Saturday Snapshot – Glen Etive

Here are some more photos from our recent holiday in Scotland. They are of Glen Etive in the Highlands. We drove down a little track alongside the River Etive:

River Etive P1000071until we got to Loch Etive:

Loch Etive P1000091Loch Etive is a sea loch and is part of the Rathad Mara Project to transport timber from the forests using a mobile floating pier, now derelict:

Floating Pier Loch Etive P1000090

An interpretation board by the loch side records that Glen Etive was the home of ‘Deirdre of the Sorrows‘, a first century Pictish princess who was betrothed to Conchobar, the High King of Ulster. According to Celtic tales she fled to Scotland to Glen Etive, with her lover Naoise and his two brothers, where she spent a most idyllic and peaceful time. But promised safe conduct and hospitality by Conchobar, they reluctantly leave Etive for Ireland. It ends in tragedy because Conchobar’s promise is broken, Naoise and his brothers are murdered and Deirdre according to one tale kills her self by falling from a chariot, dashing her head against a rock. In another version she simply dies of a broken heart.

Glen Etive Int Bd P1000075For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

 

Scottish Scenes from Our Holiday

Whilst we were on holiday this summer in and around Glencoe we visited Castle Stalker again. We first saw it nearly two years ago at the end of an afternoon as the light was fading. So this time we went in the morning and looked at it from both sides. We were staying at Kentallen near Glencoe – Castle Stalker is on the same road, the A828 between Kentallen and Oban and there is a view point behind the View Cafe. Just a short distance along the road there is another viewpoint via an old lane. This takes you down to the shore of Loch Linnhe:

Castle Stalker 1and here it is in close-up:

Castle Stalker 2When I say we ‘visited’ Castle Stalker it’s not strictly accurate as although it is open to visitors that’s only for five days a year  – and not during the time we were there.

From Castle Stalker we drove on to Oban, which as it was the holiday season was packed. But we walked up the hillside above Oban to McCaig’s Tower overlooking the town and it was much quieter there. It’s not actually a tower but a Roman style Colosseum built over a five year period from 1895 until his death in 1902 by John Stuart McCaig. It was unfinished at the time of his death. He intended it to have a roof and a central tower.

McCaig's Tower from below P1000051

Inside the tower is a garden with spectacular views over the town, the harbour and out to  the islands of KerreraLismore and Mull.

McCaig's Tower P1000034

 

Oban from McCaig's Tower P1000042

I have more photos to show another day of Glen Etive, a beautiful glen in the Central Highlands.

 Saturday Snapshot is a weekly event hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.

The Steel Bonnets by George MacDonald Fraser

The Steel Bonnets 001The full title of this book is The Steel Bonnets: the Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers by George MacDonald Fraser. It’s a detailed account of the Border between England and Scotland up to the accession of James VI’s succession to the English throne in 1603.

The people living in the Borders, both English and Scottish feuded amongst themselves, Scots against Scots, English against English, and Scots against English – robbery, blackmail, raiding, arson, kidnapping, murder and extortion were regular events during that period, amongst a number of families, including Armstrongs, Johnstones, Forsters and Hetheringtons, Elliots, Fenwicks, Bells and Nixons, Littles and Scotts, Maxwells and Kerrs. Some families had both English and Scottish members, making it all very confusing. Fraser searched many sources in compiling this history, including State and Border papers and letters, listed in the Bibliography.

There is a map showing the six Marches that made up the Border – three on each side, East, Middle and West. Each March had its own Warden. It’s not very easy to see on my copy of this map, but it shows the general locations:

Border Marches map

The seamen of the first Elizabeth might sweep the world’s greatest fleet off the seas, but for all the protection she could give to her Northumbrian peasants they might as well have been in Africa. While young Shakespeare wrote his plays, and the monarchs of England and Scotland ruled the comparatively secure hearts of their kingdoms, the narrow hill land between was dominated by the lance and the sword. The tribal leaders from their towers, the broken men and outlaws of the mosses, the ordinary peasants of the valleys, in their own phrase, “Shook loose the Border.” They continued to shake it as long as it was a political reality, practising systematic robbery and destruction on each other. History has christened them the Border Reivers.*

*Reiver, reaver – robber, raider, marauder, plunderer. the term is obsolete, but lingers on in words like bereave. (page 3)

The book is divided into five parts:

  • Part I a brief historical sketch up to 1500 from the Roman period.
  • Part II describing what the Border was like in that century, the people who lived there, who were the leading robber families, how they lived, ate, dressed, built their homes, the games they played (football, the fore-runner of rugby, soccer and American football, horse racing, hawking, hunting, fishing and gambling), and the songs they sang – Border ballads.
  • Part III – about the reivers, how they rode their raids, conducted their feuds etc and the Border Law, and how the March Wardens tried to keep order, what it was like for ordinary folk living in the frontier country.
  • Part IV – historical survey of the reiving century from 1503 – 1603, how the reivers fitted into the history of their time and the part they played in the long-drawn Anglo- Scottish struggle..
  • Part V – how their story ended when England and Scotland came under one king, and the old Border ceased to be.

