Tired but delighted .. the journeys end.

Two tired friends, Ben and Mani, and their human companions, John Nelson and Derek Henderson,  reached journeys end this afternoon at Benderloch – 7 days after setting off to re enact John Nelsons’ great great great grandfathers chase across country after a horse thief. The journey in March of 1811 took John Kerr from New Cumnock all the way up Loch Lomond, up Glen Orchy, through Glen Coe to finally end in a remote glen somewhere around “Meaderloch” — the Benderloch area between the Lochs Etive and Creran.

200 years later and John Nelson tracked down the route of the story from the records in the National Archives and put together the plan to recreate the arduous chase.

The story is that the grey mare was stolen by a tinker, George Watson and his son, who had been staying at Mr Kerr’s farm of Knockburnie as they travelled the country selling stoneware. Mr Kerr took chase and as luck would have it the mare had a broken shoe on one hoof. This enabled the pursuers to locate their path, and follow them through snow and mud over 150 miles, to the eventual arrest in our neighbourhood.

It is likely that the John Nelson might have thought that May would have made for a much more pleasant ride for the horses from Cumbrian Heavy horses, who have been in Kircudbrightshire for the winter getting ready for this epic ride. Instead they have travailed through incredible conditions over the last 7 days.

Gales, hail, lashing rain, washed out tracks, clambering over fallen trees over 2 foot in height … what an incredible journey. Both men and horses can feel mighty proud of what they have accomplished.

John will be working on the book to celebrate this wonderful, if somewhat arduous, adventure and the history behind it, but more details of the local connection and the background to the story will be on the parish archive.  Maybe someone will come up with a local gaelic name for one of our isolated glens that will connect to catching thieves or horses from 200 years ago.

The pair are off to Inveraray tonight, to mark the place where the thieves were held for several weeks, before being taken to Ayr for the trial and thence the hanging of George Watson the elder, the last horse thief to be hanged in Scotland. His son, George, was sentenced to be transported beyond the seas, but the records show he only got as far as one of the rotting transport ships that lay in the Thames for years. It is even possible that he was released and made his way back to Ayrshire.

(having explored the Cumbrian Heavy horses website Ben is a Clydesdale and Mani is an Ardennes – they were both wonderful horses, but thought there was something a little different about the flaxen boy. )

May 24, 2011   Posted in: Community

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