The Wayfarer - A Hebridean journey

Wandering around Scotland looking for tales we must not overlook the Hebrides the name given to cover most of Scotland’s western isles.

The most southerly and for some the most beautiful is Islay which has eight famous distilleries of which the oldest is Bowmore established in 1779. These islanders must surely have loved their whisky as in the early years it is difficult to imagine that the island had a sufficient population to support so many distilleries. Bowmore also has a strange church built in 1797 which is circular so there are no corners in which the devil may hide. The largest island is Skye which has a great deal to draw attention to, with magnificent scenery and significant history to attract the many visitors. The highest peak is Sgurr Alasdair some 3,309 feet high and a magnet to mountaineers. But as regards to history, as every good Scot knows Bonnie Prince Charlie spent some time hiding on the island after the Battle of Culloden. Now we have come to appreciate that the Hebrideans loved a good drink and Charlie left behind him a real treasure in the recipe to the liqueur Drambuie or in the Gaelic ‘An Dram Buidheach’ translated ‘the drink that satisfies’.

It certainly satisfied John McKinnon a loyal supporter of the Prince who was entrusted with the recipe which his family has kept hidden away down through the centuries. Drambuie was first brewed for public consumption by the McKinnons at the Broadford Inn in 1895. Many have made an attempt at a whisky liqueur and have provided a very acceptable drink, but Drambuie still holds its own. The Broadford Inn was still in existence when I last visited Skye and is a very pleasant hostelry. However to get back to our tale, the island of Mull has a village called Calgary where Colonel J.F. Macleod emigrated from to Canada to become Chief of the Canadian Mounted Police. In 1876 he named the city of Calgary in Alberta after his Hebridean village. But not only that we have another well known islander who distinguished himself in the world. Major General Lachlan Macquarie born in Ulva an island just off the coast of Mull and was sent to New South Wales in Australia to restore order after the colony revolted against the rule of Governor William Bligh of Bounty fame.

Macquarie not only restored order but he turned a former penal camp into a free, thriving, self -contained colony. In the village in Gruline Mull stands the Macquarie Mausoleum to the man who became known as ‘The Father of Australia’.