Chapter 10: Aug 14 - Loch Nevis
August 14th - Loch Nevis . The charm of Scottish scenery is its versatility and certainly none of it could be said to be featureless. Though the Loch of Heaven is only distant a few miles from that of Hell they might be in different worlds. Whereas in our human experience we know very well that Heaven and Hell are ubiquitous and simply depend on our mood of the moment.
Awoke about 5.30. All was quiet as a mill pond and there was a good pink sunrise. Went to sleep again. Rose at 7.15 in the genial sunshine. Was put ashore being landed by Skipper and Maureen on the slippery pier. I wandered along the rocky, pebbly, bouldery shore with here and there grassy patches where sea pinks grow. I revelled in real summer and played chuckie stanes, which is an excellent and most satisfactory sport. To see your well selected disc skim out a hundred yards over the glassy surface of the sea, leaping a dozen invisible hurdles is good. Some call it 'ducks and drakes' expressive enough but inapt as it imputes disaster.
We are anchored just off the heather covered Islet called 'Prince Charlie's Island'. It is well known that he fled to Loch Nevis after his romantic rescue by Flora MacDonald and it is by no means improbable that this island afforded him temporary refuge from the redcoats who in great numbers were searching for him. There was a price of thirty thousand pounds for his capture, but as Sir Walter Scott has so finely said in 'Tales of a Grandfather':-
" .... no individual was found, in a high or low situation, or robbers even, who procured their food at the risk of their lives, who thought for an instant of obtaining opulence at the expense of treachery to the proscribed and miserable fugitive. Such disinterested conduct will reflect honour on the Highlands of Scotland while their mountains shall continue to exist".
Charles Edward Stewart, the only Royal Prince beside Bluff King Hal and Good Queen Bess who ever enjoyed the diminutive, had held old England by the ears for more than a twelvemonth. He had won decisive victories at Prestonpans and Falkirk. He had invaded England as far as Derby. He had the devil's own bad luck at Culloden. Had it not been that he was cursed with the domineering and 'King Can Do No Wrong' ideas of his great grandfather of sainted and tragic memory, we might have had Stewarts on the throne today.
Thanks to a shore adventure of Smab's we made friends with the tenants of Glas Choille, as it turned out much to our advantage. We paid a call on these good friends with whom I had had some slight previous acquaintance and we heard from them of the activities of the neighbourhood, of the great sporting opportunities in Knoydart, how a previous tenant had practically fed the whole population on salmon and trout caught in the Guseran and other streams. How a recent red sunrise had been followed by a gale which blew in all the windows of the laird's mansion and other topics of interest such as the temporary prevalence, not improbability or perhaps possibility of ducks. The lady of the house however bewailed the fact that even if she got a duck she had nothing appropriate to cook it with. Hearing this Smab had a brilliant idea, a flash of genius. She paid our friends a visit of ceremony and took with her a packet of sage and mixed herbs and an onion that happened to lie handy. She returned to the yacht with a duck in her arms, which Maureen is now de-feathering as she sits gracefully poised on the after rail.
From his early morning 'boot' Skipper had brought back white heather and pure white sand from Sandaig Bay. It was natural therefore that engine room hate should for a time give place to holystoning the decks. I cordially agree with the Skipper that a holiday is no holiday unless there is something to be about and doing. For myself I never had an idle moment, though it did not take the useful form of ship shaping. I was deep in a thing I called Colloquy which is destined to remain as much unpublished as the poetical works of Captain Kettle, and yet the little red captain was no slouch neither.
Between times there was some fishing, the 'bucket' being a large dogfish caught by Maureen, a flattie of respectable and edible dimensions and some whiting.
Then we bade our first farewell to Loch Nevis and ran over to Mallaig where with universal regret we put Mollie on the train for the south. We nearly fell off the slippery steps at Mallaig pier and on getting the anchor we fished up another.
We had intended to get south, but at that time of day it was a long haul down to Ardnamurchan and beyond, so we put back to Glas Choille.