Knox died, and whose panegyric at the grave was: "Here lieth a man who in his life never feared the face of man."

St. Giles's was the first parochial church in Edinburgh, and its history dates from the early part of the twelfth century. John Knox was appointed its minister at the Reformation. When Edinburgh was created a bishopric, the Church of St. Giles became the Cathedral of the diocese. A remarkable incident happened at this church on Sunday, July 23rd, 1639, when King Charles I ordered the English service-book to be used. It was the custom of the people in those days to bring their own seats to church, in the shape of folding-stools, and just as Dean Hanney was about to read the collect for the day, a woman in the congregation named Jenny Geddes, who must have had a strong objection to this innovation, astonished the dean by suddenly throwing her stool at his head. What Jenny's punishment was for this violent offence we did not hear, but her stool was still preserved together with John Knox's pulpit and other relics.


Although three hundred years save one had elapsed since John Knox departed this life, his memory was still greatly revered in Edinburgh, and his spirit still seemed to pervade the whole place and to dwell in the hearts and minds of the people with whom we came in contact. A good illustration of this was the story related by an American visitor. He was being driven round the city, when the coachman pointed out the residence of John Knox. "And who was John Knox?" he asked. The coachman seemed quite shocked that he did not know John Knox, and, looking down on him with an eye of pity, replied, in a tone of great solemnity, "Deed, mawn, an' d'ye no read y'r Beeble!"

As we walked about the crowded streets of Edinburgh that Sunday evening we did not see a single drunken person, a fact which we attributed to the closing of public houses in Scotland on Sundays. We wished that a similar enactment might be passed in England, for there many people might habitually be seen much the worse for liquor on Sunday evenings, to the great annoyance of those returning from their various places of worship.


Monday, October 9th

There were some streets in Edinburgh called wynds, and it was in one of these, the College Wynd, that Sir Walter Scott was born in the year 1771. It seemed a strange coincidence that the great Dr. Samuel Johnson should have visited the city in the same year, and have been conducted by Boswell and Principal Robertson to inspect the college along that same wynd when the future Sir Walter Scott was only about two years old. We had not yet ventured to explore one of these ancient wynds, as they appeared to us like private passages between two rows of tall houses. As we could not see the other end, we looked upon them as traps for the unwary, but we mustered up our courage and decided to explore one of them before leaving the town. We therefore rose early and selected one of an antiquated appearance, but we must confess to a feeling of some apprehension in entering it, as the houses on each side were of six to eight storeys high, and so lofty that they appeared almost to touch each other at the top. To make matters worse for us, there were a number of poles projecting from the windows high above our track, for use on washing days, when clothes were hung upon them to dry. We had not gone very far, when my brother drew my attention to two women whose heads appeared through opposite windows in the upper storeys, and who were talking to each other across the wynd. On our approach we heard one of them call to the other in a mischievous tone of voice, "See! there's twa mair comin'!" We were rather nervous already, so we beat an ignominious retreat, not knowing what might be coming on our devoted heads if we proceeded farther. In the event of hostilities the two ladies were so high up in the buildings, which were probably let in flats, that we should never have been able to find them, and, like the stray sheep in the Pass of St. Ninians, we might never have been found ourselves. We were probably taken for a pair of sporting young medical students instead of grave searchers after wisdom and truth. We therefore returned to our hotel for the early breakfast that was waiting for us, and left Edinburgh at 8.10 a.m. on our way towards Peebles.


We journeyed along an upward gradient with a view of Craigmillar Castle to our left, obtaining on our way a magnificent view of the fine city we had left behind us, with its castle, and the more lofty elevation known as Arthur's Seat, from which portions of twelve counties might be seen. It was a curiously shaped hill with ribs and bones crossing in various directions, which geologists tell us are undoubted remains of an old volcano. It certainly was a very active one, if one can judge by the quantity of debris it threw out. There was an old saying, especially interesting to ladies, that if you washed your face at sunrise on May 1st, with dew collected off the top of Arthur's Seat, you would be beautiful for ever. We were either too late or too soon, as it was now October 9th, and as we had a lot to see on that day, with not overmuch time to see it in, we left the dew to the ladies, feeling certain, however, that they would be more likely to find it there in October than on May Day. When we had walked about five miles, we turned off the main road to visit the pretty village of Rosslyn, or Roslin, with its three great attractions: the chapel, the castle, and the dell. We found it surrounded by woods and watered by a very pretty reach of the River Esk, and as full of history as almost any place in Scotland.


The unique chapel was the great object of interest. The guide informed us that it was founded in 1446 by William St. Clair, who also built the castle, in which he resided in princely splendour. He must have been a person of very great importance, for he had titles enough even to weary a Spaniard, being Prince of Orkney, Duke of Oldenburg, Earl of Caithness and Stratherne, Lord St. Clair, Lord Liddlesdale, Lord Admiral of the Scottish Seas, Lord Chief Justice of Scotland, Lord Warden of the three Marches, Baron of Roslin, Knight of the Cockle, and High Chancellor, Chamberlain, and Lieutenant of Scotland!

The lords of Rosslyn were buried in their complete armour beneath the chapel floor up to the year 1650, but afterwards in coffins. Sir Walter Scott refers to them in his "Lay of the Last Minstrel" thus:—

There are twenty of Rosslyn's Barons bold

Lie buried within that proud Chapelle.


There were more carvings in Rosslyn Chapel than in any place of equal size that we saw in all our wanderings, finely executed, and with every small detail beautifully finished and exquisitely carved. Foliage, flowers, and ferns abounded, and religious allegories, such as the Seven Acts of Mercy, the Seven Deadly Sins, the Dance of Death, and many scenes from the Scriptures; it was thought that the original idea had been to represent a Bible in stone. The great object of interest was the magnificently carved pillar known as the "'Prentice Pillar," and in the chapel were two carved heads, each of them showing a deep scar on the right temple. To these, as well as the pillar, a melancholy memory was attached, from which it appeared that the master mason received orders that this pillar should be of exquisite workmanship and design. Fearing his inability to carry out his instructions, he went abroad to Rome to see what designs he could find for its execution. While he was away his apprentice had a dream in which he saw a most beautiful column, and, setting to work at once to carry out the design of his dream, finished the pillar, a perfect marvel of workmanship. When his master returned and found the pillar completed, he was so envious and enraged at the success of his apprentice that he struck him on the head with his mallet with such force that he killed him on the spot, a crime for which he was afterwards executed.


We passed on to the castle across a very narrow bridge over a ravine, but we did not find much there except a modern-looking house built with some of the old stones, under which were four dungeons. Rosslyn was associated with scenes rendered famous by Bruce and Wallace, Queen Mary and Rizzio, Robert III and Queen Annabella Drummond, by Comyn and Fraser, and by the St. Clairs, as well as by legendary stories of the Laird of Gilmorton Grange, who set fire to the house in which were his beautiful daughter and her lover, the guilty abbot, so that both of them were burnt to death, and of the Lady of Woodhouselee, a white-robed, restless spectre, who appeared with her infant in her arms. Then there was the triple battle between the Scots and the English, in which the Scots were victorious:

Three triumphs in a day!

Three hosts subdued by one!

Three armies scattered like the spray,

Beneath one vernal sun.


Here, too, was the inn, now the caretaker's house, visited by Dr. Johnson and Boswell in 1773, the poet Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy in 1803, while some of the many other celebrities who called from time to time had left their signatures on the window-panes. Burns and his friend Nasmyth the artist breakfasted there on one occasion, and Burns was so pleased with the catering that he rewarded the landlady by scratching on a pewter plate the two following verses:

My blessings on you, sonsie wife,

I ne'er was here before;

You've gien us walth for horn and knife—

Nae heart could wish for more.

Heaven keep you free from care and strife.

Till far ayont four score;

And while I toddle on through life,

I'll ne'er gang bye your door.

Rosslyn at one time was a quiet place and only thought of in Edinburgh when an explosion was heard at the Rosslyn gunpowder works. But many more visitors appeared after Sir Walter Scott raised it to eminence by his famous "Lay" and his ballad of "Rosabelle":

Seem'd all on fire that chapel proud.

Where Rosslyn's chiefs uncoffin'd lie.

Hawthornden was quite near where stood Ben Jonson's sycamore, and Drummond's Halls, and Cyprus Grove, but we had no time to see the caves where Sir Alexander Ramsay had such hairbreadth escapes. About the end of the year 1618 Ben Jonson, then Poet Laureate of England, walked from London to Edinburgh to visit his friend Taylor, the Thames waterman, commonly known as the Water Poet, who at that time was at Leith. In the January following he called to see the poet Drummond of Hawthornden, who was more frequently called by the name of the place where he lived than by his own. He found him sitting in front of his house, and as he approached Drummond welcomed him with the poetical salutation:

"Welcome! welcome! Royal Ben,"

to which Jonson responded,

"Thank ye, thank ye, Hawthornden."


The poet Drummond was born in 1585, and died in 1649, his end being hastened by grief at the execution of Charles I. A relative erected a monument to his memory in 1784, to which the poet Young added the following lines:

O sacred solitude, divine retreat,

Choice of the prudent, envy of the great!

By the pure stream, or in the waving shade

I court fair Wisdom, that celestial maid;

Here from the ways of men, laid safe ashore,

I smile to hear the distant tempest roar;

Here, blest with health, with business unperplex'd,

This life I relish, and secure the next.

Rosslyn Glen was a lovely place, almost like a fairy scene, and we wondered if Burns had it in his mind when he wrote:

Their groves of sweet myrtle let foreign lands reckon,

Where bright-beaming summers exalt the perfume;

Far dearer to me yon lone glen of green bracken,

Wi' the burn stealing under the long yellow broom.


