1–2 IX 1773
10 VIII 2013


We came backwards to Glenelg, on the Kylerhea ferry, MV Glenachullish, with its celebrity collie, Nak, who herds the traffic. Named after the former Celtic player Shunsuke Nakamura, we first met him on The Road North, and he has his own facebook fan-page. We were lucky enough to see Orla the sea eagle, bride of Victor, high over Cnoc a’ Chomh-ruith.

seeing the sea from the island

seeing the island from the sea

The travellers made the same crossing, Skyeways. For centuries this was the favoured route, and drovers would swim the cattle over the Narrows on their way to the Trysts of Falkirk and Crieff. Vyv Wood-Gee has a blog describing her journey south from Skye, taking a pony over the old drove loans in 2010.

Our friend, Eddie Stiven, happened to be onboard, and he showed us what he thought was the exact site – a few rocks hid by among bracken – of the “damp and dirty” inn where Boswell and Johnson slept, on a pile of hay; the little man on sheets laid by his servant, the big man in his greatcoat of philosophy.

lay on linen
even in the hay

Eddie was puzzled by the location of the inn, so close to the ferry, when its main customers would have been drovers headed south. (It is located close to the northward footpath, marked on the OS, 200m south of the ferry; RCAHMS gives a different site, in the village).

Speaking of Ossian, Eddie tells us Macpherson gathered material from two men at a nearby house. As part of the controversy about the authenticity of the poems, “the Rev. Donald Macleod, minister of Glenelg, writing to Dr Blair, of date 26th March 1764, says, ‘it was in my house that Mr Macpherson got the description of Cuchullin's horses and car in Fingal, Book I, page 11, from Allan MacCaskle, schoolmaster, and Rory Macleod, both of this glen’.”

That night we enjoyed our Tour Treat, a meal in Deirdre’s old haunt, the Glenelg Inn.

As cosy to hikers
Whose only desire
Is to come in from a shower
And pull up a chair
Before the fireside.

after Davenport’s Anakreon (86)


MacNeill, Andrew; Notes on the Authenticity of Ossian’s Poems (1869)
Brewster, David; The Edinburgh Encyclopedia (1832)