One of my strongest memories from when we were here twenty years ago, was of standing in the glen at Glencoe in the Scots mist and seeing one of those F number fighter jets come screaming through the glen- quite low. Then I heard the roar of it. Yes, afterwards. Later we found out that they used this area as training for whatever conflict they were helping out in at the time- Bosnia, I think.
Today the weather was the same- grey, dull and seriously crap for photos. You’ve been warned.
This one was taken at Spean Bridge, on the A82 just north of Fort William. Yep, more mountains. They’re magnificent. There’s also a statue here commemorating the commando forces of WW2- this area was their training ground.
Onto Glencoe. These days the area is all about skiing in the winter and watersports, hiking and mountain activities in the the summer. The history, though, is a lot bleaker than that- and it’s part of what gives the glen its brooding eeriness.
Back in 1692, a group of soldiers led by a Campbell took quarters with the Macdonalds of Glencoe. The Macdonalds and Campbells had found themselves on opposite ends of conflicts over the previous few hundred years- right back to the days of Robert the Bruce.
This time around, the Campbells of Argyll were on the side of government and the Macdonalds were associated with the rebel Jacobite cause. Anyways, the MacDonald clan chief had reluctantly agreed to wear loyalty to the King (William III) in return for a pardon for all the raiding and marauding that had been going on. The only problem being that he went to Inverlochy in Fort William instead of Inverary near Oban to do it. Easy mistake to make…right? On todays good roads the two towns are 70 miles apart, but Scotland in January isn’t an easy place to get around, so he missed his deadline by five days.
He figured that it wouldn’t matter too much- after all, he swore his oath, things would be sweet.
Except that they weren’t. Which is where the Campbells come into it. After staying with the Macdonalds for ten days, Campbell received an order to kill all Macdonalds under 70 years of age at 5am the next morning. So that’s what they set about doing.
There are monuments in town.
It’s one of those places where you don’t know whether it’s the history that makes it so atmospheric or the location…or whether the location somehow makes the history more lyrical.
As dull as the light is, there was still a magnificence in the bleakness.
As you head further south, the mountains make way for the moors- this one is known as Rannoch Moor. It’s a different sort of emptiness here. Just as harsh, but more as if everything has been blown away. Perhaps it has been.
But when the right light hits it, it can be beautiful indeed…
Oh, before I finish up, a quick note on the cottage where we spent the last few nights- Easter Dalziel Cottages.
Located between Inverness and Nairn on a working sheep farm, this little cottage has been cozy, warm, comfortable and quiet.
and the neighbours well behaved…
Off to Stirling Castle tomorrow…no more mountains.