HC1-018 - Holidays in Cairndow (1960-1969)

Holidays in Glen Fyne  – Magnus Spence

We would come to Glen Fyne every two years while I was growing up.  Everything about it was exciting, even the trip up, (but not down).  We stayed at several places including Inverhorachan, Policy Gate, The Lodge, Ardno, and other houses whose names I can’t now remember.  Sometimes we were on Ardkinglas land, sometimes on Glenkinglas land. 

Holidays in Glen Fyne  - Magnus Spence 1960s
Going for long walks up Glen Fyne

The best of them all was Inverhorachan.  There was no heating or even lighting and although it must have been a nightmare for Mum it was glorious for us.  I used to wander for what seemed like miles up the glen and Photo 1 shows me with Inverhorachan back down the glen behind me.  I don’t remember it raining at all, so this just goes to show how rose tinted my memories are.  I remember picking up the milk and cream from Peggy at Clachan farm, and remembering to slow right down when Michael Noble was out in his car.  Once when it was particularly hot we were swimming in the burn above Inverhorachan the whole family naked except me because I was far too prudish.  Suddenly we saw Michael Noble approaching characteristically slowly trundling up the rocky road towards us.  He had been invited for tea and we had forgotten.  I was sent to belt across the bracken to head him off so that the rest of my embarrassing family could run, completely starkers back to the cottage in time for Michael’s arrival.

One year I found a stash of spent rifle ammunition left behind after what must have been a huge military exercise in the bracken above Inverhorachan.  There were boxes of bullets, and we had great fun turning it all into our own bandit accessory wear, it all seemed very dashing at the time. 

I don’t suppose it was very hygienic at Inverhorachan.  One particularly fun year we discovered, a day before we left, the rotting carcass of a sheep in the burn just above where the cottage took its water supply.  We decided we couldn’t really be bothered to be ill, and none of us were the worst for our bacterial influx.

A lot of the time we spent fishing.  If we were at Inverhorachan this meant toiling away at the pools way up the glen, and I don’t remember ever catching anything there except a few trout.  But this didn’t stop us trying and we enjoyed every moment of it.  Photo shows me and David Sumsion hard at work above Inverhorachan in 1966?

We did get a few fish when we were lucky enough to get time on the lower pools.  My first salmon was in 1969 at the Bridge pool with help from Archie McCallum.  I thought my line was stuck and was yanking it around and Archie rushed over and taught me how to do it properly.  I will never forget being bloodied by Archie at the end of what seemed to me a titanic struggle.  I proudly took the fish back up the Glen to the Lodge where we were staying that year, and we had this family photo taken with my great prize.  

My father caught his first Salmon with Archie as well.  His favourite time, possibly in his whole life, was spent dipping his worm into the Pot which was the closest pool to Inverhorachan and seemed very wild and untamed compared to the more genteel pools of the lower reaches of the river.  Dad loved Archie and they used to drink whiskey together chatting over the roar of the river in between forays along the ledge to try their luck. 

If we were staying at Ardno we loved to go for Mackerel although we didn’t always get any, but I had been well taught by my great Uncle Ernest when we stayed with him over at Loch Riddon and so I was able to teach others staying with us. 

We didn’t often see my Uncle Iain at Ardkinglas when I was inviting, he was already too busy in Edinburgh and Skye.  But when he did come it was always an event. 

I wasn’t there for this, but there was a great party for Iain to celebrate his 50th birthday in 1986 at the Lodge.  The guests were a mixture of McCallums, Sumsions, Nobles, Spences and friends of the Spences. 

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