Memories of Tarbert, herring…and almost moving to Loch Fyne-side

One of Mr Walker's photographs - an evening fish sale on Tarbert fish quay in 1969

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Life under lockdown got Lancashire resident John Walker thinking back to happy days spent in Argyll. Now retired, Mr Walker spent 35 years working for North West Ambulance Service on the Fylde coast. He contacted the Argyllshire Advertiser with his memories:

In this time of lockdown, I am reminiscing on great times had in Argyll.

I first visited Kintyre with my parents as a 17-year-old, my family having bought a mini car in 1966. We stayed with Margaret and Iain McDonald at their home named Meadowview in Tarbert which was located near the school.

We all enjoyed the area so much that we continued to visit every year for the next consecutive eight years.

Mr Walker and his daughter Katy during his visit to Tarbert in 2018

Margaret invited me to go out on the herring boats once or twice. One was named Village Maid and the other Village Belle and, needless to say, we often had kippers for breakfast, which were very nice. I remember there was a boat called the Southern Cross tied up to Cock Island – can anyone tell me any history of it and when it disappeared?

There also used to be a smokehouse for kippers along from Tarbert to Ardrishaig.

Another fond memory I have is watching the logging trucks unloading on the quay and watching them get loaded on to large boats and I think then being shipped round to Sweden or Finland. Is that correct or not as I thought there was a paper mill at Fort William?

As mentioned earlier, I joined North West Ambulance Service in the 1980s and Margaret used to send me the Argyllshire Advertiser and in one of them was an advert for recruitment to the Scottish Ambulance Service.

I duly got an application form from Paisley and was all but sending the form in when I realised it would be very unfair to move so far away from our young children’s grandparents and for them to be unable to see them growing up. At the time your local pharmacist was retiring and my wife Sue was a qualified pharmacist, but our children were both under school age so relied on her parents for child care. Ironically, I believe the job was filled with a Blackpool pharmacist whom I had met ocassionally.

My love for Scotland continued, and we had our honeymoon travelling around Scotland and calling in at Tarbert for several days on the trip round.

Our last trip up there was 2018 in June as a treat from our daughter who accompanied us on this trip. The weather was glorious, and one day we caught the bus to Skipness and walked part of the Kintyre Way back.

Another day we took the MacBrayne Ferry to Islay, which was again a glorious day out, also visited Crinan, Lochgilphead and Inveraray, followed by a couple of days fishing off the pier in Tarbert. We travelled back via Portavadie and Dunoon, and have in the past used the ferry to Arran, then Brodick, Ardrossan and home.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. It has been good to share some of the memories of Argyll with you.’