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
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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