Memories Of My Boyhood Years
By David (Buddy) MacLachlan
My story begins in August 1939 when I was born In Arrochar House Cottage. My father was employed as a Gamekeeper at the Northern end of the Luss Estates, which was owned by the clan Colquhoun of Luss. My three sisters, Jan, Mairi and Sheila were also born in the cottage.
My birth coincided with the start of the second world war. My parents often talked about the night of the Clydebank blitz, when dozens of evacuees were sleeping on the shore just below the cottage.
That evening we had over twenty evacuees sleeping in the cottage as my father sent them up to the house for a bed for the night. Some of the evacuees visited my parent for many years.
With my father working for the Estate I had more freedom than other children in the area. I quickly learned all about fishing and shooting. By the time I was round twelve, I was helping my father setting nets for the herring and salmon. The nets were set in the evening just before dark.
We rose at 6.00am next morning to lift them, allowing time for me to catch the school bus to Helensburgh at 8.00am. One event which is very clear in my mind, was one morning, the Loch was flat calm and the sun was just rising above the hills, I was rowing the boat out in the middle of the Loch going to lift the nets when suddenly I large fin appeared a few yards behind the boat.
Having never seen a shark in my life, I was absolutely terrified. My father told me to remain calm as the basking shark swam within oars length of the boat. It was about fourteen feet long. In a good morning we could land a few hundred herring and some sea trout and an occasional salmon.
Normally on a Saturday my father and I would go up to Loch Sloy on our bicycles and either climb Ben Vane or Ben Vorlich to shoot deer for the ‘big house’ (Rossdhu). (Now a world famous golf course). They would request venison for dinner parties and other functions. The deer would be brought to our cottage where we had a large deerstalker’s hut. It would be skinned and haunches of venison prepared for Rossdhu.
The hut also had other important uses. On wet days my friends, and sisters’ friends would gather, and I think you would call it a mini youth club, with all aspects of village life being discussed. On Saturday nights we ran a badminton club in the village hall for sixteen year olds and under. It was well supported and enjoyed by all who attended.
We also had party nights which were most enjoyable. The roads down from the hall had no street lights, so the older boys felt responsible for ensuring that everyone got home safely, especially the girls.
In finishing my short story, I often look back on having spent fifteen wonderful years in the village of Arrochar.