Hootlander - Part 7


Glenfinnan and Glencoe

The next day after a hearty breakfast the group heads to Armadale for the ferry to Mallaig. The scenery is captivating and along the way the bus stops at Glenfinnan, a hamlet in the Lochaber area. Hamish explains that it was here in 1745 the Jacobite Rising began, when the Prince Charles Edward Stuart raised his standard on the shore of Loch Shiel…

“Charlie had made it back from France by frigate to Eriskay in the Western Isles, ye see. He then travelled by small boat to Loch nan Uamh just west of Glenfinnan. Here he awaited the arrival of his allies, the MacDonalds, Camerons, Macfies and MacDonnells. To these mustered clans he announced that he claimed the Scottish and English thrones in the name of his father James Stuart, the Old Pretender. On 19 August 1745, he figured he had enough military support, and so he raised his standard to piping by MacPhee's.”

Hamish continues. “In 1815—seventy years after the failed rebellion—Alexander MacDonald of Glenaladale built the 18metre (60feet) Glenfinnan Memorial tower to commemorate the raising of the Stuart Standard. The statue of the Unknown Highlander (Bonnie Prince Charlie) was added in 1835. The National Trust for Scotland takes care of the monument.”

The Outlanders get off the bus and make their way into the visitor centre, gift shop and cafe, and make use of the toilets which they are surprised they have to pay to use.

“Can we go up the tower?” asks Skye.

“Forget it,” replies Hamish. “Anyone with a large girth winnae get through the narrow stair, it's a tight squeeze even if ye are thin.”

“The Bonnie Prince was a real hero to many Scots but he isn't portrayed in a good light in Outlander, ”adds Hamish. “Yet hundreds of Jacobite enthusiasts gather at this tower every year on 19 August to commemorate the '45 and to and honour the Bonnie Prince and his brave Highlanders. The Glenfinnan Gathering celebrates a way of life now long gone. For one day in a year it is almost possible to go back in time to that day in August 1745 when the Prince raised his Standard.”

“Oh it's soooooo romantic, I wish I could be there at the Gathering,” coos Priscilla..

Too soon Hamish has to round up the party and head back out on the road. “We’ll stop in Fort William for lunch,” he announces. Then the rain comes on....and on...and on As the bus nears Fort William, Hamish announces to the Outlanders that Fort William is the wettest place in Britain.

“Mair rain faws here than ony where else in Britain. It's cause o' that muckle big mountain Ben Nevis that you canna see at the moment cause o' a' the rain an mist.”

Fort William is very wet and dreary and the group are glad of a nice bowl of Scotch Broth and wholemeal bread, followed by a hot Scotch pie or Bridie washed down with tea or coffee at Greig’s bakery.

Back on the road the bus speeds along the shores of Loch Linne, with spectacular views to the west, and a mishmash of hotels and guest houses on the east.

“We'll soon be coming tae Glen Coe.” Hamish says. “As ye a' know Glencoe appears in the opening credits o' every Outlander episode. Its brooding grandeur has bin celebrated by poets an' artists and is the scene of the famous Massacre of Glencoe. The Massacre was another episode in the Jacobite wars that preceded the '45.”

“Is there another graveyard of Highlanders?” asks Angus.

“ I don't think so,” replies Hamish, “ But they do run “Massacre Tours' frae the village so ye can see whaur the Campbells murdered the Macdonalds.

“Oh, that could be fun,” says Angus. “Are there massacre re-enactors with weapons and blood?”

“ We dinna hae the time fur that as we hae tae get ye a' tae Glesga the nicht. We'll no be stoppin again until we get tae Doune Castle”

“I think Glen Coe is under-whelming,” says Mrs Finkelstein. “I had such high expectations as I had seen its grandeur on Outlander but when we drove through, there did not seem to be a whole lot to it, just rock and grass, rain and mist”