Sunday, December 14, 2014

Late Night Train from Fort William to Edinburgh

One thing is for certain in Scotland, the trains run on time. We caught the 5:00pm from Fort William to Edinburgh, changing trains in Glasgow's Queen Street Station.

We pass through Town, Villages and Cities on the way, but since it was dark, the lights all looked the same.

The Loud MacLeod took the opportunity to get some beauty rest.

The first stop out of Fort William;

Spean Bridge
Spean Bridge (Scottish Gaelic: Drochaid Aonachain) is a village in the parish of Kilmonivaig, in the Highland region of Scotland.

The village takes its name from the Highbridge over the River Spean on General Wade's military road between Fort William and Fort Augustus, and not from Telford's bridge of 1819 which carries the A82 over the river at the heart of the village.

Lying in the Great Glen, Spean Bridge has transport links north towards Inverness and south to Fort William, provided by the A82, and the A86 heads east to join the A9 at Kingussie. The village is served by the Spean Bridge railway station providing links to Glasgow, London, and Mallaig and between 1903 and 1933 it offered a branch line service to Fort Augustus.

The Highbridge Skirmish on 16 August 1745 was the first engagement of the Jacobite Rising of 1745.

The Commando Memorial, dedicated to the men of the original British Commando Forces raised during Second World War, is located approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) north-west of Spean Bridge, at the junction of the A82 and the B8004. It overlooks the training areas of the Commando Training Depot established in 1942 at Achnacarry Castle.

Lochaber Camanachd is the shinty club based in the village of Spean Bridge.

Roy Bridge
Roybridge (Scottish Gaelic: Drochaid Ruaidh, "the bridge over the Roy") is a small village, that lies at the confluence of the rivers River Roy and River Spean, located 3 miles east of Spean Bridge, in Kilmonivaig Parish,Inverness-shire, Scottish Highlands and is in the Highland administrative area.

Roybridge is on the A86 between Spean Bridge and Newtonmore and on the (former West Highland Railway) line served by trains passing between Crianlarich and Fort William.

Both of the parents of Australia's only recognised saint Mary MacKillop, lived in Roybridge, prior to emigrating to Australia. MacKillop visited Roybridge in the 1870s where the local Catholic church, St Margaret's, now has a shrine to her.

Tulloch railway station is a rural railway station in the remote Tulloch area of the Highland region of Scotland. This station is on the West Highland Line, 105 miles (169 km) north of Glasgow Queen Street.

The station was laid out with two platforms, one on either side of a crossing loop. There are sidings on the north side of the station. When the railway opened in 1894 the station was named Inverlair, after the nearby Inverlair Lodge. The station buildings are now used as a hostel.

Corrour railway station is on the West Highland Line, Scotland. It is situated near Loch Ossian and Loch Treig, on the Corrour Estate. It is the highest mainline railway station in the United Kingdom.

The railway station is one of the most remote stations in the United Kingdom, at an isolated location on Rannoch Moor. The station is not accessible by any public roads – the nearest road is 10 miles (16 km) away. After the failure of previous ventures in this location, the Station House was opened as a restaurant in August 2012. The restaurant is one of the UK's most remote. There are also three en suite letting bedrooms.

At 408 m (1,339 ft) above sea level the station provides a convenient starting point for hill-walkers and Munro-baggers. The station was the starting point for the "Man with no Name" whose body was found in 1996 on Ben Alder and only identified some years later.

Ossian Hostel, one of the most remote youth hostels in Britain, is about one mile from the railway station.

Rannoch Moor (Scottish Gaelic: Mòinteach Raineach/Raithneach) is a large expanse of around 50 square miles (130 km²) of boggy moorland to the west of Loch Rannoch in Scotland, where it extends into Perth and Kinross, Lochaber in Highland, and northern Argyll and Bute. Rannoch Moor is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation.

It is notable for its wildlife, particularly famous for the sole British location for the Rannoch-rush, named after the moor. It was frequently visited by Horace Donisthorpe, who collected many unusual species of ants on the moor and surrounding hilly ground. Today it is still one of the few remaining habitats for Formica exsecta, the "narrow-headed ant", although recent surveys have failed to produce any sign of Formica pratensis, which Donisthorpe recorded in the area in the early part of the 20th century.

Peat deposits pose major difficulties to builders of roads and railways. When the West Highland Line was built across Rannoch Moor, its builders had to float the tracks on a mattress of tree roots, brushwood and thousands of tons of earth and ashes.

