29 MAY 1936, Page 40


IT is little less than astonishing that in 1936 Scotland should_ be the favourite and principal motor touring ground of Great Britain. There are comparatively few roads. one has to make detours, it is extremely popular and therefore, in holiday time, more crowded than one would like, and it is a considerable distance from London.

Yet year after year its lovers return to it and, except _ perhaps during the rather hectic month of August, no matter how many of them there may be, they- never perhaps during the rather hectic month of August, no matter how many of them there may be, they- never seem to succeed in spoiling it. .

Perhaps this may be accounted for by the convenient circumstance that there are not very many show places to which pilgrimages .are made by earnest Britons and Americans, and that those which could be so described are rather conveniently grouped together. Perth and Stirling and Edinburgh, are, it is to be supposed, the • chief places of this kind, and from the point of view of the real explorer of Scotland, they could hardly be better situated., here there is history and romance to satisfy the most hard-boiled- sightseer and he can get what he wants in great. comfort and without much traVelling. The real sights of Scotland, if the incor- rigible romantieisers of this country will allow me to say so, are amongst its mountains and glens and lochs, and it is these that arc still so magnificently preserved from the usual tarnishing effect of too much admiratiOn from too many people, too often.

Once you are across the border and, a little later, north of the Clyde, you can drive all .over Scotland, if not with the freedom of the years before the War, at least as•comfortably as in the North of England—and I need hardly say infinitely more comfortably than in :the south and west. You will probably find more ears than you care for on the roads near Oban, of course, . by Loch Lomond, up the east coast towards Aberdeen and at odd moments in the valley of the Dee, but, gener- ally speaking, the congestion, such as it is, is confined to the patch between Oban and Perth, Loch Lomond and Edinburgh.

"These Summer Nights It is in the early part of June that this most important tour should be made, partly because the full flood of the tourist crowd has not yet reached the count,' but chiefly because of the beauty of the early Scottish summer. You will remember that in June you can go on driving if you want to until 10 o'clock at night without lights, and that in the north, night itself is no more than a twilight. It may be that you will find it wiser to do your daily travelling early in the morning for the simple reason. that most people will decide to do theirs in the last hours of the daylight. Sunset among the .Western hills and glens and lochs is famous wherever ..people live who have travelled and I am not denying that there are certain places where it is better than the early hours. For example, Loch -Linnhe, certain stretches or the mad in Skye and the last- stages of the sea road to John o' Groats arc, as it. seems to me, at. their best -just before dusk. This, however, cannot always be relied upon. It is one of the charms, if not one of the overwhelming drawbacks, of the Scottish climate that you can never tell what the weather is going to be from day to day or even, on the west coast, from hour to hour, and for that reason he is a wise man who allows himself plenty of time for exploring the real and more secret beauties of Scotland so that he may choose whether to gaze upon these incomparable pictures by the light of the rising or of the setting sun.

Improved ROads - The roads practically throughout the length and breadth of Scotland have •been improved beyond belief. In some rather out of the way corners in the north and north-east, there is still scope for repair work, but, gener- ally speaking, you can set out to drive to any point. comfortable in the knowledge that the road will be perfectly •practicable for every mile of the way. In the far north they are still extremely narrow and you must be prepared for rather delicate thanoculTing when meeting other ears, and there are places between Tongue and John o' Groats where the road takes on a character that is decidedly adventurous. You do not, however, drive up into these latitudes expecting to find by-passes. and it is devoutly to be hoped that the zeal of the Scottish road-builders will not allow them to build the kind of roads in the wild parts, that have so nearly spoiled parts of Devonshire and, iwthe eyes of many lovers of Scotland, completely spoiled Glencoe.

A point about Scotland that is not always appreciated by those who are planning to drive there for the first time is that it is a country of astonishing variety and that in the course of a week or a fortnight you can pass through scenery which differs as much as any in England. The south for example, known as' the Lowlands, bears no resemblance whatever to any other part of Scotland. It is as though a line drawn between the Clyde and Edinburgh were a frontier between two countries as different from each other as France is from Italy.. This is not to say that the hill country of Dumfriesshire, Ayrshire and Roxburgh is in the least like its neighbours in Northumberland. Cumberland and 'Westmorland.

But the Cheviot Hills separate them on the east and . . .

the Solway Firth on. the west, and, so far as character goes, they might be the Alps and the Atlantic Ocean. The Lowland country is Scottish enough .though it does not anywhere correspond in the slightest to the traditional idea of Scottish scenery,- and from the moment you leave Gretna .Green or cross the Tweed you are in a definitely ne* country.

