We then retraced our steps slowly to the Dalmally inn, where we were served with tea in the sumptuous manner common to all first-class inns in the Highlands of Scotland, after which we retired to rest, bent on making good the sleep we had lost and on proceeding on our journey early the following morning.
Monday, October 2nd.
[Illustration: KILCHURN CASTLE AND LOCH AWE.]
We left our comfortable quarters at Dalmally at seven o’clock in the morning, and presently reached Loch Awe, with the poet’s monument still in sight and some islands quite near to us in the loch. We soon left Loch Awe, turning off when we reached Cladich and striking over the hills to the left. After walking about two miles all uphill, we reached the summit, whence we had a fine backward view of Loch Awe, which from this point appeared in a deep valley with its sides nicely wooded. Here we were in the neighbourhood of the Cruachan mountains, to which, with Loch Awe, a curious tradition was attached that a supernatural being named “Calliach Bhere,” or “The Old Woman,” a kind of female genie, lived on these high mountains. It was said that she could step in a moment with ease from one mountain to another, and, when offended, she could cause the floods to descend from the mountains and lay the whole of the low ground perpetually under water. Her ancestors were said to have lived from time immemorial near the summit of the vast mountain of Cruachan, and to have possessed a great number of herds in the vale below. She was the last of her line, and, like that of her ancestors, her existence was bound up with a fatal fountain which lay in the side of her native hill and was committed to the charge of her family since it first came into existence. It was their duty at evening to cover the well with a large flat stone, and in the morning to remove it again. This ceremony was to be performed before the setting and the rising of the sun, that its last