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TITLE
'A Croft in the Hills' (2)
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_KATHARINE_STEWART_02
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
1393
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.

'On our next free day we got out the old van, packed a picnic, opened the map and set off. Through Inverness we went, along the shore of Loch Ness, to a point about half-way to Drumnadrochit. There, a small road branched off from the main one. There was no sign-post, just this rough-shod track, pointing skywards. 'This is it!' We beamed at each other and put the van sharply at the rise.

We climbed slowly, changing gear every few yards, one eye on the panorama spread out below us, the other on what might emerge round the next blind corner ahead. After about a mile of this tortuous mounting we found ourselves on more or less level ground. Hills rose steeply on either side. There were small fields carved out of the encroaching heather. Croft houses were dotted here and there and there was a school, a tiny post-office and a telephone kiosk.

We made enquiries and found we had another mile or so to go. We came within sight of a small loch, lapping the foot of a shapely hill. It was remarkably like the London oasis.

We branched right at this point and the landscape opened out into great distances. Another half-mile and we left the van at the roadside and took, as directed, the footpath through a patch of felled woodland. Then, at last, the roof and chimneys of a dwelling came into view. We stopped at the stile and took a long look at it.

Four-square and very solid it stood, facing just to the east of south, its walls of rough granite and whinstone, its roof of fine blue slate. Beyond it was the steading and in front a line of rowan trees, sure protection against evil spirits, according to Highland lore. A patch of rough grass all round the house was enclosed by a stout netted fence and on either side of the door was a small flower bed.

Round the house and steading was the arable ground and beyond that the moor, rising to the hill-land and to farther and farther hills against the horizon.'

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' (2)

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 /> 'On our next free day we got out the old van, packed a picnic, opened the map and set off. Through Inverness we went, along the shore of Loch Ness, to a point about half-way to Drumnadrochit. There, a small road branched off from the main one. There was no sign-post, just this rough-shod track, pointing skywards. 'This is it!' We beamed at each other and put the van sharply at the rise.<br /> <br /> We climbed slowly, changing gear every few yards, one eye on the panorama spread out below us, the other on what might emerge round the next blind corner ahead. After about a mile of this tortuous mounting we found ourselves on more or less level ground. Hills rose steeply on either side. There were small fields carved out of the encroaching heather. Croft houses were dotted here and there and there was a school, a tiny post-office and a telephone kiosk.<br /> <br /> We made enquiries and found we had another mile or so to go. We came within sight of a small loch, lapping the foot of a shapely hill. It was remarkably like the London oasis. <br /> <br /> We branched right at this point and the landscape opened out into great distances. Another half-mile and we left the van at the roadside and took, as directed, the footpath through a patch of felled woodland. Then, at last, the roof and chimneys of a dwelling came into view. We stopped at the stile and took a long look at it.<br /> <br /> Four-square and very solid it stood, facing just to the east of south, its walls of rough granite and whinstone, its roof of fine blue slate. Beyond it was the steading and in front a line of rowan trees, sure protection against evil spirits, according to Highland lore. A patch of rough grass all round the house was enclosed by a stout netted fence and on either side of the door was a small flower bed.<br /> <br /> Round the house and steading was the arable ground and beyond that the moor, rising to the hill-land and to farther and farther hills against the horizon.'<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.