The Riches of the Lowlands ' The Lowlands contain so many charming places to take a car to that the only sensible thing for ths'new- coiner to do is to go to theni all. You Cannot afford to miss the' solitudeand -grandeur of the north side of the Cheviots- near; the .Tweed 'valleys - nor the coast road that - runs from Dumfries. to Straniaer and up to A..yr. The perhaps • the most-beautiful-of all in a special manner, and it is a matter for perpetual astonishment to those who know it that it has not long ago been advertised to death. The whole business pt t17.' at diiveJs picturesque. , The . . way to ,begin it is to (sin* into;Sebtland frn the "Lake District and to follow the road froin"-the top of basSen- thwaite to :Carlisle-. and from there-- the road to Annan and'Duinfries. As you drive weskvar&you :look across 1 he Solwar 'Firth and from - several points' on that winding road see the Cumberland Fells that you left -A few hours ago. On the right kind of day this is one of the most remarkable views in Great Britain, and you should be careful to allow plenty of time for its proper appreciation. The road winds in and out 'of that broken coast in the most convenient manner for the admirer of scenery, and as you skirt the hills, and promontories like Criffel and Bengaim and come down into Kirkcud- bright, that remarkable view across the Firth turns itself into half a dozen perfectly different ones.

That beautiful road runs on from Gatehouse of Fleet to Newton-Stewart and from there turns south again through Wigtown to Burrow Head up the eastern shore of Lace Bay, through Glenluce and .down to the point of the Mull of Galloway, where it comes to a dramatic end. This could very justly be called the south coast of Scotland, not so much because it does happen, to be exactly that, but because it has the most important qualifications of any of its 'rival south coasts. It 'faces straight into the eye of the sun and along most of that indented coast- the look of things is the look of a country very: far' remOved..froin northern. 'Winters.

' At the Mull of-Galloway yeti' Must retrace your tracks, and passing through Stranraer, take the famous coast road to Ayr.

The Source of the Tweed Another part of the Lowlands that must not 'be missed is the drive up the midd1e7if it has a middle. The road rims from Carlisle to Dumfries through Thornhill through the valley of the Nith, and at two places, at' Carionbridge and Enterkenfoot, there art roads leading .as ertherange of hills which include Green Lowther and BalilenclencIL Law. Of the two the „second -is „perhaps the most picturesque as it takes yOuthrough the little Wanlockhead Pass, a -narrow crack in the hills where perfect- solitude reigns. Both the roads come down the other side on to the main Glasgow road at Abington and Crawford, and the best thing you can do here is to turn southward again as far as Moffat, and there find the road that climbs up past the Devil's Beef Tub, and at some 1,400 feet above sea level discovers the source of the Tweed. The Tweed is a most royal stream, and even here in its extreme youth looks what it is, the most important river at least from:the-fisherman's point Of view, in Scotland. - The road conveniently follows it practically the whole way to the sea, and if you are properly- impressed with it, - you will no doubt see it tialts end at Berwick. The most picturesque stage, however, is . that_ between Tweedsrmilfr and Peebles 'and Innerleithen, and it is ' aleng -this, road which rune. -gently downhill .for some - 30 miles through the softly rounded hills, that you will spend a great 'deal of time in ,stopping to look again.

. Emptiest Scotland I East of Peebles there is, of course, a smaller sight- 'seeing 'centre in' Melrose With it Abbey and Jedbargh, but th-ese rft6st happily lie on main' roads -between north and south and do not occupy the same sort of position as Stirling. It is a pleasant drive still along the Tweed to both of them, but at Melrose it is'a good plan to turn about and go across to Hawick where you follow the Teviot up-stream into the high hills above Langholm. You cannot leave this part of the world until you have crossed Eskdaleinnir and Come up again to Ettriek Water and St. Mary's Loch. Here-is-one of the emptiest parts of Scotland, and on the whole perhaps the most typical patch of the Lowlands.

Last, and, as many think, best of all, is the great road over the Cheviot Hills where- the frontier lies bitween England and Scotland. From Carter Bar, which is the summit and actual Border, there are views north and south which you are not likely to forget. This is certainly one of the great places in the British Isles, North of the Divide .