We walked very quietly and quickly past the gunpowder works, lest conversation might cause an explosion that would put an end to our walking expedition and ourselves at the same time, and regained the highway at a point about seven miles from Edinburgh. Presently we came to the Glencorse Barracks, some portions of which adjoined our road, and, judging from the dress and speech of the solitary sentinel who was pacing to and fro in front of the entrance, we concluded that a regiment of Highlanders must be stationed there. He informed us that in the time of the French Wars some of the prisoners were employed in making Scotch banknotes at a mill close by, and that portions of the barracks were still used for prisoners, deserters, and the like. Passing on to Pennicuick, we crossed a stream that flowed from the direction of the Pentland Hills, and were informed that no less than seven paper mills were worked by that stream within a distance of five miles. Here we saw a monument which commemorated the interment of 309 French prisoners who died during the years 1811 to 1814, a list of their names being still in existence. This apparently large death-rate could not have been due to the unhealthiness of the Glencorse Barracks, where they were confined, for it was by repute one of the healthiest in the kingdom, the road being 600 feet or more above sea-level, and the district generally, including Pennicuick, considered a desirable health-resort for persons suffering from pulmonary complaints. We stayed a short time here for refreshments, and outside the town we came in contact with two young men who were travelling a mile or two on our way, with whom we joined company. We were giving them an outline of our journey and they were relating to us their version of the massacre of Glencoe, when suddenly a pretty little squirrel crossed our path and ran into a wood opposite. This caused the massacre story to be ended abruptly and roused the bloodthirsty instinct of the two Scots, who at once began to throw stones at it with murderous intent. We watched the battle as the squirrel jumped from branch to branch and passed from one tree to another until it reached one of rather large dimensions. At this stage our friends' ammunition, which they had gathered hastily from the road, became exhausted, and we saw the squirrel looking at them from behind the trunk of the tree as they went to gather another supply. Before they were again ready for action the squirrel disappeared. We were pleased that it escaped, for our companions were good shots. They explained to us that squirrels were difficult animals to kill with a stone, unless they were hit under the throat. Stone-throwing was quite a common practice for country boys in Scotland, and many of them became so expert that they could hit small objects at a considerable distance. We were fairly good hands at it ourselves. It was rather a cruel sport, but loose stones were always plentiful on the roads—for the surfaces were not rolled, as in later years—and small animals, such as dogs and cats and all kinds of birds, were tempting targets. Dogs were the greatest sufferers, as they were more aggressive on the roads, and as my brother had once been bitten by one it was woe to the dog that came within his reach. Such was the accuracy acquired in the art of stone-throwing at these animals, that even stooping down in the road and pretending to lift a stone often caused the most savage dog to retreat quickly. We parted from the two Scots without asking them to finish their story of Glencoe, as the details were already fixed in our memories. They told us our road skirted a moor which extended for forty-seven miles or nearly as far as Glasgow, but we did not see much of the moor as we travelled in a different direction.


We passed through Edleston, where the church was dedicated to St. Mungo, reminding us of Mungo Park, the famous African traveller, and, strangely enough, it appeared we were not far away from where he was born. In the churchyard here was a tombstone to the memory of four ministers named Robertson, who followed each other in a direct line extending to 160 years. There was also to be seen the ancient "Jougs," or iron rings in which the necks of criminals were enclosed and fastened to a wall or post or tree. About three miles before reaching Peebles we came to the Mansion of Cringletie, the residence of the Wolfe-Murray family. The name of Wolfe had been adopted because one of the Murrays greatly distinguished himself at the Battle of Quebec, and on the lawn in front of the house was a cannon on which the following words had been engraved:

His Majesty's Ship Royal George of 108 guns, sunk at Spithead 29th August 1782. This gun, a 32 pounder, part of the armament of the Royal George, was fished up from the wreck of that ship by Mr. Deans, the zealous and enterprising Diver, on the 15th November 1836, and was presented by the Master-General and Board of Ordnance to General Durham of Largo, the elder Brother of Sir Philip Charles Henderson Durham, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath, Knight Commander of the Most Ancient Military Order of Merit of France, Admiral of the White Squadron of Her Majesty's Fleet, and Commander-in-Chief of the Port of Portsmouth, 1836.

Sir Philip was serving as a lieutenant in the Royal George, and was actually on duty as officer of the watch upon deck when the awful catastrophe took place. He was providentially and miraculously saved, but nearly 900 persons perished, amongst them the brave Admiral Kempenfelt, whose flag went down with the ship.

The wreck of the Royal George was the most awful disaster that had hitherto happened to the Royal Navy. William Cowper the poet, as soon as the sad news was brought to him, wrote a solemn poem entitled "The Loss of the Royal George," from which it seems that Admiral Kempenfelt was in his cabin when the great ship suddenly foundered.

His sword was in its sheath,

His fingers held the pen,

When Kempenfelt went down

With twice four hundred men.

Toll for the brave!

Brave Kempenfelt is gone:

His last sea-fight is fought,

His work of glory done.

Toll for the brave!

The brave that are no more.

All sunk beneath the wave.

Fast by their native shore!

It was nearly dark when we entered the town of Peebles, where we called at the post office for letters, and experienced some difficulty at first in obtaining lodgings, seeing that it was the night before the Hiring Fair. We went first to the Temperance Hotel, but all the beds had been taken down to make room for the great company they expected on the morrow; eventually we found good accommodation at the "Cross Keys Inn," formerly the residence of a country laird.

We had seen notices posted about the town informing the public that, by order of the Magistrates, who saw the evil of intoxicating drinks, refreshments were to be provided the following day at the Town Hall. The Good Templars had also issued a notice that they were having a tea-party, for which of course we could not stay.

We found Peebles a most interesting place, and the neighbourhood immediately surrounding it was full of history. The site on which our hotel had been built was that of the hostelage belonging to the Abbey of Arbroath in 1317, the monks granting the hostelage to William Maceon, a burgess of Peebles, on condition that he would give to them, and their attorneys, honest lodging whenever business brought them to that town. He was to let them have the use of the hall, with tables and trestles, also the use of the spence (pantry) and buttery, sleeping chambers, a decent kitchen, and stables, and to provide them with the best candles of Paris, with rushes for the floor and salt for the table. In later times it was the town house of Williamson of Cardrona, and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries became one of the principal inns, especially for those who, like ourselves, were travelling from the north, and was conducted by a family named Ritchie. Sir Walter Scott, who at that time resided quite near, frequented the house, which in his day was called the "Yett," and we were shown the room he sat in. Miss Ritchie, the landlady in Scott's day, who died in 1841, was the prototype of "Meg Dobs," the inn being the "Cleikum Inn" of his novel St. Ronan's Well.


There was a St. Mungo's Well in Peebles, and Mungo Park was intimately associated with the town. He was born at Foulshiels, Yarrow, in the same year as Sir Walter Scott, 1771, just one hundred years before our visit, and, after studying for the Church, adopted medicine as his profession. He served a short time with a doctor at Selkirk, before completing his course at the University of Edinburgh, and sailed in 1792 for the East Indies in the service of the East India Company. Later he joined an association for the promotion of discovery in Africa, and in 1795 he explored the basin of the Niger. In 1798 he was in London, and in 1801 began practice as a doctor in Peebles. He told Sir Walter Scott, after passing through one of the severe winters in Peebleshire, that he would rather return to the wilds of Africa than pass another winter there. He returned to London in December 1803 to sail with another expedition, but its departure was delayed for a short time, so he again visited Peebles, and astonished the people there by bringing with him a black man named "Sidi Omback Boubi," who was to be his tutor in Arabic. Meantime, in 1779, he had published a book entitled Travels in the Interior of Africa, which caused a profound sensation at the time on account of the wonderful stories it contained of adventures in what was then an unknown part of the world. This book of "Adventures of Mungo Park" was highly popular and extensively read throughout the country, by ourselves amongst the rest.


It was not until January 29th, 1805, that the expedition left Spithead, and before Mungo Park left Peebles he rode over to Clovenfords, where Sir Walter Scott was then residing, to stay a night with him at Ashestiel. On the following morning Sir Walter accompanied him a short distance on the return journey, and when they were parting where a small ditch divided the moor from the road Park's horse stumbled a little. Sir Walter said, "I am afraid, Mungo, that is a bad omen," to which Park replied, smiling, "Friets (omens) follow those that look for them," and so they parted for ever. In company with his friends Anderson and Scott he explored the rivers Gambia and Niger, but his friends died, and Dr. Park himself was murdered by hostile natives who attacked his canoe in the River Niger.

Quite near our lodgings was the house where this famous African traveller lived and practised blood-letting as a surgeon, and where dreams of the tent in which he was once a prisoner and of dark faces came to him at night, while the door at which his horse was tethered as he went to see Sir Walter Scott, and the window out of which he put his head when knocked up in the night, were all shown as objects of interest to visitors. Mungo had at least one strange patient, and that was the Black Dwarf, David Ritchie, who lies buried close to the gate in the old churchyard. This was a horrid-looking creature, who paraded the country as a privileged beggar. He affected to be a judge of female beauty, and there was a hole in the wall of his cottage through which the fair maidens had to look, a rose being passed through if his fantastic fancies were pleased; but if not, the tiny window was closed in their faces. He was known to Sir Walter Scott, who adopted his name in one of his novels, The Bowed Davie of the Windus. His cottage, which was practically in the same state as at the period of David Ritchie's death, bore a tablet showing that it had been restored by the great Edinburgh publishers W. and R. Chambers, who were natives of Peebles, and worded: "In memory D.R., died 1811. W. and R. Chambers, 1845."

Dr. Pennicuick, who flourished A.D. 1652-1722, had written:

Peebles, the Metropolis of the shire,

Six times three praises doth from me require;

Three streets, three ports, three bridges, it adorn,

And three old steeples by three churches borne,

Three mills to serve the town in time of need.

On Peebles water, and on River Tweed,

Their arms are proper, and point forth their meaning,

Three salmon fishes nimbly counter swimming;

but there were other "Threes" connected with Peebles both before and after the doctor's time: "The Three Tales of the Three Priests of Peebles," supposed to have been told about the year 1460 before a blazing fire at the "Virgin Inn."

