Hike Southbound through Britain with Daryl May
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Loch Leven as seen when departing Kinlochleven for Glencoe
DS17 Loch Leven
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Day S17 - Kinlochleven to Glencoe 
Day S16                       A dog's leg to Glencoe                       Day S18
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Northbound Home
Monday, March 10, 2008

Time of departure: 8.30 am
Time of arrival: 11.45 am
Place departed: Kinlochleven, Highland
Place arrived: Glencoe, Highland

Miles: 7.5
Cum miles: 224.2
Percent complete: 23.1

Bed sign Morven Cottage B&B, Glencoe **
Cost for bed and breakfast: 25 ($50)
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DS17 Author at Glencoe
With bad weather forecast, and memories of yesterday's ordeal all too fresh, my walk today was a dog's leg west on roads to nearby Glencoe. Tomorrow will be another dog's leg to the east on roads to reach Kings House Hotel - taking two days in all instead of the one required on the WHW which follows a more direct but steeper north-to-south route up-and-over the mountains.

In fact, six miles will be my distance-made-good for the two days because that's the as-the-crow-flies distance from Kinlochleven to Kings House.

Unfortunately, accommodation availability caused today to be a short one, and tomorrow  a long one. But Glencoe is a pleasant sleepy-hollow at which to stop.

Down in England and Wales, rail travel had been delayed by trees on lines, air travel had been disrupted, road bridges closed, and people rescued from floods. The same weather system was forecast to produce poor weather for the next two days here in Scotland.

I had little reason to complain about the rain today.  It was light, and I was only in it for a few hours. Moreover, I'm used to it, since it's been with me every one of the ten days since I left Tain.  Harrumph.

The photo of me above was taken by Rebecca Waber or Andrew Trueblood, a pair of MIT master's degree students, whom I met in Glencoe. With their MIT student team, sponsored by the Highlands and Islands Enterprises organization, they're doing a project in Lochaber to bring technology to bear on the tourism industry. The specific idea is to define a better framework for information flow. Using wiki principles, and new and existing input/output and data transmission methods, the various information sources would all be linked with each other and with their users. In this way, a hiker lost on the West Highland Way could not only call Mountain Rescue, but neighboring hikers accessing the system could learn where he was. With rescue at hand, he could find out which hotels had space, and his family could follow his progress towards it. It will be interesting to see how this develops. Lochaber College might play the lead coordination role.  

I stayed at Morven Cottage B&B in Glencoe village, but had tried to get in at Clachaig Inn, a famous inn and pub a couple of miles east of the village. But I lost patience with their booking clerk not knowing what rate to quote me. The Clachaig reputedly has a sign on the door saying "No Hawkers or Campbells". And thus it brings to mind the Glencoe massacre of 1692 in which the Campbells slew the MacDonalds accompanied by intrigue quite as sophisticated as any in our own times. I can tell it only briefly here.

The Campbells, or more specifically part of an Argyll regiment under Campbell command, was billeted with the MacDonalds at Glencoe. After an evening of card-playing and a dinner-invite for the morrow, the Campbells killed 38 of the MacDonalds in their beds or while fleeing, and 40 of their women and children died of exposure after their homes were burned. It was mid-February.

The intrigue before this event was only paralleled by the deviousness afterwards. History tells us that the orders for the massacre were approved by King William, to settle scores for the Jacobite rebellion, which the MacDonalds had supported. To get their revenge, the King's followers created  a situation in which the MacDonald leader was unable to swear an oath of allegiance to the King - though he tried - before a deadline that would have granted the clan a pardon. This gave the King and his men an excuse for the massacre, which they implemented through secret orders to the Campbells - thereby craftily pitting Scot (lowlander) against Scot (highlander) to alienate the Scots from one another. The Campbells and the MacDonalds were longtime rivals, which may have nicely fitted in with the King's men's strategy.

The devil's staircase (see yesterday) played a part in the massacre, in that reinforcements to assist the Campbells by blocking the MacDonalds' escape had followed that route - but arrived late due to a snowstorm there. Otherwise, the massacre would have been bigger.


The aftermath was as sordid as the act. After declaring the perpetrators guilty because they followed illegal orders, attention was leveled at those who issued the orders. But attention did not mean justice. The Lord Advocate who had been appointed to hold an inquiry was told to do so without implicating his ultimate superiors. He refused to serve, and so did his successor, and there was little follow-up by anyone else. In time, some Campbells were ordered to be punished, though only one of them was actually imprisoned, and that for a few days on another charge.

One can only imagine the detailed machinations involved in all this. They make the saga of Watergate seem like a nursery book tale. And isn't it proof that our forebears were quite as smart as us, for good or ill?

I am indebted to Wikipedia for educating me, and recommend it for further information.

Next day, I walked past the Clachaig Inn and up Glencoe valley and over the pass. The scenery was stupendous as illustrated in tomorrow's journal, and I was pleased that I'd routed myself away from the devil's staircase in winter, though I'd not realized its significance when I made that decision. Nor had I realized the significance of the MacDonald-named hotel in Kinlochleven.
DS17 Glencoe orders

You are hereby ordered to fall upon the Rebels, the McDonalds of Glenco, and putt all to the sword under seventy. you are to have a special care that the old Fox and his sons doe upon no account escape your hands, you are to secure all the avenues that no man escape. This you are to putt in execution at fyve of the clock precisely; and by that time, or very shortly after it, I'll strive to be att you with a stronger party: if I doe not come to you att fyve, you are not to tarry for me, but to fall on. This is by the Kings speciall command, for the good & safty of the Country, that these miscreants be cutt off root and branch. See that this be putt in execution without feud or favour, else you may expect to be dealt with as one not true to King nor Government, nor a man fitt to carry Commissione in the Kings service. Expecting you will not faill in the fullfilling hereof, as you love your selfe, I subscribe these with my hand  att Balicholis  Feb: 12, 1692
[signed] R. Duncanson

For their Majesties service
To Capt. Robert Campbell of Glenlyon                                 [Source: Wikipedia]
Day S16                                  2007 and 2008 Daryl May                                  Day S18