When Gerard Manley Hopkins, approached this hotel by boat in 1918 he was struck by the Arklet Falls on it’s right. He duly walked up the bank of the burn until he reached the high open ground and was so inspired he wrote a poem, imaginatively called ‘Inversnaid’. It is a lovely poem, one of our favourites, and the reason for our visit today … retracing his steps, so to speak. The first verse starts at the waterfall as it drops into Loch Lomond then the following two verses illustrate the journey upwards to the high ground where he finishes with the fourth and wonderful final verse:
What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
He was a religious man and he is looking at a scene, as he sees it, created by God. It was the Duke of Montrose though that created Inversnaid in 1790 as a hunting lodge, and in September 1869, Queen Victoria, who had been staying at Invertrossachs Lodge on Loch Vennacher, arrived here by horse drawn coach from Stronachlachar for a trip around the loch on the Prince Consort steamship. Even today this is a fairly tricky road to negotiate by car so goodness knows what it was like back then? She was particularly taken with the northern part of the loch with its views to the west … and why wouldn’t she be impressed?
Nowadays, as the Inversnaid Hotel, it is almost exclusively used by bus parties and walkers on the West Highland Way. As such it suffers in the same way as most hotels that specifically cater for this sort of custom … a bit soulless. Arriving, like Manley Hopkins by boat from Tarbert we were hoping to be inspired by scones as well as the scenery. No such luck! They didn’t look at all inspiring so we just shared one and our fears turned out to be totally justified … edible, but only just. At least we were able to sit out on a beautiful day and admire the scenery. Incidentally, the captain of our boat informed us that the huge pipes of the Loch Sloy hydro scheme were in fact the means of delivery to the packing hall below of a massive haggis factory buried deep in mountain. We have no way of verifying this but it doesn’t seem any more far fetched than the recent GERS (Government Expenditure Review Scotland) figures. On the face of it, it is bad news … we spend much more than we bring in. You have to bear in mind that GERS was set up back in the day by Ian Lang specifically to counter nationalism so it is hardly likely to deliver good news. GERS does however benchmark against other countries of similar size and again we do rather badly by comparison. The trouble is that no one seems to ask how we got to this situation … under Westminster management? It is all supposed to be Scotland’s fault and proves that we could never ever ever be a viable independent nation. These benchmark countries would give their eye teeth for Scotland’s assets:
- Norway is far more reliant on oil than Scotland, but is doing ok thank you very much.
- Denmark would love to have whisky generating £120 of exports every second.
- Belgium would love to have the Edinburgh Fringe, adding £261m to its economy.
- Ireland would love to have Scotland’s online gaming industry, grown over 600% and potentially worth more than oil ever was.
- Sweden would love to match Scotland educationally. According to the Office of National Statistics the adult population of Scotland is the most educated in the whole of Europe.
- Finland would love to have Scotland’s tidal and wave energy potential, 25% of the entire EU.
So what’s the problem? Let’s guess … could it be the way we are governed, surely not? An independent Scotland should be sporting an embarrassingly large fiscal surplus … and now they want to drag us out of the EU? Yet still people cling to the illusion that we are better together. As someone as eloquent as Manley Hopkins would say …. aaarrgghhh!
FK8 3TU tel: 01877 386223 Inversnaid Hotel TA