James became the King of all Britain in 1603:

… he was determined to make one country where there had been two before, to bury the old quarrels, and to keep the peace. (page 360)

Fraser makes the point that whilst James pacified the Borders using a

‘heavy hand and it makes an ugly story’, … ‘at the end of the day he left the old, wild, bloody Border a fit place for ordinary folk to live. If the border riders were harshly dealt with, it is not irrelevant to point out that they had dealt fairly harshly in their time. Undoubtedly injustice and atrocity took place in settling the frontier, but the victims are not to be accounted any nobler just because of that.

It is also wrong to suggest that James was ignorant of Border conditions. He knew a great deal about them, from first-hand experience – certainly more than any occupant of the English throne since Richard III. He may be charged with cruelty, indifference and dishonesty in his attitude to Border affairs, but not with ignorance or stupidity. (pages 360 -361)

It’s taken me since the beginning of December to read this book. I read it slowly in small sections as there is a lot to take in and I found the structure of the book a bit confusing and disjointed, as inevitably it meant that information was repeated. There are a large number of footnotes, which interrupted the flow of the text if I paused to read them – which I did, as they contained much relevant information. I would have preferred it to have been incorporated into the main body of the book.

However, I’m glad I read it – it’s a tour de force, and a mine of information! An ideal book for Read Scotland 2014 if you are interested in the history of the region and/or the families, or like me, you live there.

George MacDonald Fraser (1925 – 2008) was a Scot born in England (Carlisle), a Borderer himself. In 1943 he enlisted in The Border Regiment and served in the Burma Campaign. He was later granted a commission into the Gordon Highlanders. After the War he became a journalist. He was the author of the ‘Flashman‘ books, other novels and movie scripts.

Saturday Snapshots

Today’s Saturday Snapshots are from our visit last week to Polkommet Country Park, West Lothian in Scotland. The Park has some lovely woodland walks alongside the River Almond:

River Almond P1080925Our granddaughter couldn’t resist getting her feet wet:

E & River Almond P1080937 For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshots: Loch Ness

My Saturday Snapshots are some more photos from our last holiday in Scotland. We had been to Inverness and decided to drive back to Coylumbridge along the road following the western shore of Loch Ness. We stopped and went down these steps from the road.Loch Ness steps P1080650It was a calm peaceful scene – no sign of anything on the loch – not a monster in sight.Loch Ness P1080647There are a few interpretation boards by the side of the road above Loch Ness. They are not in very good condition now, a bit dirty, but you can still read them. The one below states that St Columba is said to have seen the monster in the 6th century, that ospreys fish in the loch and that seals sometimes visit chasing salmon and trout. What I didn’t know is that a Wellington bomber had crashed in the loch during a snowstorm in 1940.

Loch Ness Interpr Board P1080651

The next board states that the loch is 38km long and up to 238m deep, rivers feeding into the loch generate hydro-electricity that was first used industrially in 1895 for smelting  aluminium. This board includes information about the Caledonian Canal, which links Inverness in the north to Fort William about 60 miles to the south. The canal, constructed by Thomas Telford and completed in 1822, is really a system of four canals linking to the lochs, one of which is Loch Ness.Loch Ness Interpr Bd P1080653I think it’s time for some new interpretation boards to replace these old and grubby ones!

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads

Saturday Snapshots

This Saturday I’m continuing to post photos from our recent holiday in Scotland.

This is Loch Morlich  is in the Glenmore Forest Park, 300 metres above sea level, between Aviemore and Cairngorm Mountain.

Loch Morlich P1080591

Loch Morlich P1080595

There is a level circular walk around the Loch, which has a Sailing Club. I took the two photos shown above on a wet and cloudy afternoon when there weren’t many people around. I hadn’t expected to find a beach so close to the mountains and about 30 miles from the sea!

Later in the week on a brighter day we went back to Loch Morlich, just a bit further round the shore. This part of the Loch is the home of Loch Morlich Watersports Centre and we arrived just as groups of young people were leaving, so we had the beach to ourselves: :

Loch Morlich P1010773 There is a Beach Cafe:

Loch Morlich watersports 01

Loch Morlich Boathouse Cafe

Loch Morlich is managed by Forestry Commission Scotland and is the first and only fresh water loch to ever have received the Rural Beach Award in Keep Scotland Beautiful’s (KSB) Seaside Award campaign.Loch Morlich watersports 02

Click on the photos to enlarge.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy.

Saturday Snapshots

Last Saturday I posted photos of An Lochan Uaine near the path on our walk through Glenmore Forest Park. Today here are some more photos of our walk  after we left the lochan. The route continued along the Ryvoan Pass on the old Rathad nam Mearlach – or Thieves Road. Cattle raiders used hill tracks like this to move their spoils avoiding the more well-used routes.

As we went gradually up the hill this building came into view:

Bothy1 P1080705

Bothy2P1080706It’s a bothy – see this article explaining what a bothy is. The photo below shows the entrance:

Bothy3P1080709and this is what is inside:

Bothy4P1080710 - Copy

There are some rules:

Bothy rules P1080722It’s a very welcome shelter – especially on a wet, windy day!

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy.