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TITLE
'Gairloch in North-West Ross-shire' (3)
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_JOHN_DIXON_03
PLACENAME
Gairloch
DISTRICT
Gairloch
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
ROSS: Gairloch
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
John Dixon
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1381
KEYWORDS
audio
lochs
mountains
landscapes
literary landscapes

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This audio extract is from 'Gairloch in North-West Ross-shire' by John Henry Dixon, first published in 1886. It is read here by Norman Newton. (Image - Private Collection)

'In communicating to the public the information about Gairloch contained in the following pages, I claim the right to offer a word or two of counsel and entreaty. I would submit that it is unfair as well as discourteous to interfere with the rights of those who take deer forests or rent sheep farms. Rambles on upland moors and mountain ascents are almost certain to injure the sport or privileges of others. I am aware there is a strong feeling that every one ought to have access to mountains. Whether this be legalised by Parliament or not, I would appeal to the visitor here to refrain from the illiberality and discourtesy of spoiling other people's hardly-earned and well-paid-for privileges. There is plenty of room for all. Why should unpleasant feelings be stirred up, and tourists as a class be blamed for the intolerance of a few? All the mountains and hills of Gairloch are haunts of the red deer or feeding grounds of sheep, and no ascents ought to be undertaken unless by due arrangement, which cannot be expected in the deer-stalking season, and which, when obtainable, should be made with the head-keeper of the ground.

There are some drawbacks to mountain ascents that may help the visitor more willingly to forego them. How often the view from a summit is entirely blotted out by clouds or mist, or marred by the distance being lost in haze! How often the fine morning that induced the expedition is followed by a stormy afternoon! To these must be added the frequent injury to health caused by the unusual strain on the systems of persons unaccustomed to mountaineering, and the possible risk of being lost in mist. ...

Again I entreat botanists and others looking for wild flowers and plants to abstain from rooting up the rare or beautiful things they may find, and from trespassing in places where their presence is obviously not required. The mania for removing every fragment of an uncommon plant has grown much of late years, - witness the extermination of the edelweiss from some of its best known habitats on the Swiss Alps. ...

It is in the spirit of these remarks that I beg to introduce the reader to the charms of Gairloch and Loch Maree.'

John Henry Dixon was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, in 1838 and as a young man followed his father into the legal profession. His obituary in the Ross-shire Journal (29th October 1926) says that 'health reasons compelled him to seek a country life, and a visit which he paid to Ross-shire in 1868 led him in 1874 to settle at Gairloch, where he spent the next quarter of a century.' His residence was at Inveran, at the north end of Loch Maree. He led an active public life and served as District Clerk on the local District Committee created under the Local Government Act in a purely honorary capacity. Local newspapers speak of his patronage of the arts and annual tea parties for local schoolchildren. Census records show that as a gentleman 'living on private means' he maintained a household at Inveran with a housekeeper, housemaid, coachman, gillie and a personal piper. He never married.

Dixon commanded the Gairloch Company of the 1st V. B. Seaforth Highlanders and in 1881 attended the famous Edinburgh Review in honour of Queen Victoria.

In 1886 Dixon published a book which is still regarded as a model of what a parish history should be: 'Gairloch: its Records, Traditions, Inhabitants and Natural History'. Clearly the result of extensive local knowledge and research, it is particularly valuable in drawing together a range of local sources. It was reprinted locally in 1974.

Dixon travelled abroad between 1899 and 1902 and in that year moved to Pitlochry, where he died on 20th October 1926. In Perthshire he also took a great interest in local history and in the Boy Scout movement - he was honoured in 1924 with the prestigious gold Swastika Thanks Badge and on his death was the oldest Scoutmaster in Great Britain. His book on the local history of Pitlochry was published in 1925: 'Pitlochry: Past and Present'. It is illustrated with his own watercolour sketches. As at Gairloch, he took an active part in local affairs and founded a Young Man's Society and a rifle club.

Dixon travelled round the world twice, hunted on Vancouver Island and spent time in Japan, on which he was something of an expert and art collector. His obituary in the Perthshire Advertiser (23rd October 1926) described him as 'altogether a gentleman of wide culture and fine, genial personality, and was held in the highest esteem by all classes of the community, from whose midst he has passed, full of years and of honour.'