There were also the Three Hopes buried in the churchyard, whose tombstone records:

Here lie three Hopes enclosed within,

Death's prisoners by Adam's sin;

Yet rest in hope that they shall be

Set by the Second Adam free.

And there were probably other triplets, but when my brother suggested there were also three letter e's in the name of Peebles, I reminded him that it was closing-time, and also bed-time, so we rested that night in an old inn such as Charles Dickens would have been delighted to patronise.

(Distance walked twenty-five miles.)

Tuesday, October 10th.

This was the day of the Great Peebles Fair, and everybody was awake early, including ourselves. We left the "Cross Keys" hotel at six o'clock in the morning, and a very cold one it was, for there had been a sharp frost during the night. The famous old Cross formerly stood near our inn, and the Cross Church close at hand, or rather all that remained of them after the wars. In spite of the somewhat modern appearance of the town, which was probably the result of the business element introduced by the establishment of the woollen factories, Peebles was in reality one of the ancient royal burghs, and formerly an ecclesiastical centre of considerable importance, for in the reign of Alexander III several very old relics were said to have been found, including what was supposed to be a fragment of the true Cross, and with it the calcined bones of St. Nicholas, who suffered in the Roman persecution, A.D. 294. On the strength of these discoveries the king ordered a magnificent church to be erected, which caused Peebles to be a Mecca for pilgrims, who came there from all parts to venerate the relics. The building was known as the Cross Church, where a monastery was founded at the desire of James III in 1473 and attached to the church, in truly Christian spirit, one-third of its revenues being devoted to the redemption of Christian captives who remained in the hands of the Turks after the Crusades.


If we had visited the town in past ages, there would not have been any fair on October 10th, since the Great Fair, called the Beltane Festival, was then held on May Day; but after the finding of the relics it was made the occasion on which to celebrate the "Finding of the Cross," pilgrims and merchants coming from all parts to join the festivities and attend the special celebrations at the Cross Church. On the occasion of a Beltane Fair it was the custom to light a fire on the hill, round which the young people danced and feasted on cakes made of milk and eggs. We thought Beltane was the name of a Sun-god, but it appeared that it was a Gaelic word meaning Bel, or Beal's-fire, and probably originated from the Baal mentioned in Holy Writ.

As our next great object of interest was Abbotsford, the last house inhabited by Sir Walter Scott, our course lay alongside the River Tweed. We were fortunate in seeing the stream at Peebles, which stood at the entrance to one of the most beautiful stretches in the whole of its length of 103 miles, 41 of which lay in Peeblesshire. The twenty miles along which we walked was magnificent river scenery.


We passed many castles and towers and other ancient fortifications along its banks, the first being at Horsburgh, where the castle looked down upon a grass field called the Chapelyards, on which formerly stood the chapel and hospice of the two saints, Leonard and Lawrence. At this hospice pilgrims from England were lodged when on their way to Peebles to attend the feasts of the "Finding of the Cross" and the "Exaltation of the Cross," which were celebrated at Beltane and Roodmass respectively, in the ancient church and monastery of the Holy Cross. It was said that King James I of England on his visits to Peebles was also lodged here, and it is almost certain the Beltane Sports suggested to him his famous poem, "Peebles to the Play," one of its lines being:

Hope Kailzie, and Cardrona, gathered out thickfold,

Singing "Hey ho, rumbelow, the young folks were full bold."

both of which places could be seen from Horsburgh Castle looking across the river.

We saw the Tower of Cardrona, just before entering the considerable village, or town, of Innerleithen at six miles from Peebles, and although the time was so early, we met many people on their way to the fair. Just before reaching Innerleithen we came to a sharp deep bend in the river, which we were informed was known as the "Dirt Pot" owing to its black appearance. At the bottom of this dark depth the silver bells of Peebles were supposed to be lying. We also saw Glennormiston House, the residence of William Chambers, who, with his brother, Robert, founded Chambers's Journal of wide-world fame, and authors, singly and conjointly, of many other volumes. The two brothers were both benefactors to their native town of Peebles, and William became Lord Provost of Edinburgh, and the restorer of its ancient Cathedral of St. Giles's. His brother Robert died earlier in that very year in which we were walking. We reached Innerleithen just as the factory operatives were returning from breakfast to their work at the woollen factories, and they seemed quite a respectable class of people. Here we called at the principal inn for our own breakfast, for which we were quite ready, but we did not know then that Rabbie Burns had been to Innerleithen, where, as he wrote, he had from a jug "a dribble o' drink," or we should have done ourselves the honour of calling at the same place. At Innerleithen we came to another "Bell-tree Field," where the bell hung on the branch of a tree to summon worshippers to church, and there were also some mineral springs which became famous after the publication of Sir Walter Scott's novel, St. Ronan's Well.


Soon after leaving Innerleithen we could see Traquair House towering above the trees by which it was surrounded. Traquair was said to be the oldest inhabited house in Scotland. Sir Walter Scott knew it well, it being quite near to Ashiestiel, where he wrote "The Lay of the Last Minstrel," "Marmion," and "The Lady of the Lake." It was one of the prototypes of "Tully Veolan" in his Waverley. There was no abode in Scotland more quaint and curious than Traquair House, for it was turreted, walled, buttressed, windowed, and loopholed, all as in the days of old. Within were preserved many relics of the storied past and also of royalty. Here was the bed on which Queen Mary slept in 1566; here also the oaken cradle of the infant King James VI. The library was rich in valuable and rare books and MSS. and service books of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries in beautiful penmanship upon fine vellum. The magnificent avenue was grass-grown, the gates had not been opened for many years, while the pillars of the gateway were adorned with two huge bears standing erect and bearing the motto: "Judge Nocht." Magnificent woods adorned the grounds, remains of the once-famous forest of Ettrick, said to be the old classical forest of Caledon of the days of King Arthur.

Here was also Flora Hill, with its beautiful woods, where Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, lays the scene of his exquisite poem "Kilmeny" in theQueen's Wake, where—

Bonnie Kilmeny gae'd up the Glen,

But it wisna to meet Duneira's men, etc.

Through beautiful scenery we continued alongside the Tweed, and noticed that even the rooks could not do without breakfast, for they were busy in a potato field. We were amused to see them fly away on our approach, some of them with potatoes in their mouths, and, like other thieves, looking quite guilty.

Presently we came to a solitary fisherman standing knee-deep in the river, with whom we had a short conversation. He said he was fishing for salmon, which ascended the river from Berwick about that time of the year and returned in May. We were rather amused at his mentioning the return journey, as from the frantic efforts he was making to catch the fish he was doing his best to prevent them from coming back again. He told us he had been fishing there since daylight that morning, and had caught nothing. By way of sympathy my brother told him a story of two young men who walked sixteen miles over the hills to fish in a stream. They stayed that night at the nearest inn, and started out very early the next morning. When they got back to the hotel at night they wrote the following verse in the visitors' book:

Hickory dickory dock!

We began at six o'clock,

We fished till night without a bite.

Hickory dickory dock!

This was a description, he said, of real fishermen's luck, but whether the absence of the "bite" referred to the fishermen or to the fish was not quite clear. It had been known to apply to both.

Proceeding further we met a gentleman walking along the road, of whom we made inquiries about the country we were passing through. He told us that the castle we could see across the river was named "Muckle Mouthed Meg." A certain man in ancient times, having offended against the laws, was given a choice for a sentence by the King of Scotland—-either he must marry Muckle Mouthed Meg, a woman with a very large mouth, or suffer death. He chose the first, and the pair lived together in the old castle for some years. We told him we were walking from John o' Groat's to Land's End, but when he said he had passed John o' Groat's in the train, we had considerable doubts as to the accuracy of his statements, for there was no railway at all in the County of Caithness in which John o' Groat's was situated. We therefore made further inquiries about the old castle, and were informed that the proper name of it was Elibank Castle, and that it once belonged to Sir Gideon Murray, who one night caught young Willie Scott of Oakwood Tower trying to "lift the kye." The lowing of the cattle roused him up, and with his retainers he drove off the marauders, while his lady watched the fight from the battlement of the Tower. Willie, or, to be more correct, Sir William Scott, Junr., was caught and put in the dungeon. Sir Gideon Murray decided to hang him, but his lady interposed: "Would ye hang the winsome Laird o' Harden," she said, "when ye hae three ill-favoured daughters to marry?" Sir Willie was one of the handsomest men of his time, and when the men brought the rope to hang him he was given the option of marrying Muckle Mou'd Meg or of being hanged with a "hempen halter." It was said that when he first saw Meg he said he preferred to be hanged, but he found she improved on closer acquaintance, and so in three days' time a clergyman said, "Wilt thou take this woman here present to be thy lawful wife?" knowing full well what the answer must be. Short of other materials, the marriage contract was written with a goose quill on the parchment head of a drum. Sir William found that Meg made him a very good wife in spite of her wide mouth, and they lived happily together, the moral being, we supposed, that it is not always the prettiest girl that makes the best wife.

Shortly afterwards we left the River Tweed for a time while we walked across the hills to Galashiels, and on our way to that town we came to a railway station near which were some large vineries. A carriage was standing at the entrance to the gardens, where two gentlemen were buying some fine bunches of grapes which we could easily have disposed of, for we were getting rather hungry, but as they did not give us the chance, we walked on. Galashiels was formerly only a village, the "shiels" meaning shelters for sheep, but it had risen to importance owing to its woollen factories. It was now a burgh, boasting a coat-of-arms on which was represented a plum-tree with a fox on either side, and the motto, "Sour plums of Galashiels." The origin of this was an incident that occurred in 1337, in the time of Edward III, when some Englishmen who were retreating stopped here to eat some wild plums. While they were so engaged they were attacked by a party of Scots with swords, who killed every one of them, throwing their bodies into a trench afterwards known as the "Englishman's Syke." We passed a road leading off to the left to Stow, where King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table were said to have defeated the Heathens. We left Galashiels by the Melrose Road, and, after walking about a mile and a half, we turned aside to cross the River Tweed, not by a ferry, as that was against our rule, but by a railway bridge. No doubt this was against the railway company's by-laws and regulations, but it served our purpose, and we soon reached Abbotsford, that fine mansion, once the residence of the great Sir Walter Scott, the king of novelists, on the building of which he had spent a great amount of money, and the place of his death September 21st, 1832.


