Loch Lomond

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Lomond, (Gael. ? Laomain, the name of an old Celtic hero), a large lake, partly in Stirlingshire and partly in Dumbartonshire. To the N both banks are in Dumbartonshire as far as Inch Vow, whence to Ross Point the boundary line follows the middle of the loch; there it curves to the E of Inchlonaig back between Inchmoan and Inchruim, and between Torrinch and Inchcailloch to the mouth of Endrick Water. All to the E of this line is in Stirlingshire, all to the N, W, and S in Dumbartonshire. Along the E side are the parishes of Arrochar and Buchanan; to the S are Kilmaronock and Bonhill; and to the W are Luss and Arrochar. From the N end at Glen Falloch to the extreme S end at the Leven river, at Balloch pier, is 20¾ miles in a straight line, or following windings, about 22; and along the course of the steamers that ply on the lake 24. The S end forms an irregular triangle, with its E corner at the bay S of the mouth of Endrick Water, the S angle at Balloch pier, and the N angle opposite Ross Point. Measured in straight lines the distances are-NE 6½ miles, SE 5, and W 8¼; but the shores are very winding, and the distances by them would be fully 1/3 greater. From the E corner, in a straight line through Inchmurrin, W by S across the widest part of the loch, the distance is 5 miles. To the N of Ross Point the basin becomes much narrower, the width being on an average about ¾ mile, though at some places - as at Rowardennan Lodge, Tarbet, and Inversnaid-it widens to 1 mile. There are altogether thirty islands in the loch, but of these only six very small ones are to the N of Ross Point; all the others, including the whole of the large ones, are in the triangular space just mentioned. The larger and more important, most of which are noticed separately, are Inchlonaig (120 feet), * Bucinch, Inchconnachan (200), Inchtavannach (200), Inchmoan (33), Inchruim (50), Inchfad (78), Inchcailloch (278), Clairinch, Torrinch (105), Creinch (110), and Inchmurrin (291); the smaller islets are Inch or Eilan Vow with, near the N end, the ruins of a castle, once a stronghold of the Macfarlanes; Inveruglas and Wallace's Islands, off Inversnaid; Tarbet Island, ¾ mile SE of Tarbet pier; three islets off Rowardennan; Ross Island, and another off Ross Point; a group of small islets off Luss; an islet off Inchmoan; Ceardach E of Bucinch; and Aber Island at the E corner. The surface is 23 feet above sea-level, and a subsidence of less than 40 feet would again unite the waters with the sea across the narrow neck between Tarbet and Arrochar at the head of Loch Long. In the prehistoric period after the appearance of man, and when our remote ancestors were sailing their log canoes over the site of Glasgow, the loch was in this way probably an arm of the sea. The hollow in which the lake lies is a true rock-basin due, to a considerable extent, to the scooping powers of the ice by which, during the glacial epoch, it must have been occupied. Striæ may still be detected along its shores, and traced over the neck at Arrochar down to Loch Long. The depth at the extreme S end slopes very gradually to 12 fathoms between Inchmurrin and Inchmoan, and by the time the narrow portion is reached at Ross Point the depth is 34 fathoms. From that point it shoals to 2 fathoms off Rowardennan, and again deepens northwards to 96 fathoms due W of Ben Lomond, and to 105 fathoms off Culness half-way between Tarbet and Inversnaid, which is the deepest part. At Eilan Vow the depth is 8 fathoms, and after sinking to 34 opposite Doune it finally shoals to the N end of the loch. The surface temperature varies with the season and the weather, but according to Sir Robert Christison, the lowest 100 feet of water in the deeper parts has a constant temperature of 420 Fahr. The area is about 21,000 acres; and sea-trout, lake-trout, pike, and perch are abundant; while salmon are from time to time able to find their way up the river Leven. The sea-trout run up to 5 lbs., and the lake-trout to ½ lb., while pike are of large size, there being a tradition of one caught many years ago which reached a weight of 79 lbs. The fishing is free, and boats may be had at any of the hotels along the banks. The loch lies completely imbedded among different ranges of hills. To the SE are the Kilpatrick Hills (1313 feet) and the western spurs of the Campsie Fells, and in the flat between that and the border of the loch is the conical little Duncryne (462), which forms a well-marked feature in all the views of this end. To the NE rising almost directly from the water's edge are Conic Hill (1175 feet), Beinn Bhreac (1922), Beinn Uird (1957), Ben Lomond (3192) with its shoulders, Ptarmigan (2398) to the W, and Creag-a-Bhocain (1613) to the SW, Cruinn a, Bheinn (2077), Cruachan (1762), Stob-an-Fhainne 2144), Beinn a' Choin (2524), Stob-nan-Eighrach (2011), Cruach (1678), and to the NW Beinn Chabhair (3053); these summits form the line of the watershed of Scotland, the streams to the E running to the Forth, those to the W to the Clyde. Along the W side of the loch are Killeter (978 feet), Creachan Hill (1758), Beinn Ruisg (1939), Bein Dubh (2108), Beinn Bhreac (2500), Ben Reoch (2163), Cruach Tairbeirt (1364), and the double-topped Ben Voirlich (N, 3055; S, 3092), while behind farther inland are Balcnock (2092), Beinn Tharsuinn (2149), Beinn Chaorach (2338), Beinn Eich (2302), Doune Hill (2409), Tullich Hill (2705), Ben Arthur or the Cobbler (2891), Ben Ime (3318), and Ben Vane (3004), the last three being beyond Loch Long. From the slopes of these many streams rush down to the lake, the chief being the Falloch at the N end, Inveruglas Water (W) S of Ben Vorlich, Arklet Water (E) directly opposite at Inversnaid, Douglas Water (W) from Glen Douglas opposite Rowardennan, Luss Water (W) from Glen Luss at Luss, Endrick Water (E) with its tributary, Mar Burn, at the E corner; and Fruin Water (W), from Glen Fruin opposite the S end of Inchmurrin- Besides these the loch receives, from the E, Culness Burn from the SW shoulder of Ben Lomond, Caol Ghlean Burn from Beinn Uird, and Cashell and Blair Burns from Beinn Bhreac; from the W Finlas Water, between the Luss and the Fruin; and many smaller burns on all the sides. The surplus water is carried off by the Leven, which joins the Clyde at Dumbarton.

