Someone said there is nothing better than driving south with the one you love.
That’s fine if you are in France but to my mind you reverse that if Scotland is your destination – but I’m getting ahead of myself – it is 1948 and Sarah and I were off to the Trossachs.
As usual Mum and Dad’s recommendation turned up trumps and Mrs Scott was a real find. She greeted us with a splendid high tea with lots of oatcakes, pancakes and shortbread. Just as well we were going to be doing lots of walking and Callander was the idyllic spot for that. Towering over the town is Ben Ledi 2,873ft. On a sunny day, we set off with Mrs Scott’s exhortations ringing in our ears and actually made it to the top – sans map as usual (don’t try that at home). On a clear day you can see Ben Lawyers and the Forth Bridge – we were told later – so I’m sure we probably did.
We got into a routine of walking during the day – back for tea and then cycling past Loch Venacher to the Trossachs Hotel. There in the climber’s bar we played darts and drank cider like the dissolute teen-agers we were. One night we cycled to the Brig o’ Turk where there was a ceilidh. We met two friendly Scots – also on holiday and danced our socks off. Brig o’ Turk was a favourite haunt of artists including Millais and Ruskin. Forty years later MTL and I retraced some of the footsteps. See photos below.
Loch Katrine inspired Walter Scott’s ‘The Lady of the Lake’ and Ellen Isle on the lake is named after the ‘Lady’. In olden times the MacGregors used to hide the cattle they had stolen from the Lowlands on the island. There was a lot of it about and MTL himself is a descendant of Highland sheep stealers.
Memories flit in and out of one’s consciousness like will o’ the wisps. This from Sarah:
Our last holiday was in Callander; do you remember the name of the lady who’mothered ‘us? You were very scathing when I panicked on scree and began to slide down the hillside (Ben Ledi I think) One day you were rowing us on Loch Katrine – do I imagine that we were singing the barcarolle from Hoffman? When ever I hear it that’s where I am. We went to a dance where I could not master the intricacies (to me) of ‘Strip the Willow’. You (as usual) had a number of young men in thrall; the names that come to mind are Alastair and Angus. I hope this is helpful. There’s so much more we must have done if I could remember the details but we did have lots of fun, didn’t we?
I was very proud of my scree running where you run down the mountain digging your heels in and leaning forward. If it is very steep you zigzag. We sang everywhere but always running down hill we laah- laahed to Littolf’s Piano Concerto. Try it!
The boy’s names were Bob and Barclay.
One last memory of sitting with Mrs Scott in her garden and listening to ‘Bonnie Strathyre’ and ‘Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond’ which she played on a portable horn gramophone and showed us a photo of her son who was a professional golfer.
If ever you get the chance to see that lovely old film ‘I know where I’m going.’
see it and get the flavour of Scotland as it was then.