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.
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
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
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.)
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