Fort William has grown on me a little. It is a bit like a frontier town. Full of visitors passing through. And home to the cheapest round of drinks yet, under £6. And no I wasn’t in Wetherspoons. After a meal and a couple of drinks we returned to Travelodge where I treated myself to a packet of Haribos from the vending machine.
Today we headed for the Isle of Skye. But despite being an island there’s no ferry crossing, instead a bridge. Built in 1995 it was originally a toll bridge and at over £11 for a return trip was the cause of a campaign of non payment. The toll collectors were subject to a lot of abuse but they undertook their task quite casually. On one occasion when Germany beat England at football, a common event, they allowed all cars with German number plates through free of charge.
Whilst visiting the Highlands and Islands you occasionally hear Gaelic spoken as well as hearing safety messages on the ferries and dual language roadsigns.
I mentioned the Highland clearances the other day. For those that don’t know it was the systematic eviction of people off land they farmed but didn’t own. The landowners could make more profit from grazing sheep or other activity. These people were offered land by the coast as an alternative. But too little to survive, forcing them to take up the dangerous occupation of fishing to supplement their income. In one place women were forced to tether their children and animals to rocks to stop them from being blown off cliff edges whilst they worked on the land. People sometimes resisted these attempts to evict them. Their homes were burnt to persuade them otherwise. Many died of the effects of living in the open as they were expected to build new houses for themselves on their new plots of land. As a result of these clearances many migrated. Some to lowland Scotland. Some to the cities of Glasgow and as far south as Newcastle and Liverpool. And many to USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. A shameful episode in British history. And occurring as recently as the 1850s, or three Mehmet lifetimes ago. During this process the Gaelic language was nearly destroyed but survived in the most remote parts of the Highlands and Islands.
On our way to the Isle of Skye we passed Glengarry where the whole village emigrated to Canada and founded Glengarry County in the state of Ontario.
As a Cypriot I empathise with those who suffer the pain on having to abandon your village for politics and economic reason’s.
Having now arrived at Portree I have been informed that breakfast is at 8. The drive over was through yet more spectacular scenery.
Things I recommend, breakfast at Wetherspoons, when I feel like it.
Things i don’t recommend, the unequal distribution of wealth and power