After our Schiehallion walk, we travelled on to Inveraray yesterday, so that Tom could take part in the Jail Break (which is a hill race, in case you were concerned). Have you ever been to Inveraray? It is a sort of eighteenth-century equivalent of Milton Keynes or Livingston – a Georgian new town whose “improvements” include a carefully laid out main street and waterside front (which maximised the picturesque potential of the town’s natural situation at the head of Loch Fyne), good access to the loch’s lucrative and famous fisheries, and a woollen mill (no evidence of which can unfortunately be found in the present-day “mill”, which is of the cashmere-sweater-vending variety). Inveraray’s pretty “new” town has been an attraction in its own right since the closing decades of the Eighteenth Century — and, despite the busloads of tourist-buddies, and the relentless tartan tat, I am very fond of its location, and of the neat restraint of its whitewashed Georgian buildings — a restraint emphatically not matched by the architecture the eighteenth-century Dukes of Argyll chose for their seat, which they built on the site of the ‘old’ town.
As Samuel Johnson put it when visiting in 1773: “what I admire here is the total defiance of expense.”
As its name would suggest, the race began at Inveraray Jail (now a popular visitor attraction). The chap in uniform behind the runners is the inscrutable ‘jailer’. He blew a klaxon, and started proceedings.
The runners dashed through the town centre and headed toward Dun-na-Cuaiche, a densely-wooded hill above the castle, which is topped by a monument commemorating seventeen prominent members of Clan Campbell, who were executed in 1685 for the part they played in Monmouth’s Rebellion.
At a much more leisurely pace, Bruce and I meandered through the castle grounds toward the finish line.
The escaped inmate flew toward the finish line. . .
. . .in a very respectable sixth place. Then, after a couple of photographs in the rain. . .
. . . he disappeared in search of suitable refreshment.