Friday, 27 February 2015

Visit Glencoe and Ballachulish with Cathie Dunn!

It's Friday again!  

Photo taken at North Ballachulish
I'm delighted to be welcoming a return guest today - Cathie Dunn

It's been quite a while since she visited, but when she comes I love to read about the places she mentions. 

Cathie knows a lot about a historical era that I've never personally researched (with the exception of my forays at secondary school), but that's only because my time has been devoted to other periods. I will, someday, get to know that era better... I'm sure. Meanwhile, I learn about it through reading the novels of other authors, like Cathie.

Since I have first-hand knowledge of the geographical places she mentions today, it makes reading her guest posts doubly interesting for me. I thoroughly enjoyed reading her romantic historical novel-  Highland Arms  - and definitely recommend it to readers of the Jacobite Era. 

Hello, Cathie! 

Thanks so much for having me here again, Nancy. It’s always a pleasure visiting your lovely blog.

Today, I’m happy to share my research into the Scottish Highlands in the 1720s. I delved into that era – post ‘15 and pre ’45 rebellions – for my historical adventure, Highland Arms. The novel was originally published by The Wild Rose Press, but has now found a new home at Crooked Cat Publishing in a revised version.

I’m a bit of a history nut. I'm very interested in Scottish history, particularly medieval and Jacobite, English medieval and Tudor, and the Norman conquests across England and Europe.

I love history books (though not too keen on the fancy recent ‘non-boring’ The Tudors style of writing – I’m sure it has its audience), but I’m fortunate enough to have found small booklets in Glencoe and Ballachulish, which have provided me with many inspirations. Written by historians local to the Lochaber region, you’ll find little snippets of information that helped make Highland Arms just that little bit more authentic.

Sgorr Dhonuill viewed from North Ballachulish- Wikimedia Commons
Highland Arms is set near the dramatic hills of Glencoe, just along from the (then) hamlet of Ballachulish. I have visited the area many times; it is my favourite place in Scotland. I loved creating a novel based on the stunning landscapes and troublesome history.

Even the Drovers Inn mentioned in the novel is based on a real, olde place: the cosy Clachaig Inn just outside Glencoe village! Visitors of the Scottish Highlands should check it out! Their venison is yummy!

Baile a' Chaolais, Ballachulish’s Gaelic name, means 'village of the narrows'. It lies at the junction where Loch Leven flows into the much larger Loch Linnhe. The original village was in what is now North Ballachulish, with a settlement in South Ballachulish, now linked by a road bridge, established later. I used a local historian’s accounts for details of smuggling activities in the area, which I incorporated into the novel as Rory’s activities.

Ballachulish is less than a mile from Glencoe village at the entrance to the Glencoe hills. The small villages nestle at the bottom of hills, with clouds always hovering low over the mountaintops. It is a highly atmospheric place, and one I recommend visiting – and not just for the stunning views.

Scottish history buffs will be familiar with the massacre at Glencoe that befell Clan Macdonald in 1692. You can still sense the desolation today as you travel through the glen. I used the melancholy of the area and incorporated it into a scene where the heroine, Catriona, travels on horseback towards Ballachulish. The low mist and drizzle, which tends to be the norm in Glencoe any time of year, completes the setting.

1720 was a time of great upheaval, only five years after the first Jacobite rising, the ’15. Spies lurked everywhere, and Highlanders didn’t know who they could trust. Clans fought against each other, each seeking their own advantage. Jacobites were lying low, defeated but not without hope. A tale of a Spanish ship carrying arms that was stranded in a northern Highland loch provided me with the perfect backstory – the hero, Rory, needed the muskets to start another rebellion. Or so he hoped... ;-)

In the Author’s Note in Highland Arms, I made special mention of the tales and places that inspired the story.

As you research a particular area and era, it’s often the local tales, collated and passed on, that make the best storylines. And if you are fortunate enough to spot such gems, make sure you go home with your copy! You’ll find it invaluable.

Thanks, Cathie, for such an evocative post. I'm right there with you at Ballachulish and it's fantastic that you could come away with some local tales. 
(I'd loved to be able to do that for my Celtic Fervour era, but I'm not so lucky - 2000 years ago is just too remote!)

About Cathie Dunn:
Cathie writes romantic suspense & adventure set in Scotland, England and Normandy. A hobby historian, her focus is on medieval and Jacobite eras.

She has two historical novels published:
Highland Arms, a romantic Scottish adventure and the first in The Highland Chronicles historical romance series, and Dark Deceit, the first in medieval The Anarchy Trilogy, set in Gloucestershire, England and across Normandy. She has also self-published Silent Deception, a romantic paranormal novella set in Victorian Cornwall. All her books are available on Amazon and other outlets.

Cathie lives in Scotland with her husband and two cats and currently works on a medieval Scottish romance, the second in The Highland Chronicles series.

You can find Cathie here:

Buy from
Barnes& Noble        
Betrayed by her brother’s lies, Catriona MacKenzie is banished from her home to her godmother’s manor in the remote Scottish Highlands. While her family ponders her fate, Catriona’s insatiable curiosity leads her straight into trouble–and into the arms of a notorious Highlander.

Five years after an ill-fated Jacobite rebellion, Rory Cameron works as a smuggler to raise money for the cause–until Catriona uncovers a plot against him and exposes his activities. Now, Rory is faced with a decision that could either save their lives or destroy both of them.

But he’s running out of time…

Highland Arms is the first in The Highland Chronicles series of historical romance novels set in the Scottish Highlands.


Thank you for visiting, Cathie. My best wishes for further great sales of Highland Arms.  



  1. Thank you so much, Nancy. I love telling people about that area. It's so beautiful, yet dramatic. The perfect setting for historical romance.

  2. ...evocative stuff, indeed , m’Ladies... great post ...thanks for sharing :):)

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Seumas. Glad you enjoyed the post. :-)

  3. Fascinating post, ladies, and given me such a hankering to go back to Scotland. I've driven through Glencoe on many an occasion, it has such a desolate atmosphere to it as you say. I also mention The Drovers Inn in Jessamine, so we're book twins in a sense! I've never been though, so must rectify that. I have the Highland Arms on my Kindle and this has whetted my appetite to get stuck in!

    1. Oooh, thank you, Shani! I hope you'll enjoy. You will recognise a few settings then.

      And yes, the Clachaig Inn is worth a visit. :-)

  4. Thanks, everyone for popping in.

  5. Visited Glencoe and various places with Jacobite connections many decades ago - so evocative. Inspired back then to read books set in Highlands like "Kidnapped" and "Rob Roy". Now re-inspired by the interview re-kindling the memories, so have to check out "Highland Arms" - especially with the recommendations here, (And it's published by Crooked Cat :-)

    1. Thank you, Roland. It's a fascinating area - and era! Highland Arms is a romantic adventure. I love bringing 'real' settings and events into my stories. Thanks for stopping by. :-)


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