It is said that the old name of the lake was Leven, as that of the river still is, and that the present name was taken from the name of the Ben so late as about the 13th century. From the old name came that applied to the whole district, viz., Levenax, the modern Lennox. Traditionally, the waters of Loch Lomond have risen within the last 300 years, for Camden in his Atlas Britannica speaks of an island existing in his time called Camstraddan, situated between the lands of that name and Inchtavannach, on which he adds, were a house and an orchard. The island has now disappeared, but the people of the neighbourhood maintain that about 100 yards from the shore the ruins of houses are to be seen under the water. Such an accident may, however, have occurred without any increase in the waters of the lake, and indeed the valley of the Leven presents no appearance of such a rise being possible. Loch Lomond was at one time famed for three wonders: -` Waves without wind, fish without fin, and a floating island.' The first was the swell in the widest part of the loch after a storm, and the second vipers that swam from island to island. The writer in Blaeu's Atlas, in noticing it in 1653, says, ` the fish which they speak of as having no fins, and which they commonly call Paones, are a kind of snake, and are therefore no cause of wonder. Of the floating island various accounts have been given, one of them being that it was constructed of large square beams of oak firmly mortised into one another by a Keith Macindoil, a contemporary of Finmacoul or Fingal, and this looks somewhat like a tradition pointing to the former existence of a crannoge in the lake. ` As for the floating island, ' says Camden, ` I shall not call the truth of it in question, for what could hinder a body from swimming that is dry and hollow like a pinnace, and very light ? - And so Pliny tells us that certain green lands covered with rushes, float up and down on the lake of Vundimon. But I leave it to the neighbours who know the nature of this place to be judges, whether this old distich of our Neckham be true-

" Ditatur fluviis albania, saxea ligna
Dat Lomund multa, frigiditate potens." '

of which Defoe has given the paraphrase-

` With Rivers Scotland is enrich'd,
And Lomond there a Lake.
So cold of Nature is, that Sticks
It quickly Stones doth make.'

