Rob Roy MacGregor.

The Clans are gathering.

Robert the Bruce granted the barony of Loch Awe which included much of the MacGregor lands to the chief of Clan Campbell. The Campbells ejected them from these lands forcing them to retreat until they were largely restricted to Glenstrae.

The MacGregors fought the Campbells for decades and were dispossessed of all their lands. Reduced to the status of outlaws they rustled cattle and poached deer in order to survive. They became so good at this that many other clans would pay them not to steal their cattle.

Loch Katrine.

In 1717 Montrose and his company captured Rob Roy at Balquhidder.

Rob broke free as the company forded a river. He distracted his pursuers’ gunfire by throwing his blanket into the water, and escaped. One of his kinsmen had retrieved the blanket from the water after the skirmish was over.

The Motorhomers had camped on the outskirts of Balquhidder on the Saturday night. On the following day the lads decided to walk to Balquhidder. Josie had previously spotted the Pub/Shop/Post Office in the village. Jessie had mentioned that they were short of milk. This had given the lads another opportunity to indulge themselves, and off they went.

They followed the road alongside a stream that led down to the village. On the opposite side of the stream they saw what looked like a blast from the past. An old Highlander was coming down from the hills with his collie dog. He was dressed in rough woolen tartan; the kilt, the sporran, the dirk, the whole Highlanders outfit. He was carrying over his shoulder, what looked like a bed-roll, held together with two leather straps one at each end of the roll. A large piece of twine was knotted between the straps, and the roll hung from his shoulder. He was heading in the same direction as the lads.

When the tourists arrived at the shop they found it to be closed, as was the pub. Josie’s petted-lip was showing as the old Highlander approached. There was a mass of red hair beneath his bonnet and he had a large bushy red beard.

‘Hullo, Jimmy,’ said Josie. ‘When does the shop open?’ he asked.

‘Aye, an’ when does the pub open, as well?’ asked Francie.

‘Dae ye not know that to-day is the Sabbath, man?’ the old Highlander asked. ‘But dinnae ye fash, man,’ he said, tapping the bridge of his nose with his index finger and gesturing to the lads. ‘Chust ye follow me,’ he said.

He led them to the back door of the shop. The door was wide open and a lady was seated at a large pinewood table preparing another batch of biscuits for the oven. The table was covered in white flour and she was rolling flat a large heap of dough with a rolling pin. The smell coming from the oven was making Francie’s teeth water.

‘Can I help you two gentlemen?’ she asked.

‘Aye,’ said Josie. ‘Can I have a pint o’ milk?’ he asked.

‘Do you not know that to-day is the Sabbath,’ she said. ‘Here in Balquhidder we do no work on the Sabbath,’ she said.

When the woman spotted Francie’s petted-lip, she arose from the table, walked through to the shop, and returned with the milk.

‘The next time that you visit us, please respect the Sabbath,’ she said.

‘Sure, hen,’ said Francie.

‘Sure, hen,’ said Josie.

Rob Roy’s grave, Balquhidder.

The lads stepped out from the shop. They saw the Highlander at the back door to the pub. He was tapping his nose with his index finger and gesturing to them again. The dog had settled in a corner outside of the door. They entered the pub. There were three other Highlanders in the bar including the barman.

‘It’s yourself, Angus Macgregor,’ said the barman. ‘Would ye be keeping your nose clean, man?’ he asked.

‘Aye, man, and ye, I hope your fine, Callum?’ Angus asked.

‘Are the Campbells giving ye any bother lately?’ asked Callum.

‘Well, there were two of them up in the glen last night, up to no good I expect.’ said Angus. ‘That’s why I’ve got Rob Roy’s old blanket with me, Callum. I dinnae want my heirloom to fall into their theiving hands,’ said Angus. He placed the heavy roll of tartan cloth on the bar.

‘What can I get for you two gentlemen?’ asked the barman, looking toward the lads.

‘Aye,’ said Josie. ‘I’d like for tae buy a round for every yin o’ ye here,’ said Josie.

‘Make mine’s a glass o’ Glen Grant,’ said Angus.

‘Aye, a glass o’ Glen Grant for every yin in the bar,’ said Josie.

When all had their drinks before them, Josie proposed a toast. He held up his glass, saying;

‘Here’s tae Rob Roy MacGregor.’

There where echoes of ‘Aye’ all around the bar. Francie, not to be outdone, called out;

‘Drinks all round, barman.’

Lomond riders.

Soon all in the bar were ‘puggled,’ all except Josie. He had sidled up to Angus, and had entered into negotiations regarding the heirloom. Angus was reluctant to part with his inheritance, saying that the old blanket had sentimental value. Josie had offered Angus ten pounds, this soon went to twenty pounds. Josie clinched the deal by throwing in a bottle of Glen Grant whisky. Angus handed Josie the old blanket.

Josie called for another round of drinks, but there were only three left standing, Francie, Josie, and Angus. The old Highlander left soon after.

The lads left the bar and made their way singing, back from whence they came. They could see Angus climbing the hill-side, he was throwing a stick for his collie to fetch, and shouting;

‘Go on Rob Roy, go on my boy! Yer faither would be proud o’ ye,’ he was calling.

Joe Sharp.

For the adventures of Francie and Josie, click here.

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