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Fort Augustus History and Heritage

Fort Augustus Heritage Trail

This leaflet is designed to give you a look at some of the more hidden points of interest in the highland village of Fort Augustus. The walk is flat and should take approximately one hour at a leisurely pace, although we think you should take your time and relax in our beautiful surroundings.

Distance From Abbey Cottage 0 Yards / 0 Metres

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Former Site of The Lion Hunter Museum

Roualeyn George Gordon-Cumming ‘The Lion Hunter’
Born on the 15th March 1820 in Scotland.
Author of A Hunter,s Life among Lions, Elephants and other Wild Animals
Roualeyn visited Africa between 1838 and 1843 several times before deciding on his career in hunting.

Between 1843 and 1848, He hunted chiefly in Bechuanaland and the valley of the Limpopo River.

After returning to the UK. His collection of hunting trophies was exhibited in London in 1851 at the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace.

In 1858 Gordon-Cumming came to live in Fort Augustus within the former soldiers barracks at the fort. Beside the Caledonian Canal he exhibited his trophies which attracted many visitors, before his death on 24th March 1866.

A contemporary writer says of him In appearance he was remarkable for his great height and his massive symmetry of build. With handsome Highland features and the eye of an eagle, he was verily a king of men." He delighted in marked eccentricities of dress and might be seen parading Princes Street in Edinburgh in top-boots, a Gordon tartan kilt with plaid to match fastened by a large brooch, huge shirt frills, surmounted with a brass helmet as a head-piece and quantities of jewels, with silver fish-hooks in his ears. On wet days the whole was secured with a ponderous umbrella.

At Fort Augustus he used to meet the tourist steamers with a number of retainers similarly attired in grotesque costume, and, preceded by a magnificent goat, would lead the way to his museum. In warm weather he discarded this gorgeous raiment and went about clad only in a shirt and stockings. Sometimes his hair was allowed to hang in long ringlets down over his shoulders, and at other times was caught up in a lady,s net and fastened with numberless hairpins. Many are the anecdotes still current of his sayings and doings in the district which cannot be related here, but which remain a rich harvest and easily to be obtained for the humorist and the antiquarian.

His museum stood at the south-eastern corner of the canal bridge on the piece of ground lying between the road (A82) and the Catholic school (Clansman Centre).

When the Established Church was rebuilt some years ago, the roof of Roualeyn Gordon-Cumming,s museum was used to cover it, and the timbers that once enhanced the charms of the lion-hunter and his wild-beast show, now serve as a framework to an honest Presbyterian congregation, and form a setting to the Geneva gown.

Download A Hunter,s Life among Lions, Elephants and other Wild Animals

Fort Augustus PH32 4BD

Distance From Abbey Cottage 17 Yards / 15 Metres

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  • The Lion Hunter Leaflet
  • Roualeyn George Gordon-Cumming ‘The Lion Hunter’

Gunpowder Store Engine Pump House

Engine House

Often referred to as the Gunpowder Store. The engine house was used by the Caledonian Canal Company during the building of the lower lock in Fort Augustus.

The Engine house was the location of the steam engine pump which pumped out the waters of Loch Ness, from the lower lock during its construction.

Whether the fort used the engine house as a gunpowder store is unknown, the location is sufficiently distant from the fort and if it does pre date the canal, it would be on the rivers shoreline. However it would be on the edge of the town which grew up.

Rooftop compass and weathervane

Distance From Abbey Cottage 21 Yards / 20 Metres

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Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Fountain 1837 - 1897

The fountain originally provided drinking water and was located 160 metres along the Canal at Fountain Cottage, the fountain was moved to a public area, now known as Victoria Gardens, when Fountain Cottage was sold by the Caledonian Canal Company.
Dedicated to Queen Victoria, who passed through Fort Augustus on her steamship in 1873 and commented on the “very rude” people peering in whilst she dined on board.
Originally manufactured by Walter Macfarlane and Co Glasgow. Under the canopy this design usually contained a font with a crane terminal.

Victoria Gardens Fort Augustus PH32 4BD

Distance From Abbey Cottage 45 Yards / 41 Metres

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  • Queen Victoria Water Fountain
  • Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Water Fountain
  • MacFarlanes Patent No 8 Drinking Fountain
  • Queen Victoria Water Fountain Fort Augustus

Coronation Lamp Post

1911 Coronation Lamp Post

The lamp post is dedicated to the George V coronation in 1911. It is the last remnant of the original electric lighting which the south side of the village enjoyed courtesy of the monks hydro electric 1890 - 1951. However the north side did not have electricity as the Caledonian Canal Company would not let the dangerous electric cables cross over or under the canal.

Legend has it that when the monks played their electric organ, the lights in the village went dim.