The whole country round is rich in historical associations of various kinds. During Haco's great expedition to the W (1263), his son-in-law, Magnus King of Man, sailed up Loch Long with a squadron of 60 ships, and on arriving at Arrochar, his men dragged some of the galleys across the narrow neck there-only 1& mile across-and launched them on Loch Lomond, ` where their sea-boats must have created as much astonishment among the agriculturists of the Lennox as if they had fallen from the clouds.' No doubt the pillage amply rewarded them for their exertions, as the ground was fresh, and not likely to be guarded ` against maurauders coming from so unlikely a direction.' In 1306, after the Battle of Dalree, Robert Bruce is said to have taken refuge in what is now Rob Roy's Cave, and at this time also to have planted many of the yew trees on Eilan Vow, while subsequently he is accredited with having caused many trees of the same kind to be planted on Inchlonaig, to provide a supply of bows for his soldiers. A few still survive, but the others were accidentally burned down many years ago. Clairinch gave the Buchanans their slogan. Inchcailloch-the island of women or of nuns-had a nunnery, and this was followed on the same site by the parish church, which, in its turn, has been abandoned, and a new church built on the mainland at Buchanan; and to the churchyard, as the burying-ground of the Macgregors, reference is made in the Lady of the Lake, the Fiery Cross being made from yew grown here. To the WNW of the church is the Pass of Balmaha, another of Scott's localities in the same poem, while farther up the scenery figures in his novel of Rob Roy. The whole of the district about Inversnaid is all Rob Roy's country. On the opposite side, to the S, is the district that belonged to the Colquhouns; and Glen Fruin-the glen of wailing-was in 1603 the scene of the great battle between the Macgregors and the Colquouns, in which the latter were almost entirely destroyed, a matter that led to the proscription of the Macgregors.

It was on Inchlonaig that the chief of the Colquhouns and Rob Roy made their agreement about the blackmail which Colquhoun paid.