The A82 road crosses through Rannoch Moor on its way to Glen Coe and Fort William. Additionally, the West Highland Railway line crosses the moor. The railway rises to over 1300 feet and travels over 23 miles of moorland.

Bridge of Orchy
Bridge of Orchy (Drochaid Urchaidhin Gaelic) is a village in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. Often referred to as a hamlet, the settlement meets a definition of village because it has a church.

Dating back to 1751, it includes a notable tourist hotel. Located at the head of Glen Orchy, it is on the A82 road, has a railway station and is on the West Highland Way long distance path. Nearby prominent peaks include the munros Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dòthaidh. The village itself is in the central highlands.

The eponymous bridge was constructed by Government forces as part of a programme of pacification of the Highland Clans which involved the construction of military roads from the Lowlands into the much wilder upland areas of Scotland. It crosses the River Orchy, one of the finest white-water rivers in the United Kingdom.

Upper Tyndrum
Upper Tyndrum railway station is one of two railway stations serving the small village of Tyndrum in Scotland. It is on the Fort William route of the highly scenic West Highland Line. In 2005/06 it was the least used station on the West Highland Line, probably because of its position up a hill above the village, as opposed to Tyndrum Lower on the Oban branch, which also offers services to and from Crianlarich and destinations to the south (usually at about the same time, as the trains tend to connect at Crianlarich).

Crianlarich has been a major crossroads for north and westbound journeys in Scotland since mediaeval times. In the 1750s, two military roads met in the village; in the 19th century, it became a railway junction on what is now the West Highland Line; in the 20th century it became the meeting point of the major A82 and A85 roads. As such, it is designated a primary destination in Scotland, signposted from as far as Glasgow in the south, Perth in the east, Oban in the west and Fort William in the north.

The village bills itself "the gateway to the Highlands", a not uncommon claim - for example, Callander, Dunoon and Pitlochry also do so.

The village lies in the glen of Strath Fillan at the north western extent of the Trossachs, lying in the shadow of several Munro peaks, notably Ben More, but also Stob Binnein and Cruach Ardrain. Thus Crianlarich is very popular with hillwalkers. Also the village lies halfway along the long distance footpath, the West Highland Way.

Its location makes Crianlarich a popular stop for tourists and there are a variety of types of overnight accommodation including guesthouses, B&Bs a SYHA Youth Hostel and a Best Western hotel.

In 2001, the village had a population of 185.

Ardlui (Àird Laoigh in Gaelic) is a hamlet in Argyll and Bute, Scotland.
It is located at the head of Loch Lomond between Crianlarich and Glasgow. Ardlui railway station is on the West Highland Line between Glasgow Queen Street and Fort William.

Arrochar & Tarbet
Arrochar and Tarbet railway station is a railway station on the West Highland Line in Scotland. It stands between the villages of Arrochar and Tarbet.

Garelochhead (Scots: Garelochheid, Scottish Gaelic: Ceann a' Gheàrr-loch) is a small village on the Gare Loch in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It is the nearest village to the HMNB Clyde naval base.

Garelochhead lies at the head of the Gare Loch, 7 miles (11 km) northwest ofHelensburgh. Loch Lomond is a few miles to the east, and Loch Long to the west.
To some the scenic beauty of the loch is only slightly marred by the presence of the HMNB Clyde submarine base and the associated semi-permanent 'peace camp'. In addition to the few local shops, pubs and churches, it has a bowling club and a Community building at the Gibson Hall.

Garelochhead's 1,265 residents are served by Garelochhead railway station on the West Highland Line and a local bus service running between Coulport and Helensburgh.

Helensburgh Upper
Helensburgh Upper railway station serves the town of Helensburgh, Scotland, on the north shore of the Firth of Clyde to the west of Glasgow. It is located in a residential area uphill from the town centre and is by far the smaller of the town's two stations.

Dumbarton Central
Dumbarton Central railway station serves the town of Dumbarton in the West Dunbartonshire region of Scotland. This station is on the West Highland Line and the North Clyde Line, 15¾ miles (25 km) north west of Glasgow Queen Street.

The station was opened on 15 July 1850 by the Caledonian and Dumbartonshire Junction Railway on their route from Balloch Pier to Bowling, where travellers could join steamships on the River Clyde to get to Glasgow.

Dalmuir railway station is a railway station serving the Dalmuir area of Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. It is a large, five platform interchange between the Argyle Line, North Clyde Line and West Highland Line.

The station is very close to the Dalmuir drop lock on the Forth and Clyde Canal.

The station here (once known as "Dalmuir Park" to distinguish it from the nearby Caledonian Railway station at Dalmuir Riverside) is located on the Glasgow, Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway and opened with the line in May 1858.

