Tuesday, 11 March 2014
Young Locheil, Chief of Clan Cameron.
With their magificent horses, Donald and Neil made good progress travelling south from Inverness along the eastern side of Loch Ness. They passed through the hamlets of Boleskine and Foyers and at the far end of Loch Ness, they rested their horses, and had themselves the cold mutton they had packed in their paniers. This was a strategic location for an English fort, built as the result of previous Jacobite insurrections, the last major one being in 1715. The fort bore the name Augustus, after one of King George's sons, a habit which endured in naming other new forts. At Fort Augustus they rested a while, which gave them time to look again at some things and make changes where necessary. The red coats and white breeches of the young British soldiers on guard duty across the road, reminded them of colours which they absolutely could not wear as they advanced towards Moidart. The British "Redcoat" was feared and loathed in equal measure. On the other hand, the lads disavowed the wearing of any tartan, and for fairly obvious reasons, the carrying of broadsword or targe would be difficult to explain to a couple of Highland-hating cockney lads, even if they were only 'innocent' trophies. For that matter, it might be misunderstood by some 'Angus of the Glens.' They had already discussed the apparel which would identify them as the unbiased and neutral reporters they purported to be. They wore naturally brown deerskin trews which blended with the chestnut of their horses and high calf leather boots of the latest Italian fashion. Their coats(ie, jackets) were of a tweed woven in Harris, and waistcoats of sheepskin. With their trademark long black capes and grey tricorn hats, this singled them out as gentlemen, surely, but not Hanoverian nor Jacobite gentlemen. Looking neutral was as important as being neutral. They each were equipped with pistols, short stabbing swords and sharp knives for cutlery. They checked their paperwork, the important one at this time being the document relating to their employment as reporter/journalists with the Inverness Courant. Hopefully this would be viewed as a statement of their neutrality by both armies, and which might gain them access to persons in their high command. They felt as prepared as they could be as they mounted their horses once more. Travelling south from Fort Augustus by the side of Loch Lochy, they decided to give their horses a rest beside the gentle waters of the River Gloy. Donald and Neil, as they looked west towards the magificent country of mountain, river and forest, would have been unaware that these were the ancient lands of Clan Cameron, one of the largest and most loyal Jacobite clans in all the Highlands. After the failure of the 1715 Rising, Old Cameron of Locheil was forced into exile in France, and it was his son, Donald Cameron, Young Locheil, who now resided at Achnacarry House,and who could raise an army of at least 800 fighting men, should the need arise. The lads could see another fort in the near distance which had been named Fort William, after William of Orange (William III) who had defeated the forces of the Catholic King James, at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland. This was a large fort, commodious and of extreme strategic importance. As they passed the fort, Neil and Donald could sense the order and readiness of the troops within, and the ferment of general activity . Before the fort was built,the village was known as Inverlochy. Having travelled south for many miles along what was known as the Great Glen, the lads headed due west where the Jacobite clans were said to be gathering behind the Stuart cause. A little way along Loch Eil, the lads stopped at a small tavern, which didn't have a name. After seeing to their horses, they entered this building no more than a hovel, thick with peat smoke and smelling of urine. Only hunger and thirst would have anyone order meat, bread and whisky in a place like this, but the beautiful young lass who served them made the place a little more tolerable . Her name was Catriona Cameron, and at their invitation, she joined them in their humble lunch on the shores of Loch Eil. Miss Cameron listened to Neil and Donald as the recounted their story, and how as reporters of an important newspaper, the "vox populi of the Highlands", their immediate mission was to find the Jacobite army and interview some of their leaders. They couldn't believe it when young Catriona said that she could most certainly help them. Later that day, all three travelled a few miles further west until, partially hidden by tall pine trees, this magnificent house came into view. Catriona said that this was Fassiefern, owned by John Cameron, the younger brother of Donald Cameron of Locheil, chief of Clan Cameron. Fassiefern was at home, and after Catriona made the introductions, they all repaired to a large airy room overlooking Loch Eil. As they drank superb wine, John Cameron (Fassiefern) explained that he only stayed here a few months per year. Normally his business was in Glasgow, of which he was a burgess. He was in "the West India Trade" which Donald and Neil knew to be a lucrative business, depending totally on slavery. It would not be in their interest to dwell on Fassiefern's West India business. When John Cameron invited them to stay for dinner, and for the second time in a day, they were astonished that his brother Locheil would be a fellow guest at tonight's dinner. He was, John said, on his way fom Achnacarry to Borrodale for a gathering of "like minds." At this Fassiefern smiled and raised his eyes to the ceiling. " I'm sure Locheil will be sympathetic to your mission, and will represent you at the highest levels." "T0night," said Neil," We will meet a real Jacobite, and that's for sure."