In the rebellion of 1715 the Macgregors took up arms in the Jacobite cause, and threatened the country to the S. In October they seized the whole of the boats on the loch, and took them to Rowardennan, so that they might be able to make forays anywhere along the shore, but no enemy could reach them except by passing round the loch. The western Hanoverians were, however, not to be outdone, and accordingly some 500 men assembled from Paisley and other towns in the W, and having been joined by 100 men, ` well-hearted and well-armed, ' from a man-of-war lying in the Clyde, they dragged armed boats up the Leven to the loch, and advanced to the attack both by land and by water. The further proceedings are thus described in a contemporary account of the expedition. ` When the pinnaces and boats, being once got in within the mouth of the loch, had spread their sails, and the men on shore had ranged themselves in order, marching along the side of the loch, for scouring the coast, they made altogether so very fine an appearance as had never been seen in that place before, and might have gratified even a curious person. The men on the shore marched with the greatest order and alacrity-the pinnaces on the water discharging their patteraroes, and the men their small arms, made so very dreadful a noise through the multiplied rebounding echoes of the vast mountains on both sides the loch, that perhaps there was never a more lively resemblance of thunder.' Having thus given sufficient warning of their approach, it is hardly to be wondered that when they reached Rowardennan they found no one, and though the ` Paisley men and their friends mounted the rocky bank of the lake, and forming as well as they could, beat their drums for an hour in noisy challenge, ' there was no answer, and they went home, asserting that they had so frightened the Macgregors as to cause them to flee in panic to the camp at Strath Fillans. They accomplished the object of the expedition, however, for having, more by good fortune than good management, discovered the boats that had been carried off, by destroying some and taking away the rest they effectually prevented any renewal of the raids. Besides the Macgregors and the Colquhouns the other clans on the shores were the Græmes and the Macfarlanes, the former being still represented by the Duke of Montrose, while the possessions of the latter have passed to the Colquhouns. One of the last survivors of the Macfarlanes took up his residence in a vault of their old ruined castle on Eilan Vow, and gave Wordsworth a subject for his poem of The Brownie's Cell in 1814, and again for the sonnet called The Brownie, written on his subsequent visit in 1831. Glenfinlas was a royal hunting forest. To the S is Bonhill associated with Smollett; and to the E is Killearn where George Buchanan was born, and where there is now a monument to his memory; while Gartness House on the Endrick is associated with Napier's calculations about logarithms. Inchmurrin, on which are the ruins of Lennox Castle, is used as a deer park by the Duke of Montrose, and Inchlonaig is also a deer park belonging to the Luss estate. It was while Sir James Colquhoun of Luss was returning from shooting on this island that he was drowned along with two gamekeepers on 18 Dec. 1873. Inchtavannach-the island of the monks' house -is so named, from being the site of a monastery. On the S end of Inchmurrin are the ruins of Lennox Castle. It was at Inversnaid that Wordsworth, during his tour in 1803, saw the Highland Girl whose beauty he made famous in his poem of that name. Of history in late years the loch has none except that ever-increasing swarms of tourists resort to it every year. During the severe winter of 1880-81 the S end of the loch was frozen over from Balloch up to Luss, and on 22 Jan. 1881 it was calculated that some 15, 000 skaters were on the ice. The Prince Consort visited the loch in 1847 and the Queen on 4 Sept. 1869. In More Leaves from the Journal of a Life in the Highlands (1884), Her Majesty's impressions are thus recorded: ` We steamed southward [from Inversnaid, where she had gone on board the steamer], and for the first half nothing could be finer or more truly Alpine, reminding me much of the Lake of Lucerne, only it is longer, Loch Lomond being twenty-two miles long. We kept close to the E shore, passing under Ben Lomond, with its variously called shoulders- Cruachan, Craig a Bochan, and Ptarmigan-to Rowardennan pier, where there is a pretty little house, rented from the Duke of Montrose (to whom half Loch Lomond belongs) by a Mr Mair-a lovely spot from whence you can ascend Ben Lomond, which is 3192 feet high, and well wooded part of the way, with cornfields below. After yon pass this, where there are fine mountains on either side, though on the W shore not so high, the lake widens out, but the shores become much flatter and tamer (indeed, to the E and S completely so); but here are all the beautifully-wooded islands, to the number of twenty-four. . . . To the left we passed some very pretty villas. . . . Then Tarbet, a small town, where dearest Albert landed in 1847; and here began the highest and finest mountains, with splendid passes, richly wooded, and the highest mountains rising behind. A glen leads across from Tarbet to Arrochar on Loch Long, and here you see that most singularly-shaped hill called the Cobbler, and a little further on the splendid Alps of Arrochar. All this, and the way in which the hills run into the lake, reminded me so much of the Nasen on the Lake of Lucerne. The head of the lake, with the very fine glen (Glen Falloch), along which you can drive to Oban, is magnificent. We (Louise and I) sketched as best we could- ' In 1875, on her way back from Inveraray, she drove along the bank of the loch from Tarbet to Balloch. ` The drive along Loch Lomond, which we came upon almost immediately after Tarbet, was perfectly beautiful. We wound along under trees on both sides, with the most lovely glimpses of the head of the loch, and ever and anon of Loch Lomond itself below the road; the hills which rose upon our right reminding me of Aberfoyle near Loch Ard, and of the lower part of the Pilatus. Such fine trees, numbers of hollies growing down almost into the water, and such beautiful capes and little bays and promontories! The loch was extremely rough, and so fierce was the wind that the foam was blown like smoke along the deep blue of the water. The gale had broken some trees. The sun lit up the whole scene beautifully, but we had a few slight showers. It reminded me of Switzerland. I thought we saw everything so much better than we had formerly done from the steamer. As we proceeded, the hills became lower, the loch widened, and the many wooded islands appeared. We next changed horses at Luss, quite a small village -indeed, the little inn stands almost alone. . . . From here we drove along past the openings of Glen Luss and Glen Finlas, which run up amongst the fine hills to the right, the loch being on our left, and the road much wooded. '

