Sunday, January 29, 2012

Places in Jane Shaw: The String Road

When I visited Arran last year I followed the footsteps of Jane Shaw and all of her most famous characters. Caroline and Sara, Penny and Susan all crossed the island on the famous String Road, built by the much admired road engineer Thomas Telford (1757-1834). This is the very end of the road as it reaches Blackwaterfoot on the west side of the island. In Jane Shaw's books, people always stop right at the top of the road to glimpse both sides of the island simultaneously. I didn't manage this as the bus I was on raced right over without even slowing down, and on the way back I took the long route around via Lochranza. But, like Penny's father, I did smell the peat all of a sudden, as described in Penny Foolish. "There!" he cried, "D'you smell it?... It was always just there at that cottage that we got the first whiff of peat!"