Glasgow Queen Street
Glasgow Queen Street (Scottish Gaelic: Glaschu Sràid na Banrighinn) is a railway station in Glasgow, Scotland
, the smaller of the city's two main line railway termini and the third-busiest station in Scotland. It is between George Street to the south and Cathedral Street Bridge to the north, at the northern end of Queen Street adjacent to George Square. Queen Street station serves the Greater Glasgow conurbation's northern towns and suburbs, the Edinburgh shuttle, and is the terminus for all inter-city services to destinations in the North of Scotland.

With over 16 million passenger entries and exits between April 2013 and February 2014, Queen Street is the third busiest station in Scotland.

The station was built by the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway, and opened on 18 February 1842.

The climb through the tunnel to Cowlairs is at 1 in 42 and until 1909 trains were hauled up on a rope operated by a stationary engine, although experiments were carried out using banking engines in 1844-48. In 1928 there was a railway accident causing 3 fatalities when a train leaving the station slipped to a standstill and rolled back into another train. Modern diesel trains have no difficulty with the climb.

We arrive in Edinburgh at Waverly Station near midnight, taxi to Shanda's, a wee dram and off to bed.

Day 17 - Fort William, the Highland Museum and the Train to Edinburgh

We start the day at the Alexandra Hotel and another wonderful Scottish Breakfast,
just in case we hadn't gained enough weight already.

"Resistance is Futile".

We wander down High Street, made for walking and discover the West Highland Museum (

The West Highland Museum is one of the oldest museums in the Highlands. It was founded in 1922 by a group of local enthusiasts led by Victor Hodgson, who had neither a collection nor a building to display it in. In 1925, after several temporary exhibitions and the acquisition of significant collections, the Museum launched a fundraising appeal, and in 1926 purchased the present building, a former branch of the British Linen Bank.

The Museum exists solely to collect, conserve and present items of significance and historical and cultural interest related to the West Highland area.

The collections span a wide range of subjects, from archeology to odern industry, with a special emphasis on the Jacobite risings of the 18th century. They are an independent charity, financed almost entirely by donations.

The first rooms of the Museum are dedicated to the Commandos.

The Commandos were established on the instructions of Prime Minister Winston Churchill immediately after the Dunkirk evacuation in June 1940, as a means of striking back against the German armies occupying Europe. They formed an elite force capable of conducting irregular warfare in a range of different environments and went on to serve with distinction across the globe.

During the war 1,700 Commandos lost their lives, while many others were seriously wounded: and eight men serving with the Commandos were awarded the Victoria Cross.

In 1942 the Commando Basic Training Centre was established at Achnacarry Castle, some six miles north west of the site of the monument. Volunteers would arrive at Spean Bridge railway station, and would then march the seven miles to Achnacarry Castle, past the site on which the monument now stands. Any not completing the march in under an hour immediately failed the course and caught the next train south, back to their units. Training was carried out over large parts of Lochaber and was highly intensive, often using live ammunition.

Achnacarry Castle is the ancestral home of the chiefs of Clan Cameron, located at Achnacarry, about 24 km NE of Fort William, Scotland. The original castle was built around 1655 and destroyed after the Battle of Culloden in 1746; a new house in Scottish baronial style was built nearby in 1802.

Ewen "Eoghainn MacAilein" Cameron, XIII Chief of Clan Cameron, built the highly disputed Tor Castle (said to have been on Clan Mackintosh lands) in the early 16th century. Tor Castle would remain the seat of the Camerons of Lochiel until demolished by his great-great-great grandson, Sir Ewen "Dubh" Cameron, XVII Chief.

Sir Ewen Cameron wanted a "more convenient" house, which was further removed from the Clan Mackintosh, Clan Campbell and Oliver Cromwell's garrison at Inverlochy Castle. He built Achnacarry Castle in around 1655 in a strategic position on the isthmus between Loch Lochy and Loch Arkaig. One of the few remaining descriptions relate that Lochiel's seat was "a large house, all built of fir-planks, the handsomest of that kind in Britain." Sir Ewen's Bard described the home somewhere around 1663 in song as "The generous house of feasting...Pillared hall of princes...Where wine goes round freely in gleaming glasses...Music resounding under its rafters." Others portrayed "old" Achnacarry as a "man's home," with the feel and look of a grand hunting lodge amidst the West Highlands.

With Sir Ewen's death in the early 18th century his son John became chief of the clan, soon after which his son, Donald would obtain Achnacarry when John went into exile in France after the first Jacobite Uprising.

