National Geographic : 1956 Jul
A Stroll to John o' Groat's 4 "All Seemed to Breathe... Peace, and to Make One Forget the World" Queen Victoria wrote these words on her first visit to Balmoral. "The mountain air was most refresh ing," she discovered; "the scenery... wild, yet not desolate." Her heart captured, Victoria spent her hap piest days at this Deeside retreat. The present castle was completed for royal occupancy by 1855. Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh with their children carry on the tradition of annual holi days at Balmoral. Here the author looks toward Lochnagar (right). When Victoria and Albert climbed the peak, they found "the wind blowing a hurricane, and the mist being like rain." The Victorians took time to live and liked to celebrate their doings. A high cairn on the hill opposite the castle records a royal marriage; another, still higher, "erected in presence of Queen Victoria and Albert, Prince Consort," marks the purchase of the Balmoral estate on October 11, 1852. A chance encounter on the road introduced me to a hospitable motorist who kindly drew up his car to ask, "Would you like a lift?" When I told him I was writing an article for the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, he ex claimed, "Why, I've been a member for years!" Then he added, "You should get in touch with the Laird of Invercauld; his wife is an American." I followed his advice a month later. The Laird is Capt. Alwyne C. Farquharson. A telephone call to the castle on a wet June afternoon brought immediate response. We were all invited to dine that evening at The Castle of Invercauld, and our spirits, damped by persistent bad weather, soared again under the genial influence of Captain and Mrs. Far quharson (opposite). They showed us many of the treasures of their fine Highland home and invited our fisherman, Mr. David Boyer, to sample the Laird's private salmon pool on the Dee next morning. Page 26 - The Castle of Invercauld: a Sanctuary of Memory for Clan Farquharson From these crenelated walls, ancestral stronghold of clan chiefs since the 16th century, the Earl of Mar sent forth his call to the clans, gathering them for the Jacobite Rising of 1715. In the Rising of '45, "Colonel" Anne Farquharson raised and led a troop of clansmen for Bonnie Prince Charlie, even though her husband fought for the enemy. Here the Laird of Invercauld, Capt. Alwyne Far quharson, checks his gun before an afternoon of grouse shooting. His American-born wife and her daughter, Marybelle Gordon, see him off. © National Geographic Photographer B. Anthony Stewart The treasures included a piece of Bonnie Prince Charlie's plaid and a locket with his hair, given by the Prince himself to "Colonel" Anne Farquharson. This lady's husband, the Mackintosh of Moy, had declared for King George. Not at all deterred by this, she raised a troop of 300 of her clansmen for the Prince and rode at its head in bonnet and tartan with pistols in her holster. When she and her husband, Capt. Angus Mackintosh, met again after all was over, he doffed his bonnet and bowed low to his superior officer with the ad miring words, "At your service, Colonel! " "You'll have a long, lonely walk," I was told as I left Braemar for the village of Tomintoul, high on the moors between the Don and Spey Valleys. The route I followed was Gen. George Wade's old military road, made after the Jacobite rebellions of the 18th century. Crossing the Gairn by a pic turesque humpbacked bridge, it climbed over wild moors, descending again into the valley of the upper Don. The way was lonely and very beautiful, but toward evening a heavy rain began to fall. I had intended spending the night at Cock Bridge, about halfway to my destination, where an inn was marked on my map. But when I arrived I found the inn no longer existed. Shelter in a Workmen's Hut Workmen, erecting pylons for electric light, gave me shelter in their hut from the tor rential downpour which swept the moors. An obliging lorry driver carried me in his cab up the ladderlike zigzags of the Lecht Road, the steep trail which climbs out of the Don Valley, and set me down in the carefully planned Georgian village of Tomintoul, with its soldierly square surrounded by houses that seem to stand at attention. Next day I reached the primrose-dotted banks of the pretty River Avon near Ballin dalloch and crossed the moors to Forres, which shares with Inverness the honor of being men tioned by Shakespeare. "A deserted place; a camp near Forres." So opens the great trag edy of Macbeth. On the outskirts of the town, in a field. stands what is probably the largest carved monolith in Scotland, known from ages past as Sweno's Stone (page 37). It is carved with human and animal figures and is be lieved to record a great victory over Shake speare's "Sweno, the Norways' King."