Following his defeat at Culloden on the 16th April 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie and his companions headed north, attempting to cross from Skye to Eriskay at the southern tip of South Uist. His boat was blown off course, landing at Eilean Glas on Scalpay on 30th April where he stayed for four days at the farmhouse of tacksman, Donald Campbell.
Campbell’s farmhouse was demolished in the 1870s and a larger dwelling built on the foundations. The house was at one time a shop, later a manse, and is now home to the Two Harbours guest house, our lodgings for two nights in April. This is the view that the Bonnie Prince would have seen from the farmhouse bedroom window; I suspect not much changed since 1746 – if I were him, I would have stayed longer:
The day after we arrived we did the Prince’s walk in reverse, taking the Out End road to Kennavay and then the rough track across open moorland to Eilean Glas. In doing so, we were also following in the tracks of Norman MacCaig – these lines from his poem Return to Scalpay:
… We walk the Out End road (no need to invoke
That troublemaker, Memory, she’s everywhere)
To Laggandoan, greeted all the way –
My city eyeballs prickle; it’s hard to bear
With such affection and such gaiety.
Scalpay revisited? – more than Scalpay. I
Have no defence,
For half my thought and half my blood is Scalpay …
His mother, Joan née MacLeod (1879–1959), was born on Scalpay.
This is a wild and glorious landscape and I will publish it’s more attractive side later but Eilean Glas is a sad place – abandoned and forlorn, only the lighthouse tower is pristine, in stark contrast to the surrounding structures. There is evidence of various failed endeavours, whilst a sign on one window declares, optimistically, the buildings are in the process of renovation:
I have been off WordPress for some time so apologies for the many posts I have missed.