Saturday, July 22, 2006

Take a Road that Goes Nowhere in the Highlands

All the RTGN are built on ancient trackways used for centuries, usually by drovers moving cattle and sheep to the market in Falkirk. Small communities were built on them. The remnants of these communities are still there and these are the oldest roads in the Highlands. That’s why they are fun. You can feel the past.

They've recently just discovered the ancient village of Daingean near Invergarry. This hamlet was left deserted and overgrown after the infamous "clearances" when landowners got rid of the Highland people to make way for sheep. It was lost for over 100 years.

In olden days, people moved around the Highlands mostly by boat if they were within reach of the coast. But the drovers had to move cattle overland to markets in the South. Droving has a 1,000 year history, and was originated by the Columban monks. These trackways are normally on old drove roads.

Times are to the start of the road from our cottage at Kentallen.

15 mins Cuil bay South of Duror to the right. A short road, just serving farms. Walk on round the shore and you will find the ancient settlement the remains of which are still there. So the map says.

35 mins Gillian’s favourite, Glen Nevis, go right up to the top, and walk up beside the waterfalls. Braveheart was filmed there.

45 mins Ft. William, take Mallaig Road, and after 2 miles at Banavie turn right on the west bank of the Caledonian Canal. Go West side of Loch Lochy then turn on to the

RTGN west to Loch Arkaig. On the way back, watch out for the buzzard which will lead you back up the road.

All day trip This is the secret one. Make sure you’ve got petrol, cakes and a thermos. You are doing old Scotland to-day. Do you know anyone else who has ever seen Loch Hourn? Neither do we. Start at Invergarry, turn left, and keep left when the main road turns off to Skye. You will go through ancient forests, into the hills past Loch Quoich. There are five Munroes over 3,000 feet within three miles of your car. You’ll end up at Kinlochourn. Neat little hamlet, little walk alongside the sea-loch, a winding Norwegian-like fjord. Only the odd fishing boat, the occasional day boat, or tourist boat out of Mallaig go there. No wonder the Vikings ran this area for centuries. They felt at home here. Back the way you came.

John – happy touring
Lochside cottage near Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland
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