The end of any of the foregoing roads brings you fairly comfortably to the dividing line.between north andsOuth which perhaps should' he.- called the Highlands and the Lowlands. Suppose yourself ready to postpone your visit, whether of duty or pleasure, to Stirling am! Edinburgh, this is the way to go into the heartA western Scotland. You avoid Glasgow and its.traffie )3.y. sitO,ISing the Clyde at the Erskine Ferry a few miles north of Paisley, and join the main road that leads up Loch _Lomond. Take careful note that Loch Lomond must be"-sei.k.-not later than the early part of June: 'It would honlioson- able to complain 'thatso beautiful and so famous I piece of -water Should be crowded . with'sightseers,' eSpeeially as it lies :only jtistberand the outskirts of Glasgow, but that is no reason Why yeu,a.hbuld not do. you best to avoid the congestion. For 'whatever people may say about its being of too obvious and tame a beauty, the fact remains that the road between Luss and Arroehar one of the most beautiful in the world. You_ will, be wise to get-here in the early part of- the day.

First Sight; of the Isles At Arrochar you have a choice of ways, the one north to Crianlarich and Loch 'lay, the one west to-the sea lochs and the Mull of Kintyre: , You shoUld 'take, the latter at once if the weather is cemfortable, leSt yoli miss an oppor- tunity that may never return.. For. here it is- over the ridge that separates Loeh Long from -LoCh Fyne-, all down Loch Fyne and the-Sband Of Jura that You see for the first time the, miracle of light and shade that makes the Western Isles look as if they belong to another world. You should go down to the end of the Mull of Kintyre. which runsAe abridge across the sea, and see for yourself what a picture is provided on either hand by Jura, Islay and. Arran. These things do not bear description if only for One reason, that they are never the same. You may See lochs and • islands all the way up to Fort William through a silver mist icheñ they 'look as though they were detached from the earth, and their colouring, bears no relation to anything you have seen before, and within an hour you can see them under brilllanh sunlight, with the outlines of every rock standing out and the distances halved. When these changes take place you move into another world.

On your way 'northto these matchless places you will find, in the most unexpected stage, a little mountain pass called Melfort, about fifteen miles south of Oban. Until some years ago this road, which is the less indirect one from Lochgilphead to Oben, Was in sail- a 'condition as to be almost impassable, and travellers were urged to leave it severely alone. It is generally in excellent- con- dition now, and . whatever the temptations may be to drive up the east bank of Loch Awe and to go round to Ohan by Dalmally, the pass of MelfOrt must be included in your survey of Scotland. The rest of the drive to Fort William past Lismore and up to the head of Loch Linnhe can be, as I have said, of quite unearthly beauty, hut for that clear weather is essential and, all things considered, sunset is a better hour than early morning.

It is- at Fort William. that you will be well advised to consider the next two or- three hundred miles of your journey. If you continue up the Caledonian Canal to Loch Ness, you will provide yourself with a magnificent introduction to the north and north-east of Scotland ; if you turn to the right by the familiar road over Speen Bridge you have the equally celebrated drive along Loch Leggett to Newtonmore, where you-find the highland road ; and, most difficult of the three decisions, you must make up your mind whether to drive through the pass of Glencoe, via Balla.chulish, and so come down to Crianlarich and Loch Tay. It is very certain that if you leave out Glencoe you will be reproached for the rest of your life and in all probability be haunted by an uneasy feeling that too much fuss has beWroade about the new cemented highway that has taken the place-of the old road.: Assuin- ing that yon annek.dp all 'three one after the other, your best plan is 'to leave them alt-for the moment and devote yourielf to the weSteirt glens, Glen Garry, Glen Shiel, Glen Urquhart, Glen Aforistod and the rest.

The Western Glens These are situated in a purely Scottish manner ; that is to say that most of them come to full stops and have no connexion with each other. This is, however, an advantage, as the scenery through which they run is exactly of the kind that must be looked at from both ends. You drive to Mallaig or to Loch Carron and front the north you only see half of it, so it is essential that the double journey should be made. Across' the water from this wonderful part of the world lies the island of Skye and that too must be included in any reasonable survey. It is plain then at the outset that several clays must be set aside for exploring the roads that run east-and west between Inverness- and Skye. This is. not the kind of motoring that can he done in a hurry, not only because the roads strictly forbid it, but because the things you look at change- as everything does in Scotland, hour by hour as the light shifts, and until you have seen the whole thing from -early morning to darkness, you cannot truthfully say that you know all there is to be known about the glens.