Abbotsford, including the gardens, park, walks and woods, was all his own creation, and was so named by him because the River Tweed was crossed at that point by the monks on their way to and from Melrose Abbey in the olden times.


We found the house in splendid condition and the garden just as Sir Walter had left it. We were shown through the hall, study, library, and drawing-room, and even his last suit of clothes, with his white beaver hat, was carefully preserved under a glass case. We saw much armour, the largest suit belonging formerly to Sir John Cheney, the biggest man who fought at the battle of Bosworth Field. The collection of arms gathered out of all ages and countries was said to be the finest in the world, including Rob Roy Macgregor's gun, sword, and dirk, the Marquis of Montrose's sword, and the rifle of Andreas Hofer the Tyrolese patriot.

Amongst these great curios was the small pocket-knife used by Sir Walter when he was a boy. We were shown the presents given to him from all parts of the kingdom, and from abroad, including an ebony suite of furniture presented to him by King George IV. There were many portraits and busts of himself, and his wife and children, including a marble bust of himself by Chantrey, the great sculptor, carved in the year 1820. The other portraits included one of Queen Elizabeth, another of Rob Roy; a painting of Queen Mary's head, after it had been cut off at Fotheringay, and a print of Stothard's Canterbury Pilgrims. We also saw an iron box in which Queen Mary kept her money for the poor, and near this was her crucifix. In fact, the place reminded us of some great museum, for there were numberless relics of antiquity stored in every nook and corner, and in the most unlikely places. We were sorry we had not time to stay and take a longer survey, for the mansion and its surroundings form one of the great sights of Scotland, whose people revere the memory of the great man who lived there.


The declining days of Sir Walter were not without sickness and sorrow, for he had spent all the money obtained by the sale of his books on this palatial mansion. After a long illness, and as a last resource, he was taken to Italy; but while there he had another apoplectic attack, and was brought home again, only just in time to die. He expressed a wish that Lockhart, his son-in-law, should read to him, and when asked from what book, he answered, "Need you ask? There is but one." He chose the fourteenth chapter of St. John's Gospel, and when it was ended, he said, "Well, this is a great comfort: I have followed you distinctly, and I feel as if I were yet to be myself again." In an interval of consciousness he said, "Lockhart! I may have but a minute to speak to you, my dear; be a good man, be virtuous, be religious, be a good man. Nothing else will give you any comfort when you come to lie here."

A friend who was present at the death of Sir Walter wrote: "It was a beautiful day—so warm that every window was wide open, and so perfectly still that the sound of all others most delicious to his ear, the gentle ripple of the Tweed over its pebbles, was distinctly audible—as we kneeled around his bed, and his eldest son kissed and closed his eyes." We could imagine the wish that would echo in more than one mind as Sir Walter's soul departed, perhaps through one of the open windows, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his."

So coldly sweet, so deadly fair,

We start, for soul is wanting there;

It is the loneliness in death

That parts not quite with parting breath,

But beauty with that fearful bloom,

The hue which haunts it to the tomb,

Expression's last receding ray;

A gilded halo hov'ring round decay.


We passed slowly through the garden and grounds, and when we reached the road along which Sir Walter Scott had so often walked, we hurried on to see the old abbey of Melrose, which was founded by King David I. On our way we passed a large hydropathic establishment and an asylum not quite completed, and on reaching Melrose we called at one of the inns for tea, where we read a description by Sir Walter of his "flitting" from Ashiestiel, his former residence, to his grand house at Abbotsford. The flitting took place at Whitsuntide in 1812, so, as he died in 1832, he must have lived at Abbotsford about twenty years. He was a great collector of curios, and wrote a letter describing the comical scene which took place on that occasion. "The neighbours," he wrote, "have been very much delighted with the procession of furniture, in which old swords, bows, targets, and lances made a very conspicuous show. A family of turkeys was accommodated within the helmet of some preux chevalier of ancient Border fame, and the very cows, for aught I know, were bearing banners and muskets. I assure you that this caravan, attended by a dozen ragged, rosy, peasant children carrying fishing-rods and spears, and leading ponies, greyhounds, and spaniels, would, as it crossed the Tweed, have furnished no bad subject for the pencil."


Melrose Abbey was said to afford the finest specimen of Gothic architecture and Gothic sculpture of which Scotland could boast, and the stone of which it had been built, though it had resisted the weather for many ages, retained perfect sharpness, so that even the most minute ornaments seemed as entire as when they had been newly wrought. In some of the cloisters there were representations of flowers, leaves, and vegetables carved in stone with "accuracy and precision so delicate that it almost made visitors distrust their senses when they considered the difficulty of subjecting so hard a substance to such intricate and exquisite modulation." This superb convent was dedicated to St. Mary, and the monks were of the Cistercian Order, of whom the poet wrote:

Oh, the monks of Melrose made gude kail (broth)

On Fridays when they fasted;

Nor wanted they gude beef and ale,

So lang's their neighbours' lasted.

There were one hundred monks at Melrose in the year 1542, and it was supposed that in earlier times much of the carving had been done by monks under strong religious influences. The rose predominated amongst the carved flowers, as it was the abbot's favourite flower, emblematic of the locality from which the abbey took its name. The curly green, or kale, which grew in nearly every garden in Scotland, was a very difficult plant to sculpture, but was so delicately executed here as to resemble exactly the natural leaf; and there was a curious gargoyle representing a pig playing on the bagpipes, so this instrument must have been of far more ancient origin than we had supposed when we noticed its absence from the instruments recorded as having been played when Mary Queen of Scots was serenaded in Edinburgh on her arrival in Scotland.


Under the high altar were buried the remains of Alexander II, the dust of Douglas the hero of Otterburn, and others of his illustrious and heroic race, as well as the remains of Sir Michael Scott. Here too was buried the heart of King Robert the Bruce. It appeared that Bruce told his son that he wished to have his heart buried at Melrose; but when he was ready to die and his friends were assembled round his bedside, he confessed to them that in his passion he had killed Comyn with his own hand, before the altar, and had intended, had he lived, to make war on the Saracens, who held the Holy Land, for the evil deeds he had done. He requested his dearest friend, Lord James Douglas, to carry his heart to Jerusalem and bury it there. Douglas wept bitterly, but as soon as the king was dead he had his heart taken from his body, embalmed, and enclosed in a silver case which he had made for it, and wore it suspended from his neck by a string of silk and gold. With some of the bravest men in Scotland he set out for Jerusalem, but, landing in Spain, they were persuaded to take part in a battle there against the Saracens. Douglas, seeing one of his friends being hard pressed by the enemy, went to his assistance and became surrounded by the Moors himself. Seeing no chance of escape, he took from his neck the heart of Bruce, and speaking to it as he would have done to Bruce if alive, said, "Pass first in the fight as thou wert wont to do, and Douglas will follow thee or die." With these words he threw the king's heart among the enemy, and rushing forward to the place where it fell, was there slain, and his body was found lying on the silver case. Most of the Scots were slain in this battle with the Moors, and they that remained alive returned to Scotland, the charge of Bruce's heart being entrusted to Sir Simon Lockhard of Lee, who afterwards for his device bore on his shield a man's heart with a padlock upon it, in memory of Bruce's heart which was padlocked in the silver case. For this reason, also, Sir Simon's name was changed from Lockhard to Lockheart, and Bruce's heart was buried in accordance with his original desire at Melrose.

Sir Michael Scott of Balwearie, who also lies buried in the abbey, flourished in the thirteenth century. His great learning, chiefly acquired in foreign countries, together with an identity in name, had given rise to a certain confusion, among the earlier historians, between him and Michael Scott the "wondrous wizard and magician" referred to by Dante in Canto xxmo of the "Inferno." Michael Scott studied such abstruse subjects as judicial astrology, alchemy, physiognomy, and chiromancy, and his commentary on Aristotle was considered to be of such a high order that it was printed in Venice in 1496. Sir Walter Scott referred to Michael Scott:

The wondrous Michael Scott

A wizard, of such dreaded fame,

That when in Salamanca's Cave

Him listed his magic wand to wave

The bells would ring in Notre Dame,

and he explained the origin of this by relating the story that Michael on one occasion when in Spain was sent as an Ambassador to the King of France to obtain some concessions, but instead of going in great state, as usual on those occasions, he evoked the services of a demon in the shape of a huge black horse, forcing it to fly through the air to Paris. The king was rather offended at his coming in such an unceremonious manner, and was about to give him a contemptuous refusal when Scott asked him to defer his decision until his horse had stamped its foot three times. The first stamp shook every church in Paris, causing all the bells to ring; the second threw down three of the towers of the palace; and when the infernal steed had lifted up his hoof for the third time, the king stopped him by promising Michael the most ample concessions.

A modern writer, commenting upon this story, says, "There is something uncanny about the Celts which makes them love a Trinity of ideas, and the old stories of the Welsh collected in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries include a story very similar about Kilhwch, cousin to Arthur, who threatens if he cannot have what he wants that he will set up three shouts than which none were ever heard more deadly and which will be heard from Pengwaed in Cornwall to Dinsol in the North and Ergair Oerful in Ireland. The Triads show the method best and furnish many examples, quoting the following:

Three things are best when hung—salt fish, a wet hat, and an Englishman.

Three things are difficult to get—gold from the miser, love from the devil, and courtesy from the Englishman.

The three hardest things—a granite block, a miser's barley loaf, and an Englishman's heart.

But perhaps the best known is one translated long ago from the Welsh:

A woman, a dog, and a walnut tree,

The more they are beaten, the better they be.

