Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dun Bonnet cave from the inside

Looking south from the cave
Today I finally got back to the Dun Bonnet cave - armed with a camera, tape measure, torch and a fellow guide to ensure I didn't disappear for ever amongst the jumble of rocks. Hauling myself up to the entry I squeezed over the muddy threshold and found myself in a narrow Y-shaped cave, in which I could walk about, though not without difficulty as the 'floor' is comprised of jagged boulders. There are two openings (the other requiring an even more precipitate approach) and what looks like a perfect chimney from which smoke would be difficult to detect. The cave is about 45 foot across and varies from three foot to about seven foot wide. I also discovered that caves are not easy to photograph without proper lighting and a few objects to provide perspective! However some photos looking out worked out OK. Above is the 'other' entrance from the inside and below is the chimney.

For anyone who has not read the previous postings on the Dun Bonnet, this is a cave near Foyers on Loch Ness where James Fraser of Foyers reportedly spent seven years after the Battle of Culloden, evading capture by the redcoats.

If you would like to visit the Dun Bonnet cave or join one of our Outlander Tours, do please get in touch.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

An 18th century farmhouse

Fans of Diana Gabaldon in particular often ask me if they can see an 18th century highland farmhouse. They want to get a picture in their minds of the fictional 'Lally Broch'. There are a few nice old farmhouses near Inverness but they often have very un-eighteenth century additions like dormer windows and conservatories.

But earlier this month I was persuaded by wife and daughter to do a little white water rafting in Perthshire. It was a good day, and both my daughter and I took a dip in the River Tay - a shock for the salmon. Later we went for a hot chocolate right by one of the most perfect early 18th century farmhouses you could wish for. Notice the ridges on the chimney pots to throw the rain out on to the original thatch. The owner told me that initially there were no windows at the back, only at the front.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sgurr nan Gillean

On Friday night I was at the Sligachan Hotel on the Isle of Skye, enjoying a pint or two of Skye Ale, a fine brew, made on the premises. The brewery is new, but there has been drinking on this site since the first Sligachan Market was opened by Col MacLeod of MacLeod on 22 October 1794. This was a traditional 'drovers stance', where about 6,000 cattle were assembled each year, to be sold on to the drovers who would swim them across to the mainland and drive them on to markets in the south. The new Sligachan market attracted a multitude of folk - tacksmen, drovers, cottars, tinkers, factors, ghillies, all enjoying a chance to meet and trade and brag and drink against the backdrop of the noise and stench of cattle, sheep and Skye ponies (sold to work in the Lanarkshire coalfields) all of them unsettled at leaving their home turf.

But now the inn is distinctly civilised. On Saturday it was full of nervous Englishmen, curtailing their climbing to see if England could survive in the Rugby World Cup (they did). I was there with an ex submarine commander friend, for a day's walking in the Cuillins (seen above on a perfect evening last month). All week the weather forecast showed an unusual full sun icon for Saturday, but we set out for Sgurr nan Gillean on a misty wet morning (see October's picture). The day improved and there were some great views over to Raasay and up to Portree and the 'Old Man of Storr'. But the clouds drifted over the tops and we did not feel competent to press on to the famous Cuillin Ridge. It was a thoroughly enjoyable, if exhausting, day. This was about as high as we got (the more rounded 'Red Cuillins' are in the background)...