Friday saw Nicole and I head into the forest tracks along the River Oich, by Fort Augustus. The afternoon light was lovely and atmospheric, and perfectly suited to black and white. Mind you, I seem to be taking a lot more black and white lately – it’s a lovely medium that really draws out the best in light, dark and contrasts, and I’ve been enjoying exploring with it.
On Saturday, we visited Fort George, a spectacular military fortification built in the aftermath of the failed Jacobite rebellion of 1945, and sited on a peninsula just east of Inverness.
Alongside the Highland Clearances and the wider oppression of Highland and Gaelic culture, Fort George was one of three forts (the others being Forts Augustus and William) which were part of the attempts to ensure that a threat to the British state never again emerged from the Highlands.
As such, Fort George’s presentation and interpretation demonstrates a certain selectivity that reminds me of the convenient gaps in the story told at Dunrobin Castle (something I blogged about here). However, it is a hugely impressive place, with the sort of austere architecture that made me think of a industrial mining or cotton village in Yorkshire or, perhaps, New Lanark. It’s amazing to think that it is still in use as a military base today, and has been since its construction.
Although it is a managed and really quite busy estate, there is something quite untouched and timeless about Glen Strathfarrar – the thick forests, the imposing mountains and the sense of desolation lends a prehistoric atmosphere. Which, given the area was part of the Great Caledonian Forest, is not too far-fetched.
It’s a stunning place, but the tautology of the name Glen Strathfarrar irritates me considerably. I don’t know how it got its name, or why they don’t go the whole hog and name it “The Valley Basin of Glen Strathfarrardale Gorge”.