In consequence of its size and beautiful scenery Loch Lomond is often styled the ` Queen of Scottish lakes, ' a title which it certainly deserves. At the S end the banks have none of that bleakness and wildness that characterise so many of the lakes of the Highlands of Scotland. ` I have seen, ' says Smollett in Humphrey Clinker, ` the Lago di Gardi, Albano, De Vico, Bolsena, and Geneva, and on my honour I prefer Loch Lomond to them all; a preference which is certainly owing to the verdant islands that seem to float on its surface, affording the most enchanting objects of repose to the excursive view. Nor are the banks destitute of beauties which even partake of the sublime. On this side they display a sweet variety of woodland, cornfields, and pasture, with several agreeable villas emerging as it were out of the lake, till, at some distance, the prospect terminates in huge mountains, covered with- heath, which, being in the bloom, affords a very rich covering of purple. Everything here is romantic beyond imagination. This country is justly styled the Arcadia of Scotland; and I don't doubt but it may vie with Arcadia in everything but climate: I am sure it excels in verdure, wood, and water. What say you to a natural basin of pure water nearly thirty miles long, and in some places seven miles broad, and in many above an hundred fathoms deep, having four-and-twenty habitable islands, some of them stocked with deer, and all of them covered with wood; containing immense quantities of delicious fish, salmon, pike, trout, perch, flounders, eels, and powans, the last a delicate kind of fresh-water herring peculiar to this lake. ' He also adds that the powan never descends the Leven. These are probably the animals that the writer in Blaeu's Atlas calls paones, though he is incorrect in confusing them with vipers. They belong to the Salmonidæ, and the species is scientifically known as Coregonus La Cepedei (Parnell) or C. clupeoides (Lacepede). The level and well wooded ground at the S end of the loch and the number and beautifully wooded condition of the islands gives this part great softness, and it presents an appearance more akin to that of the Lakes of Killarney than any other sheet of water in Scotland. Above Luss, where the loch contracts and the hills rise more steeply from the water and at the same time lose somewhat of the green colour they have further to the S, the scenery becomes wilder, but by no means savage. Many parts of the lower skirts of the hills are still well wooded, and the slopes themselves have smooth rounded outlines, which the height, however, prevents from being tame. Everywhere, too, Ben Lomond towers above the lake, and fills up or borders the view.

Dr Johnson (who, however, visited it late in the year and during rain) expresses his opinion of the scenery in terms of great dissatisfaction; but Boswell, on the other hand, declares that the Doctor was very much pleased with the scene. Wordsworth, who visited Loch Lomond in his Scottish tours in 1803, 1814, and 1831, had all manner of faults to find with it. He thought ` the proportion of diffused water was too great, ' and wished for ` a speedier termination of the long vista of blank water, ' and ` the interposition of green meadows, trees, and cottages, and a sparkling stream to run by his side. ' He thought that ` a notion of grandeur as connected with magnitude has seduced persons of taste into a general mistake upon this subject. It is much more desirable for the purposes of pleasure that lakes should be numerous and small or middlesized, than large, not only for communication by walks and rides, but for variety and for recurrence of similar appearances. ' This may be true, but one hardly sees that the proposition that everything great is not magnificent also implies the opposite that everything magnificent is not great. Dorothy Wordsworth, his sister, who, along with Coleridge, accompanied him in 1803, was no more satisfied. The hills were not such as ` a Cumbrian would dignify with the name of mountains, ' nor was Ben Lomond ` seen standing in such company as Helvellyn. ' Everything was too good for them; it would not submit to be measured by the spirit of Ullswater, but doubtless things have changed for the better in many ways about the shores of the loch since then, for the Luss of that time, with ` not a single ornamented garden, ' must have been a very different place from the Luss of to-day, in midsummer, bright with rhododendron bloom. Dissatisfied, however, as she was, she had to admit beauty. They crossed to Inchtavannach, from which the view is thus described: -` We had not climbed far before we were stopped by a sudden burst of prospect so singular and beautiful that it was like a flash of images from another world. We stood with our backs to the hill of the island which we were ascending, and which shut out Ben Lomond entirely and all the upper part of the lake, and we looked towards the foot of the lake, scattered over with islands without beginning and without end. The sun shone, and the distant hills were visible, some through sunny mists, others in gloom, with patches of sunshine; the lake was lost under the low and distant hills, and the islands lost in the lake, which was all in motion with travelling fields of light or dark shadows under rainy clouds. There are many hills, but no commanding eminence at a distance to confine the prospect so that the land seemed endless as the water. What I had heard of Loch Lomond, or any other place in Great Britain, had given me no idea of anything like what we beheld: it was an outlandish scene-we might have believed ourselves in North America. The islands were of every possible variety of shape and surface-hilly and level, large and small, bare, rocky, pastoral, or covered with wood. . . . There were bays innumerable, straits or passages like calm rivers, land-locked lakes, and, to the main water, stormy promontories.' The scene 'was throughout magical and enchanting-a new world in its great permanent outline and composition, and changing at every moment in every part of it by the effect of sun and wind, and mist and shower and cloud, and the blending lights and deep shades which took place of each other, traversing the lake in every direction. The whole was indeed a strange mixture of soothing and restless images, of images inviting to rest and others hurrying the fancy away into an activity more pleasing than repose. Yet, intricate and homeless, that is without lasting abiding-place for the mind, as the prospect was there was no perplexity; we had still a guide to lead us forward. Wherever we looked, it was a delightful feeling that there was something beyond. Meanwhile, the sense of quiet was never lost sight of. . . . The whole scene was a combination of natural wildness, loveliness, beauty, and barrenness, or rather bareness, yet not comfortless or cold, but the whole was beautiful. '