But to return to Michael Scott. Another strange story about Michael was his adventure with the witch of Falschope. To avenge himself upon her for striking him suddenly with his own wand whereby he was transformed for a time and assumed the appearance of a hare, Michael sent his man with two greyhounds to the house where the witch lived, to ask the old lady to give him a bit of bread for the greyhounds; if she refused he was to place a piece of paper, which he handed to him, over the top of the house door. The witch gave the man a curt refusal, and so he fastened the paper, on which were some words, including, "Michael Scott's man sought meat and gat nane," as directed. This acted as a spell, and the old witch, who was making cakes for the reapers then at work in the corn, now began to dance round the fire (which, as usual in those days, was burning in the middle of the room) and to sing the words:

"Maister Michael Scott's man

Sought meat and gat nane."

and she had to continue thus until the spell was broken. Meantime, her husband and the reapers who were with him were wondering why the cakes had not reached them, so the old man sent one of the reapers to inquire the reason. As soon as he went through the door he was caught by the spell and so had to perform the same antics as his mistress. As he did not return, the husband sent man after man until he was alone, and then went himself. But, knowing all about the quarrel between Michael and his wife, and having seen the wizard on the hill, he was rather more cautious than his men, so, instead of going through the door, he looked through the window. There he saw the reapers dragging his wife, who had become quite exhausted, sometimes round, and sometimes through the fire, singing the chorus as they did so. He at once saddled his horse and rode as fast as he could to find Michael, who good-naturedly granted his request, and directed him to enter his house backwards, removing the paper from above the door with his left hand as he went in. The old man lost no time in returning home, where he found them all still dancing furiously and singing the same rhyme; but immediately he entered, the supernatural performance ended, very much, we imagine, to the relief of all concerned.

Michael Scott was at one time, it was said, much embarrassed by a spirit for whom he had to find constant employment, and amongst other work he commanded him to build a dam or other weir across the River Tweed at Kelso. He completed that in a single night. Michael next ordered him to divide the summit of the Eildon Hill in three parts; but as this stupendous work was also completed in one night, he was at his wits' end what work to find him to do next. At last he bethought himself of a job that would find him constant employment. He sent him to the seashore and employed him at the hopeless and endless task of making ropes of sand there, which as fast as he made them were washed away by the tides. The three peaks of Eildon Hill, of nearly equal height, are still to be seen. Magnificent views are to be obtained from their tops, which Sir Walter Scott often frequented and of which he wrote, "I can stand on the Eildon and point out forty-three places famous in war and in verse."

Another legend connected with these hills was that in the "Eildon caverns vast" a cave existed where the British King Arthur and his famous Knights of the Round Table lie asleep waiting the blast of the bugle which will recall them from Fairyland to lead the British on to a victory that will ensure a united and glorious Empire. King Arthur has a number of burial-places of the same character, according to local stories both in England and Wales, and even one in Cheshire at Alderley Edge, close By the "Wizard Inn," which title refers to the story.


Melrose and district has been hallowed by the influence and memory of Sir Walter Scott, who was to Melrose what Shakespeare was to Stratford-on-Avon, and he has invested the old abbey with an additional halo of interest by his "Lay of the Last Minstrel," a copy of which we saw for the first time at the inn where we called for tea. We were greatly interested, as it related to the neighbourhood we were about to pass through in particular, and we were quite captivated with its opening lines, which appealed so strongly to wayfarers like ourselves:

The way was long, the wind was cold.

The Minstrel was infirm and old;

His wither'd cheek, and tresses gray,

Seem'd to have known a better day;

The harp, his sole remaining joy,

Was carried by an orphan boy.

The last of all the Bards was he,

Who sung of Border chivalry.

We were now nearing the Borders of Scotland and England, where this Border warfare formerly raged for centuries. The desperadoes engaged in it on the Scottish side were known as Moss-troopers, any of whom when caught by the English were taken to Carlisle and hanged near there at a place called Hairibee. Those who claimed the "benefit of clergy" were allowed to repeat in Latin the "Miserere mei," at the beginning of the 51st Psalm, before they were executed, this becoming known as the "neck-verse."

William of Deloraine was one of the most desperate Moss-troopers ever engaged in Border warfare, but he, according to Sir Walter Scott:

By wily turns, by desperate bounds,

Had baffled Percy's best blood-hounds;

In Eske or Liddel, fords were none,

But he would ride them, one by one;

Steady of heart, and stout of hand.

As ever drove prey from Cumberland;

Five times outlawed had he been,

By England's King, and Scotland's Queen.

When Sir Michael Scott was buried in Melrose Abbey his Mystic Book—which no one was ever to see except the Chief of Branxholm, and then only in the time of need—was buried with him. Branxholm Tower was about eighteen miles from Melrose and situated in the vale of Cheviot. After the death of Lord Walter (who had been killed in the Border warfare), a gathering of the kinsmen of the great Buccleuch was held there, and the "Ladye Margaret" left the company, retiring laden with sorrow and her impending troubles to her bower. It was a fine moonlight night when—

From amid the arméd train

She called to her, William of Deloraine.

and sent him for the mighty book to Melrose Abbey which was to relieve her of all her troubles.

"Sir William of Deloraine, good at need,

Mount thee on the wightest steed;

Spare not to spur, nor stint to ride.

Until thou come to fair Tweedside;

And in Melrose's holy pile

Seek thou the Monk of St. Mary's aisle.

Greet the Father well from me;

Say that the fated hour is come,

And to-night he shall watch with thee,

To win the treasure of the tomb:

For this will be St. Michael's night,

And, though stars be dim, the moon is bright;

And the Cross, of bloody red,

Will point to the grave of the mighty dead.

"What he gives thee, see thou keep;

Stay not thou for food or sleep:

Be it scroll, or be it book,

Into it, Knight, thou must not look;

If thou readest, thou art lorn!

Better had'st thou ne'er been born."—

"O swiftly can speed my dapple-grey steed,

Which drinks of the Teviot clear;

Ere break of day," the Warrior 'gan say,

"Again will I be here:

And safer by none may thy errand be done,

Than, noble dame, by me;

Letter nor line know I never a one,

Wer't my neck-verse at Hairibee."

Deloraine lost no time in carrying out his Ladye's wishes, and rode furiously on his horse to Melrose Abbey in order to be there by midnight, and as described in Sir Walter Scott's "Lay of the Last Minstrel":

Short halt did Deloraine make there;

Little reck'd he of the scene so fair

With dagger's hilt, on the wicket strong,

He struck full loud, and struck full long.

The porter hurried to the gate—

"Who knocks so loud, and knocks so late?"

"From Branksome I," the warrior cried;

And straight the wicket open'd wide

For Branksome's Chiefs had in battle stood,

To fence the rights of fair Melrose;

And lands and livings, many a rood,

Had gifted the Shrine for their souls' repose.

Bold Deloraine his errand said;

The porter bent his humble head;

With torch in hand, and feet unshod.

And noiseless step, the path he trod.

The archèd cloister, far and wide,

Rang to the warrior's clanking stride,

Till, stooping low his lofty crest,

He enter'd the cell of the ancient priest,

And lifted his barred aventayle,

To hail the Monk of St. Mary's aisle.

"The Ladye of Branksome greets thee by me,

Says, that the fated hour is come,

And that to-night I shall watch with thee,

To win the treasure of the tomb."

From sackcloth couch the Monk arose,

With toil his stiffen'd limbs he rear'd;

A hundred years had flung their snows

On his thin locks and floating beard.

And strangely on the Knight look'd he,

And his blue eyes gleam'd wild and wide;

"And, darest thou, Warrior! seek to see

What heaven and hell alike would hide?

My breast, in belt of iron pent,

With shirt of hair and scourge of thorn;

For threescore years, in penance spent.

My knees those flinty stones have worn;

Yet all too little to atone

For knowing what should ne'er be known.

Would'st thou thy every future year

In ceaseless prayer and penance drie,

Yet wait thy latter end with fear

Then, daring Warrior, follow me!"

"Penance, father, will I none;

Prayer know I hardly one;

For mass or prayer can I rarely tarry,

Save to patter an Ave Mary,

When I ride on a Border foray.

Other prayer can I none;

So speed me my errand, and let me be gone."

Again on the Knight look'd the Churchman old,

And again he sighed heavily;

For he had himself been a warrior bold.

And fought in Spain and Italy.

And he thought on the days that were long since by,

When his limbs were strong, and his courage was high—

Now, slow and faint, he led the way,

Where, cloister'd round, the garden lay;

The pillar'd arches were over their head,

And beneath their feet were the bones of the dead.

The moon on the east oriel shone

Through slender shafts of shapely stone,

The silver light, so pale and faint,

Shew'd many a prophet, and many a saint,

Whose image on the glass was dyed;

Full in the midst, his Cross of Red

Triumphal Michael brandished,

And trampled the Apostate's pride.

The moon beam kiss'd the holy pane,

And threw on the pavement a bloody stain.

They sate them down on a marble stone,—

(A Scottish monarch slept below;)

Thus spoke the Monk, in solemn tone—

"I was not always a man of woe;

For Paynim countries I have trod,

And fought beneath the Cross of God:

Now, strange to my eyes thine arms appear.

And their iron clang sounds strange to my ear.

"In these far climes it was my lot

To meet the wondrous Michael Scott;

Some of his skill he taught to me;

And, Warrior, I could say to thee

The words that cleft Eildon hills in three,

And bridled the Tweed with a curb of stone:

But to speak them were a deadly sin;

And for having but thought them my heart within,

A treble penance must be done.

"When Michael lay on his dying bed,

His conscience was awakened

He bethought him of his sinful deed,

And he gave me a sign to come with speed.

I was in Spain when the morning rose,

But I stood by his bed ere evening close.

The words may not again be said

That he spoke to me, on death-bed laid;

They would rend this Abbaye's massy nave,

And pile it in heaps above his grave.