Fort Augustus abbey was the home of the first ever public hydro-electric supply in Scotland.
The power house and aqueduct still exists outside of the village.

Distance From Abbey Cottage 77 Yards / 70 Metres

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The MacKay Hall - The Millshop

The MacKay Hall

Built around 1906 for the newly formed United Free Church (1900)
In 1929 the denomination changed to Church of Scotland
In 1934 the church closed.
Today there is still a Free Church of Scotland, Church of Scotland and a Catholic Church in Fort Augustus.

The Free Church was created in 1843 following a split from the Church of Scotland, Known as the “Disruption”.
The United Free Church was created in 1900 when the Free Church and United Presbyterian Church merged.
Some Churches did not merge and remain today as Free Church of Scotland.
In 1929 the United Free Church merged back into the Church of Scotland.

Distance From Abbey Cottage 109 Yards / 100 Metres

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Fort Augustus War Memorial Hall

War Memorial Hall

Originally built as a public hall by Lord Lovat between 1892 and 1900.
Used as a drill hall from 1900 – 1908 by the Imperial Yeomanry regiment established by the 14th Lord Lovat.
In 1908 the Territorial Force was created and The 1st and 2nd Lovat,s Scouts Yeomanry were created under orders of the Highland Mounted Brigade from the Imperial Yeomanry regiment.
In 1914 the Haldane Reforms changed The 1st and 2nd Lovat,s Scouts Yeomanry to 1 Lovat,s Scouts (A Squadron), who continued to use the Memorial Hall as a drill hall.
The 4th Battalion, Cameron Highlanders (E Company) were also formed at this time, and most likely built and moved to a new site, what is now the Village Hall formerly the Drill hall and later the TA Centre.

After 1918 the Memorial was added to the front of the hall and renamed War Memorial Hall.

Boer War 1899-1902
WWI 1914-1918
WWII 1939-1945

Distance From Abbey Cottage 118 Yards / 108 Metres

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Fort Augustus Railway Piers

Fort Augustus to Invergarry Railway Piers

The railway piers are visible from the road bridge across the River Oich in Fort Augustus.
These piers once carried the tracks from Fort Augustus station to Fort Augustus Pier station, where passengers would catch a steam boat to Inverness.
The railway was opened in 1903 but closed to passengers shortly after in 1933.
The line was abandoned in 1947

Main Street Fort Augustus PH32 4DD

Distance From Abbey Cottage 165 Yards / 151 Metres

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Caledonian Canal Centre

Ardchattan House formerly Caledonian Canal Centre

The horses which were used to open the road bridge across the Caledonian Canal were stabled here until the bridge was replaced with the much larger electric bridge you see today.

Canal Side , Fort Augustus PH32 4BA

Distance From Abbey Cottage 173 Yards / 158 Metres

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Glentarff Inn

Glentarff Inn

Now known as Glentarff cottage. One of the oldest buildings in Fort Augustus, along with Kings Inn and Inveroich House. Located on Canal Side behind the Chip Shop. Unfortunately the house has fallen into great disrepair.

Glentarff Cottage was depicted as the home of Detective Sergeant Annie Redford and her family in the TV drama The Loch

Distance From Abbey Cottage 185 Yards / 169 Metres

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Kilwhimman Barracks Fort Augustus

First Military Barracks

The original fort was built as a defense against the inroads of the hostile clans, and stood just at the back of what is now the Lovat Hotel.

After the battle of Killiecrankie in 1715 the English Government took possession and garrisoned this fort in the hope of reducing the turbulent Highlanders to order.

Ten years later when General Wade was building his network of roads across the country, a fort on a much larger scale was begun on the shores of Loch Ness.

It was originally intended to connect the two forts by a covered way and to use the old one at the summit of the brae as a governor,s house, but this plan was abandoned, and now the ruins of this stronghold form part of the garden wall at the back of the Lovat Hotel.

Some years ago an ancient underground passage was accidentally discovered in this garden, but its nature and extent still remain to be explored.

Distance From Abbey Cottage 196 Yards / 179 Metres

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Old Oich River Bridge at Fort Augustus

Old Oich River Bridge Fort Augustus

Originally the site of the ferry crossing, until the Jacobite defeat of 1746 when the redcoat army built a three-arched stone bridge. It was importantly used by all the cattle drovers travelling to the south from Skye and the North of Scotland. It later carried the main road from Fort William to Inverness.

In the floods of 1849 most of the bridge was washed away and a ‘Temporary’ trellis bridge was constructed. The remains of the ‘Temporary’ bridge and one of the original stone arches are what you see today. The bridge remained in use until 1934 when the new road bridge was built opposite the canal swing bridge.

