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Final Journey

The view from the summit at the Loch Lomond island of Inchcailloch is a fine one indeed. I took this photo there in May last year:

The hill on the right in the distance is Ben Lomond. On the left is Glen Luss. The islands of Inchfad, Inchcruin, Inchmoan, Inchconnachan, Inchtavannach, Buccinch, Inchlonaig and Ceardach are visible in the photo. At the spot itself such is the panorama that the islands of Eleandarroch, Torrinch, Creinch and Inchmurrin are also visible.

When my mother died last October I had the idea that her ashes should rest here. It was one of her favourite spots. I can remember when I was a youngster my mum talking about the islands and how much she loved visiting them for the walking, the views and the wildlife and trying to encourage me to go.

At the time I wasn’t interested.

It was only in later years that I developed my own interest, by which time mum was too infirm to visit the islands. She did however enjoy hearing about them and always loved seeing the photos.

The weather yesterday morning was dull and damp. It wasn’t too cold though and I decided that having a day off, this would be the day I would keep my promise and mum would have her final journey.

The loch was about eight feet higher in level than in summer. For example this tree in the loch is normally on Inchcailloch.

I paddled in my canoe, via the lowlands to Port Bawn at the west of the island. Along with Conic Hill and the islands of Torrinch, Creinch and Inchmurrin, Inchcailloch forms part of the highland fault line so that these islands mark the boundary between lowland and highland Scotland.

There had been a memorial service at my mother’s church in November. Many bereaved relatives were there and each was offered a pebble from a plate to symbolise their loved one. The pebbles were then collected and offered again -thus people had a different pebble.

I’m not religious but I kind of got the idea that it was to unite with others in their grief.

The pebble now lies on the bottom of the loch at the precise point where the highlands and lowlands meet.

After hauling the canoe ashore I climbed to the summit. This is normally a simple task as there is a reasonable path to the top. Yesterday however it was rather more of a challenge with all the fallen trees from the recent storms.

Having got to the top I admired the view even though it was much more cloudy and dull than the photo above:

When I have visited before I have sometimes had a seat on the wooden bench there. Yesterday I noticed a plaque on the bench in memory of a Peter MacFarlane 1917-2002:

It quotes from Burns’s Epitaph on William Muir. It seemed appropriate for the occasion and so I have adapted the quote for my mum.

An honest woman here lies at rest
As e’er God with his image blest.
The friend of man, the friend of truth;
The friend of Age, and guide of Youth:
Few hearts like hers with virtue warm’d,
Few heads with knowledge so inform’d:
If there’s another world, she lives in bliss;
If there is none, she made the best of this.

Having done the duty of the day, I made my way back down (alone) to Port Bawn and boiled up a welcome cuppa on the stove.

Sustenance for the trip home.

Then it was back into the canoe and forward to Balmaha, via the ‘high road’ between Inchcailloch and Inchfad. By this time there was a significant breeze and a fairly strong current – all with me I’m pleased to say.

As I came back to the boatyard at Balmaha, by now basking in misty drizzle, some men were working on their boats and watched me coming in.

“Aye and we thought WE were daft!” one remarked cheerily.

Daft or not I’m glad I got out on the loch and kept a promise.


4 Responses

  1. What a wonderful thing to do for your mum.

  2. Lovely piece. Thanks for that, Rab.

    I love that epitaph too.

  3. That’s wonderful!

  4. Beautiful,Rab

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