"I swore to bury his Mighty Book,

That never mortal might therein look;

And never to tell where it was hid,

Save at his Chief of Branksome's need:

And when that need was past and o'er,

Again the volume to restore.

I buried him on St. Michael's night,

When the bell toll'd one, and the moon was bright,

And I dug his chamber among the dead,

When the floor of the chancel was stained red,

That his patron's cross might over him wave,

And scare the fiends from the Wizard's grave.

"It was a night of woe and dread,

When Michael in the tomb I laid!

Strange sounds along the chancel pass'd,

The banners waved without a blast"—

Still spoke the Monk, when the bell toll'd one!—

I tell you, that a braver man

Than William of Deloraine, good at need,

Against a foe ne'er spurr'd a steed;

Yet somewhat was he chill'd with dread,

And his hair did bristle upon his head.

"Lo, Warrior! now, the Cross of Red

Points to the grave of the mighty dead;

Within it burns a wondrous light,

To chase the spirits that love the night:

That lamp shall burn unquenchably,

Until the eternal doom shall be."—

Slow moved the Monk to the broad flag-stone,

Which the bloody Cross was traced upon:

He pointed to a secret nook;

An iron bar the Warrior took;

And the Monk made a sign with his wither'd hand,

The grave's huge portal to expand.

With beating heart to the task he went;

His sinewy frame o'er the grave-stone bent;

With bar of iron heaved amain,

Till the toil-drops fell from his brows, like rain.

It was by dint of passing strength,

That he moved the massy stone at length.

I would you had been there, to see

How the light broke forth so gloriously,

Stream'd upward to the chancel roof,

And through the galleries far aloof!

No earthly flame blazed e'er so bright:

It shone like heaven's own blessed light,

And, issuing from the tomb,

Show'd the Monk's cowl, and visage pale,

Danced on the dark-brow'd Warrior's mail,

And kiss'd his waving plume.

Before their eyes the Wizard lay,

As if he had not been dead a day.

His hoary beard in silver roll'd.

He seem'd some seventy winters old;

A palmer's amice wrapp'd him round,

With a wrought Spanish baldric bound,

Like a pilgrim from beyond the sea:

His left hand held his Book of Might;

A silver cross was in his right;

The lamp was placed beside his knee:

High and majestic was his look,

At which the fellest fiends had shook.

And all unruffled was his face:

They trusted his soul had gotten grace.

Often had William of Deloraine

Rode through the battle's bloody plain,

And trampled down the warriors slain,

And neither known remorse nor awe;

Yet now remorse and awe he own'd;

His breath came thick, his head swam round.

When this strange scene of death he saw.

Bewilder'd and unnerved he stood.

And the priest pray'd fervently and loud:

With eyes averted prayed he;

He might not endure the sight to see.

Of the man he had loved so brotherly.

And when the priest his death-prayer had pray'd,

Thus unto Deloraine he said:—

"Now, speed thee what thou hast to do,

Or, Warrior, we may dearly rue;

For those, thou may'st not look upon,

Are gathering fast round the yawning stone!"—

Then Deloraine, in terror, took

From the cold hand the Mighty Book,

With iron clasp'd, and with iron bound:

He thought, as he took it, the dead man frown'd;

But the glare of the sepulchral light,

Perchance, had dazzled the Warrior's sight.

When the huge stone sunk o'er the tomb.

The night return'd in double gloom;

For the moon had gone down, and the stars were few;

And, as the Knight and Priest withdrew.

With wavering steps and dizzy brain,

They hardly might the postern gain.

'Tis said, as through the aisles they pass'd,

They heard strange noises on the blast;

And through the cloister-galleries small,

Which at mid-height thread the chancel wall,

Loud sobs, and laughter louder, ran,

And voices unlike the voices of man;

As if the fiends kept holiday,

Because these spells were brought to day.

I cannot tell how the truth may be;

I say the tale as 'twas said to me.

"Now, hie thee hence," the Father said,

"And when we are on death-bed laid,

O may our dear Ladye, and sweet St. John,

Forgive our souls for the deed we have done!"—

The Monk return'd him to his cell,

And many a prayer and penance sped;

When the convent met at the noontide bell—

The Monk of St. Mary's aisle was dead!

Before the cross was the body laid,

With hands clasp'd fast, as if still he pray'd.

What became of Sir William Deloraine and the wonderful book on his return journey we had no time to read that evening, but we afterwards learned he fell into the hands of the terrible Black Dwarf. We had decided to walk to Hawick if possible, although we were rather reluctant to leave Melrose. We had had one good tea on entering the town, and my brother suggested having another before leaving it, so after visiting the graveyard of the abbey, where the following curious epitaph appeared on one of the stones, we returned to the inn, where the people were highly amused at seeing us return so soon and for such a purpose:

The earth goeth to the earth

Glist'ring like gold;

The earth goeth to the earth

Sooner than it wold;

The earth builds on the earth

Castles and Towers;

The earth says to the earth,

All shall be ours.

Still, we were quite ready for our second tea, and wondered whether there was any exercise that gave people a better appetite and a greater joy in appeasing it than walking, especially in the clear and sharp air of Scotland, for we were nearly always extremely hungry after an hour or two's walk. When the tea was served, I noticed that my brother lingered over it longer than usual, and when I reminded him that the night would soon be on us, he said he did not want to leave before dark, as he wanted to see how the old abbey appeared at night, quoting Sir Walter Scott as the reason why:

If thou would'st view fair Melrose aright,

Go visit it by the pale moonlight;

For the gay beams of lightsome day

Gild, but to flout, the ruins grey.

When the broken arches are black in night,

And each shafted oriel glimmers white;

When the cold light's uncertain shower

Streams on the ruin'd central tower;

When buttress and buttress, alternately,

Seem framed of ebon and ivory;

When silver edges the imagery.

And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die;

When distant Tweed is heard to rave,

And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave,

Then go—but go alone the while—

Then view St. David's ruin'd pile;

And, home returning, soothly swear.

Was ever scene so sad and fair?

I reminded my brother that there would be no moon visible that night, and that it would therefore be impossible to see the old abbey "by the pale moonlight"; but he said the starlight would do just as well for him, so we had to wait until one or two stars made their appearance, and then departed, calling at a shop to make a few small purchases as we passed on our way. The path alongside the abbey was entirely deserted. Though so near the town there was scarcely a sound to be heard, not even "the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave." Although we had no moonlight, the stars were shining brightly through the ruined arches which had once been filled with stained glass, representing the figures "of many a prophet and many a saint." It was a beautiful sight that remained in our memories long after other scenes had been forgotten.

According to the Koran there were four archangels: Azrael, the angel of death; Azrafil, who was to sound the trumpet at the resurrection; Gabriel, the angel of revelations, who wrote down the divine decrees; and Michael, the champion, who fought the battles of faith,—and it was this Michael whose figure Sir Walter Scott described as appearing full in the midst of the east oriel window "with his Cross of bloody red," which in the light of the moon shone on the floor of the abbey and "pointed to the grave of the mighty dead" into which the Monk and William of Deloraine had to descend to secure possession of the "Mighty Book."

After passing the old abbey and the shade of the walls and trees to find our way to the narrow and rough road along which we had to travel towards Hawick, we halted for a few moments at the side of the road to arrange the contents of our bags, in order to make room for the small purchases we had made in the town. We had almost completed the readjustment when we heard the heavy footsteps of a man approaching, who passed us walking along the road we were about to follow. My brother asked him if he was going far that way, to which he replied, "A goodish bit," so we said we should be glad of his company; but he walked on without speaking to us further. We pushed the remaining things in our bags as quickly as possible, and hurried on after him. As we did not overtake him, we stood still and listened attentively, though fruitlessly, for not a footstep could we hear. We then accelerated our pace to what was known as the "Irishman's Trig"—a peculiar step, quicker than a walk, but slower than a run—and after going some distance we stopped again to listen; but the only sound we could hear was the barking of a solitary dog a long distance away. This was very provoking, as we wanted to get some information about our road, which, besides being rough, was both hilly and very lonely, and more in the nature of a track than a road. Where the man could have disappeared to was a mystery on a road apparently without any offshoots, so we concluded he must have thought we contemplated doing him some bodily harm, and had either "bolted" or "clapp'd," as my brother described it, behind some rock or bush, in which case he must have felt relieved and perhaps amused when he heard us "trigging" past him on the road.


We continued along the lonely road without his company, with the ghostly Eildon Hills on one side and the moors on the other, until after walking steadily onwards for a few miles, we heard the roar of a mountain stream in the distance. When we reached it we were horrified to find it running right across our road. It looked awful in the dark, as it was quite deep, and although we could just see where our road emerged from the stream on the other side, it was quite impossible for us to cross in the dark. We could see a few lights some distance beyond the stream, but it was useless to attempt to call for help, since our voices could not be heard above the noise of the torrent. Our position seemed almost hopeless, until my brother said he thought he had seen a shed or a small house behind a gate some distance before coming to the stream. We resolved to turn back, and luckily we discovered it to be a small lodge guarding the entrance to a private road. We knocked at the door of the house, which was in darkness, the people having evidently gone to bed. Presently a woman asked what was wanted, and when we told her we could not get across the stream, she said there was a footbridge near by, which we had not seen in the dark, and told us how to find it a little higher up the stream. Needless to relate, we were very pleased when we got across the bridge, and we measured the distance across that turbulent stream in fifteen long strides.

We soon reached the lights we had seen, and found a small village, where at the inn we got some strange lodgings, and slept that night in a bed of a most curious construction, as it was in a dark place under the stairs, entered by a door from the parlour. But it was clean and comfortable, and we were delighted to make use of it after our long walk.

(Distance walked thirty miles.)

Wednesday, October 11th.

