Anne Lister diary transcriptions Anne Lister's diary 1828 Anne Lister's diary June 1828

Friday 13 June 1828

1 35/60

Talking till after three before we fell asleep, telling her all kinds of queer things. Two last night. Breakfast at 10 50/60. Out at 12 10/60. ¾ hour going over the very considerable & interesting ruins of the old castle. A high wall remaining round the large round court, having originally 4 round towers & at present large remains of 3 of them. Remains of the square entrance tower of the old banqueting hall, chapel etc etc within the round court. The chamber of Robert 2 & 3 gone many years ago. Before the time of the middle aged man who shewed the castle. Only an archway of one of the windows remaining (Scottish Tourist, 372/415). The old part built in eleven hundred & odd & the more modern part in 14 hundred & odd.

Rothesay Castle on Bute
Photo by Reading Tom from Reading, UK

From the castle in about an hour to Kean’s cottage (according to our waiter 2½ miles from the inn) a sweet, pretty little spot on the very pretty little Loch Fud. A cottage built by Kean on a feu (building lease) from the Marquis of Bute. Stands in a pretty garden down to the lake. Pretty wood all about, backed by high & hoary mountains. Delightful walk there latterly thro’ the woods. The only absurdity a modern lodge & iron gates (¼ mile off or more?) as if to a large & handsome modern gentleman’s house. Walked back in 55 minutes & got home at 3. Hottish with walking (fine sunshiny day) & each of us had a couple of basins of boiled milk to drink and sat waiting for the steam boat to arrive at 3½. Did not arrive till 4.

Anne Lister’s sketch of Kean’s Cottage

On board (the Dunoon Castle) at 4 5/60 & off at 4 20/60 from the neat, picturesque, white town of Rothesay, picturesquely circling round the head of its beautiful little bay. Several gentleman’s houses on each side of, & fine sail down, the East Kyles or straits (of Bute) (372/415, Scottish Tourist). At the end of the East Kyles 5 little rocky islands. Near these isles the opening of Loch Ridon & in it, at a little distance, the little island of Ellen-Grieg, on which, the steersman said, was the vitrified fort (said at the inn to be 11 miles off). The end of the East Kyles finely shut in on all sides. Like a small island lake, yet 10 fathoms water. A 74 might come up very well if she had wind, but the wind very variable here. At the turn into the West Kyles (at 5 20/60) very fine, wild, rugged, brush-wood sprinkled mountains & fine view of the East & West Kyles & Loch Ridon & quaintly called the 3 legs of man. Completely land-locked. (The north end of Bute the most wild & barren & not a hut to be seen on it.) We seem as if entering a series of little lakes. Plenty of sea fowl. Picturesque cottages here & there on the Argyle coast at the foot of the brush-wooded mountains. Bute a rich island. As we get along its west coast, a few thatched cottages widely scattered here & there and the hill coast good pasture. Very fine sail. The high hills of Arran before us. At 6¼ pass the little green island of Inchmarnoch & double the low point (some boldish rock just after doubling the point) of Ardlamont & enter Loch Fine.

Photo by John Ferguson / Looking South down the Kyles of Bute , Arran in the distance. / CC BY-SA 2.0

Arran very fine tho’ rather obscured in mist. Goatfield indistinctly seen. At 6 35/60 the coast of Argyleshire, a singularly rough sea of mountain tops, and (left) fine, bold, rugged, brush-wooded coast of Cantyre. The setting sun sheds a broad line of light across the water & his rays radiate finely thro’ the mist. Skate island a little rocky island. At 7 5/60 enter the singular little rock-hidden bay & harbour of Tarbet. “Vegetation appears to have almost ceased,” (373/415, Scottish Tourist). Ruined castle high above us (left) & all around hemmed in by lofty, rugged, rocky hill. The neat, small white village picturesquely circling the head of its little harbour. A nice little pier. A very comfortable little inn. Might have stayed there to see Loch Tarbet tomorrow & then be picked up by the steam boat. 10 minutes landing passengers. Sir . . . Lockhart of Lee (near Lanark) & his horse. [My] gentleman had been talking violently against Huskinson. [1] Would have gone any distance 2 years ago to see him hanged. Swore at every word. Apparently rather tipsy & looking rather like a blackguard sort of person. (Just before entering Tarbet harbour we had had a little luncheon of Edinburgh gingerbread & whisky & water mixed at Rothesay). At 8¼ pass Inverniel beautifully hid in wood. At 8½ land passengers on the little pier (at the point of Ardrissaig) close to the entrance lock (a little cascade over the floodgate) into the basin of the Crinan canal & close to a little scattered white village. 2 miles off are seen the village of Lochgilphead & on the opposite (east) side the loch, the white village & woods of Oakfield (Scottish Tourist, 374/415). All along from Tarbet (on an isthmus about a mile broad which divides the long peninsula of Cantyre from Knapdale) the coast high & well brushwooded. Crinan canal sadly mismanaged. Government undertook it then threw it back upon the proprietors with the original debt of £70,000 and now somehow or other the proprietors cannot come to a fair settling with the government agent. Always some delays. Cannot get what the canal [makes]. It does not pay its repairs. Was begun at 12 feet deep. Had not money enough so finished it 9 feet deep. Only 24 feet broad & our steamer 35 feet broad so that there are obliged to be small steamers [on purpose] for the canal. 11 miles long. The 1st thought was to cut the canal from Loch Tarbet to Tarbet, about 2 miles, but Loch Tarbet is full of shoals & sandbanks.

Portrait of William Huskisson by Richard Rothwell

¼ hour at the Crinan canal head & then off at 8¾ across the mouth of Loch Gilp. At 9 10/60 pass the Silver Craigs rock, so called from it’s colom, a hoary shivery high short line of rock. From here quite across the loch (in a line rather running northward) a sand bank which at low water you may walk across the whole way, as I understood our captain. Very fine loch. But these craigs & Tarbet is, in the herring season (from July to January), covered from about 9 p.m during the night with fishing boats from all parts, even from the east coast of Scotland, Leith & Aberdeen. 1,000 to 1,400 boats. At 9 20/60 Loch Gare, & just before Otter Ferry, for the several country seats on each side, vid. Scottish Tourist, 374/415. By this time (9 20/60) fine and light as is the night, we see objects rather indistinctly, tho’ the general form of the line of coast is plain enough. Goatfield is the great conical hill ahead in the distance. The hills finely shaped. At 11 20/60 land on the pier at Inverary and at 11½ comfortable at Walker’s, The George Inn & Hotel. Tea & fish herrings & cold ham at 11 40/60. Came to my room at 12 35/60. Very fine day.

Margin: Rothesay to Inverary (by Loch Gilp Inn) 70 miles

[1] I think she means William Huskisson (1770-1830), an Tory MP and proponent of free trade, and in favour of the relaxation of the Corn Laws. He resigned in May 1828 due to disagreements with his colleagues in the Tory party over the disenfranchisement of Penryn and East Retford (two corrupt boroughs). Huskisson and some colleagues disagreed with the Duke of Wellington (then Prime Minister) over how the seats should be redistributed. Huskisson (in order to make a point) wrote to Wellington offering to tender his resignation, but Wellington, who saw Huskisson as a rival, chose to treat it as an actual resignation and would not let him retract. He was disapproved of by his party for what was seen as his flippant and ill-resignation. He is known as the first person to be killed by a train, being fatally injured at the opening of the Liverpool to Manchester railway in 1830 when, despite written warnings to the contrary, he crossed the train tracks to speak to the Duke of Wellington.

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