From Donald Cameron ("The Gentle Lochiel") XIX Chief we find the best description of the grounds of Achnacarry. In his marriage contract a requirement was placed in which Lochiel had to build his wife "a the value of 100 pounds sterling at least, with gardens, office houses [privies], lands, other conveniencys." Donald was planting a long line of beech trees near the banks of the River Arkaig when word of "Bonnie Prince Charlie's" landing arrived in would be the last landscaping done at Achnacarry Castle for years to come.

With the Jacobite army's defeat at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746 the clans retreated into the Scottish Highlands, with Donald taking the lead in re-grouping them. After this last attempt at resistance failed, he and his men took to the mountains. On May 28, 1746, Donald watched as men from Bligh's regiment under the command of Lt. Colonel Edward Cornwallis, burnt Achnacarry to the ground. Many valued relics and personal possessions were relocated prior, but the great fir-planked "old" Achnacarry was left in ashes.

In 1802 Achnacarry, which had spent the last fifty or so years in ruin, was rebuilt under Donald Cameron, XXII Chief of Clan Cameron as a Scottish baronial style home, although this "New Achnacarry" is still referred to as a castle.

The current building and the surrounding estate gained fame as the Commando Training Depot
for the Allied Forces from 1942 to 1945. British Commandos, United States Army Rangers and commandos from France, the Netherlands, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Belgium trained there. Each training course culminated in an "opposed landing" exercise around the area of nearby Bunarkaig on Loch Lochy As live ammunition was used, there were some casualties whilst training at Achnacarry. The castle also suffered some damage due to fire.

Several military associations still sponsor a Commando March either annually or from time to time. Generally it is a timed seven mile march, in full battle gear, backpack and combat boots, from Spean Bridge (site of the striking Commando memorial) to Achnacarry.

We move on through the Museum and soon discover the Massacre at Glencoe.

Early in the morning of 13 February 1692, in the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution and the Jacobite uprising of 1689 led by John Graham of Claverhouse, a massacre took place in Glen Coe, in the Highlands of Scotland.

This incident is referred to as the Massacre of Glencoe, or in Scottish Gaelic Mort Ghlinne Comhann (murder of Glen Coe).

We encourage you to watch the documentary ( and listen to the beautiful song by John McDermott (

The order to kill the MacDonald's was signed by,
The massacre began simultaneously in three settlements along the glen, Invercoe, Inverrigan, and Achnacon, although the killing took place all over the glen as fleeing MacDonalds were pursued.

Thirty-eight MacDonalds from the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by the guests who had accepted their hospitality, on the grounds that the MacDonalds had not been prompt in pledging allegiance to the new monarchs, William and Mary.

Another forty women and children died of exposure after their homes were burned.

Leaving the horror of Glencoe, we discover Donn's relative: Simon Fraser, the 11th Lord Lovat.

Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat (1667–1747), was a Scottish Jacobite and Chief of Clan Fraser of
Lovat,who was famous for his violent feuding and his changes of allegiance.

In 1715, he had been a supporter of the House of Hanover, but in 1745 he changed sides and supported the Stuart claim on the crown of the United Kingdom. Lovat was among the Highlanders defeated at the Battle of Culloden and convicted of treason against the Crown. He was the last man in Britain to be publicly beheaded, on Tower Hill, London.

The barony of Lovat dates from about 1460, in the person of Hugh Fraser, a descendant of Simon Fraser (killed at Halidon Hill in 1333) who acquired the tower and fort of Lovat near Beauly, Inverness-shire, and from whom the clan Fraser was called Macshimi (sons of Simon).

Simon was educated at King's College, Aberdeen, and his correspondence afterwards gives proof, not only of a command of good English and idiomatic French, but of such an acquaintance with the Latin classics as to leave him never at a loss for an apt quotation from Virgil or Horace.

Whether Lovat ever felt any real loyalty to the Stuarts or was actuated by self-interest is difficult to determine, but that he was a born traitor and deceiver there can be no doubt.

One of his first acts on leaving college was to recruit three hundred men from his clan to form part of a regiment in the service of William and Mary, in which he himself was to hold a command, his object being to have a body of well-trained soldiers under his influence, whom at a moment's notice he might carry over to the interest of King James.

