Friday, 2 April 2010

The Five Sisters of Kintail

There is a legend - a real one, not one of those kid on ones told to gullible tourists by the likes of Haggis Backpackers - about the five sisters of Kintail. It is said the Fianna - the mythical warrior elite who supposedly roamed the bens and glens of Gaeldom around AD200 - are dead and in their pagan version of heaven, but on Hogmanay return at sunset to Mam Ratagan, a pass with views of Kintail, as the West Highlands are so beautiful their souls could not leave forever - not even for Tir nan Og.

The Five Sisters from Mam Ratagan:


There is another legend. The five sisters were originally seven, but two brothers sailed into Loch Duich from a foreign land and were smitten by the youngest two sisters. Their father refused to allow them to marry until their older sisters were all first betrothed, but relented when the sailors swore they had five eligible elder brothers of their own who would be delighted to marry them. The two brothers sailed off with their new brides, never to be seen again. The five remaining sisters waited... and waited... until they turned into stone, their feet in the rivers and heads in the clouds, there to wait in Kintail for ever for their non-existant husbands.

The Five Sisters from Loch Duich:


The sisters were to be disappointed again last weekend, as we wandered over their tops in the company of a man already betrothed - it was our friend Duncan's stag weekend. As we were all keen hillwalkers, Kintail was a great place for a weekend, and the Five Sisters is one of the classic ridgewalks in Scotland. In the pub, by chance we met a friend's walking group and compared accounts of the walk, which had been a tough one on steep mixed terrain and worsening weather.

On the Five Sisters Ridge before the sleet came in:


We enjoyed a meal and pint in comfort and conviviality, neither warriors nor stone maidens. Pity those who know only mountains and lonliness!

3 comments:

PurestGreen said...

I love these stories. Where do you find them?

Strangely Brown said...

A real legend? BTW Did you stay in the Clunie Inn perchance?

Robert Craig said...

PG: most of these stories I read in books while at university instead of studying my course...


Dave: we stayed in the NTS hostel at Morvich, don't think the Cluanie could have contained our wild frat boy antics ;)