A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley

 A Traveller in Time cover

A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley was first published in 1939. My copy is a lovely Folio edition which is illustrated by Omar Rayyan. It’s yet another children’s classic that I’ve only just got around to reading thanks to Constance who mentioned it on my blogpost about Uttley’s books for very small children. Th eauthor was very much influenced to write this book by her own childhood. She grew up in a house very close to the Babington manor house in the book and her father told her stories of those Elizabethan days as if he had lived them himself, and Alison Uttley visited them in her dreams.

A Traveller in Time is told by Penelope Taberner Cameron as she looks back to her childhood which began in London’s Chelsea where she was the youngest of three children and was regarded as being a bit ‘fey’. Possibly she has the second sight, or maybe she’s just a dreamer, her older siblings are happy to listen to her tales of the past. She’s prone to soar throats and her mother decides that Penelope needs to get out of the atmosphere of London to some fresh air. Aunt Tissie and Uncle Barnabas are contacted and they’re very happy to have all three children for the holidays at their manor house and farm called Thackers.

It isn’t long before Penelope finds herself slipping back in time when least expected and she becomes a much-loved member of the Babington household who are puzzled by her intermitent appearances but always happy to see her. Penelope knows her history so she realises that Anthony Babington, the eldest son of the house is on a path to a terrible end which she is powerless to change. Mary, Queen of Scots has been captive in England for years on the orders of her cousin Queen Elizabeth. Anthony is determined to rescue her and get her to safety in France.

This is a beautifully written book and it is such a shame that she didn’t write more books for older children. There are so many characters to like too so it was a treat to be in their company.

Apparently in 1978 the BBC dramatised the book, I don’t recall ever seeing it though. Do any of you remember it?

If you know the history of Mary, Queen of Scots you’ll be aware that she was moved around a lot over the twenty years that she was imprisoned, and several times she did manage to escape, in fact I’ve lost count of the amount of places I’ve been to that she has also walked around in. She was imprisoned in what was my childhood local castle Dumbarton Castle, and I believe escaped from there. More famously she escaped from Loch Leven Castle which is close to where I live now, you can see my blogpost about that here. Even closer is the hunting palace of the Stuarts Falkland Palace, which is a place that she loved in her younger years.

Weir’s Way

Tom Weir, climber, writer and broadcaster was a bit of a local hero when I was growing up as he lived in a village not far from Dumbarton. There are loads of films on You Tube of Tom, mainly bits from the Weir’s Way programmes which were so popular on Scottish TV in the 1970s. If you fancy a bit of armchair travelling this is a good way to do it.

Since Tom’s death a few years ago folks have been gathering money to erect a statue of Tom and it seems that the target has almost been reached, so he’ll be visible on his beloved hills yet again.

Below is a film of the Tillicoultry area and Loch Leven, places well known to me.

There’s a film about Dumbarton Rock below, Dumbarton is the town which I grew up in. It’s an old film and the place has changed quite a lot since then. For one thing the big red brick building which is belching out steam is long gone. It was the Ballantine’s whisky distillery.

And in the interest of balance there’s a short film about the east coast village of Anstruther in Fife.


There are Tom Weir films of just about anywhere in Scotland you can name, accessible on You Tube.

Scottish Highlands, Loch Linnhe and Loch Leven

This is another photograph from our recent trip to the Scottish Highlands. Taken from the bridge at Ballachulish, it’s of Loch Leven. There are a few lochs with that name in the world, a couple in Canada, although I think one is a hamlet rather than a loch and a lake, Loch Leven in California US, and there’s even another one in Scotland, in Kinross and Perthshire.

Loch Leven

The photo below is of Loch Linnhe. It was taken from the bridge looking west.

looking to Loch Linnhe
Again the photo below was taken from the bridge at Ballachulish but looking north west.

looking to Loch Linnhe

There used to be a ferry at Ballachulish, but obviously it’s the bridge which is used by travellers nowadays. Whenever I hear that name Ballachulish I think of that comic song which The Corries sang years ago, if you fancy a laugh, have a listen to it below.

The West Lomond in Fife

This is a the view from the top of the West Lomond looking over to Loch Leven. Confusingly the Lomond hills aren’t anything to do with Loch Lomond which is in the west of Scotland where the scenery is altogether much more spectacular.

Loch Leven from West Lomond

Friday was a lovely blue sky day so we decided to go on our first hill walk of the year and chose the West Lomond hill near the village of Falkland in Fife. Usually both of the Lomonds are incredibly busy, in fact the first time I walked up them there were hoards of people going up and down which was a strange experience for me. I prefer hill walking to be fairly solitary with just a few people visible in the distance. Here is the West Lomond, it’s just as well that you can’t here us peching and panting our way uphill!

West Lomond from the East

I had my wish this time and on the whole walk we only saw four other people. The hills are full of ground nesting birds at this time of the year and the whole place was full of larks singing very high up in the sky.

Maiden Castle from West-ish

If you veer off the track to the right you can see a large green mound which is called Maiden Castle. It’s the remains of an Iron Age settlement and although it’s really just a big mound of grass it’s nice to have a walk to the top of it and imagine what it must have been like all those years ago. The mounds in the next picture are where the entrance is supposed to have been.

Maiden Castle entrance

Just to prove that we did actually make it to the top of West Lomond here is a photo of yours truly standing by the Ordnance Survey marker, the shades were as much about keeping the wind out of my eyes as the sun.


So that was the good part of the day. The bad part was being stuck in Edinburgh airport waiting to pick my brother up and his flight being delayed for over four hours. Now I remember why I don’t like travelling!