Rivers And Lakes Adjacent To Fort William On The Caledonian Canal


These wild and majestic scenes in the heart of the Highlands of Scotland

are without doubt splendid, either to look upon or for the purpose of

salmon and trout fishing, the recollections of such to the intelligent

and contemplative mind of the gentle angler who has visited this region,

must be lasting and agreeable. [E]The sail down the Clyde from Glasgow,

passing Dumbarton Castle (on a rock in the water to the right), to

/> Greenock, is most enchanting; opposite this fine town the angler will

observe a grand expanse of deep and blue salt water, bordered in the

distance with mountains dark and high, filling the imagination with awe,

while pacing the decks of the frail but well appointed little steam boat

Helen McGregor in the gloom, as she creaks away through briny silvered

waves of lakes, estuaries, and straits, to Caledonia's "noblest

work"--the Great Canal. Rounding a rough northern head land, where seven

currents meet, of seas, sounds, and straits, Crenan in the wake,

compassing the shore in Jura Sound, the "little Helen" struggling with

the swelling tide, appeared to be standing still though at full speed;

Loch Etive, on the starboard--into whose bosom, Awe's serpentine waters

steal at solitary "Bunaw;" Lismore in the distance, Mull in our wake,

due West--the rapid subsiding--through it "the fair one" tripped

gallantly. In these "meetings of the waters," what oceans of salmon

sported and played at large in their blue and fresh element, far from

the wily bars! The "Heroine" seemed at once to be stepping up hills from

lock to lock, till she levelled the base of "Ben Nevis;" close to which

mighty mountain, the "fair one" squatted for the night. Glad enough were

her living freight to get on firm footing, and wend their way across a

mossy plain, without a rolling stone, to a little house under a hill,

that kept beds "well aired," and "usquebaugh," for travellers. At the

dawn of morning, through the haze, could be descried, "Fair Helen,"

smoking--her steam was up--sitting, "sidey for sidey," by the lofty Ben,

the sight of which, to look up at, was staggering. He had yet his

nightcap on of hazy grey, but enough of the giant hill could be denoted

that his base on that side was hewn away, facilitating the great track.

This morning, away went the "fair one," rattling like "sticks a

breaking." Hurrah for Fort William--a voice, "and the Camerons of

Lochiel,"--here we are at Crystal Laggan, Lochiel, and Lochey's

excellent waters for the Salmon Trout--(I will give the flies to suit

them a little further on). "Fair Helen" began her movements slowly for

some time, creeping through locks, o'er hills, in basins--Macomer on the

starboard,--Lochiel, farewell!--now skimming into saltless "Lochey's"

(famed for its ancient mountain clans) soft and balmy waters; through

the lake she dashed, breast high--a strait ahead--steaming by Balalister

at seven knots by the log, soundings the deep nine, "Fair Helen" entered

the gorge, and now rushing down an inclined plain, to the fear of the

timid, and delight of the stouthearted, double quick did run the "fair

one," making up for lost time experienced in the "meeting of the

waters"--through lock gates, up hills, &c., now through an embankment,

nearing Fort Augustus, and the head of Lochness, down she settled

between two stupendous lock gates. "What aw-fu' gates!" What work

bestowed on them--what an enormous depth are they--the wet and muddy

sides of which beat chilly. Down, "down below," went the "fair one,"

till she levelled the golden waters of--"O, that lovely lake,"--into

which she slipped like a fairy elf. After her cold incarceration, "Helen

the Fair" tripped merrily down the centre of the "fathomless Lochness,"

the sun breaking, beamed out upon us cheeringly after the chill and hazy

morning. Like looking-glass did that sun-lit lake appear, stretching

away before us, losing itself in the distance, bordered by hills and

mountains on either side, till on the larboard was seen Morrison's

lonely glen and meandering stream. We neared the bay, sounded whistle,

and lowered steam. A few minutes more, and off went the Helen McGregor,

making head like a waddling duck through the valley of golden[F] waters.

Hush! The mountain sylph is heard in the cabin. Hush! by the powers,

it's Phillips, warbling the incantation of the wizard of the glen.



"Farewell to the mountain,

And sun-lighted vale."



O, shade of Wilson! the soul of Scottish song. Angler, may you rest in

peace. On the starboard was observed the "Falls of Fyres," descending,

perpendicularly, over a craggy precipice--most curious. "Bonny Helen"

slid smoothly along, till, at the "heel of the evening," we entered the

last embankment of Caledonia's Grand Canal, just where the beautiful

river Ness issues out of "that lake," opening into a lovely and fertile

valley, in the centre of which is a boat upset, an antiquity, covered

with motley trees. A few minutes more and we were safely landed at the

quay of the fair and sweet metropolis of the ancient Highlands,

Inverness, seated on a hill above the river. O, I sigh for the days that

will never return! High and airy rock, I split upon you twice, steering

northwise fra' bonny Dundee, through the "Carse o' Gowrie," by Laburnam,

to famed Dunkeld, on Tay's noble waters; Blair Athol and Fore's Macbeth

crossed the source of Spay, through a waste and dreary plain, with

villages far apart, where ran those weirdy thinly kilted lads to see the

"four-in-hand;" up hill, down dale, and heathered moor we steered, till

at length we galloped towards the glooming, by the graves of dark

Culloden's blood-stained field--nearing the city, on went the drag, and

over a well macadamised road, "knapped" by the hardy highland wight, we

hurried into Inverness. Alas! this bronchial asthma, that shuts me from

that fishing. Fond memory brings the light of other days around me.



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