His older brother, Alexander Fraser, was heir apparent to the barony and served in the army of Viscount Dundee (Claverhouse) at the Battle of Killiecrankie (1689). Soon thereafter, at a feast at Beauly, the piper was playing "Bittack" or "MacThomas", a song which includes the lines "There is a dirk upon Thomas' son rattling and glancing above the band of the breeches, when a knife might very well satisfy him; he has a sword and a shoulder belt, when a straw rope might answer him." Alexander Fraser took this as a personal affront and drew his dirk. While he afterward maintained that he meant only to puncture the piper's bag and stop the music, he fatally stabbed the piper. A Jacobite who had killed a man could expect no leniency from the government of William and Mary, so he fled to Wales and disappeared. With his older brother out of the way, Simon became heir apparent.

Among other outrages in which Simon Fraser was engaged about this time was a rape and forced marriage committed on the widow of the 10th Lord Lovat, with the view apparently of securing his own succession to the estates; and it is a curious instance of influence that, after being subjected by him to horrible ill-usage, she is said to have become seriously attached to him.

A prosecution, however, having been instituted against him by Lady Lovat's family, Simon retired first to his native strongholds in the Highlands, and afterwards to France, where he found his way in July 1702 to the court of St Germain.

In 1699, on his father's death, he inherited the title of Lord Lovat. One of his first steps towards gaining influence in France seems to have been to announce his conversion to Catholicism. He then proceeded to put the project of restoring the exiled family into a practical shape. Hitherto nothing seems to have been known among the Jacobite exiles of the efficiency of the Highlanders as a military force. But Lovat saw that, as they were the only part of the British population accustomed to the independent use of arms, they could be at once put in action against the reigning power. His plan therefore was to land five thousand French troops at Dundee, where they might reach the north-eastern passes of the Highlands in a days march, and be in a position to divert the British troops till the Highlands should have time to rise.

Immediately afterwards five hundred men were to land on the west coast, seize Fort William or Inverlochy, and thus prevent the access of any military force from the south to the central Highlands. The whole scheme indicates Lovat's sagacity as a military strategist, and his plan was continuously kept in view in all future attempts of the Jacobites, and finally acted on in the outbreak of 1745.

The advisers of the Old Pretender seem to have been either slow to trust their coadjutor or to comprehend his project.

At last, however, he was dispatched (1703) on a secret mission to the Highlands to sound out those clan chiefs who were likely to rise, and to ascertain what forces they could bring into the field. He found, however, that there was little disposition to join the rebellion, and he then apparently made up his mind to secure his own safety by revealing all that he knew to the government of Queen Anne. He persuaded the duke of Queensberry that his rival, the duke of Atholl, was in the Jacobite plot, and that if Queensberry supported him he could obtain evidence of this at St Germain. Queensberry foolishly entered into the intrigue with him against Atholl, but when Lovat had gone to France with a pass from Queensberry the affair was betrayed to Atholl by Robert Ferguson, and resulted in Queensberry's discomfiture. The story is obscure, and is complicated by partisanship on either side; but Lovat was certainly playing a double game.

On returning to Paris suspicions got afloat as to Lovat's proceedings, and he was imprisoned in the castle of Angoulême. He remained nearly ten years under supervision, till in November 1714 he made his escape to England.

For some twenty-five years after this he was chiefly occupied in lawsuits for the recovery of his estates and the re-establishment of his fortune, in both of which objects he was successful. The intervals of his leisure were filled with Jacobite and Anti-Jacobite intrigues, in which he seems to have alternately, as suited his interests, acted the traitor to both parties. But he so far obtained the confidence of the government as to secure the appointments of sheriff of Inverness and of colonel of an independent company. His disloyal practices, however, soon led to his being suspected; and he was deprived of both his appointments.

When the rebellion broke out, Lovat acted with characteristic duplicity.

He represented to the Jacobites, what was probably in the main true, that though eager for their success his weak health and advanced years prevented him from joining the standard of the prince in person, while to the Lord President Forbes he professed his cordial attachment to the existing state of things, but lamented that his son, in spite of all his remonstrances, had joined Bonnie Prince Charlie, and succeeded in taking with him a strong force from the clan of the Frasers.

The truth was that the lad was unwilling to go, but was compelled by his father.

Lovat's false professions of fidelity did not long deceive the government, and after the Battle of Culloden he was obliged to retreat to the Highlands, after seeing from a distant height his castle of Dounie burnt by the royal army. Even then, broken down by disease and old age, carried on a litter and unable to move without assistance, his mental resources did not fail; and in a conference with several of the Jacobite leaders he proposed that they should raise a body of three thousand men, which would be enough to make their mountains impregnable, and at length force the government to give them advantageous terms, but the project was not carried out.