Here are some suggestions for.this decidedly-complicated week's drising. From Fort William you drive due west along the northern bank of 'Lodi,' Eirand at the head of the water turn, sharp about and follow the .southern bank, bearing to the right along the western bank of Linnhe and SO through: Tarbet to Salen and. the end of all things.- in Ardnamurchan,'-either at :Cie* Beg or a little north atPorlin. :Therty.o.0 go back-all the way to the head of Loch Eil -and follow the "road past Prince Charlie's Monument at Glen Finnan to Mallaig where you get your first sight of Skye, Rum and Eigg. This is probably the worst road you will have to traverse, and certainly among. the three most beautiful.

Stags at Giustuie-: - - : Once more you retrace yonr.tinki, this time the whole way back to a. point Opposite 'FA William, and theu drive up Loch Loehy to Invergany. From this straight road which-ends-at Inverness all the roads to the'gleris branch off, the first through Glen Garry is Loch Quoiell, and it is one of the very few which has, so to speak, a way out. You need only return as far as Tomdown where you. find the road that crosses Glen Loyne and to huanie- Bridge, a magnificent stage front which you have views you are not likely to forget for a long time. Here and in Glen Shiel and Glen Moriston you will have many stags for company, perhaps a golden eagle or two and all the pleasant inhabitants of high and lonely places. At the end of this -Glen Shiel road is the way across the water to Skye, an island that must cer- tainly be properly explored. It has comparatively few roads but nearly every mile of them is extremely pic- turesque. Sea and loch and mountain are presented to you in it thousand ways, each more alluring than the last.

The correct way back is again through Glen Moriston, although the map shows you a far more obvious road by Glen -Garry, It you follow the -latter you will miss the beautiful detour off Loch Ness through Strath Glass, and that is unthinkable. The Strath Glass road finishes at Beauly and Muir of Ord, where you bear to the left for the road through Strath Bran to Binlochewe. At Acima- sheen you have the choice of exploring Glen Carron sis far as Strome Ferry and of following the winding way to Loch Torridon, again being. pleasantly obliged to go back the way you want. From Kinlochewe the road takes you through Glen Torridon to the other side of the Web, and driving the other way you go up by Loch Mare, An Island in Time said to be the deepest loch in Scotland, to Gairloch.

Farthest North .

From here on to John o' Groats lies some of the wildest and most picturesque part of the north of Scotland. The road twists in and out of lochs and bays, turns inland for several miles to. Braemore, leads north again to Ullapool and then by devious -ways to Inchnadamff, Loch Inver and Kylesku. Here, if" you do ilot use the -ferry, you retrace your tracks again past. Inchnadamff and drive through the odd low-lying hills of Sutherland to Lairg, in the days before motor-cars one of the most important stops in the north of Scotland. For it was a kind of general posting station from which everybody started to the distant moors. Thence you go north-west to Scourie and round the top of Scotland by Tongue, Bettyhill and John o' Groats.

The end Of your adventures in the north and the High- lands naturally includes the Highland Road, the hills of Aberdeenshire and the lochs of Perthshire. You come down that pleasant road from Helmsdale to Bonar Bridge and Dingwall, and at Inverness begin the first stage of the highland Road. This is the first 21 miles to Carrbridge. and here you have two alternatives. Assuming you wish to go to the Spital of Glen Shee, you must either make a considerable detour round by Dufftown or an even longer one by following the Highland Road as far as Pitloehry. On the whole the latter is the better choice, as it enables you to include the best-known Perthshire lochs on your way down. That superb highway runs in the most invigorating fashion over hill and dale, through wide glens and over wind-swept summits to Kingussie and Dalwhinnie, famous for depressing temperatures. Soon after you reach Blair Atholl you can turn off to the right for Loch Rannoch, and from Kinloch Rannoch at the eastern end of the water, cut across to, Loch Tay, which is undoubtedly the most beautiful of all the inland lochs. You follow it as far as Kuhn, and then, entering the admittedly more crowded part. of Scotland, find your way to Perth via Loch Earn and Ciieff, where the last stage begins—the last and, in the 'opinion of many, one of the best. The, road runs from Blairgowrie through the Sma Glen, and on up through the Spital of Glen Slice to the famous Devil's Elbow, the highest point on any British road, and a very stimulating hill-climb. This is an event that must on no account be missed, as once more you get an entirely different impression of Scottish scenery. Down the other side at Braemar you come to the Dee, which you follow past Balmoral, Ballater and Aboyne to Banchory, where you turn to the right for* the coast road that runs from Stouehaven to Montrose, Arbroath, Dundee, and so back to Perth. JOHN PRIOLEAU.