6–8 & 25–28 X 1773 5 VIII 2013


Coire-chat-achan, Corrie of the Wild-cats. The travellers stayed a mile beyond Broadford at “Corrichatachin” (Boswell), or “Coriatachan” (Johnson).

Their hosts, Mr and Mrs MacKinnon, had entertained Pennant, who climbed Beinn na Calliach. They gifted him “a curious specimen of Highland antiquity”, but we never could discover what. Perhaps a portion of the fine bread and butter pudding Boswell enjoyed so much. Boswell notes they have a number of books, including a copy of “Dr Johnson's small Dictionary”; and it’s here that Johnson writes his second Latin poem to the Hebrides, ‘Permeo terra, ubi nuda rupes’, the first stanza of which reads in English translation:

I am travelling through a country where bare rocks and stony ruins alike are clothed in mists, where the grim countryside mocks the crofter’s barren labours.”

Old Corry is long a ruin, one that we recognized in every stone in a very stony field. When Maclaren revisits the site in the 1950s – he knew it from his childhood – he writes, “when I had last seen the house it was a corpse, now it was a ghost”.


Pennant, Thomas, A tour in Scotland. MDCCLXIX (1771)
McLaren, Moray, The Highland Jaunt (1953)
Johnson, Samuel, The Latin Poems (2005)