Lovat was arrested on an island in Loch Morar. He was conveyed in a litter to London, and after a trial of five days (with evidence given against him by the fellow Jacobite John Murray of Broughton) sentence of death was pronounced on 19 March 1747. He was executed by John Thrift on 9 April 1747, the last man to be beheaded in England.

Shortly before the execution, a scaffold for spectators viewing the beheading had collapsed and left 20 dead, much to his amusement. This became the origin of the saying "laughing your head off".

Just before submitting his head to the block
he repeated the line from Horace: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, "It is sweet and right to die for your country."

The famous etching by William Hogarth shows Lovat awaiting execution in The Tower, counting with his fingers the various Clans that he had brought to his cause and battle to support the Stuart claim to the throne.

As we leave Lord Lovat, we discover the Fairie Pipes, originally played for Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

We leave the Museum and head down High Street for a wee dram and see if we can raise the Clans once more.

Walking upright we're off to the catch the train for Edinburgh.

Sorry for the Delay on the Scottish Blog.

Sorry for the delay in completing the trip blog and to those who posted comments; I just published all comments.

Life is what happens when you're making plans.

Let the Journey continue, on to Day 17.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Day 16 - Leave the Isle of Skye to Fort William

We leave the Dunollie Hotel,

with mixed emotions, we are heading off for a new adventure
, yet leaving our beloved Isle of Skye.

One stop required prior to driving over the bridge that separates Skye for the Mainland.

We drive a short 20 minutes on the Strathaird Peninsula, guarded by the infamous sheep, ready to attack at any moment,

to find Garth Duncan

and see his knives, swords and jewel creations.

Strathaird is a peninsula on the island of Skye, Scotland, situated between Loch Slapin and Loch Scavaig on the south coast.

It is the smallest and least populous of Skye's main peninsulas, containing only the hamlets of Elgol, Kirkibost (where we find Duncan), Kilmarie, Drinan and Glasnakille. The ruins of the Iron Age hill fort Dun Ringill are east of Kirkibost on the shores of Loch Slapin.

The Strathaird peninsula was historically a heartland of Clan Mackinnon and tradition holds that Dun Ringill was once the seat of the clan. The Strathaird Estate was bought by Ian Anderson - a musician in Jethro Tull - in 1978. Anderson started a salmon farming business at Strathaird, which expanded throughout Scotland. The business was reportedly worth over £10 million by the mid 1990s, though much of it has now been sold off.

Garth Duncan is a Master Jeweler and Owner of Duncan House: a Gallery and Workshop ( He once said, ”The objects that our ancestors created and left behind become an inspiration for me. With no written history, the artefacts must speak for them. It’s a direct physical connection to our past, better than words, it’s human hands that created, struggled, lived, and Loved. . I do my very best to honour their memory in every piece I make.“

Back on the highway we leave Skye via the Bridge.

The Skye Bridge (Scottish Gaelic: Drochaid an Eilein Sgitheanaich) is a road bridge over Loch Alsh, Scotland, connecting the Isle of Skye to the island of Eilean Bàn. The name is also used for the whole Skye Crossing, which further connects Eilean Bàn to the mainland across the Carrich Viaduct.

Leaving Skye, we soon reach Eilean Donan Castle and a coffee, etc...break.

Eilean Donan (Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Donnain) is a small tidal island where three lochs meet, Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh; since the castle's restoration in the early 20th Century, a footbridge has connected the island to the mainland. A picturesque castle that lies about 1 kilometre from the village of Dornie.

Eilean Donan, which means simply "island of Donnán", is named after Donnán of Eigg. It is possible that an early Christian monastic cell was founded on the island in the 6th or 7th century, dedicated to Donnán of Eigg, an Irish saint who was martyred on Eigg in April 617. No remains of any Christian buildings survive, though fragments of vitrified stone, subjected to very high temperatures, have been discovered indicating the presence of an Iron Age or early medieval fortification.

The castle was founded in the thirteenth century, and became a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and their allies the Clan Macrae. In the early eighteenth century the Mackenzies' involvement in the Jacobite rebellions led in 1719 to the castle's destruction by government ships. Lieutenant-Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap's twentieth-century reconstruction of the ruins produced the present buildings.

Now it's down the highway to Fort William and overnight at the Alexandra Hotel. On the 2 hour drive from Eilean Donan Castle we drive along side the following Lochs; Loch Duich, Loch Cluanie, Loch Loyne, Loch Garry and finally Loch Lochy
(translation Lake Lakey), I think they were bored when they came to naming this lake.

We enjoy a wonderful meal in the Hotel, try a dram or two and off to bed.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Day 15 - Depart Dunvegan and Look for an Amazon

We pack up and prepare to depart the Laundry Cottage and Dunvegan Castle. We are headed to find the amazon who taught men how to fight.

