/ Traveling To Appin And Lismore In Scotland United Kingdom
Traveling To Appin And Lismore In Scotland United KingdomThe Appin murder may have happened over 250 years ago, but the events that inspired the Stevenson novel `Kidnapped’ and several movies and television series, still rouse a shiver in today’s visitors to this apparently tranquil corner of Argyll.
In 1752, Colin Campbell, a land agent, was shot in the back as he rode through woods near Duror. The government set out to make an example of his assassin and wrongfully convicted and hung James Stewart, a local farmer, whose remains were to dangle at the Ballachulish bridge for four years after his execution.
The history of the Stewart clan is interwoven with the Appin scenery, most strikingly at Castle Stalker, a landmark familiar from its appearance as Castle Stalker in the closing scenes of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). The castle was built by John Stewart in the fifteenth century only to be lost by the 7th Stewart chief 300 years later through a drunken bet in which he exchanged the family stronghold for an eight-oared boat. There are good views of the castle from Portnacroish (where you can stop for tea at Castle Stalker View Cafe) or the road to Port Appin, and although tides mean that it is only occasionally accessible, tours are sometimes possible (see the website, 01631 730354). Across the loch, the island of Lismore claims its own ancient origins. An early Christian settlement was founded there by St Moluag, who, legend has it, staked his claim to the island in a coracle race against St Columba.
Columba was narrowing ahead as they neared the shore, so Moluag, desperate to claim the land, cut off his own little finger with an axe and threw it on to the shore – ensuring that at least a part of him reached the island first. The island’s Gaelic name ‘Lios Mor’ meaning `great garden’ is an apt one, though the fertility of its soil may owe less to an infusion of saintly blood than to its limestone base and temperate climate.
Lismore can be reached by a car ferry from Oban, but the little passenger ferry from the charming Port Appin offers a more intimate experience and with an abundance of wild flowers, the island lends itself to a close-up exploration on foot or bike.
Today you can drive north from Appin to Fort William, but until the Ballachulish bridge opened in 1975, the passage was by a boat, as taken by Kirk Douglas in 1971′s To Catch a Spy. The American star and his friend James Robertson Justice would enjoy a wee dram in the pub at the Ballachulish Hotel after filming, and according to -to locals, were very generous when it came to their round.
From Oban follow signs for Connel, then take the A828 towards Fort William. From Glasgow, head to Oban, then take the A828 at Cannel. Hourly buses leave from outside Oban train station, signed for Fort William or Barcaldine, with stops along the route.
The site of Colin Campbell’s murder is marked by a stone cairn in the forest at Leitir Mhor, between Ballachulish and Duror. There have been claims that the woods are haunted. Campbell is buried at Ardchattan Priory (known for colourful gardens) signed from North Cannel.
A memorial at Cnap a’Chaolais at the south end of Ballachulish Bridge marks James Stewart’s execution site. The musket linked to the murder is on show at the West Highland Museum at Fort William.
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