Professor Wilson, dealing with the remarks of Wordsworth already given, says, ` The " diffusion of water " is indeed great; but in what a world it floats! At first sight of it how our soul expands! The sudden revelation of such majestic beauty, wide as it is and extending afar, inspires us with a power of comprehending it all. Sea-like indeed it is, -a Mediterranean Sea, -enclosed with lofty hills and as lofty mountains, - and these indeed are the Fortunate Isles! We shall not dwell on the feeling which all must have experienced on the first sight of such a vision-the feeling of a lovely and a mighty calm; it is manifest that the spacious " diffusion of water " more than conspires with the other components of such a scene to produce the feeling; that to it belongs the spell that makes our spirit serene, still, and bright, as its own. Nor when such feeling ceases so entirely to possess, and so deeply to affect us, does the softened and subdued charm of the scene before us depend less on the expanse of the " diffusion of water." The islands, that before had lain we knew not how-or we had only felt that they were all most lovely-begin to show themselves in the order of their relation to one another and to the shores. The eye rests on the largest, and with them the lesser combine; or we look at one or two of the least, away by themselves, or remote from all a tufted rock; and many as they are, they break not the breadth of the liquid plain, for it is ample as the sky. They show its amplitude; as masses and sprinklings of clouds, and single clouds, show the amplitude of the cerulean vault. And then the long promontories-stretching out from opposite mainlands, and enclosing bays that in themselves are lakes-they too magnify the empire of water; for long as they are, they seem so only as our eye attends them with their cliffs and woods from the retiring shores, and far distant are their shadows from the central light. Then what shores! On one side where the lake is widest, low-lying they seem and therefore lovelier - undulating with fields and groves, where many a pleasant dwelling is embowered, into lines of hills that gradually soften away into another land. On the other side, sloping back, or overhanging, mounts beautiful in their bareness, for they are green as emerald; others, scarcely more beautiful, studded with fair trees - some altogether woods. They soon form into mountains-and the mountains become more and more majestical, yet beauty never deserts them, and her spirit continues to tame that of the frowning cliffs. Far off as they are, Benlomond and Benvoirlich are seen to be giants; magnificent is their retinue, but they two are supreme, each in his own dominion; and clear as the day is here, they are diademed with clouds. It cannot be that the " proportion of diffused water is here too great; " and is it then true that no one " ever travelled along the banks of Loch Lomond, variegated as the lower part is by islands, without feeling that a speedier termination to the long vista of blank water would be acceptable, and without wishing for an interposition of green meadows, trees, and cottages, and a sparkling stream to run by his side ? " We have travelled along them in all weathers and never felt such a wish. For there they all are-all but the " sparkling stream to run by our side, " and we see not how that well could be in nature. " Streams that sparkle as they run,,' cross our path on their own; and brighter never issued from the woods. Along the margin of the water, as far as Luss-ay, and much farther-the variations of the foreground are incessant. " Had it no other beauties, " it has been truly said, " but those of its shores, it would still be an object of prime attraction; whether from the bright green meadows sprinkled with luxuriant ash trees, that sometimes skirt its margin, or its white pebbled shores on which its gentle billows murmur, like a miniature ocean, or its bold rocky promontories rising from the dark water rich in wild flowers and ferns, and tangled with wild roses and honeysuckles, or its retired bays where the waves dash, reflecting, like a mirror, the trees which hang over them, an inverted landscape. "

