ISBuC (v7) 2012
Gavin Maxwell
'Ring of Bright Water'

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Ring of Bright Water, famously made into the film starring Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna (as a sympathetic veterinarian) was one of several books written by Gavin Maxwell about solitary life within view of, but never on, Skye.

Although from a comfortably well-off background and with a lucrative diplomatic career ahead of him Maxwell sought solace in a simpler lifestyle. The original book and its sequel, The Rocks Remain, tell the story of his life with semi-tame otters at Camusfearna, a remote part of the mainland opposite Isle Ornsay. For a while he was also on Soay attempting to start a shark fishery (Harpoon at a Venture) but underestimated firstly the difficulty of landing such creatures from a small boat and secondly the refrigeration capacity required to keep their meat edible.

He also lived in Kyleakin Lighthouse and owned Eilean Ban, an island which now supports a column of the Skye Bridge. Despite modern traffic a hundred foot or so above it this island is now a commemorative otter sanctuary, a community venture part funded by the Born Free Foundation, established by Virginia McKenna to support wildlife preservation ventures.

Courtesy of Geoff Holman