We stop in for a final breakfast at the Dunvegan Bakery and a visit with the owner, John MacLellan. This was one of our favourite spots on the entire trip.

We stop in again at Drynoch to see if we can get any more information on the home of James F. MacLeod, no luck. We head down the road a wee bit to Carbost.

Carbost (Scottish Gaelic: Carabost) is a village on the south shore of Loch Harport on the Isle of Skye in the Highlands of Scotland and is in the council area of Highland. Carbost becomes a tourist hub in summer months due to the presence of the Talisker Distillery which is also one of the main employers in village along with the local pub, The Old Inn and the award winning local emporium.

Talisker distillery is an Island single malt Scotch whisky distillery based in Carbost, Scotland—the only distillery on the Isle of Skye. The distillery is operated by United Distillers and Vintners for Diageo, and is marketed as part of their Classic Malts series. The brand is sold as a premium whisky.

The distillery was founded in 1830 by Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, and built in 1831 at Carbost
after a number of false starts on other sites when they acquired the lease of Talisker House from the MacLeod of MacLeod. The distillery was rebuilt 1880 - 87 and extended in 1900. When a new lease for the distillery was negotiated with the chief of Clan MacLeod in 1892 the annual payment was to be £23.12s and a ten-gallon cask of best-quality Talisker. It was rebuilt in 1960 after a stillhouse fire completely destroyed the distillery. The distillery operates five stills; two wash stills and three spirit stills. All the stills use worm tubs (condensing coils) rather than a modern condenser, which are believed to give the whisky a "fuller" flavour (itself an indication of higher sugar content).

During this early period, the whisky was produced using a triple distilling method, but changed to the more conventional double distilling in 1928. Talisker was acquired by Distillers Company in 1925 and is now part of Diageo. After the 1960 fire, five exact replicas of the original stills were constructed to preserve the original Talisker flavour. In 1972 the stills were converted to steam heating and the maltings floor was demolished. Talisker’s water comes from springs directly above the distillery via a network of pipes and wells.

The malted barley used in production comes from Muir of Ord. Talisker has an unusual feature—swan neck lye pipes.

A loop in the pipes takes the vapour from the stills to the worm tubs so some of the alcohol already condenses before it reaches the cooler. It then runs back in to the stills and is distilled again. Talisker now has an annual output of three and a half million litres of spirit.

Talisker was the favourite whisky of writers Robert Louis Stevenson and HV Morton. In his poem "The Scotsman's Return From Abroad", Stevenson mentioned "The king o' drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, Islay, or Glenlivet."

We leave Carbost and head off to Broadford and some stops along the way. The next road we drive through the village of Ord, heading for Dunscaith Castle.

Dunscaith Castle also known as Dun Sgathaich Castle, Dun Scaith, and Tokavaig, is a ruined castle on the coast of the Isle of Skye, in the north-west of Scotland. It is located in the Parish of Sleat, in the Highland council area, and in the former county of Inverness-shire. Also called Fortress of Shadows, it is named after and was the home of the warrior maiden Sgathaich, or (more properly) Scáthach.

The castle is featured in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology as the place where Scáthach the Shadow, legendary Scottish warrior woman and martial arts teacher, trained the hero Cú Chulainn in the arts of combat.  The Irish name for the fort, Dun Scathiag, was named after her.

Scáthach, or Sgathaich,
is a figure in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology. She is a legendary Scottish warrior woman andmartial arts teacher who trains the legendary Ulster hero Cú Chulainn in the arts of combat. Texts describe her homeland as Scotland (Alpae); she is especially associated with the Isle of Skye, where her residence Dún Scáith, or "Dun Sgathaich" (Fortress of Shadows), stands. She is called "the Shadow" and "Warrior Maid" and is the rival and sister of Aífe, both daughters of Árd-Greimne of Lethra.

Scáthach's instruction of the young hero Cú Chulainn notably appears in Tochmarc Emire (The Wooing of Emer), an early Irish foretale to the great epic Táin Bó Cúailnge. Here, Cú Chulainn is honour-bound to perform a number of tasks before he is found worthy to marry his beloved Emer, daughter of the chieftain Forgall Monach. The tale survives in two recensions: a short version written mainly in Old Irish and a later, expanded version of the Middle Irish period. In both recensions, Cú Chulainn is sent to Alpae, a term literally meaning "the Alps", but apparently used here to refer to Scotland (otherwise Albu in Irish). Cú Chulainn is sent there with Lóegaire and Conchobor, and in the later version also with Conall Cernach, to receive training from the warrior Domnall (whose hideous daughter falls in love with the hero and when refused, promises revenge). After some time, Domnall assigns them to the care of Scáthach for further training.