We had been warned when we retired to rest that it was most likely we should be wakened early in the morning by people coming down the stairs, and advised to take no notice of them, as no one would interfere with us or our belongings. We were not surprised, therefore, when we were aroused early by heavy footsteps immediately over our heads, which we supposed were those of the landlord as he came down the stairs. We had slept soundly, and, since there was little chance of any further slumber, we decided to get up and look round, the village before breakfast. We had to use the parlour as a dressing-room, and not knowing who might be coming down the stairs next, we dressed ourselves as quickly as possible. We found that the village was called Lilliesleaf, which we thought a pretty name, though we were informed it had been spelt in twenty-seven different ways, while the stream we came to in the night was known by the incongruous name of Ale Water. The lodge we had gone back to for information as to the means of crossing was the East Gate guarding one of the entrances to Riddell, a very ancient place where Sir Walter Scott had recorded the unearthing of two graves of special interest, one containing an earthen pot filled with ashes and arms, and bearing the legible date of 729, and the other dated 936, filled with the bones of a man of gigantic size.

A local historian wrote of the Ale Water that "it is one thing to see it on a summer day when it can be crossed by the stepping-stones, and another when heavy rains have fallen in the autumn—then it is a strong, deep current and carries branches and even trees on its surface, the ford at Riddell East Gate being impassable, and it is only then that we can appreciate the scene." It seemed a strange coincidence that we should be travelling on the same track but in the opposite direction as that pursued by William Deloraine, and that we should have crossed the Ale Water about a fortnight later in the year, as Sir Walter described him in his "Lay" as riding along the wooded path when "green hazels o'er his basnet nod," which indicated the month of September.

Unchallenged, thence pass'd Deloraine,

To ancient Riddell's fair domain,

Where Aill, from mountain freed,

Down from the lakes did raving come;

Each wave was crested with tawny foam,

Like the mane of a chestnut steed.

In vain! no torrent, deep or broad.

Might bar the bold moss-trooper's road.

At the first plunge the horse sunk low,

And the water broke o'er the saddlebow;

Above the foaming tide, I ween,

Scarce half the charger's neck was seen;

For he was barded from counter to tail,

And the rider was armed complete in mail;

Never heavier man and horse

Stemm'd a midnight torrent's force.

The warrior's very plume, I say

Was daggled by the dashing spray;

Yet, through good heart, and Our Ladye's grace,

At length he gain'd the landing place.

What would have become of ourselves if we had attempted to cross the treacherous stream in the dark of the previous night we did not know, but we were sure we should have risked our lives had we made the attempt.

We were only able to explore the churchyard at Lilliesleaf, as the church was not open at that early hour in the morning. We copied a curious inscription from one of the old stones there:

Near this stone we lifeless lie

No more the things of earth to spy,

But we shall leave this dusty bed

When Christ appears to judge the dead.

For He shall come in glory great

And in the air shall have His seat

And call all men before His throne.

Rewarding all as they have done.

We were served with a prodigious breakfast at the inn to match, as we supposed, the big appetites prevailing in the North, and then we resumed our walk towards Hawick, meeting on our way the children coming to the school at Lilliesleaf, some indeed quite a long way from their destination. In about four miles we reached Hassendean and the River Teviot, for we were now in Teviot Dale, along which we were to walk, following the river nearly to its source in the hills above. The old kirk of Hassendean had been dismantled in 1693, but its burial-ground continued to be used until 1795, when an ice-flood swept away all vestiges both of the old kirk and the churchyard. It was of this disaster that Leyden, the poet and orientalist, who was born in 1775 at the pretty village of Denholm close by, wrote the following lines:

By fancy wrapt, where tombs are crusted grey,

I seem by moon-illumined graves to stray,

Where now a mouldering pile is faintly seen—

The old deserted church of Hassendean,

Where slept my fathers in their natal clay

Till Teviot waters rolled their bones away.


Leyden was a great friend of Sir Walter Scott, whom he helped to gather materials for his "Border Minstrelsie," and was referred to in his novel of St. Ronan's Well as "a lamp too early quenched." In 1811 he went to India with Lord Minto, who was at that time Governor-General, as his interpreter, for Leyden was a great linguist. He died of fever caused by looking through some old infected manuscripts at Batavia on the coast of Java. Sir Walter had written a long letter to him which was returned owing to his death. He also referred to him in hisLord of the Isles:

His bright and brief career is o'er,

And mute his tuneful strains;

Quench'd is his lamp of varied lore,

That loved the light of song to pour;

A distant and a deadly shore

Has Leyden's cold remains.

The Minto estate adjoined Hassenden, and the country around it was very beautiful, embracing the Minto Hills or Crags, Minto House, and a castle rejoicing, as we thought, in the queer name of "Fatlips."

The walk to the top of Minto Crags was very pleasant, but in olden times no stranger dared venture there, as the Outlaw Brownhills was in possession, and had hewn himself out of the rock an almost inaccessible platform on one of the crags still known as "Brownhills' Bed" from which he could see all the roads below. Woe betide the unsuspecting traveller who happened to fall into his hands!


But we must not forget Deloraine, for after receiving instructions from the "Ladye of Branksome"—

Soon in the saddle sate he fast,

And soon the steep descent he past,

Soon cross'd the sounding barbican.

And soon the Teviot side he won.

Eastward the wooded path he rode.

Green hazels o'er his basnet nod;

He passed the Peel of Goldieland,

And crossed old Borthwick's roaring strand;

Dimly he view'd the Moat-hill's mound.

Where Druid shades still flitted round;

In Hawick twinkled many a light;

Behind him soon they set in night;

And soon he spurr'd his courser keen

Beneath the tower of Hazeldean.

The clattering hoofs the watchmen mark;—

"Stand, ho! thou courier of the dark."—

"For Branksome, ho!" the knight rejoin'd.

And left the friendly tower behind.

He turn'd him now from Tiviotside,

And, guided by the tinkling rill,

Northward the dark ascent did ride.

And gained the moor at Horsliehill;

Broad on the left before him lay,

For many a mile, the Roman Way.

A moment now he slacked his speed,

A moment breathed his panting steed;

Drew saddle-girth and corslet-band,

And loosen'd in the sheath his brand.

On Minto-crags the moonbeams glint,

Where Barnhills hew'd his bed of flint;

Who flung his outlaw'd limbs to rest,

Where falcons hang their giddy nest

Mid cliffs, from whence his eagle eye

For many a league his prey could spy;

Cliffs, doubling, on their echoes borne,

The terrors of the robber's horn!

We passed through a cultivated country on the verge of the moors, where we saw some good farms, one farmer telling us he had 900 acres of arable land with some moorland in addition. He was superintending the gathering of a good crop of fine potatoes, which he told us were "Protestant Rocks." He was highly amused when one of us suggested to the other that they might just have suited a country parson we knew in England who would not have the best variety of potatoes, called "Radicals," planted in his garden because he did not like the name. He was further amused when we innocently asked him the best way to reach Hawick, pronouncing the name in two syllables which sounded like Hay-wick, while the local pronunciation was "Hoike." However, we soon reached that town and had a twelve-o'clock lunch at one of the inns, where we heard something of the principal annual event of the town, the "Common Riding," the occasion on which the officials rode round the boundaries. There was an artificial mound in the town called the "Mote-Hill," formerly used by the Druids. It was to the top of this hill the cornet and his followers ascended at sunrise on the day of the festival, after which they adjourned to a platform specially erected in the town, to sing the Common Riding Song. We could not obtain a copy of this, but we were fortunate in obtaining one for the next town we were to visit—Langholm—which proved to be the last on our walk through Scotland. From what we could learn, the ceremony at Hawick seemed very like the walking of the parish boundaries in England, a custom which was there slowly becoming obsolete. We could only remember attending one of these ceremonies, and that was in Cheshire. The people of the adjoining parish walked their boundaries on the same day, so we were bound to meet them at some point en route, and a free fight, fanned by calling at sundry public-houses, was generally the result. The greatest danger-zone lay where a stream formed the boundary between the two parishes, at a point traversed by a culvert or small tunnel through a lofty embankment supporting a canal which crossed a small valley. This boundary was, of course, common to both parishes, and representatives of each were expected to pass through it to maintain their rights, so that it became a matter of some anxiety as to which of the boundary walkers would reach it first, or whether that would be the point where both parties would meet. We remembered coming to a full stop when we reached one entrance to the small tunnel, while the scouts ascended the embankment to see if the enemy were in sight on the other side; but as they reported favourably, we decided that two of our party should walk through the culvert, while the others went round by the roads to the other end. There was a fair amount of water passing through at that time, so they were very wet on emerging from the opposite end, and it was impossible for the men to walk upright, the contracted position in which they were compelled to walk making the passage very difficult. What would have happened if the opposition had come up while our boundary walkers were in the tunnel we could only surmise.

Hawick is in Roxburghshire and was joined on to Wilton at a house called the Salt Hall, or the "Saut Ha'," as it is pronounced in Scotch, where a tragedy took place in the year 1758. The tenant of the Hall at that time was a man named Rea, whose wife had committed suicide by cutting her throat. In those days it was the custom to bury suicides at the dead of night where the laird's lands met, usually a very lonely corner, and a stake was driven through the body of the corpse; but from some cause or other the authorities allowed "Jenny Saut Ha'," as she was commonly called, to be buried in the churchyard. This was considered by many people to be an outrage, and the body was disinterred at night, and the coffin placed against the Saut Ha' door, where Rea was confronted with it next morning. There was a sharp contest between the Church authorities and the public, and the body was once more interred in the churchyard, but only to fall on Rea when he opened his door the next morning. The authorities were then compelled to yield to the popular clamour, and the corpse found a temporary resting-place in a remote corner of Wilton Common; but the minister ultimately triumphed, and Jenny was again buried in the churchyard, there to rest for all time in peace.


We had now joined the old coach road from London to Edinburgh, a stone on the bridge informing us that that city was fifty miles distant. We turned towards London, and as we were leaving the town we asked three men, who had evidently tramped a long distance, what sort of a road it was to Langholm, our next stage. They informed us that it was twenty-three miles to that town, that the road was a good one, but we should not be able to get a drink the whole way, for "there wasn't a single public-house on the road."

