Yet another hot sunny day as we left the campsite and drove up the west coast of Arran as far as the Old Byre visitor centre at Machrie. It was getting obvious that the E/Knitter was suffering from a lack of crafty type things and knitting. We thought the Old Byre would be the place to visit, but it was a little disappointing. It lacked atmosphere and consisted of a café and an expensive shop.
On the way I had noticed that some places like Blackwater have chemical toilet emptying facilities attached to the pubic convenience which is really useful for campervan wild campers. We were now back tracking to just past Sliddery where we turned on to the single track road that cuts across the island to Lamlash called the Ross road.
The Scottish single track roads are a joy to drive on and this one led us through some stunning landscapes.
We stopped at a Forestry Commission picnic area for lunch.
One of the reasons for our trip to Arran was so The Lady Elizabeth of Largybey (the Extreme knitter) could visit her country estate to check that the peasants weren’t revolting.
Here she is stalking with her favourite gundog whilst stood in her 1 foot by 1 foot piece of Arran.
It’s amazing how power can go to someone’s head, as soon as she stepped onto the land she changed into a power crazed land owner shouting “get orf my land” and calling me an oik.
The other reason for our trip was to visit the place that my father had trained as a commando in 1940. Being part of the 11th Scottish commando they were billeted with the locals at a coastal village called Lamlash on the Isle of Arran.
The whole of the Island was taken over by the military at the time and was split into three sections with Lochranza in the north being occupied by the 7th commando. Lamlash in the middle was used by the 11th Scottish Commando and Whiting Bay in the southern area was allocated to the 9th Commando.
This must have been a tremendous upheaval for the islander being occupied by 1000 troops
The troops were left to their own devises as far as finding accommodation was concerned and the residents of Arran came forward offering a billet for many soldiers
Accounts of their stay mentioned that one solder shot the weather vane off the Lamlash church tower. Apparently it still bears the scars.
After training, the Commandos were shipped out of Glasgow on the three Glen ships and transported to fight in the North Africa campaign. My father joined the Long Range Desert Group carrying out attacks on the German supply routes by travelling across the Sahara desert to attack them from behind their lines.
Remember when we boarded the ferry in Ardrossan and the strange comment about visiting my brother from the ticket attendant. Well after I told the extreme knitter the story of my fathers wartime training, she decided that as he was young and unmarried during his time on Arran that he may have produced my half brother without knowing it. During our walk around Lamlash she was studying 75 year old local men to see if there were any family resemblances. I swear she is watching too many wartime dramas on the television.