`The islands are for ever arranging themselves into new forms, every one more and more beautiful; at least so they seem to be, perpetually occurring, yet always unexpected, and there is a pleasure even in such a series of slight surprises that enhances the delight of admiration. And alongside, or behind us, all the while, are the sylvan mountains, " laden with beauty; " and ever and anon open glens widen down upon us from chasms; or forest glades lead our hearts away into the inner gloom-perhaps our feet; and there, in a field that looks not as if it had been cleared by his own hands, but left clear by nature, a woodman's hut. Half-way between Luss and Tarbet the water narrows, but it is still wide; the new road, we believe, winds round the point of Firkin, the old road boldly scaled the height, as all old roads loved to do; ascend it, and bid the many-isled vision, in all its greatest glory, farewell. Thence upwards prevails the spirit of the mountains. The lake is felt to belong to them-to be subjected to their will-and that is capricious; for sometimes they suddenly blacken it when at its brightest, and sometimes when its gloom is like that of the grave, as if at their bidding, all is light. We cannot help attributing the " skiey influences " which occasion such wonderful effects on the water, to prodigious mountains; for we cannot look on them without feeling that they reign over the solitude they compose; the lights and shadows flung by the sun and the clouds imagination assuredly regards as put forth by the vast objects which they colour; and we are inclined to think some such belief is essential in the profound awe, often amounting to dread, with which we are inspired by the presences of mere material forms. But be this as it may, the upper portion of Loch Lomond is felt by all to be most sublime. Near the head, all the manifold impressions of the beautiful which for hours our mind had been receiving begin to fade; if some gloomy change has taken place in the air, there is a total obliteration, and the mighty scene before us is felt to possess not the hour merely, but the day. Yet should sunshine come, and abide a while, beauty will glimpse upon us even here, for green pastures will smile vividly, high up among the rocks; the sylvan spirit is serene the moment it is touched with light, and here there is not only many a fair tree by the water-side, but yon old oak wood will look joyful on the mountain, and the gloom become glimmer in the profound abyss. Wordsworth says, that " it must be more desirable, for the purposes of pleasure, that lakes should be numerous, and small or middle-sized, than large, not only for communication by walks and rides, but for variety, and for recurrence of similar appearances. " The Highlands have them of all sizes-and that surely is best. But here is one which, it has been truly said, is not only " incomparable in its beauty as in its dimensions, exceeding all others in variety as it does in extent and splendour, but unites in itself every style of scenery which is found in the other lakes of the Highlands. " He who has studied and understood and felt all Loch Lomond, will be prepared at once to enjoy any other fine lake he looks on; nor will he admire nor love it the less, though its chief character should consist in what forms but one part of that of the Wonder in which all kinds of beauty and sublimity are combined. ' Elsewhere he says again: ` Loch Lomond is a sea! Along its shores might you voyage in your swift schooner, with shifting breezes, all a summer's day, nor at sunset, when you dropped anchor, have seen half the beautiful wonders. I t is many-isled, and some of them are in themselves little worlds, with woods and hills. . . . Ships might be sailing here, the largest ships of war; and there is anchorage for fleets. But the clear course of the lovely Leven is rock-crossed and intercepted with gravelly shallows, and guards Loch Lomond from the white-winged roamers that from all seas come crowding into the Firth of Clyde, and carry their streaming flags above the woods of Ardgowan. . . . We should as soon think of penning a critique on Milton's Paradise Lost as on Loch Lomond. People there arc in the world, doubtless, who think them both too long; but, to our minds, neither the one nor the other exceeds the due measure by a leaf or a league. You may, if it so pleaseth you, think it, in a mist, a Mediterranean Sea. For then you behold many miles of tumbling waves, with no land beyond; and were a ship to rise up in full sail, she would seem voyaging on to some distant shore. '

The loch may be reached by rail to Balloch Pier, and thence steamers ply to the piers at Balmaha (E), Luss (W), Rowardennan (E), Tarbet (W), Inversnaid (E), and Ardlui at the N end. In summer three runs daily are made each way.—Ord. Sur., shs. 38, 30, 1871-66. See also Dorothy Wordsworth's Tour in Scotland (Edinb. 1874); Alexander Smith's Summer in Skye (Edinb. 1865); William Fraser's Chiefs of olquhoun and their Country (Edinb. 1869); Irving's Book of Dumbartonshire (Edinb. 187 9); Macleay's Historical Memoirs of Rob Roy (1st ed. 1819; 2d ed. 1881); A. H. Millar's History of Rob Roy (1883); and the notes to Scott's Rob Roy.

* The figures denote the height of the highest points above sea-level.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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