|A dull, cold day but the weather hasn’t been as bad as was forecast which is a plus. I’ve got just over a month left on my trip so I did some forward planning & booked my flight from Melbourne to Mildura. I’m scheduled to arrive in Melbourne at 7:40pm which is too late for a flight to Mildura so I also booked a room at the airport hotel.
My next stop is near Inverness & the documentation didn’t mention Wi-Fi but when I called the owner this morning to arrange key pick-up & directions he told me they have it which is a real bonus. It makes life much easier, not just for e-mails but for looking up locations, opening hours, etc on the Internet.
For example, this morning I looked up where Monarch of the Glen was filmed (there’s locations all over but not where I’m going) but I discovered that much of Hamish McBeth was filmed in Plockton where I was a couple of days ago. It’s so long since I’ve seen an episode of Hamish McBeth I wouldn’t recognise the places anyway.
I went to Glenelg today because there were a few things that sounded interesting in that area. Glenelg is on the other side of the turntable ferry but I didn’t feel like facing that road again so I went the long way around which is very scenic even on a dull day.
It was lunch-time when I arrived in Glenelg, which is a tiny village but I spotted a sign saying there was a café open in the Community Hall. It sounded like a good place to get a bowl of soup but I ended up with a venison burger which was absolutely beautiful. I’ve had venison before which was dry & stringy but this had a lovely rich flavour.
I was looking for the Glenelg Brochs which are round stone structures built by the Picts about 2,000 years ago. Apparently there’s lots of them further north but these ones are supposed to be the best preserved. They’re most unusual buildings & no-one really knows why they were built. The first one I came across, Dun Telve, is 10 metres high & the builders were able to achieve that height by building a double wall with about a 4 foot gap between the walls. In the 2nd broch, part of the staircase between the walls is still there.
It’s a mystery why they needed to be so high. They clearly have strong defensive characteristics but they’re not really built in defensive locations & there’s no real evidence of internal floors so it’s all guesswork. The stonework was magnificent, though. The face of each wall was perfectly smooth & built in an even arc around the circle. These people really knew how to work with stone.
Then I jumped forward a couple of centuries to the ruined Hanoverian Barracks which were built in the 1720’s as part of the government’s military solution to the troublesome Highlanders. These are also very well preserved but the weather had deteriorated by then so I chose not to slop over the wet paddock to examine them closely.
Back to the main highway at Shiel Bridge & I noticed on the map there was a battlefield marked at the top of Glen Shiel so off I went. It was most interesting because it tied in with the destruction of Eilean Donan castle in 1719. I’d wondered about that date because the first Jacobite rebellion of 1715 didn’t last very long so would be well & truly over so why did government ships blow up the castle (using 27 barrels of gunpowder). Surprisingly, it was to do with the Spanish who had established a base at Eilean Donan.
The Spanish & British were at war in the Mediterranean & then the Spaniards thought it would be a good idea to destabilise the British government by supporting the Jacobites & if successful, they’d have a very grateful King in England. About a month after the destruction of Eilean Donan, the Spanish/Jacobite forces did battle with the government forces at Glen Shiel. The Jacobites lost, 3 of their commanders including Rob Roy MacGregor were badly wounded & most of the Spaniards were captured & taken to Inverness. There’s just a sign on the side of the road but at least I know what went on.
Now I’m home again & reading up on how I’ll get from here to Inverness on Saturday. It’s only 82 miles using the direct route but too far to go right around the coast so & need to work out which are the best scenic bits.