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Tales from Loch Lomondside

Rob Roy’s Ghost    by Tom Huxtable

It is perhaps two or three in the morning of Sunday 19th of September 1945 and a Minibus is being driven along the loch side road which snakes it’s way up to Tarbet from Balloch. On board are the members of `The Arrochar, Huxtables`, returning from my wedding of the previous day to a Bonnie Border Lassie, one Ella Armstrong.

They are, my Father Alex, Mother Hannah, Sisters Margaret and Maria, Brother Edward, my beloved Aunt Nora, also Aunt Cissie and Uncle Charlie ( Hamilton ) . All but Margaret are slumbering in the rear; she is seated in the front passenger seat, with instructions to “keep the driver awake”. A job she is best fitted for, because she is full of chat and daftness, we used to say she “had been vaccinated with a gramophone needle”!
Now to the driver, one of Arrochar’s everlasting characters, the one, and only, Jimmy MacTavish. He is still wearing his Highland Dress that he wore at my wedding, when he welcomed Ella and I from the Church, to the skirl o’ his bagpipes.
What a long day Jimmy was enduring, having set out, dear knows how early, from Arrochar and driving down to the Sark Bridge Hotel, Gretna, in time for breakfast. My wedding and afternoon reception was followed by a visit to` The Highland Laddie Pub` by the men folk, and for the ladies, to my in-law’s home. Then the long miles back to Arrochar. No motorway or dual carriage roads to shorten the journey, so Jimmy had to be kept awake.

It was a misty, eerie morning, Ben Lomond was hiding behind a blanket of clouds. Occasionally a shaft of moonlight would penetrate the low lying mist, to reveal the sleeping waters of Loch Lomond, and all was very quiet and peaceful. Suddenly, as yet another sharp corner was negotiated, the mini-bus headlights revealed the figure of a man prostrate at the side of the road. Jimmy quickly drew to a stop, and Margaret, being a nurse, hurried forward with Jimmy to be of assistance. As she bent down to examine the recumbent figure, Jimmy positioned slightly behind her, the poor man opened his eyes at Margaret’s touch, and saw the apparition that was Jimmy MacTavish, in full Highland Dress, with the mist and headlights creating a ghostly background!
Rob Roy returned perhaps?

With a mighty yell of terror, he sprang to his feet and set off up the road as fast as his awakening legs would allow, being followed by Jimmy MacTavish waving his kilt, and shouting “ Run you bugger, run”, and Margaret in fits of laughter. It was only as they returned to the mini-bus, that, noticing a motor bike carefully propped up against the hillside, they realised the man had in fact been sleeping. As they drove on up to Arrochar, they passed the poor man cowering behind some loch side bushes, no doubt the last time he would ever stop for `a kip` on the Loch Lomond road.

Down through the years I have heard this story re-told so many times, by all concerned, I sometimes think I was there! Of course I was not, it being the first night of my honeymoon, I was otherwise occupied!

Written by Tom Huxtable


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