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'Gairloch in North-West Ross-shire' (3)

ROSS: Gairloch

2000s

audio; lochs; mountains; landscapes; literary landscapes

Am Baile

Literary Landscapes: John Henry Dixon

This audio extract is from 'Gairloch in North-West Ross-shire' by John Henry Dixon, first published in 1886. It is read here by Norman Newton. (Image - Private Collection)<br /> <br /> 'In communicating to the public the information about Gairloch contained in the following pages, I claim the right to offer a word or two of counsel and entreaty. I would submit that it is unfair as well as discourteous to interfere with the rights of those who take deer forests or rent sheep farms. Rambles on upland moors and mountain ascents are almost certain to injure the sport or privileges of others. I am aware there is a strong feeling that every one ought to have access to mountains. Whether this be legalised by Parliament or not, I would appeal to the visitor here to refrain from the illiberality and discourtesy of spoiling other people's hardly-earned and well-paid-for privileges. There is plenty of room for all. Why should unpleasant feelings be stirred up, and tourists as a class be blamed for the intolerance of a few? All the mountains and hills of Gairloch are haunts of the red deer or feeding grounds of sheep, and no ascents ought to be undertaken unless by due arrangement, which cannot be expected in the deer-stalking season, and which, when obtainable, should be made with the head-keeper of the ground.<br /> <br /> There are some drawbacks to mountain ascents that may help the visitor more willingly to forego them. How often the view from a summit is entirely blotted out by clouds or mist, or marred by the distance being lost in haze! How often the fine morning that induced the expedition is followed by a stormy afternoon! To these must be added the frequent injury to health caused by the unusual strain on the systems of persons unaccustomed to mountaineering, and the possible risk of being lost in mist. ... <br /> <br /> Again I entreat botanists and others looking for wild flowers and plants to abstain from rooting up the rare or beautiful things they may find, and from trespassing in places where their presence is obviously not required. The mania for removing every fragment of an uncommon plant has grown much of late years, - witness the extermination of the edelweiss from some of its best known habitats on the Swiss Alps. ... <br /> <br /> It is in the spirit of these remarks that I beg to introduce the reader to the charms of Gairloch and Loch Maree.'<br /> <br /> John Henry Dixon was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, in 1838 and as a young man followed his father into the legal profession. His obituary in the Ross-shire Journal (29th October 1926) says that 'health reasons compelled him to seek a country life, and a visit which he paid to Ross-shire in 1868 led him in 1874 to settle at Gairloch, where he spent the next quarter of a century.' His residence was at Inveran, at the north end of Loch Maree. He led an active public life and served as District Clerk on the local District Committee created under the Local Government Act in a purely honorary capacity. Local newspapers speak of his patronage of the arts and annual tea parties for local schoolchildren. Census records show that as a gentleman 'living on private means' he maintained a household at Inveran with a housekeeper, housemaid, coachman, gillie and a personal piper. He never married.<br /> <br /> Dixon commanded the Gairloch Company of the 1st V. B. Seaforth Highlanders and in 1881 attended the famous Edinburgh Review in honour of Queen Victoria. <br /> <br /> In 1886 Dixon published a book which is still regarded as a model of what a parish history should be: 'Gairloch: its Records, Traditions, Inhabitants and Natural History'. Clearly the result of extensive local knowledge and research, it is particularly valuable in drawing together a range of local sources. It was reprinted locally in 1974.<br /> <br /> Dixon travelled abroad between 1899 and 1902 and in that year moved to Pitlochry, where he died on 20th October 1926. In Perthshire he also took a great interest in local history and in the Boy Scout movement - he was honoured in 1924 with the prestigious gold Swastika Thanks Badge and on his death was the oldest Scoutmaster in Great Britain. His book on the local history of Pitlochry was published in 1925: 'Pitlochry: Past and Present'. It is illustrated with his own watercolour sketches. As at Gairloch, he took an active part in local affairs and founded a Young Man's Society and a rifle club.<br /> <br /> Dixon travelled round the world twice, hunted on Vancouver Island and spent time in Japan, on which he was something of an expert and art collector. His obituary in the Perthshire Advertiser (23rd October 1926) described him as 'altogether a gentleman of wide culture and fine, genial personality, and was held in the highest esteem by all classes of the community, from whose midst he has passed, full of years and of honour.'