Inspiration from North of the Border
A short post about our recent break in Gatehouse of Fleet, Scotland
My lovely partner, Emma, and I have just returned from a week in Scotland. We stayed in the beautiful East Cally Lodge, in the picturesque village of Gatehouse of Fleet, in the Dumfries and Galloway area of South West Scotland. The lodges are basically a pair of miniature mansions, originally built as gatehouses to the Cally estate in the 1700’s. In such beautiful and elegant surroundings there is a temptation to swan around, pretending to be Laird of the Manor. As you can see from some of the photographs, this temptation was, at times, too great for me 😊
You can find out more about East Cally Lodge here:
Of course, when running a small publishing house, no holiday is just a holiday, so my laptop, and a briefcase full of ongoing projects went with us. When we did manage to go out on walks in the village itself, and the surrounding countryside, our thoughts often turned to books and writing, (to be fair, our thoughts often turn to books and writing).
Walking in the picturesque village, we happened upon a side street, off the main road, called Hannay Street. At the sight of the name, I was immediately reminded of John Buchan’s character, Richard Hannay, the main protagonist in his classic adventure novel, The Thirty-Nine Steps, and its various sequels. A little checking, however, revealed no direct connection. Hannay happens to be the name of one of the Clans from the area, whose ancient seat is at nearby Sorbie Tower.
One could hardly be disappointed, however, bearing in mind the inspiration to other great writers that the area has provided. At the top end of the High Street in Gatehouse of Fleet stands a public House called the Murray Arms. It is in this inn that Robert Burns wrote “Scots Wha Hae” in 1793.
A few hundred yards down the High Street and over the bridge is another public house with some literary history attached to it. The Ship Inn, at No. 1 Fleet Street, on the corner of Fleet Street and Old Military Road, was originally called The Anwoth Hotel. It was here, in 1931 that the great Dorothy L Sayers penned one of her Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, Five Red Herrings, which is set both in the village and nearby Kirkcudbright.
Also on the High Street in Gatehouse is The Bakehouse: Bakehouse Community Arts is an organisation based in South West Scotland, dedicated to poetry and the spoken word. You can find out more about them here:
The surrounding area is also home to many bookshops, selling a wide range of works by a range of authors, from local historians to the world famous big names in publishing, along with a healthy number of antique and second hand bookshops, which I always find a joy to explore. On an all too brief visit to the bookshop in the local arts centre in the village, called The Mill on the Fleet, I picked up copies of a couple of the old ‘Bulldog Drummond’ shockers, along with a collection of George Orwell essays that I didn’t already have in my collection.
For those of you interested in cinema history and cult horror films, both Gatehouse of Fleet and nearby Kirkcudbright provided filming locations for the 1973 cult horror classic The Wicker Man, starring Edward Woodward. Although Dumfries and Galloway is a long way south of where the film is set, (the Highlands and Islands), the scenery is beautiful and remote. This may well be one of the contributing factors to the sheer wealth of creativity in the country.
Scotland has more than its fair share of creatives, be they authors, poets, sculptors or painters. In any of the small towns and villages in the area, it seems virtually impossible to go more than a few hundred yards without coming across examples of Scottish creativity. It is a part of the world where writers and artists are respected and encouraged by their local communities, much more so than many other places. This attitude seems to stretch the length and breadth of the country.
Much further North than our little break, one of the first authors that we worked with at Brindle Books has been a resident of Perthshire for twenty years. He has been inspired by the history of his local area to write many books, one of which; The ‘Lost’ Village of Lawers, we have been very proud to publish with him in eBook format. The book tells the story of the ‘lost’ and abandoned village of Lawers, on the shores of Loch Tay, and of the mysterious ‘Lady of Lawers’, who made eerily accurate prophecies about the area.
The ‘Lost’ Village of Lawers is also available in paperback from various outlets. You can find more information about this, and Mark’s other work here:
If you’re a writer, and you are searching for a location that will inspire you, I would definitely recommend a visit to Scotland.