A few weeks after the last trip we arrived back in Fort William to start our next leg of Round Britain. After a night at the Glen Nevis campsite where we ended our last leg of the journey we set off the next morning. Our first stop as we headed out of town was Inverlochy Castle.
It was built in the 1200s by the Comyns of Badenoch and is said to have been built on the remains of a fort of some sort dating back at least a further five hundred years. The first Battle of Inverlochy was in 1431. Alasdair Carrach won a victory here for Clan Donald against the Earls of Mar and Caithness in their attempt to pacify the Lordship of the Isles in the name of the Scottish monarch. Though Alasdair Carrach’s archers made short work of the royal army, this battle was ultimately a rear guard action in the wake of the debacle of the Battle of Harlaw, which was the beginning of the end for the Lordship. The Second Battle of Inverlochy 1645. Inverlochy Castle last played a part in Scottish history during the Civil Wars of 1642-1649. In 1645, the Campbells under the Earl of Argyll, who was holding it, were defeated by the royalist Marquis of Montrose, a victory that was followed by the wholesale massacre of 1,300 of the Campbell defenders who were taken out of the Castle and put to the sword. Shortly after this the castle was abandoned in favour of a new fortification further down the River Lochy at its mouth where it joins Loch Linnhe. It is said to be one of the most complete remains of a castle from the 1200s. Like many properties in the care of Historic Scotland it is currently closed due to delays in carrying out safety surveys and undertaking repairs.
Thomas Telford constructed the bridge over the river Lochy in 1849 because construction of the road to Arisaig in 1804-1812 increased the traffic to the Mallaig ferries. In 1965 a new bridge was built. On the other side of the bridge is Bla Mor or Corpach Moss. In the droving days it was a rendezvous point for drovers from the small isles, Morar and Arisaig. At Caol a lot of work was underway with the waterside wall as part of a flood protection point. Just before Banavie we passed Neptune’s Staircase, eight locks and 72 feet high, leading up to the Caledonian Canal. We walked past it on the Great Glen Way in 2010. The road then parallels the railway to Mallaig through Corpach, past Loch Eil Outward Bound Centre which has its own station, Fassfern and Kinlocheil. A little further on I had planned to stop at Glenfinnan to photograph the viaduct but the car parks were completely full and we were waved on. The road then descends to Loch Eilt.
We stopped for coffee in Arisaig village. Just at the waterside is the Czech and Slovak memorial. In 1941 the Special Operations Executive (SOE) set up covert training bases in the Arisaig area. Many Czech and Slovak volunteers arrived secretly and were trained before being parachuted into Nazi-occupied areas. The memorial was erected in 2009 to honour them.
By the time we got to Mallaig it was raining very heavily.
In 1841 there were only four families living in Mallaig. The landowner, Lord Lovat had drawn up plans for 16 new crofts in the 1830s and during the 1840s, the population rose from 24 to 134. The fishing industry increased and after the railway was extended from Fort William to Mallaig and a pier built in 1901 its future as a fishing and a ferry port was secured. We found a second-hand bookshop to escape the rain and on the way back to the van, noticed the steam engine in the station. I wondered whether that was why there were so many people at Glenfinnan. We had our lunch by the Silver Sands of Morar where there was a brief lull in the rain.
Then it was time to check into the campsite at Sunnyside Croft and have a walk on the beach.
The following morning was still and sunny. Almost every time we step out of the van we hear a cuckoo calling and house and hedge sparrows, a carrion crow, robins and a goldfinch have been on the grass. In the afternoon we were back on the beach in the good weather.
Tomorrow we are heading to Ardnamurchan.