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The Highland Clearances

The Highland Clearances were all about Highlanders of the 18th century being pushed off their land and moved to the coast - making way for sheep !

Highland Clearances were the forced displacement of highlanders during the 18th and 19th centuries. They led to mass emigration to the sea coast, the Scottish Lowlands and the North American colonies. The clearances were part of a process of agricultural change but were particularly notorious due to the late timing, the lack of legal protection for year-by-year tenants under Scottish law, the abruptness of the change from the traditional clan system and the brutality of many evictions.

In 1725 General Wade raised the independent companies of the Black Watch as a militia force to keep peace in the unruly Highlands. This increased exodus of Highlanders to the Americas. Increasing demand in Britain for cattle and sheep and the creation of new breeds of sheep such as the black-faced, which could be reared in the mountainous country, allowed higher rents for landowners and chiefs to meet the costs of their aristocratic lifestyle. As a result, families living on a subsistence level were displaced, exacerbating the unsettled social climate. In1792 tenant farmers from Strathrusdale led a protest against the policy by driving over 6,000 sheep off the land surrounding Ardross. This action was dealt with at the highest levels in government, with the Home Secretary Henry Dundas getting involved. The Black Watch was mobilised; it halted the drive and brought the ringleaders to trial. They were found guilty, but later escaped custody and disappeared. 

1792 became known as the "Year of the Sheep" to Scottish Highlanders. The people were accommodated in poor crofts or small farms in coastal areas where farming could not sustain the communities and they were expected to take up fishing. In some villages the conditions were so harsh that, while the women worked, they had to tether their livestock and even their children to rocks or posts to prevent them being blown over the cliffs. 

Others were put directly onto emigration ships to Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Ontario and the Carolinas. Elizabeth Gordon, the 19th Countess of Sutherland, and her factor, Patrick Sellar, were especially cruel and their names are reviled in the county of Sutherland to this day. Donald McLeod, a Sutherland crofter, later wrote about the events he witnessed: "The consternation and confusion were extreme. Little or no time was given for the removal of persons or property; the people striving to remove the sick and the helpless before the fire should reach them; next, struggling to save the most valuable of their effects. The cries of the women and children, the roaring of the affrighted cattle, hunted at the same time by the yelling dogs of the shepherds amid the smoke and fire, altogether presented a scene that completely baffles description — it required to be seen to be believed. A dense cloud of smoke enveloped the whole country by day, and even extended far out to sea. At night an awfully grand but terrific scene presented itself — all the houses in an extensive district in flames at once. I myself ascended a height about eleven o'clock in the evening, and counted two hundred and fifty blazing houses, many of the owners of which I personally knew, but whose present condition — whether in or out of the flames — I could not tell. The conflagration lasted six days, till the whole of the dwellings were reduced to ashes or smoking ruins. During one of these days a boat actually lost her way in the dense smoke as she approached the shore, but at night was enabled to reach a landing-place by the lurid light of the flames."

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Innseagan House Hotel Fort William
The Innseagan House Hotel in Fort William is a small and friendly family-run hotel with superb views across Loch Linnhe. Your host Alexandra, welcomes you to the relaxed family atmosphere, good food, roaring fires and a highland welcome. Located on the shores of Loch Linnhe in The Outdoor Capital of The UK there is plenty to do during the day. Your pets are welcome to come along and enjoy Fort William with you, for a small fee. Group excursions are welcome. We are awaiting inspection and grading from the Scottish Tourist Board. Restaurant At night you can have a bar meal and enjoy a wide variety of flavourful foods. You can savour our special Highland beef steaks, or delicious home made chilli con carne with nachos with baked potato and salad Or you can feast on our home made burger and fries. Our Roast Pork is another favourite. Whatever you choose you will not be disappointed. Our homemade desserts are quite delicious. Ben Nevis Bar The bar offers a range of Whiskeys, and a fine selection of mixed drinks and beers - there is really no need to go into Fort William to enjoy a few fine brews. try our Ben Nevis ale or Ben Nevis whiskey. A roaring fire in the bar is just a treat. Lounge The Lounge offers a roomy yet cozy room with roaring fires in the winter months to relax, have a drink beside the fire and log onto the free wi-fi, or read a book, or watch some TV. During the winter months or rainy days, this room is the place to go and just relax..... Rooms All rooms at The Innseagan House are freshly decorated and en-suite. The beds are fitted with fine Egyptian cotton linen, and the duvets have soft covers for a luxurious sleep. The rooms overlooking the Loch offer one of the most picturesque views from a hotel room in Fort William. The rooms to the rear of the building view the woodland and offer a “sleep in” cosiness that make you want to sleep all day. All rooms have either bath/shower en suite or shower/ ensuite. Flat screen wall mounted TV with full Freeview and tea and coffee facilities. Hair Dryers are in each room. Prices Double and Twin accommodation start at £65.00 per room per night. Our family rooms start at £95 for adult occupancy, and children’s prices vary according to age and number of children. We offer baby cots, and z-beds for “extra sleepers”. Our prices include breakfast. We are open all year round and have 24 hour reception available. Room service can be arranged. Laundry service available. Babysitting available on request. We have regular break offers. A great weekend in Fort William, Lochaber, Highland. Please visit our website for more details, or complete the enquiry form below, or just call us ! We look forward to hearing from you and welcoming you to Fort William.
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