1969 wasn't my first visit to Blackwaterfoot, that was two years earlier, but it was probably the year I fell in love with the place.
We stayed at The Rock Hotel, and I was 12 at the time. It was a small establishment, probably around 15 rooms, and was the second building along the road to the golf course. I recall there were three families staying there, the Wells who had three children, the Rileys who had two, and the Fergusons who also had two. I also recall an elderly brother and sister, Ian and Alice Morrison and a friend of theirs, Mrs. Wilson. We all got along fabulously, most of the children were within a few years of each other and The Rock was owned by a Mr. and Mrs. Mirrylees who had recently moved from Edinburgh.
We all mucked in together and frequently went on trips together. We climbed Goat Fell (I remember Mr. Riley struggling up to the top, then amazing everyone by virtually running the whole way down! He was a fantastic artist and, on wet days, would get us kids to draw a squiggle on a piece of paper and he would make a wonderful drawing out of it (a bit like Rolf Harris). Andrew Ferguson and Graham Wells and I were closest in age and we'd take walks along the beach, searching for anything we could find in rock pools. Andrew's sister, Jane was a year older than me and probably the first girl to catch my eye! I had already discovered golf and so the 12-hole course was also a major attraction for me.
We had all taken games with us for when the weather was bad, and I was introduced to Mah Jong. The Wells and the Rileys were also keen bird-watchers and I learnt so much from them that I carry with me to this day. One comment from Mr. Wells that has never left me relates to Mr. Mirrylees driving off first thing in the morning to get the morning rolls for breakfast. He stood outside, and remarked as the proprietor drove off "Ah, Mr. Mirrylees, going off in the Cortina, coming back with the Rolls". Classic!
Blackwaterfoot has a beautiful little road bridge where you can stand and look at a waterfall on one side, then the harbour on the other side. Everything about the place is a heaven on Earth.
We went back to The Rock for a few summers more, always at the same time as the others, so there was always that to look forward to. Andrew Ferguson, from Seaford, and Graham Wells from the Wirral, if you're out there PLEASE get in touch.
I believe running The Rock proved too much in the end for the Mirrylees and they sold up and lived in a caravan along the shore, alongside another they let out. We rented that in 1975 and 1976 and had more fantastic times. We took a break until 1980, then we self-catered until 1985 in various houses.
I didn't go back to Blackwaterfoot for 20 years, but spent the week of my 50th birthday there in 2007. It had hardly changed, but The Rock had gone, washed away in a terrible storm in the 1990s (I believe). I still have a paper serviette with a picture of the hotel printed on it!
The Isle of Arran is well known, yet also remains one of Scotland's best kept secrets. Long may it remain that way.
(With thanks for the memories to my Dad, who passed away on December 24th 2010)
A memory shared byon Feb 9th, 2011.
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