Merry Muses of Caledonia: A Collection of Favourite Scots Songs, Ancient and Modern
The Highlands and Islands have in no previous age received greater attention, in regard to their natural beauties, than in these latter times. Until within the last thirty or forty years these romantic territories were almost a terra incognita to such tourists as now frequent them in hundreds, and were known only to the natives, and to such as, in piratical and feudal times, made bloody inroads upon them. Until of comparatively late years, those interesting localities were next thing to inaccessible to the southerns from the want of roads, and of all sorts of public conveyances. Indeed, of old, few tourists ever thought for a moment of crossing the Moray Frith, but still fewer were even aware of the splendid scenery that is to be found, towards the western coasts of Inverness, Ross, and Sutherland shires, and the many interesting isles that lie beyond. Even still, there are many lakes, mountains, and localities of interest that remain but very partially explored in Coigeach, Assynt, and the internal regions of the county of Sutherland. It is but of late that the singular natural embrasures of the beautiful Loch Maree have been seen. Until within the last few years the rough country pathway was quite impassable for, wheeled carriages of every description, and even to the traveller, if a stranger, it was anything but pleasant. The consequence was that few indeed had ever seen it but the natives alone. Pennant and M’Culloch are, we believe, the only two scientific men who, until of late years, had visited it. But how rich the reward when attained! The mountains around the lake are of great height, and of a beautifully characterised and irregular outline. The shores present an immense variety of very interesting and romantic scenery. In fact, the mountains, and the loch, with its many islands, are among the finest specimens of the grand and picturesque to be found in Scotland. The Isle of Skye, likewise, lay in the same secluded state as to its natural curiosities until within the last half-century. I remember, myself, when the now far-famed Quiraing was but little seen and still less known.
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