LOCH TAY is a magnificent sheet of water, in the Breadalbane district of Perthshire. It is upwards of fifteen miles in length, and in some places nearly half-a-mile in breadth, and averages from fifteen to one hundred fathoms in depth. The untied streams of the Dochart and Lochy pour their waters into the head of the loch, a little below the village of Killin; while the noble river Tay issues form its lower end at Kenmore. The traveller can visit Loch Tay either from the east or from the west: a good road being carried along both its shores from the one end to the other. That along its northern side is the best for carriages, and is most generally followed by travellers. The scenery by this route, however, is much inferior to that displayed by the southern road. The north road has in some places been carried too high up along the slope of the mountains, and although the lake in almost its whole expanse is before the tourist, yet the prospect is unvaried and monotonous, the foregrounds are tame or altogether wanting, and there is an almost total want of those delicious close views which are the delight alike of the artist and the connoisseur. Had this road been carried nearer to the margin of the lake, and amid the windings of the beautiful promontories and bays with which it is bounded, the effect of a ride along the north shore of Loch Tay would have been very different indeed: the man of taste would have selected this line; nor would he have found fault with the additional two miles of road, however, the case is materially different. This road generally runs near the lake, and follows, in numerous instances, the sinuosities of its margin, and the inequalities of the ground. The declivities of the southern range of mountains are, besides, much more varied and intricate than those on the north; while the general outline of the northern range, including Ben-Lawers, is more bold and lofty than the south, forming a grand and striking termination to the views from this side. Few roads, therefore, are more productive of a succession of picturesque landscapes, or offer greater temptations to the traveller than this. The landscapes here present an ever-varied foreground; are rich and full in the middle distance; while the extreme distance is grand and striking. Near the east end of the lake, which is that presented in the present view, and 200 yards from the north shore, is a small island of a circular form, and about 400 yards in circumference. It is partly wooded with ancient plane and ash trees, and contains the ruins of a priory – as it is usually called – said to have been erected by Alexander I. in 1122. From a charter of Alexander, however, it would appear that there had been a church here before he erected a religious house. The endowment was for an order of nuns; and a fair is still held once a-year in the village of Kenmore, called Fiell na m’ban maomb, or the Nun’s market. Spottiswoode says that this priory was a cell from the monastery of Scone, and that it was founded by Sybilla, daughter of Henry Beauclerk, king of England, and wife of Alexander I. of Scotland. It would appear, however, to have been founded by the king himself for the repose of his soul and that of his consort. Queen Sybilla, it is said, died suddenly here, and was buried in the church in June 1122. The ruins are very inconsiderable, part of the walls of the dormitory and refectory being all that now remain. On the right side of our view is seen the finely conical summit of Ben-Lawers towering above all his brother mountains. The well-wooded shoulder of Drummond hill intervenes between Ben and the spectator’s eye. In the middle foreground is the bridge of Kenmore spanning the Tay at its point of emergence from the loch; and beneath, among the richly wooded low grounds, is Taymouth castle, the lordly residence of the Marquis of Breadalbane,* of which the subjoined cut presents a nearer view.
* The ‘Black Book of Taymouth‘ with illustrations of the former Lords of Breadablane, the Campbells, can be found in Scanned Images.