Today the bridge is A listed monument. Category B Listed Building. In 2014 the bridge appears on the AT RISK register.

Fort Augustus PH32 4BA

Distance From Abbey Cottage 287 Yards / 263 Metres

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Lovat Terrace Fort Augustus

Lovat Terrace Heritage Trail

Go across road junction and though the cut to Lovat Terrace (8) which was reputedly built by Lord Lovat as almshouses for workers on his land in the late 19th Century. It later housed railway workers

Distance From Abbey Cottage 307 Yards / 281 Metres

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Absurd Bridge, Old Railway Bridge Crossing The Canal Tow Path

Absurd Bridge

Absurd Bridge – a bridge with seemingly no purpose. The bridge originally carried the railway line over the tow path; to the right is the railway viaduct over the river Oich of which only the stone piers survive, these can be best seen from the road bridge.
To the left once stood another swing bridge, which carried the railway over the Caledonian Canal.

Fort Augustus PH32 4BA

Distance From Abbey Cottage 361 Yards / 331 Metres

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Fort Augustus Light House between Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal

Fort Augustus Light House

Built around 1822. The lighthouse is believed to be the smallest in the UK only 3m in diameter and 7m tall. A small window above the door houses the light which is still in use.

Early one morning in the 1930’s its carbide battery blew up, frightening half the village.

Distance From Abbey Cottage 372 Yards / 340 Metres

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Fort Augustus Barrack Masters House

Barrack Masters House

On the end of Canal Island stands a group of houses now Inveroich House. The one next the loch is probably the oldest building in Fort-Augustus, and was Built for Mr Stewart the Barrack Master during the repairs to the fort, following the Jacobite Revolution in 1745.

The buildings next to the Barrack Masters House used to form the brewery of the Fort, and in another stood the oven wherein was baked the bread for the soldiers use.

Around 1750 a new pier was built on the site of the current Boathouse Restaurant for the galley which used to work steadily up and down the loch. Between the pier and the Barack Masters House, was the house of the Commandant of the Government galley.

Needless to say, this was in the days before the Caledonian Canal was built and there were no dividing waters between the Fort and the island.

The lot of the Commandant Mark Gwynn and his family was cast in singularly adverse times. After serving in the navy for seventy years he was finally drowned in a storm on Loch Ness, and almost in the same year his two sons, also serving in the navy, lost their lives by the sinking of their vessels, and the family was reduced to great difficulty.

Mrs Grant of Laggan, the well-known authoress, who had herself received a pension through the good offices of Sir Walter Scott, was instrumental in obtaining assistance from the Government for this deserving family.

Mrs Grant formerly MacVicar had moved to Fort Augustus in 1773 with her father Duncan MacVicar then the Barrack Master

A vessel was first launched on Loch Ness under the Commonwealth by Cromwell,s soldiers, and was known as the “Highland Galley." A most amusing account of this vessel may be read in Mackay,s “Urquhart and Glenmoriston."
This ship and its successors continued to work steadily up and down the loch until the opening of the canal. The guns of the last Fort galley now adorn the mansion of the
Laird of Grant at Invermoriston.

Distance From Abbey Cottage 451 Yards / 412 Metres

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View from Battery Rock - Old Post Card

Battery Rock

The hill upon our right, after crossing the Oich, is known as Battery Rock. Here it was that Brigadier
Stapleton, with his Irish Picquets and a detachment of Lord Drummond,s regiment, opened a trench and placed their artillery on 3rd March, 1746. In a very short while they were successful in blowing up the powder magazine, and after two days the garrison surrendered to Prince Charlie.

On the little eminence directly above the Abbey the trenches opened by the highlanders can still be seen, and the emplacements of the cannon are marked by the iron pins driven into the rock, now overgrown with moss and heather.

Distance From Abbey Cottage 527 Yards / 483 Metres

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Hambro Memorial

Mrs Winifred Hambro was drowned in Aug 1932 on Loch Ness after a speed boat in which she was travelling burst into flames. Mr and Mrs Hambro and their 2 sons attempted to swim to safety, while the governess remained on board and escaped unhurt. Mrs Hambro,s body was never ever recovered.

Her husband Mr Hambro a banker who owned the Glendoe estate at the time of the accident raised the memorial to her memory on top of a hill on a remote south side of Loch Ness near Fort Augustus.

Distance From Abbey Cottage 1.9 miles / 3.0 KM

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Bridge Of Oich Invergarry near Fort Augustus

Bridge Of Oich Invergarry

James Dredge designed this splendid suspension bridge in 1854. It was built using a sophisticated patented design of double cantilevered chain construction with massive granite pylon arches at either end.

Distance From Abbey Cottage 4.3 miles / 6.9 KM

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