Monday, September 22, 2008
A huge number of vessels from Sweden,Norway, the Baltic States and the old Viking area have been spotted North of Fort William.
It has been 735 years, almost to the month since the last Vikings raided Scotland in anger.
Then they were driven off Scotland for ever, with the help of a massive storm breaking up their ships. This was a huge change in Scotland's fortunes, after all the Vikings had dominated the West and East coasts for the previous 400 years. They raided, they killed, they took slaves, and later they settled, married the local women and raised local families, often defending their adopted hosts against other Viking raiders.
Their DNA can be found in the Scottish highland families even to-day. Viking DNA dominates in Orkney people.
But to-days Vikings come in peace. Norwegian, and Swedish ships account for most of the extra third in shipping in to-days Caledonian Canal. The huge geological fault called the Great Glen was formed over 400 million years ago to divide North-west and North-east Scotland. The lochs which were formed were joined up by canals around the 1800's by Thomas Telford.
Loch Ness itself is the deepest and longest loch in Scotland. The canal means that a big distance in very bad waters is taken out of the East coast to West coast shipping route. The cliffs in the far North of Scotland and the islands there are very dangerous. Scapa Flow divides the Orkneys from the mainland and there are hundreds of wrecks buried there from the 2nd world war. The canal starts just a bit North of Fort William, overlooked by the North ridge of Ben Nevis, cuts out all these hazards.
The canal is getting more popular. 20 tall ships came down the canal this year to Liverpool before returning through the canal to Norway. There has been a concerted marketing effort to get more of the Nordic countries shipping through the canal and it seems to have been paying off.
Let us hope we can see more big shipping moving up and down Loch Linnhe, outside Kentallen bay.
Here are some historical pages, covering this region.
Glencoe, one of the official Wonders of Scotland
Walk up and down Ben Nevis in a day
Touring around the Highlands
Local history in the West coast
Ancient trackways of the Highlands still in use to-day
The real truth about the Massacre of Glencoe
Appin is the land of the Stewart Kings
The Vikings in Glencoe, was there a big battle?
The Scottish highlands millions of years ago
Robert the Bruce and the Ardchattan priory parliament
The Knights Templar in Argyll
The battle of Bannockburn and the role of the MacDonalds and Campbells
Help for holidaymakers finding good cottage properties
Self catering properties available for Christmas and the New Year
Scottish tourist board - all Scotland's information in just one page
Scottish Weather misconceptions
Rain in Scotland - the truth