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TITLE
'A Croft in the Hills' (1)
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_KATHARINE_STEWART_01
PLACENAME
Abriachan
DISTRICT
Inverness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Katharine Stewart
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1391
KEYWORDS
authobiographies
crofting
crofters
crofter
crofts
audio
literary landscapes

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This audio extract is from Katharine Stewart's autobiographical book, 'A Croft in the Hills', first published in 1971. It is read here by the author.

'We had both, my husband and I, since our earliest days, found it difficult to live in a city. Every free half-day, week-end, summer holiday, had found us making for the nearest patch of country - preferably the hills - anywhere where we could breathe and smell the earth and see the sky in great stretches, instead of in tiny squares between the huddled roof-tops.

I shall always remember walking down a busy street in London, where I was working temporarily, and finding myself nearly losing my footing among the crowd, because my mind's eye was fixed on the rim of a steel-blue Highland loch, and I was smelling the scent of the bog-myrtle and hearing the weird, lonely cry of a drifting curlew.

Later, work took us north but we were still in a town and we were getting restless. We scanned the columns of newspapers - could we find some sort of a job where we could work in the country? But nothing seemed to come up. Then, suddenly, we saw it - an advertisement for a seven-roomed house, in a place with an excitingly unfamiliar name, with forty acres of arable land and an outrun on the moor, for the comparatively small sum of five hundred pounds. We got out the map, found the spot and repeated the name out loud, looking wonderingly at each other. Music was sounding in our ears.

Instantly, our minds were made up. It was within quite easy reach; we must see it, just see it, at least.'

Katharine Stewart was born in 1914 and becamed one of the Highlands' most prolific writers. During the Second World War she worked for the Admiralty in London after which she settled in Abriachan, near Inverness, where she ran a croft and post office and wrote documentaries for the BBC. She was instrumental in setting up a small local museum in Abriachan and in 2005 she received the Saltire Society Highland Branch Award for her outstanding contribution to the understanding of Highland Culture.

Katharine Stewart's first book, 'A Croft in the Hills', was published in 1960 and again in 1971. What had originally been seen as a couthy tale of Highland life was now seen as an important evocation of a way of life which was disappearing fast. 'A Garden in the Hills' followed in 1995, with 'A School in the Hills' in 1996 and 'The Post in the Hills' in 1997. She branched out into less autobiographical books with 'Abriachan: the story of an upland community', for the Abriachan Forest Trust (2000), and 'The story of Loch Ness' (2005). Her latest book, 'Women of the Highlands' (2006), is an interesting excursion through the lives of notable Highland women through the ages. It is dedicated 'To women everywhere, those custodians of life'. "Her final volume, 'Cattle on a Thousand Hills' was published in 2010."

Katharine Stewart died on 27 March 2013, aged 98.

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'A Croft in the Hills' (1)

INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona

2000s

authobiographies; crofting; crofters; crofter; crofts; audio; literary landscapes

Am Baile

Literary Landscapes: Katharine Stewart

This audio extract is from Katharine Stewart's autobiographical book, 'A Croft in the Hills', first published in 1971. It is read here by the author.<br /> <br /> 'We had both, my husband and I, since our earliest days, found it difficult to live in a city. Every free half-day, week-end, summer holiday, had found us making for the nearest patch of country - preferably the hills - anywhere where we could breathe and smell the earth and see the sky in great stretches, instead of in tiny squares between the huddled roof-tops.<br /> <br /> I shall always remember walking down a busy street in London, where I was working temporarily, and finding myself nearly losing my footing among the crowd, because my mind's eye was fixed on the rim of a steel-blue Highland loch, and I was smelling the scent of the bog-myrtle and hearing the weird, lonely cry of a drifting curlew. <br /> <br /> Later, work took us north but we were still in a town and we were getting restless. We scanned the columns of newspapers - could we find some sort of a job where we could work in the country? But nothing seemed to come up. Then, suddenly, we saw it - an advertisement for a seven-roomed house, in a place with an excitingly unfamiliar name, with forty acres of arable land and an outrun on the moor, for the comparatively small sum of five hundred pounds. We got out the map, found the spot and repeated the name out loud, looking wonderingly at each other. Music was sounding in our ears.<br /> <br /> Instantly, our minds were made up. It was within quite easy reach; we must see it, just see it, at least.'<br /> <br /> Katharine Stewart was born in 1914 and becamed one of the Highlands' most prolific writers. During the Second World War she worked for the Admiralty in London after which she settled in Abriachan, near Inverness, where she ran a croft and post office and wrote documentaries for the BBC. She was instrumental in setting up a small local museum in Abriachan and in 2005 she received the Saltire Society Highland Branch Award for her outstanding contribution to the understanding of Highland Culture. <br /> <br /> Katharine Stewart's first book, 'A Croft in the Hills', was published in 1960 and again in 1971. What had originally been seen as a couthy tale of Highland life was now seen as an important evocation of a way of life which was disappearing fast. 'A Garden in the Hills' followed in 1995, with 'A School in the Hills' in 1996 and 'The Post in the Hills' in 1997. She branched out into less autobiographical books with 'Abriachan: the story of an upland community', for the Abriachan Forest Trust (2000), and 'The story of Loch Ness' (2005). Her latest book, 'Women of the Highlands' (2006), is an interesting excursion through the lives of notable Highland women through the ages. It is dedicated 'To women everywhere, those custodians of life'. "Her final volume, 'Cattle on a Thousand Hills' was published in 2010." <br /> <br /> Katharine Stewart died on 27 March 2013, aged 98.