Mary Branson, 23 Langside Avenue, London SW15 5QT
| holiday accommodation waternish
holiday accommodation waternish
holiday accommodation waternish, Self catering western Isles of Scotland, Travel to Scotland, Vacation in Scotland, Family Vacation in Skye, Shooting Lodge
The elongated village of Ballachulish lies at the foot of the glen on the shores of Loch Leven, an arm of Loch Linnhe. Its situation is picturesque enough to activate the most lethargic of cameramen, but in close-up the village is woefully down at heel. The detritus of the abandoned slate quarries – for two centuries the mainstay of employment in the district – scars the landscape; a sharp reminder of the need for restoration if the land is not to be littered with industrial graveyards ones the oil-boom is spent.
Much to the delight of the thousands of motorists who have fumed and fretted in long summer queues at the ferry, a bridge now spans the narrows to North Ballachulish. But there was something fitting about having to pause in order to gain access to Lochaber, and be ferried across water before breaching the frontier of ‘the land of the mountain and the flood.’ The bridge is al ong overdue necessity, but the little ferry at Ballachulish had an offbeat charm all of its own.
It was from ‘Balichelie’ on 12 February 1692 that Major Duncanson, an officer of scrupulous military exactitude, issued his final instructions to Campbell of Glenlyon; ‘You are hereby ordered to fall upon the Rebels, the MacDonalds fo Glencoe’, the major with brutal candour, in a letter that is preserved in the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, ‘and put all to the sword under sevently, you are to have a special care that the old fox and his sons do upon no account escape your hands, you are to secure all the avenues that no man escape.’
The punctilious Major Duncanson – who was killed on active service in Spain at the siege of Calencia de Alcantara in 1705 – was an officer of the Fort William garrison, a strategically sited military bastion at the southern pivot of the Great Glen.
The old fort was obliterated by the relentless onward march of Victorian technology. All that remains today is the name, apart from the gateway to the fort with was dismantled and rebuilt to become the entrance to Craig Cemetery. Fort William, despite being tightly corseted by hill and loch, has contrived to expand between the steep slopes of Cow Hill and the waters of Loch Linnhe so that it is now the chief commercial and holiday centre of Lochaber.
The town’s High Street is the unlikely springboard to country of so wild a magnificence that even a Petticoat Lane huckster would be lost for words at the sight of it. There is the mighty Mamore range, an ocean of rock rising in crested waves under the massive flank of Ben Nevis, and the lochs and glens of Eil, Arkaig and Garry, magical in the misty, milky, early-morning Lochaber light, creating the illusion of a new-born world awaiting the coming of a wide eyed Adam. And if the perverse old Ben has brought the rainclouds down upon his head, there is always the Bingo Hall in Fort William’s High Street, or – more profitably – the West Highland Museum with its three floors of exhibits.
The town itself is lumbered with a crippling legacy from its Victorian burghers. In their anxiety to attract the railway to Fort William, they were blind to the consequences of allowing the line to follow the shore of Loch Linnhe to the pier at the south end of the town; a miscalculation in the aesthetics of town-planning equivalent to converting the canals of Venice into an inner ring-road system. Access to the shore is effectively blocked, and succeeding generations have been denied the pleasure of a loch side esplanade fronting Loch Linnhe.
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