Escape from Loch Leven by Mollie Hunter

Mary Stuart

Escape from Loch Leven by Mollie Hunter was first published in 1987 and it’s about one of the many escapes attempted by Mary, Queen of Scots after she was imprisoned by her own Scottish lords who had turned against her for many reasons, including that they believed she had had her first husband Darnley murdered, and then married his murderer Bothwell.

But she was still popular with the ordinary people and always managed to charm some of the people who were tasked with guarding and serving her – mainly the men!

Will Douglas is the young illegitimate son of Sir William Douglas who is a supporter of the rebellion against Mary. Sir William owns Lochleven Castle which seems like the ideal place to imprison the queen as it’s in the middle of the loch. Will is a page in the household and he’s thrilled when Mary recognizes him as a youngster she had encountered a few years earlier and calls him by a pet name she had given him. In no time Will is determined to help his Queen escape to link up with her supporters. It’s easier said than done.

The book seems to be very faithful to what is known about this particular escape attempt which you can read about here. Lochleven Castle is now owned by the Scottish National Trust and isn’t far from where I live. If you’re interested you can see the photos I took when I visited a few years ago here. The island is actually smaller than it was back when Mary was a prisoner as the water level of the loch has been raised over the years, but even so it was still a very small island with very little opportunity for anyone to stretch their legs.

This was an enjoyable read and if you’re interested in Scottish history it’s a painless way of learning a bit about Mary Stuart and the book has some helpful family trees at the front for anyone who is confused.

Linlithgow, West Lothian

I don’t know about you but we’ve had so much rain recently, grey and wet for days on end, so when the weather forecaster said that the best day for getting out and about last week was Thursday, we took the chance to do just that and with sunshine and blue skies we headed for the wee town of Linlithgow.
Linlithgow Palace  and town

This is the path which runs around the edge of Linlithgow Loch, it’s a nice walk around, apparently 2.3 miles in length, sadly the brambles here had just rotted on their stems, no blackberry gatherers in the Linlithgow area it would seem and the birds obviously weren’t interested either.

apath round loch

Linlithgow Palace is just a shell nowadays but is still well worth a visit, we didn’t have enough time to do that though after we walked all around the loch. The town of Linlithgow was very bustling so I didn’t take any photos of it at all, too many people around, but if you want to see what it looks like have a keek here.

apalace 1 from westish

This is the view of the palace from half-way around the loch.

Linlithgow Palace 5 from north

And here we are right at the palace. This is where Mary Stuart (Queen of Scots) was born, in 1542. It looks like it would have been a freezing cold place even in its heyday but maybe with all the fireplaces blazing away and thick wooden panelling and tapestries on the walls it would have been comfortable.

Linlithgow Palace   close

The photo below is the view which you get from the palace, looking across the loch, there is actually a very busy road behind all those trees, well hidden but you can still hear heavy lorries as they go past. It must always have been a fairly busy area with horsemen coming and going on palace business over the years, I wonder if anyone has ever run a metal detector over the ground to see if anything interesting pops up.

So that was Linlithgow, and we were glad that we took the chance to stretch our legs somewhere different for a change while the weather was good as the next day we were back to grey skies and rain, but I’m not complaining really as this time last year I’m sure we had already had some snow, and this autumn has been very mild in comparison.
aeast end of loch

The loch is just a short hop from the high street and close to a play park so there are always people there with kids feeding the swans, ducks and geese with bread, despite the fact that there are signs up telling them not to do that. I really wish there was someone there to stop them because the geese were out of the water to get a better chance of getting more bread. It’s the bird equivalent of fast food, it fills them up but gives them little in the way of the nutrition that they need. I’ve never seen fatter geese, they could hardly move and I doubt that they could possibly fly. I toyed with the idea of complaining to the crazy people feeding them, but decided against it, in case I got my head in my hands!