Presently, however, we reached a turnpike gate across our road, and as there was some fruit exhibited for sale in the window of the toll-house we went inside, and found the mistress working at her spinning-wheel, making a kind of worsted out of which she made stockings. We bought as much fruit from her as the limited space in our bags allowed, and had a chat with her about the stocking trade, which was the staple industry of Hawick. She told us there were about 800 people employed in that business, and that they went out on strike on the Monday previous, but with an advance in their wages had gone in again that morning.

The stockings were now made by machines, but were formerly all made by hand. The inventor of the first machine was a young man who had fallen deeply in love with a young woman, who, like most others living thereabouts at that time, got her living by making stockings. When he proposed to her, she would not have him, because she knew another young man she liked better. He then told her if she would not marry him he would make a machine that would make stockings and throw her out of work and ruin them all. But the girl decided to remain true to the young man she loved best, and was presently married to him.


The disappointed lover then set to work, and, after much thought and labour, succeeded in making a stocking machine; and although it created a great stir in Hawick, where all three were well known, it did not throw any one out of work, but was so improved upon with the result that more stockings were made and sold at Hawick than ever before!

We thanked the old lady for her story, and, bidding her good-bye, went on our way. Presently we came to the ruins of a castle standing near the road which a clergyman informed us was Goldielands Tower, mentioned with Harden by Sir Walter Scott in the "Lay of the Last Minstrel." He told us that a little farther on our way we should also see Branxholm, another place referred to by Scott. Although we were on the look out for Branxholm, we passed without recognising it, as it resembled a large family mansion more than the old tower we had expected it to be.


It was astonishing what a number of miles we walked in Scotland without finding anything of any value on the roads. A gentleman told us he once found a threepenny bit on the road near a village where he happened to be staying at the inn. When his find became known in the village, it created quite a sensation amongst the inhabitants, owing to the "siller" having fallen into the hands of a "Saxon," and he gravely added to the information that one-half of the people went in mourning and that it was even mentioned in the kirk as the "awfu'" waste that had occurred in the parish!

We were not so lucky as to find a silver coin, but had the good fortune to find something of more importance in the shape of a love-letter which some one had lost on the road, and which supplied us with food for thought and words for expression, quite cheering us up as we marched along our lonely road. As Kate and John now belong to a past generation, we consider ourselves absolved from any breach of confidence and give a facsimile of the letter. The envelope was not addressed, so possibly John might have intended sending it by messenger, or Kate might have received it and lost it on the road, which would perhaps be the more likely thing to happen. We wondered whether the meeting ever came off.


Shortly after passing Branxholm, and near the point where the Allan Water joined the River Teviot, we turned to visit what we had been informed was in the time of King Charles I a hiding place for the people known as Covenanters. These were Scottish Presbyterians, who in 1638, to resist that king's encroachments on their religious liberty, formed a "Solemn League," followed in 1643 by an international Solemn League and Covenant "between England and Scotland to secure both civil and religious liberty." These early Covenanters were subjected to great persecution, consequently their meetings were held in the most lonely places—on the moors, in the glens, and on the wild mountain sides. We climbed up through a wood and found the meeting-place in the ruins of a tower—commonly said to have been built by the Romans, though we doubted it—the remains of which consisted of an archway a few yard longs and a few yards square, surrounded by three trenches. It occupied a very strong position, and standing upon it we could see a hill a short distance away on the top of which was a heap of stones marking the spot where a bon-fire was lit and a flag reared when Queen Victoria drove along the road below, a few years before our visit.

In former times in this part of Scotland there seemed to have been a bard, poet, or minstrel in every village, and they appeared to have been numerous enough to settle their differences, and sometimes themselves, by fighting for supremacy, for it was at Bradhaugh near here that a deadly combat took place in 1627 between William Henderson, known as "Rattling Roaring Willie," and Robert Rule, another Border minstrel, in which, according to an old ballad, Willie slew his opponent, for—

Rob Roole, he handled rude.

And Willie left Newmill's banks

Red-wat wi' Robin's blude.


At Teviothead our road parted company with the River Teviot, which forked away to the right, its source being only about six miles farther up the hills from that point. In the churchyard at Teviothead, Henry Scott Riddell, the author of Scotland Yet, had only recently been buried. Near here also was Caerlanrig, where the murder of Johnnie Armstrong of Gilnockie, a very powerful chief who levied blackmail along the Border from Esk to Tyne, or practically the whole length of Hadrian's Wall, took place in 1530. Johnnie was a notorious freebooter and Border raider, no one daring to go his way for fear of Johnnie or his followers. But of him more anon.

The distance from Caerlanrig, where Armstrong was executed, to Gilnockie Tower, where he resided, was about seventeen miles, and we had to follow, though in the opposite direction and a better surfaced road, the same lonely and romantic track that he traversed on that occasion. It formed a pass between the hills, and for the first seven miles the elevations in feet above sea-level on each side of the road were:

To our right:—1193. 1286. 1687. 1950. 1714. 1317. 1446.

To our left:—1156. 1595. 1620. 1761. 1741. 1242. 1209.

The distance between the summits as the crow flies was only about a mile, while the road maintained an altitude above the sea of from five to eight hundred feet, so that we had a most lonely walk of about thirteen miles before we reached Langholm. The road was a good one, and we were in no danger of missing our way, hemmed in as it was on either side by the hills, which, although treeless, were covered with grass apparently right away to their tops, a novelty to us after the bare and rocky hills we had passed elsewhere. We quite enjoyed our walk, and as we watched the daylight gradually fade away before the approaching shadows of the night, we realised that we were passing through the wildest solitudes. We did not meet one human being until we reached Langholm, and the only habitation we noted before reaching a small village just outside that town was the "Halfway House" between Hawick and Langholm, known in stage-coach days as the "Mosspaul Inn." It was a large house near the entrance to a small glen, but apparently now closed, for we could not see a solitary light nor hear the sound of a human voice.

How different it must have appeared when the stage-coaches were passing up and down that valley, now deserted, for even the railway, which supplanted them, had passed it by on the other side! In imagination we could hear the sound of the horn, echoing in the mountains, heralding the approach of the stage-coach, with its great lamp in front, and could see a light in almost every window in the hotel. We could picture mine host and his wife standing at the open door ready to receive their visitors, expectant guests assembled behind them in the hall and expectant servants both indoors and out; then staying for the night, refreshing ourselves with the good things provided for supper, and afterwards relating our adventures to a friendly and appreciative audience, finally sinking our weary limbs in the good old-fashioned feather-beds!

But these visions passed away almost as quickly as they appeared, so we left the dark and dreary mansion whose glory had departed, and marched on our way, expecting to find at Langholm that which we so badly needed—food and rest.

The old inn at Mosspaul, where the stage-coaches stopped to change horses, was built at the junction of the counties of Dumfries and Roxburgh, and was very extensive with accommodation for many horses, but fell to ruin after the stage-coaches ceased running. Many notable visitors had patronised it, among others Dorothy Wordsworth, who visited it with her brother the poet in September 1803, and described it in the following graphic terms:

The scene, with this single dwelling, was melancholy and wild, but not dreary, though there was no tree nor shrub: the small streamlet glittered, the hills were populous with sheep, but the gentle bending of the valley, and the correspondent softness in the forms of the hills were of themselves enough to delight the eye.

A good story is told of one of the Armstrongs and the inn:

Once when Lord Kames went for the first time on the Circuit as Advocate-depute, Armstrong of Sorbie inquired of Lord Minto in a whisper "What long black, dour-looking Chiel" that was that they had broc'ht with them?

"That," said his lordship, "is a man come to hang a' the Armstrongs."

"Then," was the dry retort, "it's time the Elliots were ridin'."[Footnote: Elliot was the family name of Lord Minto.]

The effusions of one of the local poets whose district we had passed through had raised our expectations in the following lines:

There's a wee toon on the Borders

That my heart sair langs to see,

Where in youthful days I wander'd,

Knowing every bank and brae;

O'er the hills and through the valleys,

Thro' the woodlands wild and free,

Thro' the narrow straits and loanings,

There my heart sair langs to be.


There was also an old saying, "Out of the world and into Langholm," which seemed very applicable to ourselves, for after a walk of thirty-two and a half miles through a lonely and hilly country, without a solitary house of call for twenty-three, our hungry and weary condition may be imagined when we entered Langholm just on the stroke of eleven o'clock at night.

We went to the Temperance Hotel, but were informed they were full. We called at the other four inns with the same result. Next we appealed to the solitary police officer, who told us curtly that the inns closed at eleven and the lodgings at ten, and marched away without another word. The disappointment and feeling of agony at having to walk farther cannot be described, but there was no help for it, so we shook the dust, or mud, off our feet and turned dejectedly along the Carlisle road.

Just at the end of the town we met a gentleman wearing a top-hat and a frock-coat, so we appealed to him. The hour was too late to find us lodgings, but he said, if we wished to do so, we could shelter in his distillery, which we should come to a little farther on our way. His men would all be in bed, but there was one door that was unlocked and we should find some of the rooms very warm. We thanked him for his kindness and found the door, as he had described, opening into a dark room. We had never been in a distillery before, so we were naturally rather nervous, and as we could not see a yard before us, we lighted one of our candles. We were about to go in search of one of the warmer rooms when the thought occurred to us that our light might attract the attention of some outsider, and in the absence of any written authority from the owner might cause us temporary trouble, while to explore the distillery without a light was out of the question, for we might fall through some trap-door or into a vat, besides which, we could hear a great rush of water in the rear of the premises, so we decided to stay where we were.

The book we had obtained at Hawick contained the following description of the Langholm "Common Riding," which was held each year on July 17th when the people gathered together to feast on barley bannock and red herring, of course washed down with plenteous supplies of the indispensable whisky. The Riding began with the following proclamation in the marketplace, given by a man standing upright on horseback, in the presence of thousands of people:

Gentlemen,—The first thing that I am going to acquaint you with are the names of the Portioners' Ground