Cú Chulainn and his companion Ferdiad travel to Dún Scáith, where Scáthach teaches them feats of arms, and gives Cú Chulainn her deadly spear, the Gáe Bulg. Cú Chulainn begins an affair with Scáthach's daughter Uathach, but accidentally breaks her fingers. She screams, calling her lover Cochar Croibhe to the room. Despite Uathach's protests, he challenges Cú Chulainn to a duel, and Cú Chulainn dispatches him easily. To make it up to Uathach and Scáthach, Cú Chulainn assumes Cochar's duties, and becomes Uathach's lover. Scáthach eventually promises her daughter to him, without requiring the traditional bride price. Scáthach also grants Cú Chulainn the "friendship of her thighs" when his training is almost complete. When her rival, the warrior woman Aífe (Aoife is the modern Irish spelling), threatens her territory, Cú Chulainn defeats her in battle and forces her to make peace. Aífe also sleeps with Cú Chulainn, producing his son Connla, whom Cú Chulainn kills years later - realizing their relation too late.

The castle itself sits on an off-shore rock. The rock rises 40 feet above sea level and there is a gap of 20 feet between the rock and the mainland. The gap was once spanned by a walled bridge with arches 6 feet apart. This stone walled bridge then led onto a drawbridge, the pivot holes for which are still visible on the far side. Once on the other side of the drawbridge a door opened to a flight of stairs which was also sided by two walls. The flight of stairs led up to the castle.

Parts of the castle curtain wall still survive on the cliff edge but most of the inner buildings have gone. The curtain wall was about 5 ft thick. In the courtyard is a well and the remains of a stairway which once led up a tower.

Originally the castle belonged to the Clan MacDonald of Sleat, a branch of the Clan Donald or MacDonald. At some time in the 14th century it was taken from them by the Clan MacLeod and held briefly by the MacAskills, allies of the MacLeods but it was recaptured by the MacDonalds sometime in the 15th century.

In the 15th century the castle was again captured by King James I of Scotland when the Chief of the Clan Donald, Lord of the Isles was broken by King James I. The MacDonalds were allowed to keep possession of the castle. The MacDonalds abandoned the castle in the early 17th century.

Leaving the castle we toast

Scáthach the Shadow
before heading down the road to Broadford where we will stay the night.

Broadford (An t-Àth Leathann in Scottish Gaelic), together with nearby Harrapool, is the second-largest settlement on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, lying on the SW corner of Broadford Bay, on the A87 between Portree and the Skye Bridge. Overlooked by the eastern Cuillins, Broadford is in a beautiful tranquil area as well as having many services available.
Like many places in Skye, Broadford derives its name from Old Norse. To the Vikings this was Breiðafjorðr - the wide bay. The Gaelic name is of modern derivation and assumes that the "ford" element meant a river crossing.

West of Broadford in Glen Suardal, on the lower slopes of Beinn na Caillich, is Goir a' Bhlàir, 'the field of battle' (grid reference NG624234). The battle concerned was apparently a decisive action by the Gaelic Clan Mackinnon against the Vikings.

Broadford was a cattle market until 1812, when Telford built the road from Portree to Kyleakin. Veterans of the Napoleonic Wars settled during the first half of the 19th century. Writing in the middle of the 19th century, Alexander Smith said, "If Portree is the London of Skye, Broadford is its Manchester."

Legend holds that the recipe for the liqueur Drambuie was given by Bonnie Prince Charlie to Clan MacKinnon who then passed it onto James Ross late 19th century. Ross ran the Broadford Inn (now the Broadford Hotel), where he developed and improved the recipe, initially for his friends and then later to patrons. Ross then began to sell it further afield and the name was registered as a trademark in 1893.

In Broadford we stayed at the Dunollie Hotel.

We are told stories of ghosts that live in the hotel and the sightings of these same ghosts by the husband of the reception.

We hear a story about a skirmish that happened on the Totternish Penninsula on the Isle of Skye. A skirmish between the MacLeods and the MacDonalds which led to the MacLeods defeat - the victors decapitated all the bodies and rolled the heads down a hill to the loch below. As the heads rolled, they could be heard chanting 'We almost won today!'

A mantra later adopted by Stephen Carter and the Alberta Party.

After supper we are entertained by a local Scottish accordion player and the bus tour, singing and dancing, a lovely end to the evening.